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Election Panic: Thai Party Leader’s Political Fate Hangs in the Balance – Shareholding Scandal Ignites Controversy!

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As Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), addressed business leaders at the Thai Chamber of Commerce, uncertainty loomed about his political future. Two prominent members of the ruling coalition, including MFP spokesman Rangsiman Rome, have voiced concerns over caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam suggesting new elections could be held if the shareholding complaint against Limjaroenrat is upheld.

Rangsiman Rome declared that his party is prepared to clarify Limjaroenrat’s shareholding in iTV Plc and dismissed the allegations as politically motivated. While questioning Wissanu’s motives, Rome accused him of disrespecting voters’ intentions and attempting to influence senators. Rome also advised the public to not take his words seriously and called upon caretaker Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to take action.

Wissanu, a known legal expert, outlined various outcomes of the shareholding complaint depending on its interpretation. If the complaint targets Limjaroenrat’s eligibility as an MP, he could still be prime minister since it is not required for the prime minister to be an MP. If the complaint targets his prime ministerial qualifications, he could still serve as an MP. Lastly, if a complaint targets Limjaroenrat’s approval of Move Forward Party memberships, new elections would have to be held.

Deputy leader of the Pheu Thai Party, Chusak Sirinil, downplayed Wissanu’s comments about a new election, calling it a far-fetched scenario. He argued that Pita’s endorsement of election candidates is legal and in line with the party’s regulations, which does not correlate with issues surrounding his shareholding. However, Senator Seree Suwanpanont echoed Wissanu’s remarks, considering the potential for a ruling against Limjaroenrat to nullify the May 14 results and necessitate a new vote.

The case against Limjaroenrat involves 42,000 shares in iTV, an independent broadcaster which had its license replaced by Thai PBS in 2007 and was delisted from the Stock Exchange of Thailand in 2014. Originally held by Limjaroenrat’s late father, he attempted to sell the shares to no avail. Although iTV has not generated any income from media activity for several years, its business registration remains active due to ongoing litigation over its concession fees. Limjaroenrat clarified the matter with the election commission prior to being sworn in after the 2019 elections.

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