6 June 2024

Former Palang Pracharath MP Pareena Kraikupt has described the Supreme Court decision, to strip her of her MP status and to ban her from running for or holding political office for life, as a “political death sentence”, echoing Progressive Movement’s Piyabutr Saengkanokkul’s remark that such a move is a gross violation of her basic rights.

The Supreme Court Criminal Division for Political Office Holders ruled yesterday (Thursday) that Pareena, formerly an MP for Ratchaburi province, is guilty of gross ethical misconduct for encroachment on national forest reserves and land reserved for a land reform project. The court stripped her of the parliamentary status and banned her from voting for ten years. The court also barred her from contesting an election or holding a political office for life.

In her Facebook post last night, Pareena said that she had never concealed the fact that she had occupied the land in question. She said that she had told the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) that she had utilised the land, without being aware that the land in question is land intended for land reform, because there was no indication that it is land reform land. Additionally, there were no protests from local administration officials over the years until, one day, someone complained to the NACC, she claimed.

She also claimed that the land was inherited from her father, former MP Thavee, adding that, when she learned that the land she occupied, part of which she turned into a poultry farm, is for land reform, she notified the Agricultural Land Reform Office, seeking to return the land to the state.

Piyabutr, a core leader of the Progressive Movement, and formerly secretary-general of the now-defunct Future Forward party, argued that an ethical issue for politicians is not a legal issue and, therefore, it should not be judged by a court of law but by parliament, in the case of an MP.

A law professor and anti-establishment supporter, Piyabutr blamed the current constitution, backed by the then-military junta and approved in a nationwide referendum in 2016, for allowing the judiciary to become involved with legislative affairs which, he said, is not right.

Voicing his opposition to the lifetime ban on holding political office or contesting an election, Piyabutr called on the anti-establishment movement not to cheer the court’s verdict against Pareena, but should join forces to campaign against the current Constitution.