Southeast Asia’s Democratic Network, FORSEA, condemns the Thai Constitutional Court’s dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party and urges the judicial body to rescind its anti-democratic ruling

Southeast Asia’s Democratic Network, FORSEA, condemns the Thai Constitutional Court’s dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party and urges the judicial body to rescind its anti-democratic ruling

FORSEA, a cross-national body of Southeast Asian democrats, activists and rights campaigners, condemn the ruling by Thailand’s Constitutional Court (dated March 7, 2019) to dissolve the Thai Raksa Chart Party for its nomination of Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Varnavadi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

The nominee is the oldest sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, a widely unpopular king who succeeded his late father, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October 2016 after a long reign of 70 years.

Ubolratana is the oldest daughter of the late king and gave up her royal titles when she married an American in 1972. Her participation in Thailand electoral politics was in her capacity as a non-royal, or an ordinary Thai citizen.

Rather fraudulently, the court however, reasoned that the Thai monarchy must be above politics and that any member of royal family entering electoral party politics would affect the neutrality of the royal institution. Specifically, it ordered the dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart Party by arguing that the monarchy was misused by the party for the partisan electoral gains ahead of the country’s general elections scheduled to be held on March 24, a misuse of the monarchy which has destroyed the status of the institution in Thai society.

Additionally, the court also barred the party’s top executives from founding new political parties for ten years and disqualified over 280 candidates from Thai Raksa Chart Party from the upcoming elections.

“The Constitutional Court’s judgment is rather severe, politically motivated and highly disproportionate,” said Professor Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a leading exiled scholar of Thai politics, at Kyoto University and FORSEA co-founder. He continues, “the judgment was primarily driven by the monarchy itself: the royal family has continued to play an active role in Thai electoral politics.”

He pointed out that the court’s judgment was meted out with complete unanimity among the judges, hence an indication that the Constitutional Court is beholden to the powerful and meddlesome monarchy, while disregarding the democratic dividends for the public which would accrue from a member of the royal family acting as a democrat.

The Constitutional Court in Thailand is correctly viewed by the public as highly politicised. In its latest ruling against a leading political party, the court fails to meet the international standards spelled out by the United Nations guidelines on “Prohibition and Dissolution of Political Parties and Analogous Measures”. The guidelines stipulate that no political party must be disbanded except in cases where such political parties incite violence as a means to overthrow a democratic system.

FORSEA shares the expert and popular opinion that the court’s dissolution ruling is anti-democratic. The order to disband Thai Raksa Chart Party has directly affected basic political rights and freedoms of the Thai people.

Dr Maung Zarni, General Secretary of FORSEA and a long-time Burmese rights activist, comments, “the Thai Raksa Chart ruling sheds light on the role of the Thai royal family and their continued manipulation of the judicial branch of the constitutional monarchy: they impose severe restrictions on the peaceful association and expression of the political opposition.” He continues, “in complying with the whims and interests of the Thai monarchy, the Constitutional Court has acted as an instrument of the monarchy, rather than serving as an integral part of the checks and balances essential to any functioning democracy, not unlike the Burmese judiciary in the military-controlled Burma, with the civilian façade of Aung San Suu Kyi.”

FORSEA urges the Constitutional Court to rescind its March 7 ruling and re-prioritise its commitment in upholding justice and fairness in Thai electoral politics, rather than active as an anti-democratic weapon of the monarchy.

March 11, 2019

Contact: Pavin Chachavalpongpun +81 90 8449 9694
Dr Maung Zarni +44 (0) 771 047 3322

February 14, 2019 | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Announcement of names of FORSEA Board Members

The names of the FORSEA Board Members is announced:

As members of the Managing Board of FORSEA, members are committed to pursuing, through our educational initiatives, the advancement of human welfare, the protection of vulnerable national minorities, the propagation of fundamental human rights, labour rights, gender equality, the fostering of harmony between faith-based communities, the spread of ecological consciousness, and the promotion of a democratic ethos among future generations across Southeast Asia.

Full bio details can be found here:

Democracy Fest 2019 Soft Launch. Friday February 8th, 11am. The Square, Publika, Kuala Lumpur


11.00am: Introduction aboùt FORSEA by FORSEA Board of Director, Hishamuddin Rais.

11.15am: Speech by YAB Amirudin Shari, Menteri Besar Selangor and soft launch gimmick on behalf of the Selangor state government.

The reveal of ‘Liberation’, the giant art installation made specially for Democracy Festival.

11.30am: Press conference

11.45am: Refreshment


FORSEA is a unique network of activists, scholars and entrepreneurs made up of Southeast Asian democrats, feminists, labour and civil rights campaigners, artists, multiculturalists and environmentalists.  It is committed to fostering a solidarity, brotherhood and sisterhood and collaboration among communities of democratic values. Its work transcends national boundaries, ethnic and religious identities, or regions.

The conference brings to public attention those things that impact our grassroots communities: corruption, representative governments, ecological degradation, international state crimes such as genocides, war crimes, crimes against humanity, women’s equality, social exclusion and discrimination, labour rights, and public well-being.

For press information, please contact For all other enquiries and information, please use the contact form below.

