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  • Dozens of MPs ready to grill Prayut

    About 45 opposition MPs are queueing up to grill Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and nine cabinet ministers in the upcoming no-confidence debate, according to chief opposition whip and Pheu Thai MP Sutin Klungsang.

    He said the opposition parties had discussed how to allot time among them and so far about 45 MPs on the opposition benches had asked to take part in the debate. Of that number, 15 were Pheu Thai MPs, he added.

    Mr Sutin called on the government not to impose a debate deadline after Wirach Ratanasate, the chief government whip, suggested that the debate should be wrapped up before midnight on the last day.

    The government wants the debate to take place on Feb 16-19, to be concluded within four days so a vote can be cast on Jan 20.

    The Pheu Thai MP on Tuesday threatened to seek the intervention of the Constitutional Court if the government attempted to block the opposition from examining its performance by forcing an early end to the no-confidence debate.

    "In the last such debate the government denied any extra debate time. We could have asked the Constitutional Court to rule but we chose not to. But if the government tries it again, we may ask for a ruling to set a precedent," said Mr Sutin.

    House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said on Tuesday he had asked his deputy Suchart Tancharoen to hold talks with the government and opposition whips about the date and timetable for the debate.

    The opposition is calling for five days of debate, while the government wants it to be limited to just four days.

    Mr Chuan said the opposition's no-confidence motion, which contains wording referring to the monarchy, would be included in the House agenda.

    He said the censure debate would be closely monitored following concerns that some parts of the motion mentioned the sensitive subject of the monarchy and the opposition had refused to rephrase the motion.

    Asked if the debate could become an exchange of insults between the government and opposition, Mr Chuan said protests were normal in the proceeding and it is his and his deputies' job to make rulings and keep the chamber in order.

    Meanwhile, Gen Prayut on Tuesday shrugged off speculation that a cabinet reshuffle would take place after the debate.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • PM orders inquiry as parents demand return of school fees

      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday ordered a probe into private schools refusing to return fees to students for services that weren't actually delivered because their classes were held online during the Covid-19 outbreak.

      Gen Prayut was responding to complaints lodged by parents and said he had ordered both the Education Ministry and the Office of the Private Education Commission (Opec) to look into the matter.

      "These schools should have known what fees weren't used during the online study period such as food, transport, computer and internet services, and study tours," he said.

      Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan chaired a meeting on Jan 27 with the commission, discussing the possibility of lowering the fees private schools were collecting since they able to organise normal classes for their students.

      During the recent resurgence of Covid-19, schools were ordered to close throughout January and conduct classes online instead.

      "The schools closed for the whole of January, so there will be certain collected fees that have not been used and those sums must be returned to parents," said the education minister.

      Mr Nataphol said he had already ordered schools to prepare lists of fees received during the pandemic which could be waived and returned.

      The schools had agreed to provide details of returnable fees within 15 days, he said.

      Attapon Truektrong, secretary-general of the Private Education Commission, said it had decided to send a letter to all private schools nationwide asking them to specify which expenses weren't actually incurred.

      These might include such items as lunches, computer services, study tours and student transport, he said.

      The Private Education Commission, said Mr Attapon, had classified unused fees into two categories: tuition fees and miscellaneous expenses such as transport, lunches, snacks, laundry and extra tuition classes.

      He said the parents were entitled to ask for a refund for the second category.

      "These already-collected fees should be returned to the students as classes weren't actually conducted at schools throughout January," he said.

      However, the minister insisted the commission would not order private schools to refund a percentage of January's tuition fees, as demanded by some parents.

      At the same time, he said schools should return money received for services and activities that weren't provided during the pandemic.

      He suggested that schools that didn't have the cash should consult with parents and consider offering refunds via school fee credits instead.:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • PM approves B40bn in aid

        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday gave the green light to financial aid handouts to ease the plight of employees under the social security system. The scheme will cost the government about 40 billion baht.

        The beneficiaries will be about nine million employees of private firms who are covered by Section 33 of the Social Security Act (SSA). Those under Section 33 have been left out of the government's Covid-19 relief packages ever since the pandemic hit the country early last year.

