Prayut, ministers survive no-confidence vote

Prayut, ministers survive no-confidence vote

Coalition appears secure but protest movement vows to keep up pressure

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gestures as Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon (left) looks on following the no-confidence vote on Saturday morning in Parliamant. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gestures as Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon (left) looks on following the no-confidence vote on Saturday morning in Parliamant. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Saturday after a four-day debate in which the opposition criticised his government for its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, the economy and alleged corruption.

The no-confidence motion against the premier was rejected by 272 lawmakers, while 206 supported it, according to a televised broadcast of the proceedings in parliament on Saturday.

Nine other ministers also survived no-confidence votes as the coalition parties supporting Gen Prayut’s government rallied behind them (full results below). 

Prawit Wongsuwon, leader of the Palang Pracharath Party, on Friday ordered members to close ranks and support all ministers equally.

Gen Prawit was attempting to quell a mini-rebellion by some members who were thinking about withholding support for Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, whose wife is planning to run for the Bangkok governorship, to the disapproval of some in the party.

"Although they all survived the votes, some of the ministers received fewer votes than others, and that points to a reshuffle in the next few months," said Punchada Sirivunnabood, a political analyst and an associate professor at Mahidol University.

However, the government’s win suggests the ruling coalition would last its full term, she added.

The defeat of the second no-confidence vote since the 2019 elections will allow coup leader-turned-premier Prayut to continue his government’s efforts in limiting the impact of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that is threatening to derail a nascent economic recovery.

At the same time, pro-democracy groups are likely to intensify their street campaign for the premier’s resignation, a rewriting of the constitution and reform of the monarchy

The Ratsadon group of activists began gathering on Saturday afternoon in Bangkok, saying they planned to “step up" their activities.

Police on Saturday morning set up a long barricade of double-stacked containers and spooled out copious amounts of razor wire near the Grand Palace, even though the demonstrators had said they had no intention to gather anywhere near there.

A demonstration on Friday night near Parliament attracted a few hundred people, who demanded the release of four movement leaders currently detained pending trial on lese majeste charges.

During the four-day debate ahead of the votes, opposition lawmakers slammed Gen Prayut and some of his ministers for their alleged inept handling of the budget allocation and economic measures to deal with the impact of the Covid outbreak as well as a delayed vaccination rollout. The government rejected those charges and defended its policies and strategy.

A total of 487 of the 500 MPs were present for Saturday’s vote. The results were:

  • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha: 272-206, with 3 abstentions
  • Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon: 274-204, with 4 abstentions
  • Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul: 275-201, with 6 abstentions
  • Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit: 268-207, with 7 abstentions
  • Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda: 272-205, with 3 abstentions
  • Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan: 258-215, with 8 abstentions
  • Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin: 263-212, with 1 abstention
  • Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob: 268-201, with 12 abstentions
  • Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Bunyamanee: 272-206, with 4 abstentions
  • Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompow: 274-199, with 5 abstentions

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