Censure saga is not a game

Censure saga is not a game

Finally, the entire country can witness a political duel between the government and opposition after the House convened for the long-awaited no-confidence motion on Monday.

Set to wrap up on Thursday, the censure debate is the first in eight years after the country's return to democracy last year following the 2014 coup that swept the authoritarian regime of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and the National Council for Peace and Order into power. Now the former army chief-turned-politician leads a coalition with the support of the Senate, which was handpicked by the regime.

The censure debate targets Gen Prayut and five cabinet members, who include deputy prime ministers Wissanu Krea-ngam and Prawit Wongsuwon and Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai, whom they accuse of performing poorly and being untrustworthy. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda is likely to face intensive grilling for allegedly causing conflicts of interest within the Interior Ministry.

The past few weeks saw both the government and opposition busily preparing for the debate, with each side setting up "war rooms". Outspoken Chalerm Ubumrung of the Pheu Thai Party led the opposition's preparations, while the government assigned Suporn Attawong, a former red-shirt core leader, as its war room commander.

It's unfortunate that some key political figures from both sides seem to be approaching the debate as a game or a drama. They have come up with a number of political catchphrases, which are not very useful. Worse, many made it clear that they plan to air each others' political dirty laundry, in what appears to be a tit-for-tat move straight out of the government's playbook.

The question is: how would such tricks benefit the country? It's highly likely that such games will only make the public tired of and lose trust in political institutions even further, which does not bode well for national politics.

It's true that without the ill-fated Future Forward Party in parliament, the opposition is weaker. With 487 MPs in the House, the government is quite safe and likely to survive the challenge as it no longer has to bet on a razor-thin majority to survive.

But all should be aware that the process is as important as the outcome, meaning politicians should do their best to promote political learning over the course of the three-day debate. They should aim at earning the respect of not only their opponents, but also the public.

They can achieve that by respecting the rules and avoiding an "end-justifies-means" approach.

Prominent ex-FFP MPs, such as its former secretary-general, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, and spokeswoman Pannika Wanich -- who will miss the three-day session -- have kicked off an "outside-parliament censure debate" in what could develop into a major political move that may again shake the country's politics.

But it's necessary that all MPs, no matter what camp they are in, know their duty and do their best to make sure Thai politics can move forward. It is of paramount importance that politicians are aware of their important role in maintaining and promoting a checks-and-balances mechanism within the political system.

As House Speaker Chuan Leekpai once said, MPs should make parliament a relevant institution in which the public can place their trust in.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

Email : ploenpotea@bangkokpost.co.th

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