An MP of a micro party who threatened to pull out of the coalition last week has made good on his word with a formal announcement of his party, saying it would not tolerate insulting remarks by the coalition’s coordinator.
Pichet Sathirachawal, leader of the Prachatham Thai Party, held a briefing in Bangkok on Tuesday to announce the party’s decision.
Mr Pichet showed his disappointment on Thursday after a House meeting refused to allocate the 10 micro parties a chairman seat on any of the 35 House committees. The meeting decided it was unconstitutional for parties to band together in the chairman seat allocation.
He subsequently threatened to pull out of the coalition, lamenting the fact that neither the coalition or Parliament recognised the importance of the small parties and refused to give them any political position even though they command 10 MPs among them.
But during the weekend, Capt Thamanat Prompow, a deputy agriculture minister and coalition coordinator, said he managed to lure back the party into the fold.
However, he added a remark many found insulting.
"I'm a monkey keeper so I need to keep feeding them bananas all the time. I believe they're full now," he said, before calling Mr Pichet before reporters to make the point.
Mr Pichet said later he had to consult the party’s executives but what he meant earlier was to split up from the 10-party group, not from the coalition.
On Tuesday, Mr Pichet said his party’s executives voted unanimously to leave the coalition because of Capt Thamanat’s insulting remarks and pledged never to rejoin it.
“We have dignity and honour to keep. From now on, we will open a mailbox, together with Mongkolkit Suksintaranont, leader and MP of the Thai Civilized Party, who left the coalition earlier, to accept complaints directly from people. We will perform our duties through Parliament and House committees,” he said.
Mr Pichet added like Mr Mongkolkit, he would be an independent MP and will vote at his own discretion without having to listen to whips.
“I’ve grown tired of eating bananas. It’s up to others to continue eating,” he said, referring to the MP of other micro parties still with the coalition.
On Tuesday morning, Capt Thamanat offered an apology to Mr Pichet, saying he made the remark because he had grown so close to him and thought he wouldn’t mind.
After Mr Pichet pulled out of the coalition, the government will command 249 of 500 votes in the House, with two swing votes of Mr Mongkolkit and Mr Pichet.
A micro party is a one-MP party with fewer votes than the threshold of around 70,000 but won the House seats due to the controversial mixed-member proportional representation calculation method used by the Election Commission.