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Thai Government suffers first defeat in lower house

Tanutam Thawan

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Thai Government suffers first defeat in lower house | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Thai PBS

Highlighting the Government’s frail grip on power, the ruling Palang Pracharat government, together with its 19 coalition partners, suffered its first defeat in the lower house yesterday.

The matter was over a parliamentary regulation that would specify the House speaker’s impartiality in the performance of their duties.

Regulation Number 9 was debated at length in the Lower House meeting, during which speaker Chuan Leekpai was heavily criticised by opposition MPs for alleged bias.

Mr. Chuan protested in defense of his role as House Speaker saying, although he is “an old-generation politician”, he is proud that he has never engaged in and always opposed vote buying “unlike some politicians who sweet-talk in front of the people but win elections through vote buying”.

Opinion was split over whether Regulation No 9 should specify that the House speaker must be impartial. The government camp argued that it is already specified because the speaker’s role was already defined in Section 115 of the Constitution. But the opposition parties demanded that the regulation be amended to clearly specify the requirement for impartiality by the House speaker.

When the issue was put to a vote, 205 opposition MPs voted to amend the regulation against 204 votes on the government side.

Parliamentary sources attributed the government’s first defeat in the lower House to the fact that two smaller parties in the coalition government, which have two MPs, have declared themselves as an “independent opposition.”

Both the House Speaker and Vice Speaker abstained in the voting, as is the custom.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Economy

US ambassador meets deputy PM to discuss Thailand’s “great investment potential”

Jack Burton

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US ambassador meets deputy PM to discuss Thailand’s “great investment potential” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

US Ambassador to Thailand Michael George DeSombre, who raised eyebrows in May when he described the US as “a better friend than China,” has praised the kingdom’s “great investment potential”, highlighting the expansion of current projects and further support for industry as ways to promote further cooperation. Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak welcomed the ambassador to the open discussion amongst key trade officials.

The US Ambassador chose not to wear a facemark during the visit.

The DPM and the ambassador discussed cooperation between the 2 nations, to help strengthen the economies of both countries and promote more US investment in Thailand. The ambassador says Thailand has huge potential and suitability for US companies to invest, especially as part of the supply chain of the South East Asia region.

Somkid says DeSombre is enthusiastic about the development of mutual economic relations, revealing that the ambassador proposed ideas on what industries should receive more support from both sides.

The ambassador expressed confidence that Thailand will become a technological hub in the region, with immense growth potential in the manufacturing and service sectors, as well as stock exchanges that could connect to Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

“Thailand provides excellent medical services, an area which could be expanded to reach more clients and patients…. related agencies are ready to develop mutual exchange packages through the Board of Investment, to promote competitiveness and attract investment.”

The DPM said Thailand doesn’t need standalone investment from individual companies, but rather demands investment packages, which the ambassador says he’ll be proposing soon.

Somkid also stressed that he’s still working on the country’s domestic and international economic affairs, while declining to comment regarding the recent political developments in ruliing Palang Pracharath Party.

Thailand’s economic ministers will meet on Friday to discuss 2 main economic packages.

US ambassador meets deputy PM to discuss Thailand's

SOURCE: NNT

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Politics

PM to opposition: “Don’t insult my intelligence.”

Jack Burton

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PM to opposition: “Don’t insult my intelligence.” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

“The PM emphasised that his government has never approved a project to favour any particular individual or company.”

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha lashed out at some MPs from the opposition Kao Klai party, for what he took as an insult to his and his ministers’ intelligence. When the MPs questioned some Transport Ministry projects, Prayut insisted that all of them were properly vetted and transparently implemented.

“We are no less intelligent than the speaker, so do not insult our intelligence. Public sector projects require a lot of investment, we invest under a public-private-partnership structure. There is a transparent bidding process, and the contracts are then signed in accordance with the law.”

He was apparently referring to remarks made by Surachet Prawinwongvut, a Kao Klai MP, during the third day of the 2021 budget debate. He says he has no personal grudge against Surachet, and emphasised that his government has never approved a project to favour any particular individual or company.

The PM added that he won’t keep responding to questions on similar issues from the opposition, about how the government will use the 400 billion baht fund for economic rehabilitation and whether the funds will be used wisely.

Prayut says his priorities are to build better cooperation between the governmental and private sectors and the public, to ensure the country weathers one of its worst-ever economic crises, and turn it into an opportunity, noting that economies around the world are suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a related story, the deputy transport minister told Parliament his ministry has allocated 14 billion baht to redevelop 3 airports, specifically 1.6 billion baht for Betong airport in the southern Yala province, 1.1 billion baht for Mae Sot airport at the Burmese border and 5.1 billion for Krabi airport.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Politics

Opposition questions ministry’s plan to buy firefighting helicopters

Jack Burton

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Opposition questions ministry’s plan to buy firefighting helicopters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: cm108.com

Thailand’s interior minister yesterday defended his plan to purchase 6 firefighting helicopters, saying the ministry doesn’t have any such helicopters and relies on military choppers to fight wildfires, “which aren’t up to the task”. Anupong Paojinda was responding to an objection raised by the opposition during yesterday’s House debate on the budget bill for the financial year 2021.

“I’m sure those MPs in northern provinces know that the best the military helicopters borrowed for fighting wildfires ever did was carry water to pour on the fires, without sufficient accuracy in target identification.”

Wildfires are common in Thailand’s North, especially during the annual “burning season,” usually February through April, when farmers burn their crop fields in preparation for the next growing season. The minister said up to 6 wildfire-fighting helicopters are needed because they would be used in rotation to allow regular maintenance.

The Pheu Thai Party MP for Chiang Rai said the ministry’s plan to purchase 2 helicopters for fighting wildfires this year, at a cost of 1.8 billion baht, isn’t worth it, as the country already has more than 300 helicopters. The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation plans to buy the 6 helicopters by 2022, an outlay he said is unnecessary and should be scrapped. He says the order was made to help a private company win a lucrative contract at a time when Anupong was serving as the army chief.

Anupong responded that the DDPM is responsible for picking the helicopter supplier via a transparent and accountable bidding process, and that as long as the company that wins the bidding strictly follows the law, there is no problem. He vowed to take legal action against anyone found acting illegally.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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