BANGKOK — The Progress Movement will focus on working towards more equitable tax income allocations to the provinces, said its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
Thanothorn, who leads the Progressive Movement after he was banned from political office due to the dissolution of the Future Forward Party in Feb 2020, said the key is to amend section 14 of the constitution which deals with local administration.
Seventy percent of the tax collected goes to the central government while 30 percent remains. Thanathorn wants to see it equalized to half and half, or 50 percent each.
“We will collect signatures to amend the section 14 which deals with decentralization from 70/30 to 50/50 starting April 1 [next year] which marks 130 years since King Chulalongkorn centralized powers,” Thanathorn said, adding. “We shall see if parties that talk about decentralization are serious about it or not.”
Thanathorn, who spoke with Khaosod newspapers management during an early New Year greetings on Thursday at Khaosod editorial office, said he and his colleagues will also continue to support the call for monarchy reforms. “We cannot sweep it under the rug. If we speak frankly, with reasons and without malice, people will listen,” Thanathorn said, adding that many have paid the price over the past year and a half including being charged and detained under the lese majeste law and injured during the protests.
Come next year, Thanathorn and her colleague Pannika Wanich will campaign for Move Forward Party’s candidate for Bangkok gubernatorial election. Move Forward is the party which emerged from the remnants of Future Forward Party when the latter was dissolved by the Constitutional Court in February 2020. Thanathorn described the Move Forward Party and Progressive Movement as “Siamese twins” where the former focus on work in the parliament while the latter on politics on the streets.
On the yet to be announced name of Bangkok City Hall candidate, Pannika said it will rival that of the current leading candidate Chadchart Sittipunt, former transport minister under the Yingluck Shinawatra administration who’s currently running as an independent candidate.
“Whether the person will be better or not depends on each person’s views but it will be at least comparable,” said Pannika of the candidate, whose name is to be revealed on Jan 23. “Bangkokians should be delighted that they will have many good candidates to choose from. This will be like developed nations where candidates will fiercely compete and debate.”
The political climate over the past few months have witnessed many netizens who support two major opposition parties, Pheu Thai and Move Forward, exchanging bitter political exchanges, hatred even, against one another as people expect the general elections to be possibly held late next year. Both Thanathorn and Pennikar acknowledged the situations but Thanathorn said he has no power to order anyone to stop the social media feud.
“It happened organically so I can’t press a button to order anyone. If we criticize other parties it will be mainly based on principles.”
Pennika thinks some of the supporters of each of the two parties see the situation as a zero-sum game. “Excessive Love is problematic. It’s no different from [excessive] love for the monarchy. [Some] see it as a zero-sum game… They don’t want anyone to criticize.”
It’s been nearly two years since both Thanathorn has been banned from holding political office after Thanathorn was found to have violated the election laws regarding donations to political parties when he loaned 191 million baht to his own party. Thanathorn said it took a year for both Progressive Movement which he leads and the Move Forward Party, the avatar of Future Forward, to rebuild. Thanathorn said he’s happy with the Move Forward Party for retaining some flavors of the now disbanded Future Forward Party which he led.
“The dissolution [of Future Forward] solidifies us. Move Forward Party MPs no longer have any fears. It made us one,” said Thanathorn, adding that he’s very happy with Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat’s role in leading the party and said Pita is definitely no less intelligent than him.