February 05, 2019 | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kuala Lumpur: On 16 and 17 February, 400 Southeast Asian activists and from 8 countries, spanning three generations, will convene in Kuala Lumpur for a democracy festival.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun Tel: +81 75 753 7308 (Japan)
Hishamudin Rais Tel: +60 17 266 3468 (Kuala Lumpur)
Email: Twitter: @officialFORSEA Facebook@forsoutheastasia

Kuala Lumpur: On 16 and 17 February, 400 Southeast Asian activists and from 8 countries, spanning three generations, will convene in Kuala Lumpur for a democracy festival, which includes activist teach-ins, evening rock concerts and a week-long “democracy-in-action” art exhibit open to the public, free of charge.

The conference – entitled “Celebrating Democracy in Malaysia, Renewing Communities across Southeast Asia and Promoting Human Rights for All” – launches a brand-new network of Southeast Asian democrats known as FORSEA (Forces of Renewal Southeast Asia at It will also be webcast LIVE.

FORSEA is committed to building a solidarity movement across national boundaries, ethnic identities and faiths. It will promote democratic ethos, universal human rights and ecological consciousness.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will deliver the keynote address, reflecting on his long and successful political career and the state of reforms in Malaysia, as a token of solidarity with the next generation Southeast Asians who strive to make their region corruption-free, fairer, more just and ecologically conscious.

Cambodia’s leading American-educated feminist blogger Catherine Harry, who has over 200,000 followers at home, is among the youth activists taking part in the celebration of Malaysia’s democratic revival and supporting the movements across Southeast Asia. Ms harry is scheduled to share her perspective as a Khmer woman growing up in post-Khmer Rouge, patriarchal Buddhist society.

“I have become very vocal about feminism because I don’t want other girls and young women to go through what I did. I want to empower women, not just in Cambodia, Asia, but women all over the world because sexism and patriarchy have been going on for so long. Times have changed. Feminism has entered the mainstream platform. We need to seize this moment and make a difference”, said Ms Harry.

World renowned scholar and activist Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is contributing to the conference in the form a 20-minutes, specially video-recorded lecture on “Democracy, Economic Inequality and Elite Politics”.

In Chomsky’s words, “Neoliberal policies have been designed to sharply concentrate wealth, enhance corporate power and undermine democratic systems, which are reduced increasingly to formalities while the majority of the population stagnate…. It’s awfully helpful to remember that democracy has always been a highly contested concept. it’s been feared and disdained among elites throughout a period of democratic revival in the world.”

Among the speakers are: National Coordinator of Indonesian Legal Aid Association for Women and member of FORSEA Board of Directors Nursyahbani Katjasungkana; Cambodia’s leading genocide memorialist and the winner of 2018 Magsaysay Award Youk Chhang; Chair of the International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar and former Attorney General of Indonesia Marzuki Darusman; former President of Thammasat University and the winner of Fukuoka Academic Prize Emeritus Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri; Rohingya blogger and Chief Editor of Rohingya Today Nay San Lwin; Malaysian writer, activist and comedian Hishamudin Rais; long-time Singaporean exile Tan Wah-Piow whom the late Lee Kuan Yew falsely charged with “Communist conspiracy” to overthrow the one-party autocracy in the city-state; Thai student leader Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal; Indonesian representative to ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Ms Yuyun Wahyuningrum; Karen National Union adviser Ms May-Oo Mutraw and Mr Jose Luis Martin ‘Chito’ Gascon who chairs the National Human Rights Commission of the Philippines.

Myanmar’s iconic dissident musician Mun Awng will be performing alongside the Malaysian bands while teach-ins will be led by the well-known campaigners on various thematic subjects including anti-corruption, environmentalism, labour rights, anti-discrimination, human rights, feminism and economic equality.

The two-day proceedings of the conference including the evening concerts will be webcast live at and on Facebook.

Download the program:

January 26, 2019 | Democracy in Action in Kuala Lumpur: A Group Exhibition of 21 Visual Artists
Democracy Fest presents Democracy In Action, a group exhibition of 21 visual artists, performance artist and artist collective from Southeast Asia. Curated by Intan Rafiza Abu Bakar, the exhibition is a showcase of documentation by artists who are directly involved in social movements within their local social commentary narratives.

Those artists exhibiting works take the role of mediator in response to critical issues and offer messages that form public dialogues through their visual art. Among the artists participating in the exhibition are: Ahmad Fuad Osman (Malaysia), Amin Landak (Malaysia), Anida Yoeu Ali (Cambodia), Arahmaiani (Indonesia), Artist’s Collective -Puncak Purnama (Malaysia), Fadhli Ariffin (Malaysia), Hasnoor Hussain ( Malaysia),Sharon Chin (Malaysia), Taring Padi (Indonesia), Khai Maew (Thailand), Le Brothers (Vietnam), Pangrok Sulap (Malaysia),Ronasina (Malaysia), Sabihis Md Pandi (Malaysia), Yeoh Lian Heng (Malaysia), and Zoncy (Myanmar)& Zunar (Malaysia).

In addition to the exhibition, other supporting programmes such as art talks with Taring Padi (Indonesia) art collective and Shaq Koyok (Malaysia) will take place on February 13, 2019, at the Black Box exhibition space. Furthermore, the Indonesia performance artist, Arahmaini, will showcase her performance art piece on February 16, 2019.

The exhibition will take place from 13-17th February 2019 at Black Box, Publika, Kula Lumpur.

For press information, please contact For all other enquiries, please use the contact form below.

For the latest news on participating artists, and updates from the venue, join Forsea KL 2019 on social media.

November 05, 2018 | FORSEA Press Contact
For press information, please contact For all other enquiries and information, please use the contact form below.