Bhumjaithai stands by boycott on rail plan

Bhumjaithai stands by boycott on rail plan

The Bhumjaithai Party, a main government coalition partner, says it boycotted Tuesday's cabinet meeting over a controversial proposal to extend the Green Line railway concession and will continue to express its opposition until the party's demands about the proposal are met.

Paradorn Prissanananthakul, a Bhumjaithai MP for Ang Thong, said in his capacity as party spokesman that the party had earlier called for the cabinet's consideration of the Green Line proposal to be lawful and fair to both the state and consumers.

The party's remarks followed a decision on Tuesday by Bhumjaithai's seven cabinet members to submit their intention not to attend the weekly meeting in protest against the planned deliberation of the proposed extension.

According Mr Paradorn, the Transport Ministry is still awaiting documents previously requested from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) regarding the Green Line extension.

"Not attending the cabinet meeting is the party's way of ensuring a good atmosphere prevails at the meeting and that coalition partners can work well together and without conflicts," he said.

The seven cabinet members of the Bhumjaithai Party had on Monday informed the secretariat of the cabinet about their intention not to attend Tuesday's meeting, he said.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, also secretary-general of Bhumjaithai, insisted his party would agree to attend the next cabinet meeting to discuss the proposed concession extension only if the Interior Ministry and BMA have corrected the proposal according to the law and good governance principles.

"We didn't want to engage in arguments at Tuesday's meeting because we couldn't agree with the proposal right from the beginning," he said.

The party demanded that four queries it had previously made to the secretariat of the cabinet regarding the extension be addressed before the party agreed to attend a new meeting, he said.

They included a query about the cap of 65 baht per ride in the proposal that was deemed by the party to be unfair to passengers, he said.

His stance raises the prospect of further disruptions to the debate and another headache over the matter for the government.

A source, who is a high-level executive at the BMA, said all of the questions raised by Bhumjaithai have already been answered by the BMA.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang said the BMA had previously proposed to the government that it end problems surrounding the proposed concession extension by returning the Green Line's extension projects, Bearing-Samut Prakan and Mo Chit-Saphan Mai-Khu Khot, to the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA).

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