House again fails to muster a quorum

House again fails to muster a quorum

Calls rise for absentee MPs to be penalised as session stalls

A meeting of the House of Representatives is adjourned on Friday due to a lack of quorum. (File photo: Parliament)
A meeting of the House of Representatives is adjourned on Friday due to a lack of quorum. (File photo: Parliament)

Yesterday afternoon's session of the House of Representatives came to an abrupt end when the body failed to attain a quorum.

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai ordered the session closed at 2.50pm when only 195 MPs were present in the chamber. A total of 237 MPs were required to be present.

Mr Chuan rang the quorum at 2.05pm before a vote on a study on the impact on coastal erosion and how to address the problem in a sustainable manner. The government MPs reportedly tried to stall the vote by issuing protests.

At 2.40pm Mr Chuan rang anther quorum bell and adjourned the sitting five minutes later when a count showed only 195 MPs were in attendance.

It was the second time this week a House session was brought to an abrupt end, and the 16th time since the House convened following the last general election.

Last year, with its meetings cancelled on several occasions due to lack of quorum, the House of Representatives was subsequently labelled a "sunken House" by the media for the unexpected adjournments.

Dr Sukij Atthopakorn, Mr Chuan's adviser, called on the government and opposition MPs yesterday to respect their voters and do their jobs professionally.

He said that while it is neither the responsibility of the government or the opposition to ensure a meeting quorum, they are duty bound to attend House sessions.

Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) list-MP Paiboon Nititawan said yesterday the MPs who used the collapsed meeting to justify calls for the House to be dissolved should resign.

"I think they've got it wrong. If they don't attend the sessions, and they don't want to, that means they no longer want to be MPs. I think they should quit instead of demanding the dissolution of the House," he said.

Pongpol Yodmuangcharoen, a member of the Kla Party, also called for action against the MPs, saying the 16 failed House sessions have caused 67 million baht in damage.

"Students who skip class get points deducted. Workers who don't show up see their wages cut. Shouldn't irresponsible MPs also face action?" he asked, suggesting their allowances be slashed.

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