Govt shoots down S44 panel motion
The opposition's motion to look into the impacts of orders issued under Section 44 of the interim charter was shot down on Wednesday when the government managed to secure a quorum and call a fresh vote.
The government remained determined to hold another vote despite an opposition threat to stage a walkout in protest if the government went ahead with it.
Deputy House Speaker Suchart Tancharoen called for a quorum check on Wednesday and cited House regulation No. 85 for the vote. He also called for an open ballot.
Pheu Thai Party MPs Chulapan Amornwiwat and Chonlanan Srikaew objected then led opposition MPs in leaving the chamber.
However, the vote still had the required quorum of 249 with a total of 261 MPs in attendance. It was reported that 11 MPs from the opposition bloc stayed behind in the chamber after the walk-out.
The motion on setting up the panel was rejected with 244 votes against. Five voted in favour, while another five abstained.
Jade Donavanik, a former adviser to the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC), said the vote lacked legitimacy because the opposition MPs did not take part.
He expressed concerns the government's move would likely set a bad precedent, saying it was possible that a quorum check would now be sought every time there is a tight vote.
According to Mr Jade, the opposition is likely to forward the issue to the Constitutional Court for a ruling.
The motion in question was proposed by Future Forward Party (FFP) secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul last Wednesday and the opposition edged the coalition camp by four votes -- 234-230 -- with two abstentions and one absentee. Six Democrat MPs voted for the motion.
Following the defeat, the government whip invoked parliament regulation No.85 to call for a new vote. The opposition staged a walk-out in protest, forcing the session to be adjourned due to a lack of a quorum.
Last Thursday, a second attempt at another vote collapsed after the House session failed to draw the required number of MPs. The government was prepared to push for a fresh vote when the House met yesterday.
Opposition chief whip Sutin Klungsang alleged that 20 opposition MPs were each offered "eight-digit bribes" by government lobbyists to ensure there was a quorum for a House meeting.