Court Can Suspend MFP Leader Over Media Share Ownership

The Constitutional Court holds the power to put a temporary hold on the activities of the Move Forward Party (MFP) leader Pita Limjaroenrat, in the event that it decides to hear the lawsuit linked with his ownership of media shares, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

The Election Commission (EC) has initiated an investigation to determine if Mr Pita, the party’s list-MP and candidate for Prime Minister, was qualified to participate in the election, given claims of his possession of 42,000 shares in a media company.

Owning stakes in media companies by electoral candidates is forbidden by the constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu revealed that Mr Pita might receive endorsement from the EC as a list-MP while the investigation is ongoing.

If the EC decides in favour of Mr Pita, the matter would be settled. But, if the decision is against Mr Pita, the case would be referred to the Constitutional Court, which has the power to suspend Mr Pita’s activities until it makes a ruling.

The EC holds the authority to initiate a probe into a complaint either prior to or following the official announcement of the election results.

The Deputy Prime Minister used the case of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the previous leader of the now-defunct Future Forward Party (FFP), who faced allegations of breaking the rule regarding share ownership, as an illustrative example.

Upon accepting the case against him in May 2019, the court decided to suspend Mr Thanathorn’s MP status.

In June of that same year, Mr Thanathorn was nominated for the prime minister position, with the verdict being delivered in November.

In regards to the intent behind the share-ownership rule, Mr Wissanu stated that the final say lies with the Constitutional Court, adding that the constitution does not specify the quantity of shares or the size of a media company.

However, he mentioned that past court verdicts on similar share-holding violation allegations against electoral candidates could potentially provide insights into the possible outcome of Mr Pita’s case.

In the meantime, political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, who had urged the EC to investigate Mr Pita’s share ownership, presented a statement regarding the case to the EC on Monday and submitted prior Constitutional Court decisions on share-holding to the electoral agency.