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Thai ex-MP banned for life for 'disrespecting monarchy'

Published September 21, 2023 Updated September 21, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

BANGKOK — A Thai politician and activist was banned from politics for life on Wednesday(Sept 20) for breaching “ethical standards” with decade-old photos deemed disrespectful to the kingdom’s revered monarchy.

Ms Pannika Wanich, an activist with the progressive Move Forward Party and previously an MP and spokesperson with the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, has been hit with numerous lawsuits over the years over allegations she disrespected the monarchy.

Thailand has strict royal defamation laws banning any criticism of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his close family, which critics say have been used to silence dissent.

“The (Supreme) Court ruled that she has violated the ethical standards of a person who holds the political position,” Ms Pannika’s lawyer Krissadang Nutcharat told AFP.

“The court has banned her from enrolling in politics for the rest of her life.”

Mr Srisuwan Janya, a royalist activist and serial petitioner, filed the case with the National Anti-Corruption Commission in 2019 over Facebook posts published on Ms Pannika’s personal account.

He alleged that photos — including an image taken at her 2010 graduation, where she was photographed pointing at former King Rama IX — were disrespectful to the monarchy.

Mr Srisuwan claimed Ms Pannika had breached the “ethical standards that a person with political position” must maintain to hold public office — which include respecting the monarchy.

The Supreme Court upheld his complaint on Wednesday.

In a separate case, officials also charged Ms Pannika with violating the Computer Crime Act after she shared an old poem online.

A court dismissed those charges this year and ruled that the poem, which focused on the Ayutthaya period hundreds of years ago, had been widely available.

One of the only women on the executive board of the Future Forward Party, Ms Pannika was previously banned from holding political office for a decade following the party’s dissolution in 2020. AFP

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