Parliament to curb food waste and costs after social media row

Picture courtesy of Sirilapas_mfp X

Parliament president Wan Muhamad Noor Matha has vowed to investigate and address the issue of food waste in the parliamentary canteen, following a social media debacle involving a member of parliament and left-over meals.

The debate over gratuitous meals and beverages offered to parliamentary members caught public attention following a social media incident involving a Move Forward MP Sirilapas Kongtrakarn, also known by her nickname Mew. After a long day in the House, an anonymous fellow MP noticed the ex-actress taking leftover food home from the canteen and posted a picture with a critical caption on Instagram.

Responding to this, Sirilapas reposted the picture on her personal X (Twitter) account, informing her over 20,000 followers that the food she took would have been wasted otherwise. This revelation led to a public outcry for better management to minimise food waste and save public funds spent on subsidising meals and drinks for lawmakers.

President Wan confirmed that preliminary discussions regarding the issue had taken place with his deputies, House Secretary Pornpit Petcharoen and other officials. The goal, he stated, was to offer satisfactory services to MPs without overspending and creating food waste, reported Bangkok Post.

“As an initial step, I’ve already asked them to address the problem.”

He further stated that the issue would be revisited mid-month, with a potential review of the catering budget.

The House Secretariat, responsible for catering during parliamentary meetings, has allocated approximately 72 million baht for catering services in fiscal 2023, equivalent to 1,000 baht per individual per meeting day. This covers two meals, lunch and dinner, along with a morning snack. Extra meals are provided if meetings extend beyond 8pm.

An additional 34.8 million baht is budgeted for catering for House committee meetings, and 1.26 million baht for opposition whip catering services. The total budget for all catering operations for fiscal 2023 is slightly over 108 million baht.

Longtime politician Rangsima Rodrassamee has urged the House Committee on Parliament Affairs to revise the regulations overseeing the catering budget and eliminate unnecessary spending and food waste. She proposed that food allowances should be credited to MPs’ ID cards for purchasing food in the parliamentary canteen, with any leftover funds returned at the end of the day.

Last year, the Democrat MP for Samut Songkhram voiced concerns over lawmakers hoarding food and called for stringent rules to prevent MPs from taking away free meal boxes offered during parliamentary meetings.

“The country loses a lot of money because there is a lot of free food available. Parliament must find a way to address this.”

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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