Debate on opposition’s charter amendment bill collapses as senators stay away
A joint sitting of MPs and senators to discuss a charter amendment bill proposed by the Pheu Thai Party collapsed due to a lack of quorum on Wednesday, as most senators were absent.
The joint House-Senate sitting was scheduled to deliberate on the bill sponsored by the main opposition Pheu Thai to remove the power of senators to join MPs in electing the prime minister.
The meeting started at 11.10am after Parliament President Chuan Leekpai waited for over two hours for MPs and senators to enter the convention hall.
After 342 out of 665 current MPs and senators reported their presence by inserting their parliamentary ID cards into the card readers at their seats, Chuan announced the start of the meeting. A joint sitting requires the presence of 333 members to achieve the quorum.
At that time, only 52 out of 249 senators identified themselves as being present.
However, the meeting could not start deliberations on the bill as Somchai Sawaengkan, a senator, sought a vote on whether the rescheduling of the charter amendment bill atop the meeting agenda violated Parliament’s meeting regulations.
This prompted Chuan to call senators and MPs to reconfirm their presence at 11.28am. After a long wait, Chuan announced at noon that the meeting had to be closed because there were only 308 MPs and senators present.
Chuan added that 15 MPs and 95 senators had informed of their absence before the meeting.
It was reported that deputy Senate speaker, General Singsuek Singprai, had told senators to decline to report their presence in a tactic to deny the quorum and derail the bill.