29/07/2021

THAILAND DAILY

NEWSPAPER / MAGAZINE / PUBLISHER

government-wins-censure-motion-with-ease-looking-like-it-will-run-a-full-term-despite-the-crisis

Government wins censure motion with ease looking like it will run a full term despite the crisis

Since it came into power in the summer of 2019, the second government of Prayut Chan ocha has been beset by economic difficulties and a massive 6.1% contraction of the economy in 2020 yet its grip on power within parliament remains secure. The minister who received the most votes on Saturday was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, while Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan came out at the bottom of the class.

The Thai government was given a boost on Saturday as it comfortably won a censure motion in parliament with the Prime Minister and nine of his ministers winning their votes by a clear margin. The win will put a spring in the step of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha with analysts now predicting his somewhat unwieldy government will serve a full term while a cabinet reshuffle may also be in the offing later in the year.

government-wins-censure-motion-full-term-prospect
The government’s victory on Saturday was an easy one and it will boost the standing of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha (centre) as he confronts key problems such as the virus emergency, economic headwinds and a growing student-led protest movement. The big winner on the day however was Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul (right) while Minister of Education, Nataphol Teepsuwan (left), has had a shot across his bows coming in with the lowest vote tally for any cabinet member.

The Thai government, on Saturday, comfortably survived a censure debate that ran over the previous three days from February 16th to the 19th.

It was a heated debate with allegations being lobbed by the opposition benches in relation to the current economic headwinds and the speed of a vaccine rollout.

The Move Forward Party, like it’s party forbearer, the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, at times appeared to rattle government ministers and had to be warned by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha not to play politics with the Covid-19 crisis.

PM walked out of parliament

At one point, over the last few days, the PM walked out of parliament in protest and at the opening of the debate played what he called ‘distorted’ news reports as he denied any links with illegal gambling rackets.

However, the second no-confidence motion debate since 2019 was never really in any doubt as the government brought its standard-bearers before parliament for grillings by the opposition benches in a democratic exercise that leaves it in a stronger position.

Vote shown live on TV in Thailand

The key outcomes of the debate, votes which took place on Saturday morning at the parliament building in the Dusit district of Bangkok, were televised live on TV starting at 10.30 am.

Punchada Sirivunnabood, a political analyst and associate professor at Mahidol University, expressed the view that the result showed the current government of Prayut Chan ocha appears to be remarkably stable and coherent despite the economic and social difficulties caused by the virus emergency.

Political expert predicts that the second government of Prayut Chan ocha will serve a full term in office

She predicted it would last its full term which is in stark contrast to the outlook when it was formed in July of 2019 after the General Election in March that year despite its unwieldy structure with up to 19 parties and 35 ministers when it was formed.

The second democratically elected government of General Prayut Chan ocha has experienced economic turmoil since it came to power with a flatlining of growth in 2019 and a massive 6.1% contraction of the Thai economy in 2020.

It faces continued student-led protests, organised by the Ratsadon group, which have a rising profile internationally as democracy activists call for the release of key protest leaders jailed on February 9th on sedition and lèse-majesté charges.

Motions against the PM and nine of his ministers all handily defeated in parliament by the coalition

The no-confidence motion, which was voted on this Saturday, consisted of one motion against the Prime Minister which was won by 272 votes to 206 with three abstentions as well as motions against nine other key ministers.

487 MPs out of 500 in the lower House of Representatives were eligible to vote.

All eyes were focused on the tallies for and against each individual minister which gave an idea of their standing within both the government ruling parties and the opposition benches.

Most successful political player on Saturday was Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul

On this basis, the most successful political player on Saturday was Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the Minister of Public Health, who garnered 275 votes with 201 against and 6 abstentions.

On Friday, the Palang Pracharat Party leader, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, issued firm orders that all his party MPs should support government ministers equally but this was not enough to stop some MPs using the occasion to vent displeasure with government bigwigs.

