Pheu Thai, prove yourself

Pheu Thai, prove yourself

As the drum roll begins for the no-confidence debate, ironically it is not the government but the opposition Pheu Thai Party that has come under pressure.

A coalition of opposition parties filed a motion of no-confidence in the government targeting 10 cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last Monday. Led by Pheu Thai, the motion calling for the censure debate was backed by 208 MPs.

The debate was tentatively set for Feb 16-19 with the exact dates to be decided after the motion was put on the agenda, according to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai.

Although the censure debate is not expected to sink the government -- which still enjoys the support of the majority of MPs -- the questioning could reveal whether the government is doing its job properly and give the public a chance to decide.

The quality of the debate will prove the mettle of the opposition parties, giving an idea of the government's chances of success in the next election. On the agenda are issues definitely worthy of scrutiny.

Gen Prayut is expected to be grilled for his alleged failures in leading the country, especially in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. According to the motion, the prime minister is accused of negligence -- allowing the proliferation of gambling dens and illegal labour trafficking, both of which led to the recent outbreak of infections.

He will also be questioned over his crackdown on anti-government protesters which the opposition claimed was tantamount to stifling freedom of expression.

The perceived inability by the government to control the coronavirus outbreak will haunt Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul during the censure debate. Mr Anutin will be questioned particularly about why he seemed determined to keep the public in the dark regarding the vaccination plans.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin will be targeted for alleged failures in managing migrant workers systematically and allowing illegal gangs to smuggle people across the border which sparked the fresh outbreak of Covid-19 and caused massive damage to the economy.

Evidently, these are issues that the public are interested in. The opposition parties would provide a great service if they could unearth enough information and evidence to substantiate their allegations. Unfortunately, that is where the doubt lies.

Pheu Thai may be the largest party with the highest number of MPs but it is not the most unified one by any means.

Internal squabbling, which has led several members to leave the party, is well-known. Failures to keep its MPs in line are also evident.

During the last censure debate, the Pheu Thai whip could not control its time limit, forcing its then-ally the Future Forward Party to forgo its attempt to quiz Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon.

Another fumble prompted the Constitutional Court to throw out a petition initiated by the opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party to rule on the status of Palang Pracha- rath Party MP Sira Jenjaka.

The court reasoned that the number of MPs who signed the petition did not meet the required threshold. The petition was originally signed by 50 MPs but two Pheu Thai lawmakers withdrew their names.

With a fortnight to go, Pheu Thai and the other opposition parties will have to work hard to prove their points. Their performance in parliament will prove whether or not they really are the people's representatives.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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