        The government on Thursday reported 809 new Covid-19 cases, 796 local infections and 13 imported, raising the total to 22,058.

        Each employee is expected to receive a weekly payment of 1,000 baht starting next month up to a maximum payout of 3,500-4,500 baht. The relief package is expected to go to the cabinet for approval next week.

        Gen Prayut wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday that he had called a meeting of various agencies to discuss relief measures for employees insured under Section 33 whose companies had been battered by Covid-19.

        "I agreed in principle to the aid package for the insured. The matter will go swiftly to the cabinet for consideration," he posted.

        The meeting had also discussed incentives for domestic and foreign investors, plans to revamp the post-pandemic economy and measures to ease business operations, said the PM.

        "We will not leave anyone behind," Gen Prayut wrote. "At the same time, we are determined to look ahead and set the direction for the post-Covid economy."

        Speaking after the meeting, Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said details of the relief package would be finalised tomorrow before being presented for cabinet approval next week at the earliest.

        Mr Suchart said the prime minister had given it his approval and that about 40 billion baht would be needed to finance it.

        To qualify for help, an employee must be a Thai national aged at least 18 who is insured under Section 33 and whose bank deposits do not exceed 500,000 baht.

        About nine million people are expected to be eligible for the aid, the minister said, adding that each recipient was expected to get between 3,500 and 4,500 baht, although the exact amount of money would be decided tomorrow.

        Applicants will be required to register for the cash and the money will be transferred through the Pao Tang app's G-wallet, similar to procedures under the recent Rao Chana scheme.

        The government approved the 210-billion-baht "Rao Chana" (We Win) financial aid scheme on Jan 19. Under it, the government provides 7,000 baht per person over two months to a total of 31 million people affected by the pandemic.

        That scheme does not, however, cover social security subscribers, government officials or state enterprise employees.

        Mr Suchart said while there were actually about 11 million employees covered by Section 33, it was necessary to lay down the criteria for anyone who might qualify for aid.

        "The government wants to help all 11 million employees covered by Section 33, but it is necessary to set criteria for those who are eligible. The only condition is that those with bank deposits exceeding 500,000 baht will be excluded as proposed by the Labour Ministry," Mr Suchart said.

        The ministry did not stipulate an annual salary of 300,000 baht as disqualifying anyone in order to avoid causing disunity among employees working at the same company, he added.

        The minister also urged those with bank deposits exceeding 500,000 baht to sacrifice their own desires for those who have less.

        He also pointed out that the 40 billion budge for the the scheme would be drawn from the 1-trillion-baht emergency loan.

        Asked exactly how much people could expect to receive, Mr Suchart said that was still to be worked out but weekly payments of 1,000 baht would likely start next month.

        Mr Suchart said Gen Prayut had also instructed him to look into the possibility of taking money from the Social Security Fund and giving it out as "soft" loans with a low annual interest of 2% to employees affected by the pandemic.

        Meanwhile, about 30 members of the Labour Network for People's Rights gathered in front of parliament on Wednesday and called on the government to give more money -- 5,000 baht -- to Section 33 workers and employees over a period of three months.

        The group said it had submitted a letter with its demands to the prime minister and the labour minister on Jan 26 but claimed the matter was not even discussed at Tuesday's cabinet meeting.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Opposition allocated 42 hours for censure debate from February 16th to 19th

          Representatives of government and opposition parties reached agreement on Friday that the censure debate against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and ten cabinet ministers will last from February 16th to 19th, with opposition parties having 42 hours of speaking time.

          Also present at the meeting were House Speaker Chuan Leekpai and one of his deputies, Mr. Suchart Tancharoen.

          It was also agreed that opposition MPs must censure one minister at a time, to avoid confusion.

          Opposition chief whip Suthin Klangsaeng said that they have decided to reduce the number of speakers, from 45 to 38, and will try to complete the debate within the allocated time, but may seek more time if that is not possible.

          Government chief whip Wirat Rattanaseth, meanwhile, reminded opposition parties that the 42-hour allocation includes time used for protests by opposition MPs and they should try to manage their allotted time to cover all the issues about which they would like to speak.

