Jatuporn to be Yingluck’s first test on clean Thailand government

For the past three years one of the most familiar faces at red-shirt rallies across Thailand has been that of United Front for Democracy (UDD) co-leader and former Pheu Thai Party (PTP) MP Jatuporn Prompan, now languishing in the Bangkok Remand Center and threatening to become the first real test of how clean the newly elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra will be.

While red-shirt supporters welcomed former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ) fulfilling his promise to hold an early 2011 general election in Thailand, the dissolving of the Thai parliament also saw the removal of the parliamentary immunity veil that had prevented Jatuporn from joining fellow UDD leaders in jail following the collapse of the red-shirt protest in Bangkok last year that saw 92 people killed.

Jatuporn Prompan set to be one of Yingluck Shinawatra's first controversies. Photo: John Le Fevre

Remanded in custody on charges of terrorism since the parliament was dissolved on May 12, 2011, Jatuporn has been the point man for deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra at red-shirt rallies since the Abhisit-led Democratic government, which suffered a crushing defeat in last weekends Thailand 2011 general election, was sworn in on December 17, 2008 (See: Thainess, the economy & the 2011 Thailand general election)

Article 100 (3) of the 2007 Thailand Constitution, introduced by the military government which ousted fugitive former prime minister Thaksin in a 2006 putsch, states that any person being detained by a warrant of the court or by a lawful order on the election day is disenfranchised.

Further, according to the Political Parties Act, Jatuporn lost his party membership and simultaneously his qualification to contest the 2011 Thailand general election, as he was put in court-sanctioned custody weeks before it.

To be eligible to stand for parliament Thailand law states a candidate must have been a voter and on the electoral register for at least five-years prior to the election, with Thailand’s electoral law disenfranchising members of the Sangha ‚Äì the Buddhist community of monks, nuns, novices, and laity ‚Äì prisoners, and those judged to be of unsound mind.

2011 Thailand general election

Jatuporn Prompan was largely responsible for the landslide victory of the Phue Thai Party in the 2011 Thailand general election by coordinating the various red-shirt groups. photo: John Le Fevre

The question of Jatuporn’s eligibility, which will enable him to reclaim parliamentary immunity – essentially a get out of jail free card – is one that saw lawyers for the 45-year-old activist and politician rush to the Criminal Court last week seeking his temporary release in order vote in the 2011 Thailand general election.

The last-ditch bail application met with the same result as previous applications, with the Criminal Court rejecting it, stating the charges against Jatuporn were serious and there is sufficient reason to believe he could cause unrest in the country if allowed out of prison to vote.

Following the court’s ruling EC commissioner Sodsri Satayatum said that if Jatuporn did not cast his vote in the 2011 Thailand general election he would be considered lacking in qualifications to be an MP.

Thailand electoral commission backflip

Dr. Weng Tojirakarn, one of the red-shirt leaders to receive parliamentary immunity from the 2011 Thailand general election. Photo: John Le Fevre
Red-shirt secretary-general Natthawut Saikua now protected by parliamentary immunity after becoming an MP in the Thailand 2011 general election. Photo: John Le Fevre

Yesterday in a total back-flip Ms. Sodsri said the EC has no mandate to rule on a candidates eligibility and instead will seek a judicial review on the matter by the Constitution Court (CC) and in the meantime endorsed him. (See: Thainess, the economy & the 2011 Thailand general election)

That Jauporn was a candidate and held in jail simultaneously is sure to be a vexing question for Thailand’s Constitutional Court to ponder, as up until the 2011 Thailand general election Jatuporn had voted in previous elections and was duly registered to vote and therefore stand as a candidate for the 2011 Thailand general election.

In the recent past the CC has not been kind to what is now known as PTP, formerly the People‚Äôs Power Party (PPP), ruling against then prime minister Samak Sundarave, before dissolving the party and the government of Samak’s successor, former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, banning him and party executives from politics for five years ‚Äì paving the way for the Democrat Party to seize power through a vote of the parliament. (See: Thainess.. )

After sheltering behind his parliamentary immunity to avoid joining fellow red-shirt leaders in prison following last year’s Bangkok political protests, that Jatuporn, who was so instrumental in coordinating the red-shirt movement which led to PTPs landslide victory in the 2011 Thailand general election remains in jail will test the credibility of the yet to be sworn in government of Prime Minister-designate, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Thailand’s multicolor-shirts return

Thailand's multicolor-shirts to commence protesting the new Thailand government on July 12
Thailand's multicolor-shirts to commence protesting the new Thailand government on July 12. photo: John Le Fevre
One of the multicolor-shirt protesters who rioted against red-shirt protesters in April 2010
One of the multicolor-shirt protesters who rioted against red-shirt protesters in April 2010. Photo: John Le Fevre

Depending on the exact Thai wording of the relevant Acts one possible scenario is that Jatuporn will be found to be eligible to serve as an MP for the new government’s term resulting from the 2011 Thailand general election, but ineligible to stand as a candidate in the next Thailand general election.

With Thailand’s new government yet to be sworn in the country’s so called “multicolor-shirts” have announced a protest against the incoming government on July 12 at the country’s National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Leader of the Network of Citizen Volunteers Protecting the Land, gynecologist Tul Sitthisomwong, largely formed from the same yellow-shirt movement that closed Bangkok airports in 2008, want the regulatory body to investigate Yingluck for allegedly concealing assets belonging to her fugitive brother, Thaksin.

How the new government, which came to power on promises of equality opportunity, freedom of speech, and transparency, along with institutions such as the CC and Criminal Court continue to rule will be monitored closely by human rights and civil liberty groups, with the often scene face of Jatuporn Prompan certain to be one of its first controversies.

Red-shirt leaders Natthawut Saikua, Dr. Weng Tojirakarn, Korkaew Pikulthong, and Wiphuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai were also declared successful candidates in the 2011 Thailand general election and will be protected from returning to jail during the term of the incoming government by the Thailand parliamentary immunity laws.

ENDS:
© 2011, John Le Fevre

Related: Thainess, the economy & the 2011 Thailand general election)









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Yingluck Shinawatra • Jatuporn Prompan • 2011 Thailand general election • Natthawut Saikua • Dr. Weng Tojirakarn • Korkaew Pikulthong • “Red shirts” • “Yellow Shirts” • 2011 Thailand general election • Abhisit Vejjajiva • Constitution of Thailand • coup d’état • Democrat Party • PAD • People’s Power Party • Peoples Alliance for Democracy • Pheu Thai Party • PPP • Samak Sundaravej • Somchai Wongsawat • Southeast Asia politics • Thai Army • Thailand economy • Thailand politics • Thaksin Shinawatra • UDD • United Front for Democracy • Network of Citizen Volunteers Protecting the Land • multicolor-shirts

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John Le Fevre

Deputy editor, Thailand & GMS editor at The Establishment Post

John Le Fevre is an Australian national with more than 35 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer and copy editor.

He is currently deputy editor and Thailand / GMS region editor for The Establishment Post

Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me

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