MPs want more time to grill PM

MPs want more time to grill PM

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

The opposition cried foul on Tuesday over the cabinet's decision to leave the general debate on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's oath-taking blunder until the last day of the current parliamentary session on Sept 18.

Suthin Khlangsaeng, chief opposition whip and Pheu Thai MP, said the government should review its decision because a one-day debate would put opposition MPs under pressure.

He also accused the government of trying to block the opposition from doing its job by picking the last day of the current House session for the general debate.

The debate has been sought under Section 152 of the constitution to grill Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha over the incomplete oath during the cabinet swearing-in ceremony in July.

Critics said the incomplete oath could jeopardise the status of the cabinet, its decisions and policy implementation.

The debate, which will proceed without a vote, is also expected to address the government's failure to specify sources of income to fund its policies, according to the opposition.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said Gen Prayut would be present for the debate and would give direct answers to questions. The deputy prime minister added it was not necessary for the debate to be held behind closed doors as it was an issue of interest to the people.

Mr Suthin said the seven opposition parties will seek a meeting with House Speaker Chuan Leekpai today over the arrangements for the session.

"We'll ask to meet Mr Chuan today to discuss the date of the general debate. We want him to be flexible and the debate to last more than one day," he said.

However, Mr Chuan said on Tuesday one day is likely to be adequate if the debate starts early in the morning.

According to Mr Chuan, he agreed with the government whip's proposal to hold the debate on Sept 11 and Sept 12 but cabinet members have other engagements.

Gen Prayut insisted on Tuesday he would not take the general debate for granted and would answer the opposition's questions.

However, the prime minister noted that he would be careful when answering the questions because the oath controversy is pending a review in the Constitutional Court.

He said he will be available to attend the debate from Sept 16 onward although the cabinet has now scheduled the session for Sept 18.

The website of the Royal Gazette has published a royal command to conclude the first parliamentary session for this year.

According to the royal command, parliament convened its first meeting on May 22, 2019, and will reach the 120-day time frame on Sept 18, 2019.

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