11 July 2024

Thirty-six law professors, at the Faculty of Law of Thammasat University, have issued a statement voicing their disagreement with the Constitutional Court’s decision to disband the Future Forward party, and to ban its executive committee from politics for ten years, for accepting a 191.2 million baht loan from its then leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

 

The Constitutional Court ruled that a political party cannot borrow money, even though the organic law on political parties does not specifically mention loans, which does not, however, mean that the law recognizes that a loan as legal.

The court also ruled that charging low interest on the loan is an unusual trade practice and, hence, the loan amounts to a donation in the form of “other benefits”.  Therefore, the party violated Section 66 of the organic law on political parties for taking loan in excess of the limit of ten million baht.

 

Additionally, the court ruled that the Future Forward party broke Section 72 of the organic law by knowingly or unknowingly accepting the loan from Thanathorn, which it described as an illegal source.  Violations of Section 66 and 72 of the organic law empower the court to invoke Section 92 of the Constitution to disband the party.

The 36 law professors, however, contended that a political party is not a public legal entity, but a private legal entity, like a foundation or an association and, hence, can legally acquire a loan or loans in accordance with the Civil Code.

 

Like a public company, which is not empowered to exercise public power or state power, they argue that a political party also has no power to exercise public or state power.

Regarding the low interest charged on the loan, the law professors contend that it is the right of the lender and the borrower to agree on the rate of interest and it is not an unusual trade practice for the lender to charge low or no interest.

 

Hence, the 191.2 million baht loan does not qualify as a loan in the form of “other benefits”.

The law professors pointed out that the charter court’s invoking of Section 72 against the party is irrelevant, arguing that the section in question is meant only for money or other benefits deriving from illegal sources, such as the illicit drugs trade.

 

The citing of Section 72 and Section 66, they said, was purely intended to empower the court to dissolve the Future Forward party.

In the statement, the law professors said that political conflict in Thailand, which has dragged on for several years, could be eased or resolved “if the law or the interpretation of the law is applied fairly and rightfully, if the jurists perform their duty without bias and the people in society join forces to search for a solution with reason and patience.”

Tags:  law professors, Thammasat U, private legal entity, public legal entity, loan, donation