Political science experts are more nuanced about the implications for Thai politics if the new party meets its demise at the hands of Thailand’s Constitutional Court. While no one denies such an event will spark resentment, some feel it is wrong to assume that Future Forward is the sole voice of the younger generation or indeed, either that its support is limited to younger people.
The Secretary-General of the Future Forward Party, Piyabutr Saengkanokku, on Friday warned of devastating political consequences and an intergenerational conflict if his party is dissolved as a result of a number of cases before the Constitutional Court seeking its dissolution. A judgment on one of the cases is due on Tuesday in relation to a case brought by lawyer-activist Nuttaporn Toprayoon in which Mr Nuttaporn, among other things, alleges that the new political party is linked to the shadowy cabal known as the Illuminati.
On Friday, the secretary-general of the Future Forward Party, echoing his party leader from last year, claimed that the dissolution of the radical new political party will lead to a clash of generations in Thai politics.
The MP and law lecturer from Thammasat University made the comments in a Facebook interview and clip which was published on his widely-read Facebook page.
The party’s leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, has made similar pronouncements in recent months as charges and legal cases mount against the new political force which emerged out of last year’s election.
Constitutional Court decision due on Tuesday
The most imminent is a judgment expected from the Constitutional Court on Tuesday in relation to a case brought by a former legal adviser to the Thai ombudsman and lawyer, Nuttaporn Toprayoon.
The case against the political party, which came third in the March 24th general election, is that its regulations combined with the statements and activities of its leaders, seek to undermine Thailand’s constitutional monarchy in breach of Section 49 of the 2017 constitution.
Claim that it is linked to Illuminati group
Among other claims, the lawyer suggests that the party is linked to the Illuminati group which seeks to undermine Thailand’s traditional values and structures in order to hoist the county’s future to the agenda of an underground international organisation known as the Illuminati.
Mr Nuttaporn has claimed that the logo of the new political party, once inverted, is similar to symbols associated with the Illuminati and freemasonry in western countries.
Future Forward has categorically rejected such claims made against it.
The Illuminati – a reported group lurking in the shadows of history and linked to revolution
The Illuminati is essentially a reported group that has never been officially verified as being real although it is often quoted by historians or more specifically, those who study occult history or freemasonry.
The topic has become very popular in recent decades with the publication of popular novels such as those by Dan Brown whose book The Da Vinci Code was a huge bestseller in 2003.
The Illuminati is specifically reported to have been a clandestine group even within freemasonry, which infiltrated its lodges in the 18th century and sparked the bloody overthrow of the French monarchy in 1789.
Future Forward leaders plan to continue their work in Thai politics even if banned by the court this year
On Friday, the Future Forward leader pointed out that if his party were to be dissolved and its executive members banned, he and his colleagues would continue to play an active role in Thai politics.
Warning about intergenerational conflict
However, he warned that such a move will breed conflict between the status quo and the younger generation in society. He also opined it would stifle hope and faith among the public in politics and suggested that involving the monarchy in politics was unwise.
‘Most importantly, the monarchy is being used once again as a tool to destroy political opponents,’ the young politician, who has effectively lead Future Forward in the House of Representative, said.
Mixed response to the claims from academics
However, the predictions and warnings of the Future Forward co-founder have drawn a mixed response from academics.
An associate professor and political scientist from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University on Saturday was quoted by the Bangkok Post newspaper: ‘We can’t assume that the Future Forward Party is equal to the development of Thai politics and the dissolution of this party will lead to a hopeless political situation,’ said Yuttaporn Issarachai.
Wrong to assume that all young people support progressive ideas and all old people are conservatives
The respected academic did acknowledge the significant role of the Future Forward Party, however, suggesting that its dissolution would have real implications.
He cautioned that it was wrong to make a blanket assumption that young people support progressive politics in Thailand while older people are conservatives.
Court will decide based on law, the legal case before it and evidence says university professor
The legal expert also made the point that the Constitutional Court would only decide the case based on the law, legal interpretation and the evidence before it.
In recent weeks, the court indicated that it already had the information required to make such a decision on the case for which a judgment is expected on Tuesday without taking witness testimony.
Case in relation to ฿192 million in loans from Mr Thanathorn poses the bigger threat
While the Future Forward Party may indeed be dissolved on Tuesday, most political observers believe that another case against it, involving ฿192 million in loans made by the party’s leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit to the new party, may be the bigger threat to its future.
Leaked reports of Election Commission subcommittee findings have sparked controversy
This case has become the subject of controversy in recent weeks after Future Forward released what it claimed was a leaked report from a subcommittee of the Election Commission which brought the case of the loans to the court seeking the dissolution to the party.
Future Forward has claimed that the sub committee’s report recommended that no legal action be taken based on its investigations.
The Election Commission, however, later voted in a 7 to 2 member decision, to forward the case to the Constitutional Court with its recommendation for dissolution of the party.
Election Commission threatened legal action over the leaks and denies the claims made by the party
The Election Commission has denied these reports and the claims by the Future Forward Party leadership.
It has hit back insisting that the reports leaked related to another issue where it was looking at a criminal investigation of the party’s leadership.
Further, it has threatened to issued legal proceedings against those found responsible for the leak.
Decision to ban Future Forward will inevitably lead to resentment among its political base
A political expert with the National Institute of Administration on Saturday accepted that a decision to ban the party will lead to resentment among Future Forward Party supporters, many of them young and urban voters.
Phichai Ratnatilaka Na Bhuket has pointed out nevertheless that divisions among generations are a natural feature of politics in all countries.
Future Forward ranked as the most popular party and its leader the public’s choice for PM in polls
Before the end of the year, a number of opinion polls with large samples showed the Future Forward Party commanding large swathes of public support among all generations.
In fact, the party and its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit led the poll with over 31% of Thai people plumping for Mr Thanathorn as prime minister compared to just shy of 24% for the incumbent PM General Prayut Chan ocha.
Of course, at the end of the day, opinion polls are not election results, opinions are not facts and support does not equate to power. Nor can it influence the rule of law.
+ Future Forward leader predicts inter-generational strife if political party is dissolved by the Constitutional Court in legal cases filed – first judgment due on Tuesday.https://www.thaiexaminer.com/thai-news-foreigners/2020/01/18/future-forward-party-legal-court-case-political-leader-illuminati-politics/Joseph O' Connor reports from Bangkok
Posted by ThaiExaminer.com on Saturday, January 18, 2020