Government MP and committee Chairman to have his status reviewed by the Constitutional Court
A similar move was made by the court in June last year in respect of influential Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow but no decision has been handed down yet. In the meantime, opposition MPs want to see Mr Sira suspended from his duties until the court renders its verdict.
The Constitutional Court has taken up a petition signed by 146 MPs in parliament to review the status of Bangkok and Palang Pracharat Party MP Sira Jenjaka after claims were made that the high profile government party house member was convicted of a criminal offence by a court in Pathumwan in 1995 and was therefore eligible to seek election as an MP in 2019. Mr Sira has expressed confidence in his position but emphasised that he will respect any decision handed down by the court in the matter.
The position of Palang Pracharat Party MP Sira Jenjaka may be under threat after the House Speaker, Chuan Leekpai, confirmed this weekend, that he had forwarded a petition signed by 146 MPs, more than a third of the House of Representatives, to the Constitutional Court asking that the status of the well known MP be reviewed under Section 98 (10) of the constitution and that the case had been taken up by the court.
Mr Sira is the high profile Chairman of the House Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee. His aggressive role in the recent hearings concerning the Red Bull scandal focusing on the decision by Assistant Attorney General Nate Natsuk not to prosecute Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya earned him widespread acclaim.
High profile Bangkok MP has been controversial
However, his parliamentary career has encountered controversy and in recent times, he threatened to lodge a police complaint against Thai Civilized Party leader, Mongkolkit Suksintaranont, after the pair exchanged heated barbs.
Mr Sira was also front and centre of a high profile campaign calling for an enquiry into an illegal condominium development in Phuket last year during which, in a visit to the province, he became embroiled in a heated exchange with a senior police officer.
Reports of a fraud conviction in Pathumwan
The basis for the petition, which has been organised by the leader of the Seri Ruam Thai Party in parliament, Police General Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, is a reported prior criminal conviction.
There are claims that the MP was convicted by the District Court in Pathumwan province in 1995 and sentenced to eight months in prison for fraud.
Reports suggest that the sentence was halved because the Bangkok MP admitted the charge against him before the court.
Under the constitution, this should have disqualified Mr Sira from running for election although the MP has said he is confident of his position but would await the decision of the court.
Opposition calls for MP to be suspended from his duties pending the court’s decision on his status
In the meantime, some opposition MPs are demanding that he be suspended from his duties as an MP until the court renders its final verdict.
‘I will wait and see if the court will order him suspended from duty. There is clear evidence against him,’ Police General Sereepisuth said on Friday.
It is being reported that the Constitutional Court has accepted the petition placed before it which means that the case will be reviewed and a decision should emerge.
Case was thrown out in early January
Earlier, on January 7th, the court had rejected a request to review the MP’s status after only 50 signatures were lodged in December. The court said the number of MPs was not enough under the constitution.
On December 29th, two Pheu Thai MPs, Sakon Nakhon’s Anurak Boonsol and Udon Thani’s Arporn Sarakham, withdrew their names from the initial list of 50 signatures on the petition.
However, the Pheu Thai party pledged to assist further efforts on the matter with other opposition MPs in parliament.
It is not clear what will happen next or the timeframe.
Similar court decision expected in respect of Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow after his case was taken up last June for review
In June last year, a similar decision was made by the Constitutional Court in respect of controversial claims made in the media particularly in a respected foreign newspaper in Australia concerning Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow.
He was reported to have served 4 years in an Australian prison decades ago while living under another name, after being arrested in the Bondi area of Sydney in April 1993.
The minister, an MP for Phayao province, has consistently denied the explosive claims made in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Last June, the Constitutional Court took up the case and gave Captain Prompow 15 days to make a submission countering the case made against him.
The court has yet to issue its judgment on that matter.
About the Author
Carla Boonkong is a magazine writer who writes extensively about woman’s issues in Thailand. One of her key subjects is the story of Thailand’s growing influence in the world and the role played by Thai women in the process. She is now a staff writer with Thai Examiner.com in Bangkok. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.