14 July 2024

Thailand’s House Speaker Chuan Leekpai has rebuffed a suggestion that all members of parliament donate part of their salaries to a COVID-19 assistance fund, saying that it will be good enough if the MPs are not involved in corruption.

He also told some parliamentary officials, who have complained about having to report to work despite the spread of COVID-19 infections, that most of them have been working from home and have only been asked to work in parliament three days a week, when there are parliamentary meetings.

He said that he understands that some of them work hard and are tired when there were meetings but added, however, that they should count themselves more fortunate than a lot of people, who don’t have salaries, while the officials have job security and still get paid.

In spite of the one-month partial lockdown in and around Bangkok, which takes effect today, Mr. Chuan said parliament will continue to function with regular meetings throughout the session, except when there is an emergency situation, after he received the greenlight from the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

He also said, however, that meetings of the various parliamentary scrutiny committees will be suspended for only two weeks, noting that COVID-19 will be with us for a long time.

He said he understands that some MPs are concerned about the pandemic adding, however, that the partial lockdown is intended to restrict the movements of construction workers, not the general public, and parliament should continue to function.

He pleaded with all MPs to abide strictly by the health safety measures, particularly the wearing face masks all the time while in parliament, to ease the workload on the medical staff.

The Senate, on the other has has suspended its meetings for the whole week, at the order of Senate Speaker Pornpetch Vichitcholachai, out of concerns over the pandemic.

Government chief whip Wirat Rattanaseth has also ordered the suspension of meetings by all House scrutiny committees, for fear that the meetings, which involve more than 20 people, may breach the CCSA’s regulations.