Deputy House Speaker Padipat Suntiphada has come under fire after spending his parliamentarian allowance on treating 370 caretakers for an all-you-can-eat buffet on Friday evening.
Each custodian received a voucher bearing Mr Padipat's signature, which was used to dine at a moo krata (barbecue and hotpot) restaurant in the Bang Pho area near parliament. Each meal costs 269 baht, or about 99,530 baht for a total of 370 people.
Mr Padipat, a Move Forward Party member, said it was a sort of meeting to listen to the opinions of those who worked in parliament. He said his allowance for being a representative was about 2 million baht a year, and he would not spend all of it.
"I use the allowance because the 370 caretakers are my guests," he said, adding that instead of holding a formal meeting, dining together is a type of informal meeting where their voices can be heard.
"We must not forget the people who work for us," he said. "They keep parliament clean. We should thank them and hear their problems as well."
However, not everyone agreed.
Ex-election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn on Facebook said on Sunday that it is clearly stipulated in state regulations that the budget must be used for state affairs.
The State Audit Office should investigate Mr Padipat's action, he said, adding Mr Padipat should return the state budget he spent on the "party" to avoid more problems in the future.
Political activist Srisuwan Janya said he will file a petition against Mr Padipat's action with the National-Anti Corruption Commission on Monday, accusing him of an ethics violation under 2017 constitution.
"Do not use the state budget to promote yourself," he said. "This is your party's policy, don't you remember?"
"The allowance for being a representative that you have is from taxpayers' money," he added. "Don't use it to publicise yourself."
A source said ex-House speaker Chuan Leekpai gave lunch boxes to janitors and service staff in parliament in December 2020 as New year gifts.
Siripa Intavichein, acting deputy spokeswoman for the Democrat Party, said Mr Chuan gave New Year gifts to janitors every year using his own money.
Former Democrat MP Issara Sereewatthanawut said Mr Chuan received 500 empty food boxes from a donation so he distributed them to staff.
The moo krata drama followed another where Mr Padipat posted a video of himself drinking beer brewed in his home province of Phitsanulok online on Monday.
Critics questioned whether his action breached the ethics of political office-holders and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which curbs alcohol promotions.