Bad habits on full display

Bad habits on full display

The primary duties of MPs are vetting laws and scrutinising fiscal budget legislation. However, a recent incident involving a member of the Pheu Thai Party sparked criticism and raised concerns over the ethical conduct of elected representatives.

During last week's House meeting on the 2024 fiscal budget bill -- already delayed for several months, significantly affecting the government's expenditure and the nation's economy -- an alarming occurrence unfolded.

Instead of prioritising his work, a Pheu Thai MP was caught red-handed watching a live football match between the Thai and South Korean national teams in the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualification. A zoomed-in photo of his tablet's screen quickly went viral.

While it's understandable that many Thais, including MPs, are passionate about the national football team, indulging in such distractions during official proceedings is not only disrespectful but also demonstrates a blatant disregard for the seriousness of the legislative process.

What further exacerbates the situation is the revelation that the MP allegedly accessed the live competition through an illegal channel, thereby violating copyrights -- a fact proven by the advertisement of an illegal online gambling website visible on his screen.

Such behaviour is utterly unacceptable. Intellectual property rights, patents and copyrights are not just trivial matters, they are international priorities for protection. For a Thai MP -- who should serve as a role model in upholding laws, regulations and ethical standards -- to engage in such activities is deeply concerning.

What is more worrying is the response of Pheu Thai, which appears to regard the issue as trivial.

The response from Paetongtarn Shinawatra, leader of the Pheu Thai Party, has been woefully inadequate. While she admitted her party's MP acted inappropriately, she said illegal channels for watching sports competitions are easily accessible. She even retorted to news reporters: "Did you even watch content from illegal channels?"

This incident not only highlights the inappropriate conduct of the MP but also reflects the prevalence of copyright violations online, a problem that various authorities -- cyber crime police and the Ministry of Commerce -- have tried to solve and constantly failed. The conduct of our MPs speaks volumes about why illegal streaming websites -- which are also filled with football gambling advertisements -- never go away.

The gravity of the situation demands more than a mere slap on the wrist for the MP.

The MP and his party must be held accountable, and it is incumbent upon us to demand such accountability from our elected officials and hold them to task when they fail to uphold the principles of good governance.

The actions of one MP reflect not only on him or herself but also on the integrity of the entire House of Representatives.

Swift and decisive action must be taken to address this transgression and reaffirm the importance of ethical conduct in public office.

Anything less would be a disservice to the people of Thailand and a betrayal of the trust placed in our elected representatives.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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