It comes as Thailand appears to be descending again into another round of street protest and agitation. Former protest leaders are warning Mr Thanathorn that he could well be leading himself and his party into a trap as the time is not right for such an approach.

Police have summoned the Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and a former election candidate to report to Pathumwan police station on Friday to be charged in connection with a flash mob protest staged on Saturday the 14th December at a BTS Skytrain intersection near the MBK centre of Bangkok. 

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Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit surrounded by followers at the flash protest on December 14th which took place on the BTS Skywalk platform near the MBK Shopping Centre in central Bangkok. He has been summoned along with former Future Forward candidate Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn to acknowledge charges brought by police at Pathumwan police station on Friday in connection with the event.

 Both men are to face charges concerning a flash mob protest organised by the Future Forward Party on Saturday, December 14th at the BTS Skywalk in Pathumwan near the MBK Centre in Bangkok.

The leader of the Future Forward Party, Mr Thanathorn and Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn, the defeated election candidate in the Nakhon Pathom bye-election in October were both summoned to report the Royal Thai Police at Pathumwan station on Friday the 27th.

3,000 people at flash mob protest

Over 3,000 people turned out for the event which saw leading personalities from the Future Forward Party address the crowd.

They were protesting a move by Thailand’s Election Commission which could ultimately see the Future Forward Party disbanded by the Constitutional Court and its key officials banned from Thai politics for 10 years.

‘A show of force’ – Thanathorn told the crowd

At the gathering on Saturday 14th, Mr Thanathorn addressed the crowd and said this: ‘We come together today in a show of force, to show that we will not retreat and will not put up with things any longer. This is not a day to protect the Future Forward, but a day to protect the future of all Thais.’

Later Mr Thanathorn called a halt to the proceedings but not before urging them to support a protest run being organised by student activists for January 12th next calling for the ouster of the Prime Minister Prayuth Chan -cha

Police – event infringed public assembly laws and disrupted a transport facility

Police say the charges against Mr Thanathorn are based on the fact that the protest was one not notified or approved of by authorities. It, therefore, breached the laws governing public assembly.

The protest, according to police, caused disruption to a public transit system and the organisers had used loudspeakers or hailing devices to address the crowd without a permit.

Police chief may ask the President of Parliament for permission to charge 3 Future Forward MPs

Sources are already suggesting that the Chief of Police may be preparing to seek permission from the President of the Parliament and House Speaker, Mr Chuan Leekpai, to also bring charges against the sitting Future Forward MPs who were prominent at the protest but who have immunity from prosecution while the parliament is in session.

These are the Secretary-General of Future Forward and its leader in the House of Representatives, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, as all as its vociferous MP and spokeswoman Pannika Wanich and Pita Limjaroenrat, a young MP for Bangkok. 

Public support in favour of the protest

A survey conducted during the course of the last week from December 16th to 17th showed the public supported the impromptu protest although a significant 42% were opposed.

Government maintains core support – Bye-election victory shows it by no means a spent political force

The current Thai government, despite its weaknesses and internal divisions, appears to maintain a core support level of over 40% throughout the country.

This weekend’s byelection victory in Khon Kaen also shows that the governing party, despite a deteriorating economy, can still pull off a result in what is an area of the country long considered to be a Pheu Tai stronghold.

Veteran Palang Pracharat MP won the day to take back his seat from a condemned murderer

The election for the seat in Constituency 7 saw Palang Pracharat candidate Somsak Khun-Ngern defeat the Pheu Thai candidate Thanik Maseepitak by over 2,000 votes for the seat formerly held by Pheu Thai’s Nawat Tohcharoensuk who lost it after being sentenced to death for murder by a criminal court in Khon Kaen in October.

Mr Somsak, it should be noted, is a long-time sitting MP for the area who won his first election in 1988.

Thai public bracing for renewed political turmoil

Most Thai people are now bracing themselves for a new year which may lead to renewed political turmoil and instability after five and a half years of stability.

Many former street protest leaders such as Sondhi Limthongkul, the figurehead of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and who was only released from prison this year, have warned Mr Thanathorn that the time is not right to begin agitating on the streets.

Former PAD leader says Thanathorn may be falling into a trap, now is simply not the time

‘I don’t think a protest has really lit up yet,’ he told the Bangkok Post newspaper this week and also pointed out that Mr Thanathorn’s reason for the protest is somewhat self-serving for him and his political party.

This he believed was a weakness. Mr Sondhi also warned that Mr Thanathorn could be leading both himself and his party into a trap by prematurely supporting streets agitation when the time in simply not opportune and when parliament exists as an alternative.

Redshirt leader has a similar opinion

His view was echoed by Jatuporn Prompan of the UDD (United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship), also no stranger to the inside of a prison cell, who has this year himself told his supporters that the time would come for street action but in the meantime, to be patient.

Mr Jatuporn questioned what goal Mr Thanathorn has in mind with his protests. He also highlighted the nature of mobs or protests which often leads to the leadership losing control of the process. ‘The objective must go beyond personal interests. It must be one people agree with,’ he pointed out. ‘That’s what I’ve not seen yet in the FFP-led protest.’

Further reading:

Election Commission goes to court to have Future Forward disbanded for illegal funding over ฿200 in loans

Prime Minister not concerned at plans for a street protest as Thanathorn issues a warning

Court ruling on Thanathorn shares opens other MPs to scrutiny and possible electoral law legal action

Future Forward leader Thanathorn removed as MP by the Constitutional Court over prohibited media link

Redshirt leader calls on supporters to be patient as he predicts the new government will be short-lived

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