          He also asked the opposition to notify government parties of the ministers to be censured, so they can prepare to defend themselves.

          In case a minister is targeted in the censure debate and the prime minister is also implicated, he said the opposition should also notify government parties, so that the prime minister can prepare a defence.

          Voting will take place on February 20th.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • China 'ready to export' Sinovac Biotech jabs, PM told

            China has informed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha that it is preparing to export its Covid-19 vaccine to Thailand, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Monday.

            The premier was informed by Acting Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Yang Xin that the vaccines manufactured by Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech have been approved for exports and that the doses will be delivered "as soon as possible".

            The announcement followed recent media reports which said China's drug regulators have given Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccine conditional market approval.

            Mr Anucha said the update was relayed by Mr Yang during a courtesy call with Gen Prayut, in which the premier extended his well-wishes for the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.

            Gen Prayut told Mr Yang that Thailand is committed to securing the doses it needs to ensure the national vaccination programme -- in which the government plans to inoculate at least 50% of the population -- runs smoothly.

            To date, the government has purchased 26 million doses from the UK-based AstraZeneca and two million doses from China's Sinovac. Recently, the government reserved an additional 35 million doses from AstraZeneca.

            Mr Anucha said the prime minister congratulated China on its Covid-19 response and reaffirmed the country's readiness to work with Beijing on economic and social rehabilitation.

            Mr Yang told the prime minister that Thai-Chinese relations have continued to grow despite the Covid-19 pandemic, reflecting the sustainability of ties between the two nations.

            According to Mr Anucha, both sides also agreed to pursue deeper economic cooperation especially on e-commerce and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • PM appears on TikTok to wish Thais a ‘healthy, prosperous’ Year of the Ox

              Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha went on widely popular TikTok on Wednesday to wish Thais for Chinese New Year.

              The prime minister’s TikTok account name is “Thai Khu Fah”.“I pray to all sacred things in the world to bestow upon Chinese and Thai people health and prosperity,” he said.

              In Chinese culture and in East Asian countries, the festival is commonly referred to as the Spring Festival, as the spring season in the lunisolar calendar traditionally starts with “lichun”, the first of the 24 solar terms which the festival celebrates around the time of the Lunar New Year.

              This year, 2021, is the Year of the Ox.:

              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • PM admits government and BMA cannot delay electric train fares indefinitely

                Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha admitted today (Wednesday) that neither the government nor the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) can shoulder the financial burden of prolonging the freeze on fares on the Green Route train service.

                Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang ordered the postponement of the fare increase, to a maximum of 104 baht from February 16th for the entire route, after protests from commuters and the Consumers’ Protection Foundation, claiming that the rise will increase the burden on commuters already hit hard the by economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

                Although 104 baht seems expensive for commuters in general, the prime minister said that the majority may only travel on certain sections of the route.

                He sought understanding about the financial burdens on City Hall and the government, saying that they are all trying to solve the fare problem.

                He insists that the government has always made public and government interests a priority in trying to solve issues concerning infrastructure investment.

                The current fare issue has dragged on for a long time and it must be resolved, he stressed.:

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Myanmar military leader asks for Prayut’s support for democracy

                  Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said today he had received a letter from Myanmar’s new military junta leader Min Aung Hlaing explaining the reason why he decided to seize power last week and seeking Thailand’s support for his country’s democracy.

                  Prayut said he is ready to extend full support to democracy in Myanmar but admitted that how the military would manage the country is its own internal affairs.

                  He said the letter was sent to him in his capacity as defence minister.

                  “In short, he asks Thailand for support for democracy in Myanmar – which is something I totally support,” he said. “But how they will manage their internal affairs is up to them.”

                  Min Aung Hlaing led a military coup last week and the military has since detained Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and many of its high-ranking members after alleging widespread fraud in the general election last November without producing evidence.

                  Prayut said the priority for Thailand is to maintain its good relationship with Myanmar.

                  “What is most necessary is to maintain our close relationship, taking into consideration especially the economy and border trade,” he said.

                  When asked how he would respond to Min Aung Hlaing’s letter, Prayut, who also came to power in 2014 through a military coup, said the Myanmar military leader didn’t expect a reply from him.

