Opposition 'failed to go for throat'

Opposition 'failed to go for throat'

Academic says day one attacks fell flat

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha makes notes from his mobile phone in the chamber on the second day of the no-confidence debate on Tuesday. Wichan Charoenkiatpaku
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha makes notes from his mobile phone in the chamber on the second day of the no-confidence debate on Tuesday. Wichan Charoenkiatpaku

The opposition failed to go for the government's jugular on the first day of the no-confidence debate, an academic said on Tuesday.

Somjai Phagaphasvivat, an independent academic on economics and political science, said that the opposition took special aim at Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday as it tried to discredit him, particularly on an issue involving a land sale by his father.

Even though the debate covered various aspects of the government's alleged failures in running the country, the opposition could not clearly point out serious flaws in its tackling of key issues, particularly regarding the faltering economy, Mr Somjai said.

He added that the opposition had no expert on economic affairs to grill the government effectively on the matter.

Instead of targeting Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who is in charge of economic affairs, the opposition singled Gen Prayut out, Mr Somjai said, adding that the prime minister had cushioned himself from the onslaught by letting other cabinet ministers explain respective queries on his behalf.

On corruption allegations, the opposition lacked in-depth information to back its claims, Mr Somjai noted.

"The opposition did not deliver the goods as they promised to before the start of the debate. This shows they don't have the experience necessary to attack the government.

"But the good thing about the debate was that the opposition MPs had engaged less in empty rhetoric,'' Mr Somjai said.

Chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang admitted that he was not satisfied with the opposition's performance as it had not been as spectacularly attention-grabbing as the bloc had hoped.

He said that House Speaker Chuan Leekpai had allowed other cabinet ministers to clarify on behalf of the prime minister, which ate into the opposition's debate time.

Mr Sutin, also a Pheu Thai Party MP for Maha Sarakham, said the whips from the government and opposition earlier agreed that protests during the debate would be kept to a minimum.

Nevertheless, several government MPs had stood up and protested about trivial matters and interrupted the debate, Mr Sutin said.

He also agreed with a proposal by Julapan Amornwiwat, a Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Mai, that the session be extended for three to four days to allow opposition MPs enough time to speak on all issues.

But if the government does not want the session to be extended beyond tomorrow, ministers must avoid giving lengthy explanations, he warned.

Chamlong Krudkhuntod, an adviser to Suporn Atthawong, the PM's Office assistant minister, said that overall things had gone smoothly as government MPs had done their homework.

However, Mr Chamlong, who chairs a "war room" to support government MPs during the debate, warned that the debate must not be exploited to stir up political unrest in the country.

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