Opposition fails in push for House debate on PM’s 8-year term
An impromptu motion by the opposition for a parliamentary debate on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s eight years in office was aborted on Thursday due to a lack of quorum.
It was the 18th cancellation of a meeting during the tenure of the current Parliament, which opened in 2019.
Member of Parliament Sutin Klungsang from the opposition Pheu Thai Party proposed an emergency motion calling for a debate on whether Prayut should step down this month when he will finish serving as prime minister for eight years.
He said this was an important issue that required prompt government action to prevent any problem.
Sutin’s fellow-opposition MPs voiced support for his motion. Move Forward MP Rangsiman Rome said the issue could affect national peace and security, as the entire Cabinet would have to vacate their seats if PM Prayut is forced to step down after reaching the eight-year limit.
Coalition MPs, particularly those from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, opposed the motion, arguing it had been agreed by the whips of both camps that Thursday’s meeting was for a debate on the issue of loan sharks.
They also accused the opposition of attempting to make damaging remarks against PM Prayut and of trying to influence judges who will have to make a verdict on the legal question.
Palang Pracharath MP Artthakorn Sirilatthayakorn said the matter should be decided by the Constitutional Court as it is beyond the Parliament’s authority.
Deputy House speaker Supachai Phosu, who chaired the meeting, suggested that opposition MPs petition the Constitutional Court for a ruling as to when the prime minister would reach his eight-year limit.
He called a count of MPs in attendance and only 124 showed up, far below 239 required to form a quorum. So, Supachai adjourned the meeting.
The Constitution, in force since April 2017, prohibits anyone from serving as prime minister for longer than eight years. However, it remains unclear when the eight-year time limit should start.
Prayut has served as prime minister since August 24, 2014, following a military coup that he led while serving as the Army commander-in-chief, while the current Constitution came into effect in 2017.
Opposition leader Cholanan Srikaew had said a petition would be filed with the Constitutional Court on August 16 or 17 for a ruling on the matter.