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Parliament to discuss political protests in 2 day special session

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Esan Unity

The Thai Parliament is now holding a 2 day ’emergency’ parliamentary session to discuss the ongoing pro-democracy protests. House Speaker Chuan Leekpai says he wants MPs and senators to work together to find a solution, but some commentators say it will just cause more conflict between parties. Even amongst the government coalition there are some 20 different political parties that have differing attitudes towards the current demands of the protesters.

The joint House-Senate session will be a general debate and discussion which started at 9.30am and is scheduled to go up to 10pm. No votes on motions will take place during the meetings, today or tomorrow. The special session was scheduled in response to the political protests that have been taken place almost daily since October 14. The current batch of protests kicked off back in July, but have been growing in participants and frequency ever since.

Protesters have calling on government reform, a rewrite of the 2017 Constitution, and pushing for PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign.

The protesters have also addressed sensitive topics during their demonstrations regarding the Thai Monarchy, with some statements that could lead to arrest. Under Thailand’s strict lèse majesté law, insults and criticism about the Monarchy are prohibited. The politicians will not touch on the sensitive issues, according to chief government whip Wirat Ratanset. He added that MPs are mature enough to do their job constructively without breaking the law.

“However, if any of them are careless when they speak about those sensitive issues during the session, they will be doing so at their own risk and must take responsibility as they will not be afforded the protection of parliamentary immunity”, (without explaining why). Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Jantararuangtong said party MPs will watch what they say, careful not to bring up issues about the Monarchy during the debate.

The House speaker says that some MPs have disagreed with holding a special session, saying it could cause an argument between the politicians that would do more harm than good.

“I told the MPs they must try to prevent that by cooperating and presenting useful ideas. This is not a censure debate.”

The deputy leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, Cholnan Srikaew also said he does not think the debate will not help move things forward.

“The motion is like an attempt to whitewash (the government’s actions). Of the total 23 hours of debate, the opposition parties get only 8 hours while cabinet ministers are given 5 hours, the Senate gets 5 hours, and parties of the coalition camp get 5 hours. This means 15 hours versus 8 hours.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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