Thanathorn defends meeting over coffee is not political assembly

Political “young blood” Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has invited police and military officers to join him for political discussion over coffee after he was warned by the junta that his planned meet over coffee on Thursday (March 15) to discuss the formation of a new political party could be interpreted as an illegal political assembly.

Mr Thanathorn, deputy CEO of the Thai Summit Group, posted in his Facebook page on Wednesday clarifying his planned meeting over coffee with political enthusiasts regarding his new party which is to be registered.

Mr Thanathorn said after the coffee talk, he and members of the so-call “Friend of Thanathorn” group would proceed to the Election Commission to register the new party.

He thanked the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree for the warning, but argued that it would be very unfair to him if his planned meeting on Thursday was to be cancelled, citing that similar meetings of more than five people by the other parties were not cancelled.

He insisted that the planned meeting was to talk about his party, political future and to answer some doubts raised by the public.  It is not about political canvassing or about the announcement of party manifesto, he said.

For him to set up a party, Mr Thanathorn reminded that he would be required to recruit 500 co-founders in order to meet to discuss party formation; recruit candidates to be filed in 350 constituencies and another 150 party list candidates, not to mention recruitment of party members, setting up party branch offices and etc.

All these activities are to be undertaken and completed in 11 months before the election, he said, adding that new parties are at a disadvantage compared to old parties.

He pleaded with the NCPO and the government to ease its restriction of political activities to create an atmosphere conducive to the promotion of free expressions.