Third-party House speaker may be the answer, says Pheu Thai
Signs show that handing the House speaker’s post to a third party will end the row between Move Forward and Pheu Thai – the two biggest partners of the next coalition government.
On Monday morning, Pheu Thai sources said the post will be handed to veteran politician and Prachachart Party leader Wan Mohamad Noor Matha. They added that the two parties will hold a joint press conference at 8pm today to announce the decision.
The two parties have been locking horns for weeks over who should hold the House speaker’s post, and the decision to hand the post over to Wan Noor was reached at a Pheu Thai meeting at its head office at 9am.
After the meeting wrapped up at 11.30am, Pheu Thai told waiting reporters it would not call a press conference to announce its stance on the House speaker’s post as initially planned.
Instead, the party’s 141 MPs left to get ready for the House of Representatives state opening by His Majesty the King at 5pm.
While Pheu Thai PM candidate Paetongtarn Shinawatra, deputy party leader Phumtham Wechayachai and party-list MP Suriya Juangroongruangkit left for Move Forward’s head office in the Thai Summit Building nearby.
Spotting Suriya leaving the Thai Summit Building a little while later, reporters rushed a comment, only to be told to wait for an official announcement later in the day.
“I don’t want to say anything now,” he said when asked if the talks went well. As for whether the dispute had ended, Suriya said: “It’s likely so.”
When asked again if the two parties had reached an agreement, he replied: “I’ll say it will benefit the nation.”
Pheu Thai sources said earlier during the party meeting, executives had proposed that the post be given to Wan Noor, as he is most qualified, had held the post earlier and commands respect from all parties.
Since most Pheu Thai MPs found the proposal acceptable, the party executives decided to reach an agreement with Move Forward before the House elects a speaker on Tuesday.
Pheu Thai sources said the two parties will hold a press conference at Lancaster Bangkok Hotel at 8pm to announce the agreement.
Earlier, when Pheu Thai’s meeting wrapped up, party-list MP Sutin Klungsaeng told reporters that his party has reached a solution to the House speaker’s dispute, but chose not to elaborate.
“All I can say is that people will not be disappointed,” he said, adding that he expects Pheu Thai to reach an agreement with Move Forward before nightfall or before the House votes for a new speaker on Tuesday.
He also advised reporters to wait for Pheu Thai’s execs to confirm if Wan Noor will become the next House speaker.
“I believe Pheu Thai will be able to provide an explanation and it will make people happier,” he added.
Sutin also voiced confidence that Pheu Thai and Move Forward will be successful in forming the next coalition government, though “the election of the PM is another matter”.
“But I can affirm that the formation of the government by the eight parties will not collapse,” he added.
Pheu Thai sources said when Wan Noor’s name was floated, the MP faction from the Northeast, led by Adisorn Pienket, appeared pacified.
Adisorn had earlier insisted that the post be given to Pheu Thai MP Suchart Tancharoen.
However, after the meeting, Adisorn said his group will not nominate Suchart to compete for the post.
Wan Noor is expected to be the sole nominee for the post because parties of the former coalition government will not have enough MPs to be eligible for the contest.
When approached by reporters for comment, Wan Noor said he had not been contacted by anyone yet.
However, he said, the two big parties should reach an agreement for the best “democratic” solution first.
“They need to reach an agreement on what would be the best solution for setting up the government of the democratic side. We must join hands to prevent failure,” he said.
Wan Noor, who has been elected nine times, was House speaker from November 24, 1996, to June 27, 2000, when he was New Aspiration Party MP. The 79-year-old politician has been an MP with several parties, including Social Action, Democrat, New Aspiration and Thai Rak Thai before he became the leader of Prachachart.