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Princess was ‘nominated for PM with her consent’

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Chaturon Chaisang (centre), chief strategist of the embattled Thai Raksa Chart Party, joins campaigning in Bangkok on Wednesday, ahead of the March national election. LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP

Princess was ‘nominated for PM with her consent’

IN ITS latest bid to fight the possibility of dissolution, the embattled Thai Raksa Chart Party on Wednesday defended its nomination of Princess Ubolratana, saying it had been done at the wish and consent of the Princess.

The party’s lawyer, Surachai Chinchai, explained that the nomination was done with innocent intent and the party had no special goals behind it.

“We innocently believed that we could do it. Also, it was done at the wish of the one who was nominated,” he said. He also insisted that the party had not falsely used the Princess’s name, and that Ubolratana had agreed to be named the party’s sole prime ministerial candidate.

The nomination of Ubolratana, who is the elder sister of His Majesty the King, was submitted to the Election Commission on the morning of February 8 by party leader Pheeraphon Pongpanit.

However, her nomination was short-lived as the King issued a decree that members of the Royal Family could not be involved in politics.

The controversial nomination led to several complaints against the party as well as petitions for its dissolution. In response, the EC on February 13 petitioned the Constitutional Court to dissolve the party, saying its act breached the political party law that prohibited any opposition to constitutional monarchy.

A day later the court agreed to consider the petition and told Thai Raksa Chart to submit its defence within seven days.

Speaking to reporters after submitting the defence documents, Surachai said: “When the King issued the order on February 8 at 11pm, the party immediately announced the following morning that it was adhering to the order willingly. This showed our loyalty to the King and the monarchy, and also showed that we had no intention of pursuing the nomination.”

Insisting that the nomination had been done innocently and with the Princess’s consent, Surachai also argued that the ban for “opposition to the monarchy” targeted moves to install communism in the country or commit treason.

He said the party did not commit any of these crimes, as Ubolratana had given her consent to the nomination. “The petition does not just call for the dissolution of the party, but also calls for the banning of party executives from politics for life.

This is equivalent to capital punishment in politics,” he said.

Petition ‘not in line with law’

He also pointed out that the EC had submitted the petition to the Constitutional Court without even investigating the issue.

“Therefore, the steps taken by the EC were not in line with the law,” he said, adding this made its petition to the Constitutional Court illegitimate.

In its defence, the party has submitted a list of 19 witnesses, 14 of whom are party executives and five outsiders.

However, he refused to say whether the controversial candidate would be among the five witnesses.

Separately, a party source claimed the Princess would not testify in court. As to whether the Constitutional Court will deliver its ruling before the March 24 election, Surachai said he believes voters should first have a chance to vote.

“This will benefit the justice system,” he said.

The EC has been widely criticised for its haste in taking the case to court, with some saying this was a form of discrimination and a move to remove Thai Raksa Chart from the fray.

Thai Raksa Chart is a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra party, believed to be fielded in the election to help Pheu Thai Party gain party-list MP seats.

The creation of separate parties was a result of the new election system that gives big parties only a few seats in the House of Representatives.

The Shinawatra camp’s election aspirations could be seriously hurt if Thai Raksa Chart were to be dissolved.

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