Pita urges coalition members to stop feuding over top legislative post
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat on Friday urged members of his party and its largest coalition partner, Pheu Thai, to stop feuding in public while coalition negotiation teams decide who may get the coveted position of House Speaker.
Some members of both parties began publicly arguing over which party should get the most powerful post in the House of Representatives earlier this week.
The dispute was sparked by Move Forward advocate Piyabutr Saengkanokkul on Tuesday when he announced on Facebook 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.
Piyabutr, who is widely considered to be inflexible, was banned from political office when Future Forward was dissolved, but he remains very vocal and insistent on social media.
Tension escalated with some Pheu Thai members threatening their party would exit the coalition and Move Forward deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakul digging in her heels, saying her party needed the post to push through its agenda.
Pheu Thai said in a statement on Friday that the House speaker must push for the policies of all coalition parties, not just those of one party.
Pita downplayed the public spat on Friday, telling reporters that the current priority is to resolve the people's issues and prepare to declare the coalition’s policies to the parliament.
The Constitution requires the Cabinet to declare its policies to Parliament prior to taking office.
When asked if Move Forward would take the House speaker’s post, Pita said the decision rests with the negotiation teams, adding that every coalition party needs “trust” to work together.
“I trust everyone [in the coalition],” he said.
Disagreements are frequent during work, but there is always room for a solution if everyone puts people first, he said.
This is the 30th coalition government in Thailand and every one of them has had disagreements, he added.
Pita said he doubted tension would escalate to the point that the coalition allies would select rival candidates for the 500 MPs to vote on for the position of House Speaker.
Pheu Thai leader Chonlanan Srikaew and Move Forward vice-president Natthawut Buapratum, are considered front runners for the post.
Some coalition supporters are calling for veteran politician Wan Muhamad Noor Matha to be elected to the post. His Prachachat Party is the third-largest member of the newly formed coalition – with just nine seats. He has been a speaker before and is widely respected, they say.