                  “He only wanted to explain Myanmar’s democratic process…and it’s up to him what to do next,” he said.:

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • Coalition MPs to oppose court review

                    A PPRP list-MP gave his assurances on Thursday the government would refrain from proceeding with a petition seeking the Constitutional Court's review on the legality of the opposition's upcoming no-confidence motion.

                    The petition, which was sponsored by Palang Pracharath Party-list MP Paiboon Nititawan, would ask the House of Representatives to seek the court's ruling on the legality of the opposition's no-confidence motion after it refused to reword sections mentioning the monarchy.

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                    The process to obtain the court's ruling is potentially time-consuming, and is seen by government critics as an attempt to stall the censure debate, which is set to take place on Feb 16–Feb 19.

                    The petition needs to be endorsed by the House, which is held by the government coalition, before it is forwarded to the court.

                    Wirach Ratanasate, the PPRP list-MP and chief government whip, said the petition's motion is not yet included on the House agenda, insisting the government will not try to move it up as feared by some critics.

                    Last week, PPRP list-MP Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn, said if the court rules against the opposition's motion to hold the debate in its current state, it will be compelled to make changes.

                    He said if the court considers the government's petition, the debate will likely be postponed until the court has made a ruling.

                    Mr Chaiwut said he was confident the public would understand the party's move because censure debates are political matters and the monarchy should be left out of it.

                    On Thursday, Mr Wirach also said Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam will attend a rehearsal for the censure debate this weekend to help cabinet ministers targeted for criticism by the opposition prepare for their grilling.

                    Up to 100 government coalition MPs are expected to join the two-day rehearsal, and some are expected to pose as opposition MPs directing questions to the ministers, he said.

                    Jirayu Huangsap, Bangkok MP of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, on Thursday said several government MPs do not see eye-to-eye with Mr Paiboon over his plan to seek a judicial review, and are likely to reject the motion.

                    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his deputy are among the targets of the censure debate.

                    "I can assure everyone that the opposition parties are going full throttle with the censure debate and so the prime minister and his ministers should be prepared," Mr Jirayu said.:

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Prayut calls for action on sea pollution

                      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered officials to be diligent in solving the kingdom's rubbish problem after acknowledging that about 40% of waste went into the ocean last year, according to Traisuree Taisaranakul, deputy government spokeswoman.

                      The prime minister yesterday voiced his concerns after being briefed earlier by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) about the degradation of marine resources and coastal ecology in the country.

                      "Marine debris has caused an environmental problem and affected [people's] health," Ms Traisuree said, quoting Gen Prayut. "Furthermore, this environmental problem has severely impacted tourism, too."

                      "So, officials need to act tough and arrest those who illegally dump debris into the sea," she added.

                      The PM then issued a guideline to create a balance between tourism and the maintenance of coastal resources, Ms Traisuree said.

                      According to the MNRE, about 59%, or 6.7 million of 11.4 million tonnes of rubbish from 23 coastal provinces, were properly disposed of, while the rest was discharged into the ocean last year.

                      Ms Traisuree said the PM is also worried about the kingdom's shrinking mangrove forests, which serve as a buffer, protecting communities from sea storms and coastal erosion.

                      The size of the kingdom's coastal mangrove forests reduced to 1.53 million rai in 2014 from 2.29 million rai in 1961, according to the MNRE data.

                      Despite the kingdom's conservation policy, the area of mangrove forests in 17 provinces has only increased to 500 rai since 2003, Ms Traisuree said.

                      Gen Prayut has also ordered for the restoration of mangrove forests through the help of the private sector, she said, noting that businesses can organise CSR events and encourage communities to plant mangrove trees.:
                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • Hot spots in the upcoming censure debate against Thai govt

                        Thirty-eight opposition MPs have been allocated 42 hours on the floor during the four-day censure debate, which kicks off on Tuesday (Feb 16), with voting scheduled for Saturday (Feb 20).

                        As well as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the other ministers being targeted are Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Bunyamanee, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob and Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Promprao.

                        Here are some key points to look out for during the House grilling.

