Bribe plot rumours swirl

Bribe plot rumours swirl

PM downplays claim, demands evidence

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha walks back to his office after a cabinet meeting at Government House on Tuesday. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha walks back to his office after a cabinet meeting at Government House on Tuesday. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday brushed aside a claim by former deputy prime minister Trairong Suwannakhiri that some MPs were each offered between 5-30 million baht to vote against him in an upcoming no-confidence debate.

Asked about a move to spend the money to buy votes from MPs to unseat him, Gen Prayut said: "Show me evidence. Anyone can say whatever they want ... I don't know I never did this.''

Asked if he would launch a probe to find out who spread the rumour, the prime minister said: "Where did it come from?''.

Mr Trairong said via Facebook on Tuesday that he had learned that some 5-30 million baht had been offered to some MPs from small coalition parties to topple the government in the next few months when parliament reconvenes, and a no-confidence debate is expected to take place or during a vote on the budget bill for 2023.

A group of 16 MPs from small coalition parties have said they will vote in support for anything that will be in the country's best interests even if it goes against the coalition government's line.

The group recently met for talks with Cholnan Srikaew, leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, and they will also meet today with deputy Pheu Thai leader Yutthapong Charasathian, who will be a key speaker in the no-confidence debate.

Dr Cholnan previously said Pheu Thai plans to table a no-confidence motion against the government after the amendments to two organic laws for a new, dual-ballot election are submitted to parliament for second and third readings.

The censure debate is likely to be held in late June or early July, he said.

A parliamentary committee examining the amendments is expected to submit them to parliament on May 24.

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who is leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, also dismissed as groundless the rumour about MPs being bought to oust the prime minister.

"The money figures and the plot [to unseat the PM] are questionable. If MPs act like that, their parties must take action. But such things do not happen in Bhumjaithai,'' Mr Anutin said.

He added that coalition parties must work together and take collective responsibility and if cabinet ministers can explain themselves during the no-confidence debate, MPs from the coalition parties are obliged to vote in support.

"No leaders of the coalition parties have been worried about a vote in parliament ... Everyone supports the government to carry on working smoothly,'' he said.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin, executive board member of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), noted that it was not surprising that small coalition parties were trying to jockey for position as the government's tenure is nearing an end.

He also downplayed the rumour that up to 30 million baht was offered to MPs to vote against the prime minister.

"That's too much money to be spent on ousting the government considering that the government has not much time left in office. That's impossible to believe,'' Mr Somsak said.

Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, who is deputy PPRP leader, said it was normal for the rumour mill to go into overdrive ahead of the no-confidence debate with the opposition camp and government critics trying to put pressure on the government.

Nirote Sunthornlekha, a PPRP MP who serves as the chief government whip, confirmed that coalition MPs remain steadfast in their support of the government.

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