Thai House Speaker complains of too much game playing in parliament

The Speaker of Thailand’s House of Representatives, Chuan Leekpai, has complained about opposition MPs playing games in parliament, causing House meetings to be abruptly suspended due to the lack of a quorum.

While admitting that the tactic has been used before by the opposition, to get back at the government, he said that he feels that it was used too frequently in the past month, to the extent that the image of parliament as a whole may be tainted.

He observed that the problem usually occurred in the evening, as some MPs left the chamber in the middle of a House meeting or those who were present deliberately declined to declare their presence by refusing to insert their ID cards.

As a matter of principle, Chuan said that it is the joint responsibility of both government and opposition MPs to attend House meetings, while adding that the government, which commands the majority in the House, must take the lead in making sure that sufficient of its MPs are present to make a quorum.

As far as he is concerned, he said that, in order to avoid unnecessary conflict over, for instance, changes to the agenda, the whips of the two camps should meet first to settle the conflict.

Regarding the idea of holding meetings on Fridays, in addition to Wednesdays and Thursdays, which several MPs oppose due to the need to visit their constituencies, Chuan said he has suggested that the Wednesday and Thursday meetings be extended by 2 or 3 more hours, so there would not need to be a meeting on Fridays.

While admitting that MPs have to meet with their constituents, he insisted that attending parliamentary meetings is an MPs’ duty, because they have to debate and pass laws.

Chuan also said that he will discuss the issue with Pheu Thai party leader Chonlanan Srikaew, once the Royal Gazette announces his formal appointment as the leader of the opposition.


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