Parliament president Somsak Kiatsuranont has shrugged off criticism of his nine-day taxpayer-funded "study trip" to Europe with 39 media staff and close aides.
He insists he wants the press to learn from foreign experience, but admits he is looking forward to watching a football match there.
A House committee on parliamentary affairs, however, said it would scrutinise Mr Somsak over the 7 million baht trip. He said yesterday he would take press groups to study the operations of the BBC, the Economist, the UK parliament and Oxford University.
He would travel to England today to join the rest of the group members who left Thailand on Wednesday.
The itinerary covers England, France and Belgium. The schedule also includes attending English Premier League matches in London.
Parliament president Somsak Kiatsuranont (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Mr Somsak said he wanted to see a football match on Sunday so he asked Chakraphan Yomchinda, a representative of Mcot Plc, to organise seats. Mr Chakraphan travelled there on an Mcot budget, he said.
Mr Chakraphan, meanwhile, said on his Facebook page that his wife and daughter, who were joining him on the trip, were travelling at their own expense.
As for the football match tickets for the group, they would be sponsored by Siam Sport Co, Mr Chakraphan said.
Mr Somsak said some mistakes may have arisen in the participants' name lists as some of those who were invited were found not to be associated with media companies.
One member of the trip, Virot Ali, a political science lecturer at Thammasat University, was listed mistakenly as a Bangkok Post columnist.
Asked if he was taking the trip now to spend leftovers from the 2012 budget, Mr Somsak said the budget could be drawn down throughout the year.
He also asserted the trip was a good programme and that there was no hidden agenda.
Chulalongkorn University's political science lecturer Pitch Pongsawat, who was listed as a columnist for another Thai newspaper, said he was not affiliated with the paper. Mr Pitch, who is also a commentator for the pro-government Voice TV, said he was joining the trip as an academic to explain the British parliamentary system to the participants.
Mr Somsak said he was ready to answer all inquiries.
About the author
- Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth