Parliament tug-of-war

Parliament tug-of-war

The Pheu Thai-led coalition government and the opposition are bracing for a showdown in a general debate which starts today.

But they remain at odds over the allocation of debate time, with the opposition getting 22 hours against six hours for cabinet ministers.

Government chief whip Visuth Chainaroon, a Pheu Thai MP for Phayao, said the allocation is unfair and urged the opposition to reduce its time from 22 to 18 hours and give the government four hours.

But the opposition bloc leader Move Forward Party (MFP) has poured cold water on Mr Visuth's calls, saying the two whips previously agreed upon the proportion.

According to opposition chief whip Pakornwut Udompipatskul, it was Pheu Thai who proposed the six-hour slot. Therefore, the party should respect the original agreement and be responsible.

Pheu Thai has said it would maintain its stance and raise the issue in the debate. Meanwhile, there is speculation that it and its coalition may seek to vote on the matter, using its majority to get its way.

But Pheu Thai should think again. It's a bad idea to use debate time to resort to voting to get their way over such a matter.

Although the two-day session -- unlike a no-confidence debate -- is considered to have no real effect, critics said it's the opposition's golden opportunity, especially for the MFP, to rub salt into the government's wounds.

After over seven months in office and plenty of globe-trotting by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, the government has little to brag about. Most of its flagship policies have not been delivered.

Some critics claim Pheu Thai's only major achievement is its mission to bring Thaksin Shinawatra back to Thailand after 17 years of self-imposed exile.

Like it or not, Pheu Thai has to come to terms with the fact that Thaksin, who many see as its de facto leader, is now a negative for the party, with its popularity declining substantially, as per opinion polls.

Now, Pheu Thai and the coalition must learn that misuse of the House majority can also be a setback.

Last week, Paradon Pridsananandakul of Bhumjaithai, who was clearly upset during a House session, challenged fellow MPs by saying the government was capable of dumping all the bills proposed by the opposition.

While true, such a threat is appalling. It made Mr Paradon look vindictive and placed the coalition government in a bad light.

Instead of making a big deal over time allocation, Pheu Thai should prepare itself for the enquiries.

It's a must that all the MPs, the government and the opposition, make the parliamentary sessions constructive, accountable and responsible to public needs without gamesmanship and foul tactics just to make political gains.

Should Pheu Thai be stubborn and vote for more time reallocation today, the party will further place itself in a poor light.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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