Prawit ready to welcome 14 rebel MPs
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has welcomed the idea of 14 MPs from the Pheu Thai Party agreeing to vote in support of the government in important motions and legislation in parliament.
"Certainly. We'll take their support," said Gen Prawit who is also chief strategist of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).
However, he insisted he had no idea if Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit and Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin, both senior PPRP figures, had breakfast with the 14 MPs on the morning of the Sept 18 debate in parliament on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's oath-taking mistake.
The supposed get-together is believed to have involved a discussion on the MPs' support for the government, which is sitting on a thin majority and, say critics, is in desperate need of help from "cobras" or rebel opposition members to pass important legislation.
Gen Prawit said on Monday the PPRP had no policy to "fish" for opposition MPs, but it would be helpful if they defected to the government's side.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was unsure if there was any substance to rumours about the 14 MPs backing the government.
Mr Anutin, who also leads the coalition Bhumjaithai Party, said it may not be easy for MPs to defy their own parties. However, he said the voters chose their MPs not knowing if they would end up in opposition or government.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai chief strategist Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan said a government suffering disunity will do anything -- including "farming cobras", an apparent reference to MP poaching -- to cling to power. She said Pheu Thai has evidence of a government party resorting to underhand tactics, such as promising to help some opposition MPs with their legal cases. She added she was confident no Pheu Thai MPs would betray their own party.