                        Inevitable mention of monarchy, Will Prawit be spared again?, Move Forward to outshine Pheu Thai, Nataphol facing backlash, Unity in the coalition, Unity in opposition camp, Both sides have protest teams, Parallel debate outside Parliament:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • PM defends police over violence at protest on Saturday

                          Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police over violence at Saturday’s pro-democracy protest in Bangkok, saying they were only doing their duty.

                          The protest calling for the release of four leaders of the anti-establishment movement began at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument before activists marched to the City Pillar Shrine near Sanam Luang. Bottles and smoke bombs were thrown as protesters and police clashed on Saturday night, leaving 25 people injured including several police officers.

                          Reports that passers-by and medical volunteers had been attacked by security officials drew harsh criticism from social media users.

                          Responding to press questions on Monday, the PM insisted that police had acted strictly in line with their duty under the law. He said people should understand that police work with care and are human beings just like everyone else.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • PM denies gambling ties

                            Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha denied an allegation made during a no-confidence debate that he had received benefits related to illegal gambling dens.

                            The issue was raised by Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of the opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party, at the start of the four-day debate on Tuesday.

                            Cheaper than a coffee but powerful enough to keep him riding Bangkok's streets without sleep, Soonthorn puts a flame to a methamphetamine tablet wrapped in foil and inhales the intoxicating vapours.

                            Gen Prayut rebutted the claim, saying the information was taken from the media and solid evidence and witnesses were still required to back the claim.

                            "You have to find evidence and witnesses and take the case to court to prove the veracity of your allegation," Gen Prayut told parliament.

                            In his censure debate opening address, Sompong Amornvivat, leader of the opposition, said the opposition would expose irregularities in the country's administration by the government and "unmask" Gen Prayut, whose alleged monopoly of power has damaged the country.

                            "The people want a prime minister who cares more about them more than he does about retaining his power," Mr Sompong said.

                            On the issue of illegal gambling dens, which are partly to blame for the second wave of Covid-19, Gen Prayut said he has never supported any kind of gambling.

                            He has instructed the Royal Thai Police to step up crackdowns on gambling dens, particularly during the pandemic. Police officers will be held responsible if they fail to take action against gambling dens in their jurisdictions, Gen Prayut said.

                            Several gambling dens were raided recently and up to 51 police officers holding the ranks of deputy commanders and commanders have been transferred, pending investigations, Gen Prayut said, before adding that if they are found guilty, they will receive severe punishment.

                            "I believe past and present governments try to do their best. But nowadays, gambling and related offences are becoming more complicated. I now wonder why only gamblers are arrested. So I laid down a policy for officials to arrest investors and those who are behind these gambling networks.

                            "I have no vested interests. Don't accuse me of receiving benefits. Sue me and prove if that is true. If it's not true, I'll also fight back. Don't defame me," the prime minister said.

                            "To those who accused me of receiving benefits, I insist that I never received a single baht. I don't want any involvement with dirty money. I will receive only my lawful benefits,'' the prime minister said.

                            He said he set up the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau to keep up with changing circumstances, and insisted that the government has taken tough action against gambling that takes place both online and offline.

                            Between 2018 and 2020, between 74,000 and 98,000 suspects were arrested for violating the Gambling Act and many more arrests are expected to be made if there is evidence implicating more suspects, Gen Prayut said, adding that it is important for police to obtain solid evidence before taking action against any suspects.

                            Currently, there are several cases involving gambling dens in Rayong, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi, Trat, Samut Prakan, Bangkok, in Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong district, a cockfighting ring in Sukhothai's Thung Saliam district, as well as online gambling networks, Gen Prayut said.

                            The prime minister urged the public to give information on gambling dens directly to him so action will be taken against them.

                            Gen Prayut went on to say that he has set up a committee to investigate offences and illegal gambling networks that led to the spread of Covid-19. The committee reports directly to the prime minister.

                            Suspects linked to gambling dens in eastern provinces have already been arrested and gambling dens in other regions will also be investigated, he said.

                            Before concluding his address to parliament, Gen Prayut picked up his mobile phone and played a video clip which was mentioned by Pol Gen Sereepisuth during the no-confidence debate.

