Move Forward unfazed by Pheu Thai threat to exit coalition
The next speaker of the House of Representatives will be a member of the Move Forward Party despite a threat from some Pheu Thai members that their party may exit a deal to form a governing coalition with Move Forward , its deputy leader, Sirikanya Tansakul, said on Thursday.
Move Forward must control the post of House speaker, who is also the president of Parliament, to honour its pledge to amend outdated laws, she told a press conference at the party's Bangkok head office.
Sirikanya said the post of House speaker must belong to Move Forward “so we can work more conveniently under the parliamentary system”.
“In particular, we’ll push for charter amendments and a more transparent working process in the Parliament,” she added.
The speaker of the House of Representatives has the most important role in Parliament. The speaker sets the agenda for debating bills and enacting legislation.
On Wednesday, two senior Pheu Thai members threatened to exit the coalition if Move Forward takes the presidency as well as the top legislative post. Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew and core member Adisorn Pianket said Move Forward must give the speaker's post to Pheu Thai or the coalition might collapse.
On Thursday, Sirikanya expressed confidence that Pheu Thai would not exit the coalition over a dispute about who would take the post of House speaker.
The dispute was sparked by a comment made by Move Forward advocate Piyabutr Saengkanokkul that the party must control the post of House speaker. Piyabutr is a former secretary-general of the Future Forward Party, Move Forward’s predecessor.
Pheu Thai on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with Move Forward and six other parties to form a governing coalition that will support Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat’s bid to become Thailand’s next prime minister.
Sirikanya also said on Thursday that Move Forward wants the speaker’s post to establish a new youth advisory chamber.
The so-called Youth Parliament will be under the House Secretariat and its members will be elected by youths nationwide, she explained.
A new law will require the House of Representatives and Senate to automatically consider any motion approved by the Youth Parliament, she said, adding that the motions would have the same status as bills submitted to the House of Representatives that are sponsored by 10,000 voters.
Sirikanya added that Move Forward has several capable MPs who can perform the role of House speaker.
She also said the party's goal was to involve younger Thais in what she described as “a transitional period" for Thailand.
Thursday's press conference was held to provide an update on negotiations among the eight coalition members who signed the memorandum of understanding on Monday.
Sirikanya said her party had also contacted some senators to seek their support for voting for Pita's bid to become the next prime minister, saying: ““We have received a good response from senators.”
She did not elaborate.
The coalition will need support of at least 64 of the 250 senators to reach the required 376 votes to elect Pita as the prime minister. Both chambers vote to elect the prime minister. The Senate is appointed and is filled with military personnel.
Sirikanya also said the loss of one Move Forward seat will have no impact on the coalition.
It lost an MP after a recount in Prachinburi’s Constituency 3. The Election Commission said the Bhumjaithai candidate beat its Move Forward rival. Move Forward now has 151 MPs instead of 151, while the Bhumjaithai Party – which is not a member of the coalition – now has 71 MPs instead of 70.
The coalition now has 312 seats.
Coalition partners will next negotiate Cabinet positions and common stands on policies, including Move Forward’s plan to raise the daily minimum wage to 450 baht nationwide and Pheu Thai’s policy to transfer 10,000 baht into the digital wallets of 50 million Thais on January 1, Sirikanya said.
The coalition will put marijuana back on the narcotics list, but will allow marijuana-related businesses and those who are growing marijuana for business purposes to continue their to do so. These may include marijuana used for medical purposes and other non-recreational drug related products. Sirikanya, however, did not provide precise details about this controversial issue.