The opposition Move Forward Party has received more than Bt30 million from the Election Commission’s Fund for Development of Political Parties — the highest among the 67 eligible parties this year, it was revealed on Friday.
Move Forward was allocated Bt30,145,874.86 from the fund, which comes from taxpayers.
The party’s secretary-general, Chaithawat Tulathon, on Friday thanked taxpayers who donated to Move Forward and promised the party would spend the subsidy efficiently for its development as a political institution.
When filling in their annual income tax forms, taxpayers have an option to donate a portion of their tax money (up to Bt500) to a political party of their choice.
The coalition Democrat Party received the second-largest tax donation from the development fund, at just over Bt13 million (Bt13,133,331.30), followed by the coalition Bhumjaithai Party (Bt9,475,722.29), new party Kla (Bt6,559,587.89), the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (Bt5,706,040.41), and opposition Pheu Thai Party (Bt4,231,814), the Election Commission revealed on Friday.
Other new parties benefiting from the fund included Thai Sang Thai (Bt740,000) and Thai Pakdee (Bt81,000).
The fund allocated a total of Bt101.95 million to parties this year.
In addition to income tax donations, the fund draws from other sources including state budget, election candidates’ application fees, and other donations.
The Metropolitan Police Bureau has stepped up security to deal with four groups of protesters who plan to rally at four spots in Bangkok on Friday evening.
Deputy Metropolitan Police commissioner Pol Maj-General Jirasant Kaewsaeng and deputy police spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Patanacharoen held a press conference to announce that security would be tightened in the four rally areas.
The spokesman said the rallies would start at 4pm and could affect traffic flows at certain spots.
The four protest groups and their rally sites are:
– P-Move and the Four Regions Slum Network will rally in front of the Government House.
– Musicians for the People will demonstrate in front of Bangkok Remand Prison.
– Resistant Citizen will rally in front of the Supreme Court.
– Thalugaz group will protest under the Din Daeng Expressway.
The police spokesman said the rally in front of Bangkok Remand Prison is expected to cause traffic congestion on Ngam Wong Wan Road hence motorists are advised to avoid the area.
The protest under the Din Daeng expressway is also expected to affect traffic flows on Asoke-Din Daeng Road and Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road.
Krissana said the Metropolitan Police Bureau is pursuing legal action against protesters in 814 cases, of which 409 have been sent to public prosecutors for arraignment.
The spokesman said although the people have the constitutional right to demonstrate, they are prohibited by law from affecting other people’s rights, especially disrupting traffic.
Opposition parties led by Pheu Thai on Friday submitted a motion to grill the government over the rising cost of living, pandemic and other issues.
Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew requested the debate be scheduled for February 16-17, with 36 hours allotted so opposition MPs have enough time to speak.
He said MPs would demand answers from the government on four issues.
It will question why the cost of living keeps rising but workers’ pay remains low.
It will target the government over the Covid-19 pandemic and outbreaks of animal disease in the country.
The opposition will also grill the government on the political crisis, particularly the failure to reform politics and the use of money to solve political issues, the Pheu Thai leader said.
Lastly, the opposition will highlight failures in administration of the country, including failed efforts to suppress drug trafficking, corruption and air pollution, Chonlan said. It will also attack the government over alleged missed opportunities for international trade.
The debate would help the public understand national issues and increase pressure on the government to tackle the problems, Cholnan said.
“The debate is unlikely to bring changes via Parliament, but we will use it to present facts to the people,” he added.
Parliament president Chuan Leekpai said he expected the debate to be held in the middle of next month, adding that government coalition and opposition whips will have to discuss its length.
The motion was signed by 173 MPs from seven opposition parties. Under Article 152 of the Constitution, the support of at least 100 MPs is required to submit a motion for a debate to inquire about facts or recommend issues without a resolution.
In a short clip posted on Facebook, Phayao MP and former secretary-general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, Captain Thamanat Prompow, promised he has a surprise in store for people.
“My new party is already established and I have been getting ready to transfer for quite a while. We will also have a surprise that will be revealed soon,” he said.
Thamanat and 20 other MPs linked to him were ousted from the ruling party on Wednesday for allegedly rifts in the party, especially after Thamanat threatened to pull his faction out unless the Cabinet is reshuffled.
“I did not resign as MP but was ousted by votes from more than three-fourths of the party’s executives. My MP position, however, is still intact,” Thamanat said in the 3.27-minute clip.
“But I’m worried about my brothers and sisters in the party who share my ideology. Who will take care of them after I’m gone?”
Thamanat also pointed out that he has supported many PPRP MPs in their campaigns upcountry during the Covid-19 crisis.
“More than 80 per cent of the funding for these campaigns came from me and the party leader. Who will carry out these campaigns now?” he bemoaned.
“I’m a straight talker, and this may have upset certain politicians. However, after I’m out, all issues between me and anyone else can be considered closed permanently,” he added.
“When I was with PPRP, I was restricted by many conditions, which I won’t discuss here. I hope that my new home [party] will give me more freedom to initiate projects that I have been planning for the benefit of Thai people.”
It is widely speculated that Thamanat will join the New Economics Party (NEP), which was established in March 2018 and will now be led by General Wich Thephasadin na Ayutthaya.
Under the law, Thamanat and the other former PPRP members must seek a new “home” in no more than 30 days to maintain their MP status.