Government gets first taste of defeat in lower House

The government suffered its first defeat in the lower House today over a parliamentary regulation that would specify the House speaker’s impartiality in the performance of his or her duty.

Regulation Number 9 was debated at length today in the House meeting, during which speaker Chuan Leekpai was heavily criticized by opposition MPs for alleged bias.

Protesting his impartiality, Mr. Chuan responded that, although he is an old-generation politician, he is proud that he has never engaged in and always opposed vote buying, unlike some politicians “who sweet-talk in front of the people, but win elections through vote buying”.

Mr. Chuan said that, in his opinion, Thailand would plunge into chaos without the Constitutional Court.

Opinion was split over whether Regulation No 9 should specify that the House speaker must be impartial. The government camp argued that it should specified because the speaker’s role was already defined in Section 115 of the Constitution. The opposition camp, however, demanded that the regulation be amended to clearly specify the requirement for impartiality by the House speaker.

When the issue was put to a vote, 205 opposition MPs voted to amend the regulation against 204 votes on the government side. Palang Pracharat MP Veerakorn Kamprakob asked for a second vote, but it was rejected by Mr. Chuan.

Parliamentary sources attributed the government’s first defeat in the lower House to the fact that two smaller parties in the coalition government, which have two MPs, have declared themselves an “independent opposition.”

Both Mr. Chuan and the vice speaker, Mr. Suchart Tancharoen of the Palang Pracharat party, abstained in the voting, as is the custom.



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