PM, ministers survive censure debate

PM, ministers survive censure debate

Deputy Prime Minister Prawait Wongsuwon smiles after hearing about the vote results on the no-confidence debate against six ministers on Friday. (Photo by Wasssana Nanuam)
Deputy Prime Minister Prawait Wongsuwon smiles after hearing about the vote results on the no-confidence debate against six ministers on Friday. (Photo by Wasssana Nanuam)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and five other cabinet ministers have survived the no-confidence motion even though two of them were not grilled during the four-day debate.

The Opposition, except for MPs of the dissolved Future Forward Party (FFP) and the Seri Ruam Thai Party, did not vote on Friday morning, following an apparent rift among the opposition parties.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon won the most votes even though no MPs had debated on his performance, while Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow won the fewest votes. 

The vote results on the question: “Do you agree with the no-confidence motion against...?”:

  • Prayut Chan-o-cha: 49 for, 272 against and 2 abstentions
  • Prawit Wongsuwon: 50-277-2 (no debate)
  • Wissanu Krea-ngam: 54-272-2
  • Anupong Paojinda: 54-272-2 (no debate)
  • Don Pramudwinai: 55-272-2 
  • Thamanat Prompow: 55-269-7

Five opposition MPs voted in favour of Gen Prawit, giving him more votes than the others. They were three list MPs of the opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party — Napaporn Petchinda, Watchara Na Wangkanai and Ampai Kongmanee. Two of Pheu Thai MPs — Pornpimol Thammasarn for Pathum Thani and Polapum Vipatpumiprathet for Bangkok — also did the same. They are among those who have voted along the coalition stance multiple times. 

Shortly before the vote, a group of MPs from the Democrat Party, one of the coalition parties, held a briefing saying they did not agree with the vote but had to comply with the party’s resolution. Thepthai Senapong said he did not agree with a vote of confidence for a minister who had been implicated in drugs, referring to Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat. 

The four-day debate ended at 7pm on Thursday. Gen Prayut was grilled from Monday to Thursday morning, leaving little or no time for the remaining ministers.

At 7pm on Thursday, the coalition MPs flatly turned down the Opposition’s request to extend the hours into the night, reasoning it was the Opposition’s problem if it could not manage the allocated time that had been agreed upon.

The Opposition parties then met and resolved to walk out and not to join the vote on Friday. However, FFP insisted on voting on Friday while the Seri Ruam Thai Party allowed its MPs to attend and gave them freedom to vote.       

After the debate ended on Thursday evening, two FFP MPs who had prepared to grill Gen Prawit and Gen Anupong but were not given the chance took their debates outside by holding a briefing for reporters to show the content they had prepared. While they were not interrupted as often as they would have been in the House, they were not covered by MP immunity and risked being sued.

Former FFP secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul wrote on Facebook later, questioning the motive of Pheu Thai, the largest opposition party.

He claimed there had been efforts among the Opposition to drop Gen Prawit from the list. And when they failed, his name was put last on the list. As events unfolded, FFP did not have enough time to debate on his performance.

The Opposition had agreed to grill Gen Prayut for three days and the last day was reserved for the remaining five ministers, he wrote.

However, a Pheu Thai MP scheduled to debate on Gen Prayut did not show up late on Wednesday as planned and insisted on doing it on Thursday morning, according to Mr Piyabutr.

The MP was late again on Thursday and when he finally talked, he took an extra hour. After that, ministers took turns explaining, taking several more hours.

“They kept burning our time until we had 30 minutes left of our remaining quota of 210 to debate on Gen Prawit and Gen Anupong,” he wrote.

Gen Prayut said after the vote he would not reshuffle his cabinet and woul continue to work transparently.

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