11 July 2024

The first meeting this year of the House of Representatives suffered a setback yesterday (Wednesday) when it was abruptly adjourned due to the lack of a quorum.

The meeting began in the morning and lasted until, in the early evening, a party-list MP of the Tairaktham party, Pheerawit Ruangludollapak, stood up and asked Deputy House Speaker Suchart Tancharoen, who was chairing the meeting, to conduct a head count of MPs present in the chamber before the deliberation of a government-sponsored loan bill for educational purposes and four related bills of the opposition parties, noting that the bills are important and that sufficient MPs were present to make a quorum.

Only 227 MPs were counted as being present in the chamber, which was ten short of half of the existing 473 House members required for a quorum. Suchart immediately adjourned the meeting.

Government chief whip and Palang Pracharat (PPRP) MP Nirote Sunthornlekha later admitted that the government now only enjoys a thin majority in the House and, because some of the MPs are in quarantine, they could not reach the required numbers for a quorum.

Commenting on Pheerawit’s call for a head count, he said the MP appeared to be in a hurry, but he thanked opposition MPs for their cooperation in the passage of other several bills.

Nirote dismissed speculation that the lack of a quorum might be because former PPRP secretary-general Thammanat Prompao and his loyal MPs boycotted the meeting.

This is far from the first time for the lack of parliamentary quorum. It happened at least eight times before since the government came into power in mid-2019, leading to only 38 bills being passed to date.