Thai PM hits back at opposition “try and bring back Thaksin”

“I know you may admire some people who previously held this position and praise them for doing a better job than me. That’s fine. Just bring them back if you can.”

The first day of the no confidence debate saw some fiery exchanges between the PM and the opposition MPs goading him on his record and time as premier. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha fended off accusations of corruption and economic mismanagement in a televised session of the parliament. This is the fourth censure motion brought against the PM and his government, this time targeting ten of his cabinet MPs as well.

Dr Cholnan Srikaew, the MP from Nan province and the new leader of the opposition Pheu Thai party challenged Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government’s record during the Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand.

He accused the prime minister of mishandling the Thai economy, leading to rising costs, and his failure to improve the economy for ordinary Thais.

“The economy has collapsed. People have become poor across the country. Prices have increased. People have lost hope.”

He also stated that the current government had extended its borrowing limits each year of its governing and said that large businesses had grown but most Thai people came poorer.

He went further to accuse the PM of using government money to “buy votes” in exchange for their support of the 17-party coalition (by investing in their provincial funding and projects).

He “then alleged that the PM failed to understand the separation of the executive and legislative branches of the government.

“You destroyed the fundamental principle of governance.”

PM Prayut responded with accusations about Pheu Thai’s links to two former PMs, Thaksin Shinawatra, and Yingluck Shinawatra. He challenged Pheu Thai to bring two former prime ministers, who are both in self-exile, “to solve the country’s problems.”

“I know you may admire some people who previously held this position and praise them for doing a better job than me. That’s fine. Just bring them back if you can.”

Twice, the military has taken over government from Shinawatra-led elected governments – Thaksin in 2006, and his sister, Yingluck, in 2014.

PM Prayut went on to defend his government’s performance.

“My government has steered the country hit by one crisis after another toward economic recovery. Thailand has been praised for its efforts to deal with Covid over the past two years, serving as a model for other countries to follow.”

He then spoke of the many travellers and tourists that had headed back to Thailand.

“More than 2.2 million tourists have returned, with 1.25 trillion baht in revenue.”

He defended the government saying that they had “dug deep” into its budget “to ease the plight of people affected by economic hardship”.

“The prices of crops have been rising and farmers are satisfied with this.”

It was also a day of attacks on the deputy PM and public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul who had to respond to accusations that he had botched the announcement of decriminalisation of cannabis in Thailand, neglecting to change or clarify the current laws relating to the use and extent of the legalisation of cannabis, including recreational use.

As promised, the Ratsadon (Peoples Party) protest group camped outside parliament saying they were there “to monitor the censure debate.” They had applied to be able to stage their peaceful protest on the grounds of the new parliament complex but were denied the opportunity by parliament president Chuan Leekpai.

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Tim Newton

Tim joined The Thaiger as one of its first employees in 2018 as an English news writer/editor and then began to present The Thaiger's Daily news show in 2020, Thailand News Today (or TNT for short). He has lived in Thailand since 2011, having relocated from Australia.