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In Support of Thai Progressive Leader, Global Citizen Pita Limjaroenrat

Bangkok. I support progressive political leader Pita Limjaroenrat (พิธา ลิ้มเจริญรัตน์), an on again-off again member of the Thai House of Representatives and Advisory Chairman of the Move Forward Party.

Pita when he was an MP in 2020.

At only 43, Pita is a global citizen [Luce Index™ Score: pending]. He lost his bid for prime minister of Thailand last year due to corruption of the political establishment. He was thwarted by elected MPs and unelected senators, who were appointed by the previous military junta. He noted his campaign strategies were inspired by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Pita addressing his supporters.

Educated in New Zealand, he studied finance at the University of Texas at Austin and the prestigious Thammasat University before earning his MPA at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

He was the first Thai student to achieve the distinction of receiving an international student scholarship to Harvard.

In 2006, Pita accompanied then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to New York for the U.N. General Assembly. Thaksin, who had written Pita’s recommendation letter for Harvard, was unable to deliver his speech due to a military coup, leading to his departure for London where he lives in exile.

Following the coup, upon his return to Thailand, Pita faced a brief detention, which caused him to miss part of his father’s funeral.

At the age of 25, Pita returned to Thailand to take over as managing director of Agrifood, a rice business run by his family, after the death of his father.

Pita supports drafting a new constitution, implementing military reforms, introducing voluntary conscription, legalizing same-sex marriage, and decentralizing the economy.

Pita speaking with journalists.

The Constitutional Court said it had accepted a complaint against Pita and the Move Forward Party by the Election Commission, that said its plan to reform lèse-majesté laws amounted to an attempt to “overthrow the democratic regime of government with the king as a head of state.” In Thailand, it is illegal to defame, insult, or threaten the monarch of Thailand.

“When people ask me ‘How do you feel that you have failed?,’ Pita said, “I would respond back, I didn’t fail. I won, I formed, and I got blocked.”

Pita Limjaroenrat speaking with VOA News.

Pita has criticized the system of government in Thailand, considering his inability to become Prime Minister, to be undemocratic.

After being denied the Prime Ministership, Pita embarked on a visit to the U.S. to discuss the political situation in Thailand. He spoke at various universities, and met with government officials from Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.

Most notably, he returned to the Harvard Kennedy School, and spoke with students interested in politics about his experience. He cited his work at Harvard partially for his ability to win the election, but criticized the political establishment for blocking him from power.

He also received an honorary Master’s degree and lectured about Thailand and ASEAN at the Harvard Asia Center. He also spoke at MIT.  Earlier he met with the Thai diaspora and was honored at the TIME 100 Next gala in New York City.

Pita giving a speech in Bangkok

Pita has been described as a progressive by the standards of Thai politics. His Move Forward Party, which he has led since 2020.

Pita has frequently referred to the years between 2014 and 2023 as “the lost decade” of Thailand, in regards to both economics and democratic backsliding.

Pita believes the Thai armed services have too much influence in civilian politics, and has vowed to decrease their influence. Pita also said that Thailand must “demilitarize.”

Pita has promised that his party would amend the controversial Royal defamation law, which protects the Thai monarchy from public criticism. He has maintained that the Thai royal family should be above politics as ‘a vital institution of national unity.”

Pita thinks aspects of a welfare state are needed in Thailand. He has said he would liberalize Thailand’s liquor industry.

Pita supports the legalization of same-sex marriage and has attended a pride parade in Bangkok. Pita also believes in voluntary conscription for military service.

Pita has stated that Thailand should be more assertive on the global stage and open more dialogue with greater powers, and that  democratic values should be the core of Thailand’s foreign policy.

Pita believes in “rules based world order” when approaching diplomacy, and said the 2014 coup may have isolated Thailand’s Western allies, such as the U.S.

Celebrating the 190th anniversary of American-Thai relations, Pita states he “trusts the U.S.-Thai alliance.”

Pita has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine calling the Thai government’s response “two-faced.” Pita celebrated Taiwan’s National Day at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, despite the lack of government representatives.

Pita said he was inspired by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, and has compared politics to a marathon rather than a sprint, saying “I have the stamina to run for a long time.”

He has also cited Bernie Sanders as another one of his political role models and owns a copy of the Senator’s bookIt’s OK To Be Angry About Capitalism.”

Pita with supporters in the U.S.

On the personal side, Pita (known to friends as “Tim”) married and then divorced actress Chutima Teepanart. They have one daughter. He enjoys rock music, particularly bands such as Coldplay, Metallica, and Radiohead among others.

I support Pita Limjaroenrat because I too stand against se-majesté laws, Thai military interference in civilian political life, and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

And support same-sex marriage and the creation of a social safety net in Thailand, and the people of Palestine and Taiwan.

Pita Limjaroenrat is a young global leader that the world can be proud of.

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