Opposition leader vows to cleanse Thailand of ‘contamination’ as rhetoric turns extreme ahead of next election


Opposition leaders on Wednesday asked for a general debate in Parliament on the government of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, with one saying they plan to “unmask” him ahead of the next election and cleanse the country of the “contamination” he has caused.

They promised the debate would be like a censure showdown, but would not end in a vote as censure debates usually do. Instead, the public can vote for the next government, they said, using phrases to describe the prime minister that were more extreme than usual.

After submitting the motion calling for the debate, Pheu Thai Party and opposition leader Cholnan Srikaew held a press conference to announce that the goal of the debate was to “unmask the good man” and cleanse Thailand of the “contamination” he caused.

He was referring to Prayut who is often described as a "good man" by his supporters.

The debate will inform the public about how the government fell short during the last four years, including its failure to implement 12 urgent policies the prime minister promised Parliament he would implement when he took office, Cholnan said.

Prayut and Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan will be the focus of attacks in the debate.

“Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the prime minister and defence minister, will be the first defendant and main focus of the debate, which will be held to cleanse the parliamentary system and democratic system with the King as the head of the state – as well as people’s opportunities – of contamination,” Cholnan explained.

He said the Constitution does not allow the opposition to have a no-confidence vote after the debate, but the people can decide for themselves what to do about Prayut’s government.

“We’ll focus on the failures in the country’s administration and problems as well as solutions from the opposition and the democratic side so that the people can make a judgment in the next election,” Cholnan said,adding he and other members of his party believe they will win the next election.

The debate will expose how the “good man” has damaged the country during his four years as the prime minister of an elected government and four years before that as the prime minister of a coup-installed government, Cholnan said.

“The people will [be able] to understand the true nature of the ‘good man’ so that they can make their decision for the election,” he said.

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat said, “This will be the last general debate of this [session of the] House of Representatives. MPs cannot vote, but the people can vote for us in the next election.”

The debate “will expose irregularities and failure of the government”, he added.

The opposition invoked Section 152 of the Constitution for its motion to seek a general debate. Cholnan submitted the motion to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai at 1pm.

Section 152 says: “Members of the House of Representatives comprising not less than one-10th of the total number of the existing members of the House of Representatives have the right to submit a motion for a general debate to inquire about facts or recommend issues without a resolution to be passed.”

Chuan said he would have to consult the government to decide the appropriate days for holding the debate.

The debate might be held by the end of next month because the two chambers will have to jointly deliberate on a charter amendment bill proposed by the Pheu Thai, he added.