Southeast Asian MPs urge international community to monitor potential dissolution of largest party in Thai parliament 


Southeast Asian MPs urge international community to monitor potential dissolution of largest party in Thai parliament 

JAKARTA – ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) call on the international community to monitor, and take preventive actions to discourage, the use of judicial instruments to dissolve the Move Forward Party (MFP), which won the most number of seats in the Thai general elections in May 2023 and is currently the largest party in the Thai parliament. 

The possible dissolution, which could take place as early as the third week of June, would lead to at least a 10-year ban on the executive members from participating in formal politics. The Election Commission and the Constitutional Court have stated that the MFP’s campaign promise to reform the lèse-majesté law is equivalent to an attempt to overthrow the democratic government with the King as Head of State.

The probable judicial overreach risks encroaching on the prerogative of the legislative branch and blatantly disregards the principle of the separation of powers. “By preventing parliamentarians from deliberating on the law that is not in line with international human rights standards, the court undermines the very idea of democracy as it puts that specific law beyond the reach of any amendments,” APHR Chair and Indonesian Member of Parliament Mercy Chriesty Barends said today. 

APHR also calls on international human rights mechanisms and the international community to explore various tools in international law to hold those committing judicial harassment in Thailand accountable.

Democracy in Thailand is backsliding, not only due to a military coup, but also through dubious interpretations of laws employed to target opposition politicians. If the Move Forward Party is banned, like the Future Forward Party in 2019, millions of people will be disenfranchised, and unrest that could destabilize Thailand is a real possibility,” said APHR Co-Chair and former Malaysian MP Charles Santiago. “This would not only hurt Thailand’s democratic development, but would further harm the economy and damage the reputation and legacy of the current Thai government.”  

Prior to this, the MFP was blocked from leading the coalition government by the institutionalized counter-majoritarian mechanism in the Thai military-drafted constitution. Its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, along with other leading members of parliament have individually been faced with an ongoing campaign of judicial harassment. 

Apart from the cases against the MFP and its MPs, the overall human rights trend in Thailand is worrisome. The use of lèse-majesté laws and computer crime accusations to charge and jail those who voice dissenting opinions is on the rise. Surprisingly, these violations are increasing while Thailand is campaigning for its seat at the UN Human Rights Council. 

APHR urges the international community to continue monitoring the deteriorating human rights and democratic situation in Thailand and to take appropriate measures to protect not only parliamentarians at risk but also other political prisoners,” said Barends.

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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia. Our founding members include many of the region's most progressive Members of Parliament (MPs), with a proven track record of human rights advocacy work.

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