Thai Foreign Minister criticized in parliament for Baghdad drone attack remark

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai was criticized by opposition MPs in parliament today over his controversial claim about receiving advance notice of the US drone attack, which killed an Iranian military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad, as both Opposition and Government MPs sought to cut the Foreign Ministry’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

On the second day of the House debate on the budget bill today, Pheu Thai MP Cholnan Srikaew said that Mr. Don’s claim, which was subsequently retracted by the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Busadee Santipitak, had given him cause for concern that the foreign minister’s actions could suck Thailand into the US-Iran situation.

He also praised the spokeswoman for doing a good job in correcting the error in a timely manner. 

Thailand’s Foreign Minister falsely claimed on Tuesday that the US had informed Thailand in advance of the drone attack on January 6th.

Mr. Prasert Chanthararuangthong, another Pheu Thai MP, said that Mr. Don should be fired for a blunder of this magnitude and that the Foreign Ministry’s budget should be cut by at least 10%.

About 5.1 billion baht was earmarked for the Foreign Ministry for the 2020 fiscal year, but the House budget scrutiny committee has sought to trim the budget 194 million baht.

Pheu Thai MP Somkid Chuakong took to the floor first to debate on Foreign Ministry’s budget by proposing a 5% cut, or about 256 million baht, mostly regarding the procurement of official cars for senior officials, office equipment and materials.

Mr. Phisit suggested the Foreign Ministry should cultivate good relationship with Britain to get a better trade deal for Thai exports as the UK leaves the EU at the end of this month.

Democrat MP Kanok Wongtra-ngarn suggested that the Foreign Ministry review its strategy for dealing with problems in the Deep South, in conjunction with security agencies, the Education and Interior ministries.

He noted that the 30 million baht budget allocated for the handling of the southern unrest was too little when measured against the scale of the magnitude of the problem.

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