Chuan backs earlier last debate

Chuan backs earlier last debate

Chuan: Admitsquorum an issue
Chuan: Admitsquorum an issue

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai disagrees with a government plan to hold a general debate after Feb 15, saying the debate should be held early next month, as per the opposition's request.

The cabinet said last week it would be ready to hold one last debate with the opposition in the House of Representatives after Feb 15, a timeline questioned by critics due to its close proximity to the general election on May 7.

In a cabinet letter to the House concerning a request for the debate, the government suggested it should be held for up to two days, Chinnaworn Bunyakiat, Democrat Party MP and deputy chief government whip, said last Thursday.

The timeline has been approved by the government, he said, adding two days will be enough to cover about 20 issues the opposition is planning to bring forward.

The House term ends on Feb 28. Under the government's plan, the debate is expected to be held either on Feb 15–16 or Feb 23–24, but Mr Chuan yesterday said the debate should take place next month.

"The opposition has argued the schedule proposed by the government is too far off, as the opposition tabled a motion for a general debate in December," he said. "Initially, the debate was expected to take place this month."

"I also agree that it is too far away," he added. "The debate -- under Section 152 of the constitution -- is held without a vote."

Regarding frequent cancellations due to the lack of quorum, Mr Chuan admitted the government is struggling to control MP defections.

He said cooperation from all involved is needed to push through several bills pending deliberation. "Cooperation from all sides is necessary otherwise the lack of quorum will follow," he said.

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