Sun, August 07, 2022

in-focus

Jurin steps down as head of two women's panels, stays on as Democrat leader


Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanawisit on Tuesday announced his resignation as chairman of two national panels on women’s rights and equality but vowed to stay on as party leader to take responsibility over sexual misconduct and rape charges against a former deputy leader.

Jurin held a press conference to announce the party’s stand after the party’s former deputy leader Prinn Panitchpakdi was accused of molesting several women and even raping some of them.

So far, 14 women have filed complaints with Lumpini Police Station, accusing Prinn of molesting or raping them, according to lawyer Sittha Biabungkerd, who exposed the allegations against the son of former deputy prime minister and former Word Trade Organisation chief Supachai Panitchpakdi.

The South Bangkok Criminal Court has approved Prinn’s detention for 12 days in three cases and approved his release on bail but barred him from leaving the Kingdom.

On Monday, over a dozen women’s organisations called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to remove Jurin as chairman of a national panel on women’s roles and status.

Jurin told the press conference that he had stepped down as chairman of the committee promoting equality of the sexes and the national committee on women’s policies to prevent any untoward impact on the two panels’ operations.

He apologised to Prayut for not informing him of his resignation prior to the press conference.

“I deeply regret what has happened. I issue my apology to the public for everything related to the cases that also affect the Democrat Party,” Jurin told the press conference.

“I had a role in bringing Prinn in as deputy leader although his appointment passed through the party’s process.”

Jurin said he could not have foreseen the consequences of his decision to give the party’s executive post to Prinn, but he and the executive board could not deny their responsibility.

He said the Democrat Party has a stand against sexual harassment and against all forms of violence against children, women and family members.

He promised that the party would not interfere in the judicial process against Prinn.

Jurin said the Democrat Party would not ignore the situation but would set up two panels to conduct fact-findings related to the cases.

The first panel will be chaired by Democrat MP Ratchada Thanadirek, a deputy government spokeswoman, Jurin said.

He said the Ratchada-led panel would investigate the cases and also consider remedial measures for the victims. The panel would also be in charge of checking qualifications of new Democrat executives.

Jurin said the second committee will be chaired by deputy party leader Narapat Kaewthong. It would be in charge of conducting probes into the posting of messages in the Democrat’s internal Line group.

Messages from the Democrat group were leaked to the public earlier, showing “ugly” comments apparently ridiculing the victims. One message reportedly said: “These young women are strange. They were raped years ago but they just realised it.” Social media members cried foul over the comments and described them as “disgusting”.

Jurin also dismissed concerns that Supachai would try to use his political clout to help his son.

“Democrat chief adviser and Parliament President Chuan Leekpai has said Supachai has never interfered in the judicial process,” Jurin said.

On the call for him and the executive board to resign from the party’s positions, Jurin said in his view resignation would be tantamount to abdicating responsibility and leaving the problems for others to solve.

“When we have problems, we must tackle them instead of leaving them for the next generation to solve,” Jurin said.

He admitted that the cases would affect the party’s popularity rating in the upcoming Bangkok governor and council elections but the executive board would try to lead the party through the crisis.

Published : April 19, 2022

By : THE NATION