                            Gen Prayut then played another video clip of himself giving an interview on illegal gambling dens on Saturday.

                            Gen Prayut then asked: "Is this a distortion? It is one of several examples of distortions. Words were doctored to make them look bad. Everything will eventually be revealed,'' Gen Prayut said.

                            Gen Prayut told parliament that he was glad to speak in parliament again.

                            "I am not afraid of anything. This is a good opportunity for both sides to work together for the benefit of the country and people. I am ready to explain," Gen Prayut said.

                            The four-day no-confidence debate started on Tuesday, and a vote will be taken on Saturday, with Gen Prayut and nine other cabinet ministers in the opposition's crosshairs.

                            This will be the second time the government is censured by the opposition in a no-confidence debate after having stayed in office for almost two years.:

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • Thai PM defends submarine purchase and explains causes of huge public debt

                              Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended the Royal Thai Navy’s 22 billion baht procurement of three Yuan-class submarines from China as being worth the taxpayers’ money, compared to the 24 trillion baht in maritime interests that Thailand is expected to gain.

                              Maintaining that the decision to purchase the submarines was based on national and public interests, he said that they will strengthen Thailand’s maritime capabilities.

                              He also defended the procurement of military equipment, such as night-vision goggles, for Special Forces as being necessary for national defence, adding that those who are not military personnel may not know how important modern military hardware is for the defence of the country.

                              The prime minister was speaking during the censure debate today, in response to opposition MPs’ allegations that the government has wasted taxpayer’s money buying military “toys”, while the national economy is in bad shape and the majority of the people are struggling just to make ends meet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

                              Responding to opposition MPs’ allegations, that his government has created huge public debt, beyond legal limits, the prime minister hit back at the Pheu Thai party, saying that a large chunk of the debt was caused by the heavy losses from the Yingluck government’s corruption-riddled rice pledging scheme, adding that the government has already paid 750 billion baht to settle the debt from that scheme, with 280 billion baht yet to be settled.

                              On top of that, he explained that his government has to set aside 20 billion baht to account for losses caused by the failed Uah Arthorn housing project, also initiated by the Pheu Thai party.

                              Regarding the one trillion baht loan, the prime minister said that funding from this borrowing has been used to help many groups of people affected by the pandemic, such as farmers, low-income earners, freelance workers and workers covered by the social security scheme, citing the Rao Chana giveaway scheme as one of the examples.:
                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • Kao Klai party told it will be blamed if Thailand doesn’t get vaccines due to its MPs criticisms

                                Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha warned the opposition Kao Klai (Move Forward) party that it must be held accountable if Thailand fails to receive the COVID-19 vaccines it has ordered because of the criticism of his government’s vaccine procurement plan by Kao Klai MPs during the censure debate.

                                “Mark your own words if there is a problem, you will be held responsible. If they (the vaccine suppliers) do not send us (the vaccines) as agreed because of this (censure debate), there will be problems,” said the prime minister, apparently in response to criticism from Kao Klai MP Wirote Lakkhana-esorn.

                                Wirote criticized the government for delays in the procurement of vaccines and accused the prime minister of resorting to the lèse majesté law to gag those who criticize the government’s vaccine procurement program.

                                Wirote’s speech prompted strong protests from two Palang Pracharat MPs, Paiboon Nititawan and Sira Jenjakha, forcing House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to intervene and ask the Kao Klai MP to withdraw his reference to the monarchy.

                                Instead of withdrawing his words, Wirote went on to accuse the prime minister of using the monarchy as a shield to deflect criticism regarding the vaccine program. He also accused him of covering up his mistakes, which have caused delays in the arrival of the vaccines.

                                Wirote’s remarks drew more protests against from Paiboon and Sira, with the latter warning that he would move to sit close to Wirote to make sure that the Kao Klai MP does not repeat the remark.

                                Defending himself, the prime minister said that he is worried over the repeated criticism of the vaccine program, warning that it may cause the suppliers to halt delivery of the vaccines, because they don’t want to see their products become a political issue in Thailand.

                                He warned opposition MPs not to cause any problem which could disrupt vaccine deliveries.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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