13 June 2024

Move Forward party secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon was elected new Move Forward party leader today (Saturday), succeeding Pita Limjaroenrat who stepped down.

Chaithawat received 330 votes in favour, against five dissenting, at the extraordinary general meeting of the party this morning at the party’s head office.

A native of Songkhla province, 45-year-old Chaithawat graduated with a BA in Environmental Engineering from Chulalongkorn University. He was the leader of the Student Federation of Thailand in 1998/9 and a founder and editor of the Fah Diew Kan political magazine. He was a committee member of the Asian Public Intellectuals Fellowship Program, the Nippon Foundation and the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University and an advisor to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018.

The meeting will also elect a new executive committee, as the previous one was automatically disbanded after Pita’s resignation.

For the time being, Pita is been banned from performing his duties as an MP in parliament by the Constitutional Court, after it agreed to consider a complaint that Pita owned shares in a media firm when he applied for his May 14th general election candidacy.

The court’s ban has also prevented Pita from assuming his role as leader of the opposition which, according to the law, is reserved for the leader of the largest opposition party.

The election of Chaithawat does pave the way for him to become leader of the opposition, but it remains to be seen whether he will take the post.

If he does, however, it would mean that the party’s MP, Padipat Suntiphada, will lose his post as the deputy House speaker, in accordance with Section 106 of the Constitution, which stipulates that a member of the opposition party, of which the leader of the opposition is also a member, cannot be a minister, House speaker or deputy House speaker.

If the Move Forward party wants to keep Padipat as the deputy House speaker, but under the banner of another opposition party, it will have to expel him, so he can join a new one within 30 days (to retain his parliamentary membership).