Bid to limit power of senators fails to make quorum

Bid to limit power of senators fails to make quorum

Opposition MPs on Wednesday voiced their displeasure after a joint sitting of parliament to consider charter amendment proposals to curb the power of senators in electing the prime minister failed again to make a quorum.

The charter amendment bid, proposed by opposition MPs led by Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew, would require the prime minister to be an elected MP and would abolish the Senate's powers in selecting the premier.

Parliament president Chuan Leekpai was forced to order the meeting adjourned after only 307 MPs and senators were present. The number fell short of the 333 required to make up a quorum.

On Jan 25, a joint sitting on the charter amendment proposals also collapsed due to a lack of quorum.

The meeting, which was scheduled to start at 9am, was delayed for two hours as they waited for legislators to sign their attendance.

At 11am, the meeting eventually started, but only 51 senators out of 250 were present. However, deliberation of the charter amendment bills could not proceed as the meeting was asked to take a vote on a motion pending from the previous meeting.

A quorum check was called, and after another hour passed Mr Chuan announced that only 307 members were present and declared the meeting closed.

Pheu Thai deputy leader Sutin Klungsang took the senators to task for the meeting's collapse.

"It is the Senate that deliberately caused the meeting to collapse because the charter amendment affects their interest. There is no other reason," said Mr Sutin, also chief opposition whip.

Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Mai Jullapan Amornwiwat said the charter amendment motion was in response to those who do not want the Senate to take part in the next vote for prime minister.

He said the motion should be considered as soon as possible because there is no guarantee that the Senate, handpicked by the regime, would vote in accordance with the voters' mandate after the next polls.

Gen Lertrat Rattanawanich, a senator, said some senators disagreed with the motion so they skipped the meeting. He said he doubted the motion would have been accepted even if the senators joined the deliberation.

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