His party was banned. He faces jail. But Thailand's Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit vows to fight on

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit during the party's final major campaign rally in Bangkok on March 22, 2019.

(CNN)He's the billionaire scion of Thailand's biggest auto parts manufacturer who could have led a quiet, comfortable life in the upper echelons of Thai society.

Instead, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is fighting to save his country's democracy, and in doing so has put himself in the crosshairs of the military-led government.
Last week, Future Forward, the pro-democracy political party Thanathorn founded in 2018, and which came third in Thailand's election last year with 6.3 million votes, was banned by a Thai court for violating election laws.
    Angered by what they saw as political interference, students are leading pro-democracy rallies around the country calling for former general-turned-prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, to step down, six years after he seized power in a coup in 2014.
    In just two years, Future Forward and its leaders have been hit with more than 20 legal cases, including criminal charges that could result in jail time. Thanathorn denies wrongdoing and says the cases are politically motivated.
    The party's platform of democratic and military reform, and decentralized power, would require deep structural changes to the Thai political system.
    Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit with Future Forward Party officials and supporters at their headquarters in Bangkok on January 21, 2020.
    "It's clear that we confront the rule of the junta very directly," Thanathorn said. "All these things are quite provocative, it's quite radical when it comes to Thai politics."
    While Thanathorn's ambitions to bring about reform from within parliament are scuppered for now, he is poised to lead what he sees as a burgeoning democratic movement.
    His life's mission is, he says, to "break the chains" of a system that is preventing Thailand from progressing, and put power in the hands of the people.
    It's a mission that could soon see him jailed.
    "It is the cost of the struggle, it is the cost to bring democracy back to Thailand and it is the cost I'm willing to pay," he says.

    The billionaire commoner

    Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (front right) with his parents and siblings in 1998.