Next debate may backfire, academic says
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Next debate may backfire, academic says

Govt may use forum to trumpet successes

Stithorn: All eyes on Prayut
Stithorn: All eyes on Prayut

The opposition should be wary of the risk of the upcoming general debate backfiring, an academic has warned.

The general debate is being held on Feb 15-16 with no censure vote. Stithorn Thananithichote, a political researcher at King Prajadhipok's Institute, said the government may turn the debate to its advantage if the opposition fails to come up with much of substance.

If the debate fails to offer new, damning allegations against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha or the government, it may be seen as a mere stunt by the opposition to increase its edge ahead of the next election, he said.

"People might focus on how Gen Prayut responds in the debate, and the tables may turn in his favour if he manages to answer the debate queries well," Mr Stithorn said.

If the opposition brings up graft, it might provide a platform for Gen Prayut to explain how he plans to tackle the issue, turning the debate into a forum to trumpet the government's success, he added.

Prasert: Takes aim at poll promises

The opposition seems driven to make a political game out of the debate with the aim of pressuring Gen Prayut to dissolve the House and call for a general election before the MPs' four-year tenure expires on March 23, he said.

The debate might be an attempt to make the government appear incapacitated, but so far no "life-and-death" issue has emerged which could bring it down, Mr Stithorn said.

"The general debate may end up being overkill and the opposition runs the risk of exposing its own weakness," he said.

Meanwhile, Cholnan Srikaew, leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, said debate time has been delegated among opposition parties. Pheu Thai will have up to 11 hours in which to take to the floor.

Sutin Klungsang, the opposition chief whip, will head a meeting today of opposition parties to run through issues earmarked for the debate. The issues are expected to be finalised before the week is out, he added.

Prasert Chanthararuangthong, the Pheu Thai secretary-general, said the debate issues were drawn from the government's failure to manage the country during its time in office. None of the policies it declared to parliament at the beginning of its tenure four years ago have been implemented, he said.

Any debate issues the opposition feels are backed by sufficient evidence will be forwarded to the National Counter-Corruption Commission.

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