Chuan defends B7.5m purchase of new official car

Chuan defends B7.5m purchase of new official car

Parliament President Chuan Leekpai supports the planned purchase of a new 7.5-million-baht official car, not for himself but for the position he holds. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Parliament President Chuan Leekpai supports the planned purchase of a new 7.5-million-baht official car, not for himself but for the position he holds. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Parliament President Chuan Leekpai on Monday defended the planned purchase of a 7.5-million-baht official car for his use, saying it is not for him personally but for the person occupying the position.

When questioned by reporters, he explained it was time to replace the official car now that MPs had been elected and the House of Representatives had approved the national budget, which included an allocation to buy the vehicle.

The absence of MPs during the previous government made the purchase impossible and the parliament president's official car was now old and in need of replacement, he said.

Mr Chuan, who is also House speaker, said he personally thought a new vehicle was unnecessary, as he placed importance on austerity. However, his successor would also probably benefit from the new official car, as he was unsure how long he would remain in the position.

"It's not about approving a budget for me. It's for the occupant of the position," Mr Chuan said.

House of Representatives secretary-general Sorasak Pienvej insisted the budget allocation was in line with spending regulations.

Mr Sorasak was responding to questions from members of the House sub-committee scrutinising the budget bill.

Sub-committee spokesman Yutthapong Charasathien said members had asked Mr Sorasak to clarify whether Mr Chuan, who is known for his frugality, had approved the proposed purchase.

Mr Sorasak said the budget was not sought by Mr Chuan. It was set as a matter of protocol, since a parliament president, as head of the legislative branch, was entitled to an official car valued at 7.5 million baht.

Official cars in the same price range were allocated to the prime minister, who heads the executive branch, and the Supreme Court president, head of the judiciary, Mr Sorasak said.

Mr Chuan had approved the purchase, although he had preferred a less expensive car and that the surplus funds be returned to the national coffers, he said.

Mr Chuan has not yet decided what make of official car he will opt for. At present, he commutes either in his own car or in the official back-up vehicle, according to the House secretary-general.

The parliament president's official car is over eight years old and should have been decommissioned two years ago as per regulations.


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