No Role for Foreigners in Thai Politics

Many foreigners in Thailand participate actively in the political discussion. They write Letters to the Editor in the international newspapers, they state opinions in panel discussions and elsewhere. They speak on stages or support behind stages. But foreigners in Thailand are otherwise specifically prohibited from entering politics.
Foreigners cannot be part of establishing a political party in Thailand. Foreigners cannot be a member of a political party in Thailand. And foreigners cannot be elected leader in any position of a political party in Thailand.
Foreigners can also not support a political party with a donation. If a company has 50 pct or more foreign shareholders is also prohibited from donating to a political party. Even if just the manager or a member of the execuitive committee is not a person of Thai nationality, that juristic entity is prohibited from supporting a political party.
And should it not be quite clear yet, the next paragraph in the law states that “No person, organization or juristic person [of the kind mentioned above] shall make a donation to any political party or its members with a view to carrying out the activities of the political party or any other political activity.”
Penalties for doing it anyway are harsh.
If a political party has received donations from a foreigner or jurisdic entity with foreign involvement, the party risks being dissolved. On top of that, there are prison terms and fines in store for the leaders of the party.

Below please find the paragraphs relevant to foreigners involvement in politicial activities as stated in the Organic Act on Political Parties. The translation is unofficial but provided by the Election Comission of Thailand.
For readers interested in the differences between the current law on political parties compared to the previous law from 1997 the same paragraphs in the previous law is copied in after the current law.
The only significant difference is in the wording related to who can form a political party. In the old law, only persons with Thai nationality by birth can be part of registering a party. But the new law has added the option that it could also be persons who have been naturalized a Thai citizen for not less than five years. Throughout the rest of the current act, this “or naturalization for not less than five years” has, however, not been added. Although this could be a mistake, it remains nevertheless the case.


DOCUMENTATION:
_____________________________________________________________________________________
UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION
ORGANIC ACT ON POLITICAL PARTIES
B.E. 2550 [2007]
__________________

FORMATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Section 8
Fifteen or more persons, who have Thai nationality by birth or naturalization for not less than five years, are not under eighteen years of age, and not being under any of the prohibitions entailing electoral disfranchisement under the Constitution, can form a political party.

The Executive Committee of a political party shall consist of a Leader, Deputy Leader, Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General, Treasurer, Registrar, Spokesman and other committee members elected from the political party’s membership, provided they are of Thai nationality by birth, not under twenty years of age nor subject to any prohibitions under Section 102 (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (13) and (14) of the Constitution.

CHAPTER II
OPERATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Section 19
A person who is eligible to be a member of a political party must be of Thai nationality by birth, have the prerequisite qualifications and not subject to any of the prohibitions under Section 8 paragraph one.

Section 21
No political party shall admit a person not of Thai nationality under Section 8 paragraph one as a member or allow such a person to hold any position in the political party, or to act for the political party’s benefit.

No person not of Thai nationality under paragraph one shall be a member or hold any position in a political party or participate in any of its activities.


DONATION TO POLITICAL PARTIES
Section 69
No political party shall receive a donation for carrying out its political activities from:
(1) a person not of Thai nationality;
(2) a juristic person under the law of a foreign country carrying out its business or activities or having its registered branch in or outside the Kingdom;
(3) a juristic person registered in the Kingdom consisting of persons not being of Thai nationality who hold share capital or hold more than fifty per cent of shares. In the case of a public company limited listed on The Stock Exchange of Thailand, the consideration under this subsection shall apply prior to the date of donation by using the date a shareholding was acquired according to the public firm’s shareholder registration book at The Stock Exchange of Thailand;
(4) an organization or juristic person receiving capital or supporting money from a foreign country, and having an objective to carry out any activity for the benefit of persons not being of Thai nationality or having a manager or a member of its executive committee who is not a person of Thai nationality;
(5) a person, organization or juristic person receiving a donation with a view to carrying out the activities of a political party or any political activity from a person, organization or juristic person under (1), (2), (3) or (4); (6) a person, organization or juristic person provided for in the Notification of the Election Commission.

Section 70
No person, organization or juristic person under Section 69 shall make a donation to any political party or its members with a view to carrying out the activities of the political party or any other political activity.

PENALTIES:
Section 94
The Constitutional Court may issue an order dissolving a political party which has carried out any of the following:
(1) an act to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State or to gain power in the administration of the State by unconstitutional means, or an act which the constitution considers as intended to gain such power;
(2) an act contrary to the Organic Act on the Election of Members of the House of Representatives and Senators or contrary to the Rules or Notifications of the Election Commission, causing an election not to proceed in an honest and fair manner;
(3) an act which may be harmful to the democratic regime of Government with the King as Head of State under the Constitution;
(4) an act, either inside or outside the Kingdom, which may endanger the security of the State, or be contrary to law, public order, good morals;
(5) an act in violation of Section 21 paragraph one, Section 43, Section 65, Section 66, Section 69 or Section 104 of this Organic Act.

