Caption: House Speaker Chuan Leekpai receives no-confidence motion from leader of the opposition Sompong Amornvivat on 25 Jan. Source: TP Channel

Opposition files motion of no confidence again

Eight political parties with 208 MPs have filed a motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister and other 9 ministers. A letter to this effect was handed to Chuan Leekpai, the Speaker of House of Representatives on 25 January.

The six opposition parties the Pheu Thai party, the Move Forward Party, the Thai Liberal Party, Prachachart party, Puea Chart party, and Thai People Power Party, were joined in the motion by two independent parties, the New Economics party and Thai Civilized Party.

Chuan Leekpai said that the government and the opposition have agreed that the motion of no-confidence will be debated on 16-19 February.

The targets of the motion are:

  1. Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha
    Position: Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence
    Political party: Phalang Pracharat Party
  2. Gen Prawit Wongsuwan
    Position: Deputy Prime Minister
    Political party: Phalang Pracharat Party
  3. Anutin Charnvirakul
    Position: Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Health
    Political party: Bhumjaithai Party
  4. Jurin Laksanawisit 
    Position: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce
    Political party: Democrat Party
  5. Gen Anupong Paochinda
    Position: Minister of Interior
    Political party: None
  6. Natthapol Theepsuwan
    Position: Minister of Education
    Political party: Phalang Pracharat Party
  7. Suchart Chomklin
    Position: Ministry of Labour
    Political party: Phalang Pracharat Party
  8. Saksayam Chidchob
    Position: Minister of Transport
    Political party: Bhumjaithai Party
  9. Niphon Bunyamanee
    Position: Deputy Minister of Interior
    Political party: Democrat Party
  10. Capt Thammanat Prompao
    Position: Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives
    Political party: Phalang Pracharat Party

The allegations from the opposition include administrative failure, violation of moral code of conduct, incompetence in containing the spread of Covid-19, conflicts of interest in the purchase of vaccines, lack of qualifications to be a member of the cabinet, imprudent use of national budget, concealing corruption scandals, negligence of duties, abuse of power, handpicking officers for their own gain, lack of conviction in a democracy with the monarch as head of state, interfering with the criminal justice system, and restriction of freedom of the people and the press.

Originally, the Minister of Social Development and Human Security Juti Krairiksh was also included in the list. Khaosod reported that his name was later removed from the list because the evidence and issues are still not comprehensive.

Some of the ministers in the list have responded to the request for the no-confidence motion. Gen Prawit Wongsuwan said that “I am almost unable to walk. What could have happened?” Natthapol Theepsuwan also said that he was not worried since he could answer all the questions from the opposition, especially when it came to transparency.

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, said that the government was not worried, but the timing may not be appropriate because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Rames Ratanachaweng, the spokesperson of the Democrat Party, said that the opposition has the right to file a motion, but their claims had to be consistent with reality. He also said Jurin Laksanawisit, the leader of the Democrat Party, never participated in any corruption scandals.

According to Section 151 of the 2017 Constitution, a vote of no-confidence can be called if at least one-fifth of the members of the House of Representatives submit a motion for a general debate on individual ministers or the entire cabinet. During the no-confidence motion, the government will not be able to dissolve parliament.

If more than half of the 500 MPs voted no confidence against a minister, the minister will have to resign. However, if they vote a no confidence against the Prime Minister, the cabinet will also have to resign in its entirety. According to Section 154, a no-confidence motion can be called only once a year.

In January last year, the opposition parties filed a motion of no-confidence against 6 ministers. All survived the motion. Gen Prayut won 272 to 49. Gen Prawit won 277 to 50. Wissanu Krea-ngam and Gen Anupong both won 272 to 54 and Don Pramudwinai won 272 to 55. Capt Thammanat Prompao, who faced scrutiny for his jail term in Australia for drug trafficking, had the fewest votes of confidence among the 6 ministers with 269 to 55.  4 out of these 6 ministers are the target of this year’s motion.

The previous no-confidence motion created tension between the Move Forward Party and the Pheu Thai Party over the scheduling and topic of debate. In response to this concern, Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, an MP of the Move Forward Party, said that the bond between opposition parties remain strong. The upcoming no-confidence motion will also not be like the previous one.

“This battle of scrutiny is not like the last time, which was in the last days of the parliamentary session. There was time pressure,” said Wiroj. “This time, if the opposition leadership does not give a closing statement, still feeling that the examination of the government’s wrongdoing does not satisfy the people, the opposition can request to continue the motion non-stop because there will still be about 7 more days left in the session.”

 

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