Small fry may turn coat at censure meet
Rebel group weighs voting against PM
A Group of 16 MPs from small parties is undecided whether to vote against the government in the next censure debate.
This is despite their being set to join the opposition in the grilling over the controversial bidding for a contract to build the main pipeline for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), said Pichet Sathirachawal, the group's leader.
Mr Pichet said the group, which claims to have 16 MPs under its wing, will decide how to vote in the censure motion expected later this month or early next. Some of the group's MPs have previously supported the government.
Mr Pichet, who is also an MP for the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), said the group planned to zero in on the EEC transmission pipeline project worth 25 billion baht.
The Treasury Department, supervised by Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat, has a role in the management of the pipeline project.
Mr Pichet alleged the project may be fraught with irregularity. If the government keeps pushing ahead with the project, the group would sever its ties with the government, he added.
In that case, Mr Pichet insisted he would join hands with Deputy Pheu Thai Party leader, Yuttapong Charasathien, in censuring Mr Santi in the debate.
At the same time, Capt Thamanat Prompow, former Setthakij Thai secretary-general who is tipped to assume the party leadership, claims he has the support of more than 40 MPs from various parties including the Group of 16 and a number of the PPRP's own MPs.
The parties are looking to vote down targeted cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in the no-confidence debate, which could result in the prime minister either being replaced or calling for a House dissolution.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said yesterday he was not concerned that seven party MPs backed the budget bill at its first reading in defiance of the Pheu Thai Party line.
An internal disciplinary probe will proceed against the seven MPs before deciding whether to dismiss them. If purged, the MPs are free to defect to another party within 30 days of dismissal.
"Looking on the bright side, we'll be able to explain to our constituents why these MPs paid lip service to the Pheu Thai's ideology and why they betrayed the party.
"It will compel more people to vote for the Pheu Thai in the next polls," the party leader said.