Wissanu plays down battle over House speaker, says it's ceremonial

MONDAY, MAY 29, 2023

The posts of Parliament president and House speaker are not as powerful as claimed by prospective partners of the next coalition, outgoing Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said.

Wissanu, who is a legal expert, said on Monday that the House speaker, who is also ex-officio Parliament president, will have to abide by meeting rules. The speaker is also required to maintain neutrality instead of pushing for a particular party’s policies.

Move Forward and Pheu Thai, both leading members of the prospective coalition, have been publicly squabbling for the post of House speaker.

Move Forward says it wants the post to push for the enactment of bills it has promised voters. Pheu Thai, meanwhile, is arguing that Move Forward has not won enough House seats to take all top executive and legislative branches of government.

Pheu Thai said it is entitled to the House speaker’s post as Move Forward is already eyeing the post of PM.

Wissanu, however, said the House speaker cannot set any conditions and is required to follow meeting regulations set by the House majority.

He pointed out that in 2008, the post was given to Uthai Pimchaichon, whose party only had three MPs, because the post is not that powerful.

“In reality, the House speaker does not have the final say. His main duty is to oversee parliamentary affairs and govern parliamentary permanent officials,” he said.

Wissanu explained that a House speaker can set meeting dates, but adding a topic to the agenda will have to be done in accordance with the House charter.

He also said that it was normal for coalition and opposition parties to fight over the House speaker’s post during a vote, but seeing coalition partners fight for the post is very strange.