PM: No early dissolution
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PM: No early dissolution

No reason to call time now, says Wissanu

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha talks to reporters at Government House on Monday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha talks to reporters at Government House on Monday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his deputy, Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, on Tuesday rejected speculation by the opposition that the House could be dissolved in December.

Gen Prayut denied he planned to disband the House after this month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit this month, telling reporters: "You'd better ask the rumour mill."

Main opposition Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew had raised this as a possibility, saying Gen Prayut might also roll out stimulus measures over Christmas and New Year to boost the popularity of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

That would also give MPs enough time, legally, to switch parties ahead of next year's general election.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who also leads the coalition Bhumjaithai Party, said in jest that Gen Prayut had contemplated dissolving the House on Feb 31. February has 28 days next year.

Mr Anutin insisted the authority to dissolve the House rests with the prime minister. He said he did not think that remaining in power for another five or six months would cause the government to slow down its work.

Prime Minister's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai, who is concurrently an executive of the PPRP, said he had no reason to believe the House would be dissolved.

Moreover, there was no indication of a looming "political accident" in the near future, he said, referring to critical problems that could sink the government.

Internally, the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) faction, one of the largest factions in the PPRP, has made it abundantly clear they would stick with the party despite predictions that its popularity could take a battering in the poll tentatively set for May 7 by the Election Commission (EC).

Mr Anucha said the party was unperturbed by the prediction or a possible probe that could result in its disbandment after a key PPRP figure admitted the party accepted a donation from the alleged owner of a Bangkok pub raided last week, who was a Chinese businessman granted Thai citizenship.

Also on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the government was not facing any major hurdles in the next few months that could warrant the House being dissolved.

He said the opposition was going ahead with its plan to launch a general debate as an urgent motion against the government over the recent massacre at a child daycare centre in Nong Bua Lam Phu province. No censure votes will be cast that could threaten the government's survival, he added.

"There's no risk factor. The worst that could happen is a lack of a quorum in the House," Mr Wissanu said.

The current ordinary House meeting began on Tuesday following recess. It will last until Feb 28.

Mr Wissanu, one of the government's legal experts, commented on a hypothetical scenario in which the House could be dissolved while two organic laws -- on the election of MPs and political parties -- essential for holding a general election were still pending the Constitutional Court's interpretation.

The court has already received separate petitions from lawmakers to rule on the validity and constitutionality of the two bills.

Mr Wissanu said if the House were to be disbanded, the government could not stay in power in an interim capacity for as long as the Constitutional Court deliberates the two bills as there is a time limit on interim governments.

However, he did not believe the court would take long to rule as no witness statements are required.

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