Thursday, August 22, 2019

Opposition vows to go after PM, 13 ministers in debate

Jul 19. 2019
Pheu Thai MP from Maha Sarakham, Suthin Klungsang
Pheu Thai MP from Maha Sarakham, Suthin Klungsang
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By The Nation

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The opposition has vowed to grill 14 Cabinet members on economic problems and political issues while also training their sights on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s qualifications and legitimacy during the parliamentary debate on July 25-26 when the new government will announce its policy statement.

Pheu Thai MP from Maha Sarakham, Suthin Klungsang, told “Inside Thailand” show on Nation TV 22 channel on Friday morning that the opposition's goal was not to overthrow the government. "The debate is aimed at providing suggestions for the government to implement policies with maximum benefits to the country and people... If they still cannot implement policies to create public benefits, and on the contrary cause even more damage to the country, throwing the government out would be the last resort," Suthin said. He added that the opposition was casting its net wide to grill 14 Cabinet members.

“If our aim was to just overthrow the government or seek political gains, we would have set a few specific targets. Since we aim to create benefits for the country, we need to talk about all who have issues."

The economic points that will be raised includes the current downturn, the people’s living condition -- especially the drought ravaging many parts of Thailand -- macroeconomics, fiscal matters, the inequity, the international economy and cooperation as well as other countries’ acceptance of Thailand, he said.

Asked if these problems, which had accumulated for years should be brought up to grill the new government that had just taken office, Suthin said it was necessary to bring up past failures and success as lessons for the government to study. "It's also undeniable that the government of today and the previous government are the same people so their way of thinking and problem-solving ability would be pretty much the same,” Suthin said. “The same economic team, so the same way of thinking. So we want to tell them 'what you did in the past five years resulted into these issues, so what will you do next?'"

 

Asked if the government's economic team would be targeted, Suthin said, “Depending on their work results."

The political issues to be raised include political reform and the question of Thai politics' strength and credibility in the eyes of the public, investors and global citizens and whether it would help the government to solve economic problems. "If Thai politics is weak and isn't credible, it would hamper attempts to solve economic problems," he said, adding the opposition also wanted to ask about the plan for a national constitutional amendment and whether that plan would help solve economic issues, when that plan would be implemented and how.

"Many people ask why we are targeting individuals when it is the policies that should be at the centre of a debate. I’d say it is inevitable. Policy implementation if done by an illegitimate minister will lead to failure. Parliament rules and laws also allow the scrutiny of individuals. We didn’t just randomly choose a list of these individuals (14 Cabinet members) to grill; we asked Thai citizens about who they think are inappropriate," he said.

“Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is the primary cause of all these things. We question his legitimacy and qualifications under the Constitution," Suthin said. Besides, nearly all the other 13 Cabinet members also had their own issues so the opposition has grouped them for grilling such as a group legally entangled in a rebellion case or a forest land encroachment case and a group whose qualification or legitimacy was questioned.

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