House panel vote 'no sign of rifts'

House panel vote 'no sign of rifts'

Wissanu: Played down rumours
Wissanu: Played down rumours

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam yesterday played down rumours about a conflict between coalition partners following a vote on the chairman of the House committee scrutinising the two organic laws related to the new electoral system.

Democrat Party deputy leader and Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha was chosen to head the committee, beating Paiboon Nititawan, deputy leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), by just one vote.

Mr Wissanu said the matter was not a conflict although it indicated something was out of place because the issue of the chairmanship should have been finalised earlier by the coalition partners.

He also pointed out that PPRP list-MP Wichian Chawalit, who co-submitted the amendment bills, was not on the committee, which suggested the coalition parties did not hold talks on the issue.

Mr Wissanu responded with a "yes" when asked if coalition parties would have to improve their work in parliament, but he declined to say more.

He was concerned the issue could affect the government's stability. However, he did not bring it up with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The remark came in response to a reporter's question concerning deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's comment on the selection of the committee chairman.

At one point in his Clubhouse session on Tuesday, Thaksin said the vote was Gen Prayut's wake-up call for parliament.

Asked if Gen Prayut discussed the stability of the government with him, Mr Wissanu said the issue was mentioned only in passing.

He refused to say if the government would be able to complete its four-year term next March. Mr Wissanu said someone like Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon may know.

Mr Wissanu said the scrutiny process of the draft amendments to the two organic laws on political parties and the election of MPs must be finished within a 180-day timeframe, or the bills will have to be accepted as originally proposed.

The proposed amendments to the two organic laws passed their first readings in parliament last week to reflect the constitutional changes that accommodate the reintroduction of the dual-ballot system.

He said it was possible to amend the charter to go back to a single-ballot system. "But I don't know if such an amendment would succeed. And why would we do that when we have just revised it? We might be better off pursuing issues that are more important."

Deputy Democrat Party leader Niphon Bunyamanee said yesterday the chairmanship selection would not affect the committee's work and the panel would listen to all suggestions.

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