MPs must prove worth

MPs must prove worth

With three executive decrees permitting 1.9 trillion-baht in loans for Covid-19 relief being debated in parliament, the legislature has a chance to rekindle public faith in its role as part of the checks and balances system. They must not let the people down.

The highlight is three bills: the bill on one trillion in loans, 500 billion baht in soft loans, and the 400 billion baht Bond Stabilisation Fund (BSF) as well as other measures including the budget transfer law and the 2021 budget bill.

As the Covid-19 outbreak comes under control, there is an expectation the House of Representatives can intensify the scrutiny process after months of dormancy when most House panels had to suspend meetings as part of the lockdown policy to curb infections.

The debate on the three decrees, which started yesterday, is to continue until Sunday.

With such a large amount of borrowing involved, to be funded by taxpayers, strong scrutiny is desirable to prevent graft or conflict of interests. Scrutiny measures must be in place to ensure the money is spent with efficiency and transparency.

Some opposition members warned the loans were made without detailed plans which is tantamount to blank cheques for the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration.

Over the past months it had engaged in a big spending spree while responding poorly to some scandals involving close aides of cabinet ministers including the so-called face-mask saga.

Suspicion also rises about the latest quarantine scam that it might also involve people close to the government.

There are concerns that internal problems within the opposition bloc, including a breakaway faction in the Pheu Thai Party or the strained ties between the former Future Forward Party and Pheu Thai arising from the previous House censure debate, might compromise their performance. This shouldn't do.

Politicians, and in particular those in the opposition bloc, should do whatever they can to ensure their role in the next weeks and months is constructive, and meets public expectations.

In fact, politicians have to embrace the "new normal" in their work ethos. They have to given that their performance in recent months was less than impressive. Their attempts to have an extraordinary session to consider the loans package bills were ignored by the administration.

Indeed, the existing political structure is not favourable to politicians, with the military top brass maintaining their prominent role in the political system.

At the same time, some politicians have failed to improve themselves. They are stuck in the same old political conflicts that bore the public as has been suggested in a series of surveys by various pollsters.

By contrast, netizens and civic groups have filled the void as they aggressively scrutinise those in government. Take for example the face mask shortage that resulted from hoarding at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak.

It was netizens that unmasked those in the shameful scam, while members of the opposition failed to provide any effective scrutiny.

Politicians in the government and opposition camps should bear in mind the comments made by House Speaker Chuan Leekpai when he accepted the job. He said parliament has to prove itself as a relevant institution in which people can place their trust.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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