Controversial Deputy Minister for Agriculture Thamanat Prompow looked good in the latest vote

Significantly, Prawit Wongsuwan himself garnered 274 votes with 204 against with 4 abstentions while Deputy Agriculture Minister, the controversial figure in the crosshairs from last year’s debate, Thamanat Prompow, came out near the top on Saturday with 274 votes for and only 199 members voting against him with 6 abstentions. Clearly, a man who gained ground during the year.

Education Minister under pressure politically

The biggest political casualty on Saturday, even as he won his vote, was Education Minister, Nataphol Teepsuwan who only had 258 votes on his side and 215 against and 8 abstentions.

Mr Nataphol was identified as a weak link in this week’s vote with a revolt brewing in the Palang Pracharat Party against him as the political grapevine suggests his wife, formerly active in politics, is considering a bid for the race to become the next governor of Bangkok, a move not welcome in some circles within the ruling party.

Associate Professor Punchada is predicting Mr Nataphol may also be under pressure as she forecasts a second cabinet reshuffle sometime later this year.

Vote tallies

The votes on Saturday were:

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha – 272-206 with 3 abstentions

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul – 275-201 with 6 abstentions

Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompow – 274-199 with 5 abstentions

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan – 274-204 with 4 abstentions

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda – 272-205 with 3 abstentions

Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Bunyamanee – 272-206 with 4 abstentions

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob – 268-201 with 12 abstentions

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit – 268-207 with 7 abstentions

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin – 263-212 with 1 abstention

Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan – 258-215 with 8 abstentions

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Further reading:

PM plays clips to parliament to defend himself against media ‘distortion’ of gambling claims

฿4,000 payouts for social security workers in the private sector being worked on by the government

Cabinet eases the burden on struggling firms as tourism sector warns another million jobs will go

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Desperate foreign tourism business concerns are clinging to straws as they try to survive the crisis

Strict entry criteria to remain as officials await clarity on the medical status of vaccinated people

Challenge of the virus and closure to tourism leads to major long term changes in the Thai economy

Finance Minister says economy must pivot away from tourism with a switch to S-Curve industries

Steady as she goes economy driven by exports and public investment with a 3.3% growth rate forecast for 2021

Thailand’s tourism boss targets thousands instead of millions as public health is prioritised above all

Thailand unlikely to reopen doors to mass-market tourism before the end of 2021 until after a full vaccination

Strengthening baht predicted as investors bet on a reopening of Thailand to mass tourism in 2021

World’s biggest free trade deal just signed will be a huge boost for the Thai economy and exports

US move against Thailand on trade is a warning as Thai exports to America boomed in September by over 19%

Thailand’s trade agenda may be complicated and thwarted by raised tensions in the Indo Pacific region

RCEP deal agreed as India opts out – busy Bangkok ASEAN summit concludes on a low key

Industry boss urges Thailand to join alternative Pacific trade pact and plan for a long recovery from virus debacle

Chinese FM to visit Thailand in a Covid battered world of raised tensions and potential conflict

Lowering of US flag in Chengdu is a wake-up call for foreigners living in Thailand and with close ties here

US is a better friend for Thailand than China says US ambassador as tensions grow between the 2 powers

Prime Minister indicates that the cabinet reshuffle will be complete very shortly with no problem

Thailand’s economy has become dependent on government expenditure to stay above water

Industry boss urges Thailand to join alternative Pacific trade pact and plan for a long recovery from virus debacle

Thailand and US aim for a new more ‘proactive’ trading relationship as ambassador meets Prayuth

Rice price spike but drought conditions to recede – security concern for the Mekong river

US election will impact investment and moves by US firms from China to Thailand says new American envoy

Thailand faces a third shock after the virus if high debt and the informal economy are not prioritised

MPs warned of an economic colony as opposition zeroed in on Thailand’s impaired relationship with China

US China trade war may have some silver lining or upside for Thailand if firms can be agile and adjust

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About the Author

Joseph Anthony is an expat from Ireland who has lived in Thailand for the last decade. He has worked extensively in the media including editorial positions in Ireland and Thailand. He is focused on economic and business stories in Thailand as well as the expat lifestyle.

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