Unforgivable absenteeism

Unforgivable absenteeism

With one short Facebook post, deputy government spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek showed her contempt for the political shenanigans being played by some MPs who have decided that absconding from their duties is the best way to bend parliament to their will.

"Don't you feel ashamed?" she posted on her private account on Monday, referring to the no-shows at recent sessions of the House and Senate to consider the organic law pertaining to the election of members of parliament.

Another joint sitting has been scheduled for today to hear the final reading of the bill.

In her post, Ms Rachada said that, in recent weeks, members of the public have become confused as to whether today's session will actually take place, as several MPs have hinted they may not show up. While some cited other engagements, others have been less subtle in hiding what many suspect is a political game to delay the passage of the organic law until after Aug 15 -- in which case it would automatically be ditched for exceeding the 180-day deadline since it was submitted.

After it was approved in the first reading by parliament, the organic law was subsequently amended during the scrutiny process by a minority faction on the committee to revert the method of calculating how party-list seats are allocated from using 100 as the divisor back to 500.

That number is favoured by most of the so-called micro parties, which now have just one party-list seat each in the House, as they believe they will stand a better chance of staging a comeback in the next general election if it is used. Several senators and members of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) also thought they would gain from using this formula. However, some are apparently now having second thoughts and want to revert to using the 100 formula.

Ms Rachada said that whichever number is used to calculate how many party-list seats go to each of the contesting parties, the issue can only be settled in parliament. As such, it is incumbent on all of the senators and MPs to actually attend today's session.

This election law is crucial and there is no excuse for anyone to skip the session.

Senators and MPs get their salaries from taxpayers' money and their main task is performing legislative work in parliament. Although visiting their constituents is regarded by MPs as a must to maintain their power base, it should be regarded as their No.2 priority.

Many people have become frustrated with the filibustering by several senators and MPs. Moreover, allegations of bribery have further tainted the reputation of parliament. Referring to a leaked audiotape, some have accused a major government coalition party of offering illegal incentives to several micro parties to side with them in terms of how the party-list seats should be calculated.

Unless there is an unexpected emergency, however, there is no justification for any senators or MPs to miss today's session. Parliament is the appropriate venue for them to debate and argue their case as to why they do -- or do not -- want to use the 100 versus 500 formula.

The joint sitting last Wednesday never took place due to lack of a quorum as many Pheu Thai and PPRP MPs failed to turn up. This was seen in some quarters as a deliberate foot-dragging exercise in a bid to kill the organic bill on the election of MPs.

Such shameful political manoeuvring must not be repeated this week.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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