Most House members attend the majority of parliamentary sessions, but many fail to cast their votes, a Chulalongkorn University study has found.
Charas Suwanmala, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of political science, releases meeting attendance records of MPs and senators. APICHART JINAKUL
The study, compiled by the university's faculty of political science, revealed Democrat Party MPs were the worst offenders when it came to skipping parliamentary votes, while Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was one of 11 MPs with the worst attendance records.
The faculty, which runs the Thai Political Database project, based the study on attendance and voting records from Aug 1, 2011, to June 19, 2012.
The study aims to publicise information about the performance of MPs and senators to enable voters to make more informed electoral choices.
Charas Suwanmala, dean of the faculty, said the study found House members attended 95% of parliamentary sessions on average.
About 28% of MPs scored perfect attendance. Eleven House members attended less than 75% of parliamentary sessions.
They include Ms Yingluck, who is often away on business, Democrat MP Pongvej Vejjajiva and Rungroj Thongsri of the Bhumjaithai Party.
MPs fared much worse in the voting stakes however, with the study revealing that less than 50% of eligible votes were cast over the time period.
Most of the abstentions came from the opposition Democrat Party. It is common practice for opposition MPs to abstain from voting rather than to vote against a bill when they have no chance of influencing its outcome, Mr Charas said.
They do this as a political tactic to conceal their political stance from the electorate so it cannot be used against them later, he said.
During the same period, senators attended on average just 61.5% of sessions where they were expected to vote.
Just one senator attended all voting sessions, while 45 senators attended more than 70%.
Three senators attended less than 20% of sessions.
Attendance behaviour was similar between elected and appointed senators, the report said.
However, Senate Speaker Nikhom Wairatpanich disputed the study's findings, saying the data used to calculate senators' attendance was inaccurate.
Mr Charas said his faculty had started compiling the performance records of House members and senators before the 2011 election.
Data from earlier studies had not influenced voters' decisions, however, because MPs with poor records had been re-elected, he said. Mr Charas urged House members to work harder to earn their taxpayer-funded salaries. Under a government budget, MPs are entitled to receive 7.34 million baht, or about 20,000 baht each day, to cover their salary, meeting allowances, and transport.
He also encouraged opposition members to vote against government motions instead of just abstaining.
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- Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa