NEP 'waiting for an invitation'

NEP 'waiting for an invitation'

Six-MP opposition party shows interest in joining coalition

"If the phu yai invite us [to join the coalition], then the party will have to discuss the next step it should take," says Manoon Siwapiromrat, the New Economics Party leader. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The New Economics Party (NEP) has hinted that it is ready to join the coalition government, provided it receives an invitation from key figures.

In response to speculation that the six-MP party might abandon the opposition, NEP leader Manoon Siwapiromrat said that so far no phu yai or senior figure in the government had sent a formal invitation.

He explained that his party's aim is to propel the country forward, and if that can be achieved by working in sync with the government's plans, then the party is ready to join the coalition.

"I am still waiting. No one has called me yet. If the phu yai invite us, then the party will have to discuss the next step it should take," he said on Saturday. "We're currently in the opposition, but if we join the government, we can announce our stance clearly.

"If no cabinet seats are offered, the party will still push for its policies. Our stance will not change. We want to propel the economy forward."

Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said on Friday that the NEP had been informally approached to join the coalition government.

Commenting on speculation that a cabinet reshuffle may be on the cards to pave the way for the NEP's entry, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, who is also deputy leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), only said: "Let's wait and see."

However, Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said he didn't believe a cabinet reshuffle would be necessary to bring NEP in as a coalition partner at this stage. He also pointed out that opposition MPs who stayed behind during last Wednesday's House session to make up a quorum for the meeting obviously want to push the country forward.

Though most opposition MPs walked out to prevent the House meeting from proceeding, 10 stayed behind. Thanks to the 10 MPs, the government was able to secure the quorum it required to call a vote to block the creation of a panel to scrutinise Section 44, the all-powerful tool of the former military junta. A total of 261 MPs were present, meeting the quorum of at least 249 MPs.

Of the 10 MPs from the opposition bloc who remained, three were from the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, two from Future Forward, four from the NEP and one from the Prachachart Party.

The opposition's motion to set up a panel to study the impact of orders issued under Section 44 of the interim charter was rejected with 244 votes against. Five voted in favour, while five abstained.

Deputy Prime Minister and Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanawisit said the four Democrat MPs who refused to toe the coalition line and voted in support of the opposition motion would be asked to explain their reason, in writing, to party secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on. Mr Chalermchai will then consider their punishment.

Mr Jurin declined to comment on speculation about the cabinet reshuffle, saying it should be left up to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the PPRP to decide.

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