THAILAND: Pita Limjaroenrat, a candidate for prime minister of Thailand, stated on Tuesday that if elected, he would be open to slowing down the speed of his party’s ambitious reform agenda but that the party would not back down from its intention to change the legislation that forbids insulting the monarchy.
In an interview with the UK media, the head of the Move Forward party, which won the election, compared attempts by the military establishment to prevent him from succeeding as a “broken record” and claimed that Thailand had entered a new age due to the public’s desire for change.
Pita, 42, will run for Thailand prime minister for a second time in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday after failing last week to secure the support of more than half of the legislature as the conservative, military-appointed Senate formed a unified front to deny him the position.
It was completely predictable—the same thing, same place. Another broken record. However, the mood of the era has shifted, according to Pita.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow, society has progressed. They want something new and fresh, as per Pita.
In a surprising turn of events on May 14, Move Forward emerged as the victor in the election, harnessing overwhelming support from the youth demographic. This marked a clear denunciation of nearly a decade of military-influenced governance or direct rule.
The party’s proposals to combat commercial monopolies, terminate military conscription, and ban generals from politics are contentious, but none more so than its intention to amend Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which imposes a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for insults to the monarchy.
Pita stated that he would be accommodating and that the parliament would make the final decision, but his party would not compromise on its reform agenda in order to win an easy election.
He stated that amending 112 would prevent the monarchy from becoming politicised and would prevent the law, under which hundreds of people have been charged, from being abused. He claimed that doing so posed no threat to the palace.
“I’m still sticking to what I promised the voters … the institution is above politics. That’s the only option for governance in this country,” he stated, adding, ” I cannot look them in the eye if I’m walking away from this issue.”
The military has long used its obligation to safeguard the monarchy as a rationale for interfering in political affairs and suppressing dissent by exploiting laws concerning defamation of the royal institution, critics say.