Speaker Chuan to be investigated for partiality in ordering recount
published : 4 Dec 2019 at 15:48
writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
The Future Forward Party has asked the House committee on corruption suppression to investigate House Speaker Chuan Leekpai for alleged partiality in ordering a vote recount in parliament.
FFP list MP Theeratchai Phanthumas on Wednesday submitted a petition to committee chairman Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of the Seri Ruam Thai Party, to look into Mr Chuan’s role in ordering a recount, to see whether the speaker performed his duty in a neutral manner, as required by parliament regulations and the constitution.
All opposition MPs walked out on Nov 27 when the speaker ordered a recount after the government bench lost the vote on an opposition motion to set up a committee to study the impact of the use of Section 44 by the former National Council for Peace and Order. The recount was halted, and was expected to be put to the House again on Wednesday.
Mr Theeratchai, who is also spokesman for the anti-corruption panel, said he wanted the committee to look into four issues.
The first involved the interpretation of parliamentary regulations No.83 and 85 on casting of votes and a recount of votes. The speaker cited order No.85 in ordering a recount of the votes. MPs then had to vote again, from the beginning.
The FFP MP argued it was the wrong interpretation. A recount meant votes that were already cast would be recounted. It was different from casting new votes and then counting the votes.
The second issue was that Mr Chuan’s interpretation in ordering the casting of votes again showed a lack of neutrality as the opposition had already defeated the government in a motion submitted in the House. This interpretation was seen as an attempt by the government to win the motion by bringing more MPs into the chamber to cast their votes, Mr Theeratchai said.
Thirdly, he wanted the House committee to study whether the interpretation by the speaker had any impact on the workings of the parliament. A recounting of votes in this fashion could paralyse future meetings.
And fourthly, there should be a mechanism to ensure speakers perform their duty in an impartial manner, Mr Theeratchai said. He suggested the committee invite former speakers Uthai Pimchaichon and Wan Muhammad Nor Matha to give their views.
Pol Gen Sereepisuth said the committee would look into whether the speaker's actions were right or not. Attempts to recount the votes in parliament were made to help the government camp win the motion in order that a committee would not be set up to study the impact of the use of Section 44.
“Many MPs are being mobilised today. Those who are sick must leave the hospital. Even a certain MP under an arrest warrant issued by a court has to come to cast his vote.
"Therefore, anyone who spots this MP can arrest him. Don’t let him enter the parliament, otherwise it will be within the authority of the House speaker to rule.
"In the future, if the government camp wins a vote, the opposition may protest. This will disrupt the parliament. It’s widely known who issued Section 44 orders. These orders suppressed people.
"We must help and tell people that there are attempts in parliament to continue the dictatorship,’’ said sharp-tongued Pol Gen Sereepisuth. He did not name the MP who faces a court warrant.
The government chief whip has submitted a motion asking for a recount of votes. The recount was expected to be on the agenda for Wednesday.
Democrat MP Thepthai Saenpong said on Tuesday that the government whip had expressed confidence there would be no disruption on Dec 4, when MPs were being mobilised for the recount, Post Today reported.
Mr Thepthai suggested the government whip withdraw the motion, saying there was a risk the sitting of the House could be disrupted due to lack of a quorum.
The meeting requires a quorum of 249 MPs, at least half of the 498, to proceed.