Section 95
If the Registrar independently, or after being notified by the Executive Committee of a political party deems that, upon examination, the political party has committed any act under Section 94, the Registrar shall, with the consent of the Election Commission, inform the Attorney General and furnish him or her with the relevant evidence. The Attorney General shall consider the matter within thirty days of the date of receipt of the information. If the Attorney General deems it appropriate, he or she shall file a motion with the Constitutional Court for the dissolution of the aforesaid political party.

Section 116
A Leader of a political party, member of the Executive Committee, member of a branch committee or any of a political party’s members who fail to comply with Section 66, Section 67 or Section 69 shall be liable for imprisonment for a term of two to ten years or a fine of forty thousand baht (THB 40,000) to two hundred thousand baht (THB 200,000), or both, and the court shall order their political disfranchisement for a period of five years.

Section 118
Any person who fails to comply with Section 70 shall be liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand baht (THB 200,000), or both.


END OF UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION ORGANIC ACT ON POLITICAL PARTIES B.E. 2550 [2007]





UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION ORGANIC ACT ON POLITICAL PARTIES, B.E. 2541 (1998)

Formation of Political Parties
Section 8.
Persons of Thai nationality by birth who are not less than twenty years of age and not being under any of the prohibitions as to disfranchisement under the Constitution and not less than fifteen in number can form a group of promoters of a political party for the purpose of building political will of the people and carrying out political activities in fulfillment of such will through the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State.




The Carrying Out of Political Activities
Membership regulations
Section 21.
A person who will be a member must be of Thai nationality by birth, not less than eighteen years of age and not under any of the prohibitions to disfranchisement under the Constitution.

Section 23.
No political party shall admit a person not being of Thai nationality by birth as its member or to hold any position of the political party, or allow such person to perform any act for its benefit.

No person not being of Thai nationality by birth shall be a member or holds any position of a political party or participates in any activity of the political party.




Donation to Political Parties
Section 53.
No political party or its members shall receive money, property, or any other benefit with a view to carrying out the activities of political party or any political activities from:
(1) a person not being of Thai nationality;
(2) a juristic person under the law of a foreign country carrying out its business or activities or having its registered branch in or outside the Kingdom;
(3) a juristic person registered in the Kingdom consisting of persons not being of Thai nationality who hold share capital or are shareholders of more than twenty-five per cent;
(4) an organization or juristic person receiving capital or supporting money from a foreign country and having an objective to carry out any activity for the benefit of persons not being of Thai nationality or having its manager or director who is not a person of Thai nationality;
(5) a person, organization or juristic person receiving money, property or any other benefit with a view to carrying out the activities of political parties or any political activity from a person, organization or juristic person under (1), (2), (3) or (4);
(6) a person, organization or juristic person provided in the Notification of the Election Commission.

Section 54.
No person, organization or juristic person under section 53 shall donate money, property or any other benefit to any political party or its members with a view to carrying out the activities of a political party or any political activity.

Penalties
Section 77.
Any member of the Executive Committee or member of a branch committee of political party who intentionally causes a political party to violate section 23 paragraph one shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not exceeding two years or to a fine of not exceeding forty thousand Baht, or to both, and the court shall order the disfranchisement for a period of five years.

Section 78.
Any person who violates section 23 paragraph two shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not exceeding two years or to a fine of not exceeding forty thousand Baht, or to both, and if such person is not of Thai nationality by birth, the Minister of Interior shall issue an order revoking his or her Thai nationality and deporting him or her out of the Kingdom.

Section 89.
Any political party or its member who violates section 52 or section 53 shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of two to ten years or to a fine of two hundred thousand to one million Baht, or to both, and the court shall order the disfranchisement for a period of five years.

Section 90.
Any person who violates section 54 shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not exceeding ten years or to a fine of not exceeding one million Baht, or to both. If such person is not of Thai nationality, the Minister of Interior shall issue an order deporting him or her out of the Kingdom.

Section 110
Any person who violates Section 25 shall be liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding twenty thousand baht (THB 20,000), or both.

Whenever fifteen or more persons intentionally and falsely conspire to carry out activities purporting to be a political party or to commit any act purporting to be a political party without having been registered as such, such persons shall be liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding forty thousand baht (THB 40,000), or both.

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