Somsak: UK trip useful

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont on Wednesday defended his controversial trip to England with a party of aides and reporters last month, saying it was useful and he would organise a similar trip next year.

  • Published: 3/10/2012 at 06:09 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Photo by Chanat Katanyu

Mr Somsak, the ex officio parliament president, insisted that he initiated the trip in good faith and believed it benefitted members of the press who joined the excursion.

Speaking of a visit to the BBC Television Centre in London, he said he would use information obtained from the study visit in proposing the setting up of a future digital TV channel for parliament. 

He said expenses generated by other activities , for example watching English Premier League football matches and taking close aides and his daughter on the trip were paid for out of his personal budget. 

Mr Somsak said the UK trip budget conformed with regulations of the Bureau of Finance and the Budget Bureau  and other agencies.

 “I think this study trip was in line with regulations and made under my own judgment. If it is not right, I think that an overhaul for [proposing] study trips by House committees will be needed,” Mr Somsak said.

A report on the trip  was expected to be released soon, he said. 

Asked why his group’s visit to the British parliament was not made official, he said the Thai parliament had asked its British counterpart to accommodate a study tour, but the British parliament replied that it was not able to do  so. 

Mr Somsak did not elaborate on the reason behind the rejection. He said he decided to proceed with the trip because plane tickets had been booked and an itinerary planned. 

He denied allegations that he and his entourage went on an extravagant and lavish trip, saying he stayed only in three to four-star hotels, which actually did not match with his position as speaker. 

He said even though 30 media representatives had been invited on the trip, only 12-13 of them participated. As a result, the seven million baht budget set aside for the tour was probably not all spent.   

He said he was ready to clarify his trip if he was called to by any inquiry by the House committee on parliamentary affairs.

He believed the tax-funded UK trip was useful and said he would organise a similar trip next year. However, he would discuss with parliament journalists details of the next excursion, and would not proceed  if they saw it as improper.

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