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Future Forward chief says no plan to push for Article 112 amendment


Thanathorn’s stance a dampener for liberals but clarifies his position.

Future Forward chief says no plan to push for Article 112 amendment

THANATHORN Juangroong-ruangkit, the co-founder of the closely watched Future Forward Party, on Wednesday stated emphatically that he had no intention to push for amendment of the controversial lese majeste law.
He made his remarks at the “Move Over Dinosaurs – A Panel Discussion with Young Thai Politicians” event hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on Wednesday.
“I personally have no intention to propose any amendment to Article 112,” Thanathorn said, without elaborating, in response to a question about his opinion on laws that violated freedom of speech.
Thanathorn has made waves in recent weeks since launching the progressive Future Forward Party, but his statement on Article 112 drew a mixture of surprise and disappointment from the audience at the forum.
This was the first time he had made clear his stance on the controversial lese majeste law.
A group of academics and activists, including Future Forward Party co-founder Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, have campaigned for an amendment to Article 112 of the Penal Code as the draconian law has been widely abused by political groups, notably conservatives against their rivals in the past few years. Piyabutr had stated earlier that he too had no intention to push his views on the party’s agenda. 
Thanathorn has been the target of criticism of conservatives for supposed involvement with the alleged anti-monarchy movement.
The new-blood politician, however, denied having been part of such a movement. 
Although he financed a social science journal Fa Diaw Kan (Same Sky), deemed critical of the monarchy, Thanathorn refuted the allegation. He reasoned that if the journal had really committed lese majeste, it would have been shut down. The publishing house continues to be in operation even today, he explained.
Thanathorn’s announcement of his stance on Article 112 was expected to cost him some pro-right supporters, but some critics believe it will also give clarity about his positions as he takes the political plunge.
The pro-democracy Thanathorn said at the panel discussion that he would propose amendments to some other laws, including the Computer Crimes Act which, he said, was notoriously against free speech.
“These laws give power to the military to access our private communication,” he said.
The panel discussion was also joined by other young politicians – Parit Wacharasindhu from Democrat Party, Varawut Silpa-archa from Chart Thai Pattana Party, and Preechapol Pongpanit from Pheu Thai Party.
Parit and Preechapol both made clear they would not support the junta’s return to power after the election, and in particular they would not support an outside PM.
Varawut, meanwhile, was vague in his stance. 
Although he said Chart Thai Pattana would have its own PM candidate, he said in the second round an outside PM could still come in. There was nothing anyone could do, he said.

Published : April 05, 2018

By : KAS CHANWANPEN THE NATION