PM: I'll be cool during grilling

PM: I'll be cool during grilling

Opposition to quiz Prayut on oath gaffe

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

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday declared he is ready for Wednesday's parliamentary debate on his incomplete recital of the cabinet oath, saying the upcoming grilling will not rattle his nerves.

Speaking after Tuesday's cabinet meeting, Gen Prayut said that he prepared himself for the debate and will listen to useful opinions and answer questions from the opposition.

"I don't feel nervous at all. I am at the stage where I no longer feel rattled," the prime minister said.

Asked by reporters if he would be present throughout the entire debate, he said he would try to stay as long as possible but he also had other engagements to handle.

The government's legal team has briefed him fully, Gen Prayut said.

This information includes opinions from former drafters of the current constitution, the prime minister said, adding that the Constitutional Court's ruling on the oath-taking issue will be also be explained at the House meeting.

During the debate which will proceed without a vote, the opposition will also grill the prime minister over the government's alleged failure to identify financial sources to support its budget during the parliamentary session in July outlining the document.

Suthin Khlangsaeng, the chief opposition whip and a Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, said that the number of opposition debaters has been reduced to 15 in order to focus on "quality over quantity".

The key debaters will be Future Forward Party (FFP) secretary-general and MP Piyabutr Saengkanokkul; Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of the opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party; and Wan Muhammad Nor Matha, leader of the Prachachat Party, Mr Suthin said.

Pheu Thai MP for Nan Cholnan Srikaew will debate the budget issue, Mr Suthin said, before adding that he will be the last participant.

Mr Suthin said he hoped that government MPs will not protest and interrupt the opposition too much so the session will end by Wednesday as scheduled.

Mr Piyabutr will be the first to take the floor and he is expected to spend about an hour questioning the premier.

Mr Piyabutr was responsible for bringing the oath issue to light during the debate on the government's policy manifesto on July 25. He expressed concern that Gen Prayut's incomplete recital would have an impact on the status of the entire cabinet and the government's policy implementation.

Pol Gen Sereepisuth said on Tuesday he will make his points politely during the debate rather than directing provocative remarks against the prime minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who chairs the Palang Pracharath Party's strategic committee, said he had told party MPs to prepare for the debate, while Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said the cabinet is ready to rally behind the prime minister.

Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said there will be no interruptions from the government side as long as the debaters stick to the topic.

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said he was not worried that the debate will get out of hand as House meeting regulations will be in place to control the session.

Gen Prayut led his cabinet ministers in taking the oath of office before His Majesty the King on July 16. The prime minister omitted the final sentence during the swearing-in, upsetting his critics in parliament.

The opposition filed an urgent motion for a parliamentary debate to question Gen Prayut over the content of the oath-taking ceremony after he twice missed House sessions to explain the gaffe.

On Sept 11, the Constitutional Court rejected a petition lodged by the Ombudsman over the matter. The court said oath-taking is a political issue and concerns a "specific relationship" between the cabinet and the monarchy.

It was beyond the jurisdiction of the court to examine issues between the executive branch and the monarchy.

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