Prayut 'unfazed' by censure

Prayut 'unfazed' by censure

No-confidence vote kicks off later Tuesday

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to reporters at Government House on Monday. (Government House photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to reporters at Government House on Monday. (Government House photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday appeared unfazed by the upcoming no-confidence debate, despite uncertainties over how small coalition parties would cast their votes.

It is the fourth and last no-confidence against the government, as the administration will finish its term in March next year.

Last week, the Setthakij Thai Party with 16 MPs under its wing pulled out of the coalition last week and vowed to vote against Gen Prayut and 10 other cabinet ministers targeted by the motion.

Meanwhile, the so-called Group of 16, made up of MPs from micro-parties and several members of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), were reportedly divided on whether they would support the prime minister.

Speaking after the weekly cabinet meeting, Gen Prayut said he was ready to face the music as he had pure intentions.

He said that he was confident all cabinet ministers would be able to answer the opposition's questions.

"I work as much as I possibly can with everyone. The nation is first and foremost," he said.

Gen Prayut also played down rumours of a rift between him and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon, saying they have each other's back.

Before the meeting, the prime minister reportedly held a 30-minute meeting with the leaders and secretary-generals of core coalition parties to determine how the parties would vote.

Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul and Varawut Silpa-archa, head of the Chartthaipattana Party's strategy and policy committee, said both parties will support Gen Prayut.

However, Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanawisit said a few MPs from the party might break ranks.

The Setthakij Thai Party, meanwhile, was not invited as it is no longer considered an ally anymore.

Mr Anutin said the government will survive the no-confidence vote if MPs in the coalition have one voice. He also assured that Bhumjaithai MPs will toe the party line.

When asked if some opposition MPs would jump ship in the vote, the Bhumjaithai leader said the party can only be held accountable for its MPs' actions.

Bhumjaithai initially won 51 seats in the 2019 election, but its number of MPs increased to 60 following several defections. However, it was reported that the party has the support of about 80 MPs, including some MPs from other parties.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Monday for the no-confidence motion to succeed, the opposition camp must muster the support of at least 239 MPs. Currently, it is believed to have the backing of 206-207.

About 50 opposition MPs have signed up to speak in the censure debate, which kicks off today and lasts until Friday.

Out of the 45 hours allocated to the opposition, 30 will be spent grilling Gen Prayut as head of the government. The prime minister is accused of mishandling the situation throughout the pandemic.

Pheu Thai Party leader Cholnan Srikaew admitted that while the opposition may not be able to oust the government, he hoped that some MPs would have a change of heart after hearing what the opposition has to say.

Deputy Pheu Thai leader and chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang said Gen Prayut's will be grilled on the second day of the debate.

The debate will kick off with Dr Cholnan, as the opposition leader, delivering the motion. The first minister to be grilled is Mr Anutin, who is a deputy prime minister and the public health minister.

According to Mr Sutin, there are 50 speakers -- 27 from Pheu Thai, 14 from Move Forward, three from Prachachart, two each from Seri Ruam Thai and Pheu Chart, and one each from Thai People Power and Thai Civilized Party.

Prasert Chantararuangtong, secretary-general of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, on Monday said a graft complaint will be lodged with the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Constitutional Court against the cabinet ministers targeted in the debate.

Pai Leeke, Setthakij Thai Party secretary-general, said the party is unlikely to take part in the debate as it is inappropriate to ask other parties for their allotted time.

He said that now that the party has pulled out of the coalition, it will vote along with the opposition.

The motion for the censure debate was filed last month under Section 151 of the constitution.


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