Chuan blasts 'problem-dodging' MPs over lack of quorum

Chuan blasts 'problem-dodging' MPs over lack of quorum

Parliament president Chuan Leekpai (photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Parliament president Chuan Leekpai (photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Parliament president Chuan Leekpai has lambasted the no-show MPs responsible for Wednesday's lack of a quorum that resulted in the shortest-ever House meeting under this administration.

Calling them problem-dodgers, Mr Chuan vented his frustration after the House sitting was adjourned only 20 minutes after being convened.

The meeting lasted long enough to be informed that Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana had resigned as a ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) list MP, leaving the House with 431 members.

Mr Thanakorn, also a Prime Minister's Office minister, was the latest MP to quit after earlier indicating he would switch to the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party.

Half the House members, or at least 216 MPs, were needed to achieve a quorum.

However, too many MPs were absent from Wednesday's meeting, which angered Mr Chuan.

"This is not the way we [MPs] operate, running away from problems. It shows we are afraid.

"If we don't agree or are dissatisfied with any bill, we turn up for meetings and vote either to reject or abstain. If we choose to avoid meetings, it is we who face the damage. Let us not turn our backs on problems," Mr Chuan said.

Wednesday's House meeting was scheduled to vote on the controversial bill on the legalisation of cannabis and hemp, sponsored by the Bhumjajthai Party.

The bill is controversial, with several MPs from the main opposition Pheu Thai Party and the coalition Democrat Party opposing it, citing a lack of effective controls over the plants' use.

The two parties reported the highest absenteeism on Wednesday.

Some 86 or 71% of Pheu Thai's 121 MPs were absent, followed by 64% or 32 of the Democrat Party's 50 MPs.

Mr Chuan said over the next five weeks before the end of this parliament's four-year term, members should attend meetings regularly.

Despite some MPs not being in favour of the cannabis or national education bills, they should attend House meetings to do their job as legislators, he said.

Picharn Chaopattanawong, a Move Forward Party list MP, suggested during Wednesday's meeting that the House focus on pieces of legislation that have a strong chance of being passed.

He said it was unrealistic for the House to table all the bills currently on its agenda for a vote within the very short time left of this parliament.

Atthakorn Sirilatthayakorn, a PPRP MP for Chachoengsao province and secretary of the government chief whip, disagreed with Mr Picharn saying members of parliament should try their best to pass as many laws as possible in the next five weeks.

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