6 June 2024

Government and opposition MPs are preparing their cases for the next censure debate, tentatively scheduled for July 18th through 22nd, during which Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and ten ministers will be grilled by the opposition.

This will be the fourth censure debate against Prayut and his cabinet since assuming office in mid-2019. All the ministers targeted survived all the previous no confidence motions.

Opposition chief whip Sutin Klungsang said today (Wednesday) that six opposition parties reconfirmed their censure motion yesterday, as requested by House Speaker Chuan Leekpai. The Thai Civilised party leader Mongkolkit Suksintharanon is, however, yet to sign the reconfirmation.

Sutin said that the Pheu Thai party has not yet decided on the number of MPs to take part in the debate, as the government and opposition whips are yet to settle on the number of days for the debate. The opposition proposed five days and the government proposed four.

Initially, the party has set the number of speakers at between 10 and 15, to focus on the prime minister, said Sutin, adding that other ministers might be implicated, such as Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, during the debate over the prime minister.

The opposition chief whip said that he is not worried about the main government party, Palang Pracharath’s plan to form a team of guardian MPs to defend their party’s ministers and their leader, noting that most of these “guardians” are inexperienced members.

He admitted, however, that he is not sure whether there will be any rebels among the Pheu Thai MPs, who may defy the party whip, noting that it is normal for dissident MPs to switch sides before a general election.

Seven Pheu Thai MPs voted against the party whip and in support of the government’s budget bill during its first reading earlier this month, three of whom are rumoured to be likely to defect to Bhumjaithai party prior to the next election.

During the cabinet meeting yesterday, the prime minister told his ministers that he is ready to confront the opposition and to respond to their questions. He also instructed relevant agencies to prepare information to be used during the censure debate.

The prime minister also told government whips to settle the number of days for the debate with their opposition counterparts.

Pheu Thai MP for Bangkok Jirayu Huangsap mocked the government chief whip Nirote Sunthornlekha’s formation of a team of guardians to defend the prime minister, saying it shows that the government is afraid of the opposition.

He urged the prime minister to equip himself with all the information needed to defend himself against the opposition’s allegations of irregularities.

The debate, he quipped, should be renamed “The Last Supper of the prime minister.”

Bhumjaithai MP Suphachai Jaismut hit back today at Pheu Thai party’s chief advisor Phumtham Wechayachai for hiscriticism of the party’s decriminalisation of cannabis and hemp and the oversupply of COVID-19 vaccines.

He posted a picture of rotten rice, allegedly from the Pheu Thai party’s scandalous government-to-government rice deal about a decade ago, and said that it is better to too much vaccine than not enough to save lives.