11 July 2024

Thailand’s Parliament President and House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said Thursday night that he was duped into believing that there would be a vote on each of the six motions proposing constitutional amendments.

He told lawmakers at about 8.30pm that he was prepared for the vote, only to learn that the joint sitting of the Senate and the House had, instead, voted to set up a special panel to study the motions within a month, before returning them to Parliament for a new round of debate.

He told lawmakers, who thought they had been duped, that he, too, had been duped.

He then told them to take care not to get infected with COVID-19 during the long recess, before he read a Royal Command announcing the closure of the parliamentary session.

Parliament voted 432 to 255 in support of the motion of Palang Pracharat MP Paiboon Nititawan, to set up a special panel to study the six motions within a month, instead of voting on the motions as originally scheduled.

Bhumjaithai MP Supachai Jaisamut said his party is supportive of Paiboon’s motion and is pleased to review the six motions.

After the end of the debate, at about 6pm, Government Chief Whip Wirat Rattanaseth told Parliament, after two days of debate, that there are a lot of differences among MPs and senators about the charter changes, because there has been no channel through which all lawmakers could discuss the motions before were debated.

If delaying the vote by a month will help reduce the differences, then it is worth a try, said Mr. Wirat, adding that the support of senators is crucial to the success of the bid to change or rewrite the charter.

Opposition Chef Whip Suthin Klangsaeng spoke against Mr. Paiboon’s motion, arguing that setting up a special panel is an unnecessary waste of time.

The opposition Kao Klai party also voiced strong objection to the motion, but to no avail.

After an initial uproar against the Government’s sudden U-turn on the vote, protesters finally lifted their siege of Parliament and allowed the lawmakers to leave the compound, but not without booing and cursing Government MPs and senators as they left.