Chuan will not budge on calls for MP pay cuts
Pressure is growing on MPs and senators to donate part of their salaries toward easing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the calls for MPs to give up a slice of their pay was rejected by House Speaker Chuan Leekpai on Wednesday.
The rejection came after senators expressed mixed feelings about the proposed donations.
Senator Kittisak Rattanawaraha said Thailand was not so broke that senators, MPs and civil servants had to sacrifice their salaries to supplement the state budget.
On Wednesday, Mr Chuan insisted parliament had no plans to make MPs donate their salaries.
"MPs are already taking care of their constituents in various ways. Many are left with less than 100,000 baht a month after tax is deducted and contributions are made to their parties' coffers," Mr Chuan said.
He also noted that not all MPs are rich.
From the outset, many MPs have provided assistance to people affected by the outbreak, Mr Chuan said, adding he had asked members of a House standing committee he works with to put up cash donations amounting to about 400,000 baht.
The money went to hospitals whose resources and manpower have been overwhelmed by infection cases.
Many MPs have also offered help to people and this incurs expenses which they must cover using their own salaries, Mr Chuan said.
He suggested the Senate spearhead a Covid-19 donation campaign among its members.
However, political scientists disagreed with Mr Chuan and insisted MPs should give up part of their salaries as a social service and set a good example.
Wanwichit Boonprong, a lecturer at Rangsit University's College of Government, said MPs in many countries donate their salaries in times of national need.
If Thai MPs decline to do so, a comparison would be drawn which would hurt their reputation, he said.
He noted some MPs have pledged to contribute to the fight against Covid-19 which should prompt others to follow suit.
Although some MPs are less well-off than others, they are still regarded as having more wealth at their disposal than most people.
It would be fitting if when a crisis strikes the country, they stand up and make sacrifices for society, Mr Wanwichit said.
Yutthaporn Issarachai, a political scientist at Sukhothai Thammarathirat Open University, said that as public figures and people's representatives, MPs are obliged to volunteer their services during hard times, whether in cash or kind.