Allegations against the Move Forward Party leader, if taken up by the Election Commission and forwarded to the Constitutional Court, could see him barred from politics. However, on Wednesday, key political analysts considered this unlikely.
Move Forward Party leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, on Tuesday, stoutly defended claims that he held media shares in a company when serving as an MP in the last parliament, an allegation put forward on the same day by a Palang Pracharat Party candidate and which could see Thailand’s most popular politician barred from politics.
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat who, according to opinion polls, is the country’s most favoured politician to become Thailand’s next Prime Minister, came out on Tuesday to strongly deny that he held shares in a media company which would have precluded him from being an MP in parliament.
This came after Mr Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a party list candidate for the Palang Pracharat Party, dropped a bomb on Tuesday when he called upon the Election Commission to investigate the matter.
Palang Pracharat Party list candidate claims Pita held 42,000 shares in iTV when he took his seat in May 2019 as an MP for the Future Forward Party
According to Mr Ruangkrai, Mr Pita held 42,000 shares in a firm called iTV when he declared 45 assets to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on May 25th 2019 at the same time as taking his seat in parliament after the March 2019 General Election.
Mr Pita was originally elected as an MP for the Future Forward Party which was later dissolved in February 2020.
The Palang Pracharat Party candidate said that Mr Pita still held the shares valued at ฿5 each as of April 27th 2022.
The company is involved in advertising and public relations operations and last year had an income of ฿21 million.
Pita would have been ineligible to sit as an MP and could be barred from politics if found guilty of breaching the law but strongly defends his position
If the claim is true, then Mr Pita would have been ineligible to hold the seat in the last parliament and could face prosecution under the country’s strict electoral law.
This matter ultimately, if brought before the Constitutional Court, could lead to him being prohibited from being engaged in politics.
It would depend on the result of any investigation by the Election Commission or if it decides to pursue such a course.
Mr Ruangkrai insists he wants to see his complaint fully investigated by the Election Commission although some analysts believe the case will not be taken further based on Mr Pita’s statement on Tuesday.
Pita denies the allegations, says he informed officials
Responding on Tuesday, Mr Pita emphatically denied the allegations and said that the shares were not held by him.
He further stated that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) had been informed about the matter.
He indicated that the shares in question were held as part of a family trust.
‘I am not worried about the case because the shares are not mine. It’s a family heritage, and I’m the manager of that. I informed the National Anti-Corruption Commission about this a long time ago,’ he said.
A recent blockchain poll conducted by Sripatum University gave Mr Pita 43.01% support in a public poll for the next prime minister, well ahead of any other candidate.
The popular party leader served as an MP for Bangkok from 2019 until 2023.