Absent Prayut heavily criticized in parliament as unfit to be next PM
Thailand’s current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha came under heavy criticism in parliament, from MPs of the Pheu Thai-led alliance, as being unfit to be the next prime minister because of his role in the coup d’état that toppled the elected Yingluck Shinawatra government, his alleged oppression of the media and suppression of free speech.
Future Forward MP Pannikar Wanich accused General Prayut of tarnishing the post of prime minister through his administration’s limiting of free expression and media freedoms claiming that, during the five years of his leadership, television stations were ordered off-air 14 times and over 200 cases of free expression suppressed.
Another Future Forward MP, Rangsimun Rome, said that he had personally faced four cases in the military court for his political activism in the public interest. He accused Prayut of lacking democratic spirit.
Pheu Thai MP Kachit Chainikhom said General Prayut was unqualified to be the next prime minister because he is a state official who has been receiving a salary from taxpayers.
Future Forward secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul said a person who cherishes democracy should not have been involved in staging a coup to topple a democratically elected government and should not have invoked the use of special powers under Section 44 of the interim constitution.
However, several Palang Pracharat MPs and senators, who had been designated “guardians” of General Prayut, took turns to defend him in his absence from the debate, which started at about 11am and lasted until about 10pm, after which a vote was due to be taken to elect the next prime minister.
Defending the coup in 2014, Senator Seri Suwanpanon said that the military took the action because the country was in crisis and innocent people were killed by gunmen in Bangkok.
He also questioned the allegation that there was no free expressions under General Prayut’s administration.