Opposition parties file motion against 10 ministers, PM . . .
A group of opposition parties comprising two-fifths of the members of Thailand’s parliament filed a motion of no-confidence on Monday against 10 Thai ministers, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Although the no-confidence vote date has not been set, opposition lawmakers expect to begin debates on February 16. They hope to tackle a long list of issues, including flawed management, corruption, and a lack of legality and justice. The Prayut government is confident that it will survive the motion, especially since it commands a majority in the House. Opposition parties, meanwhile, hope the televised debates will put a significant dent in public opinion of the government.
Pandemic response a common thread . . .
Underlying the many criticisms directed at the government is the perceived mismanagement of the pandemic. On Tuesday, Thailand confirmed a record-breaking 959 new COVID-19 cases concentrated in Samut Sakhon province, the epicentre of an ongoing outbreak since last December. Many have also attacked the government for falling behind other Southeast Asian countries on vaccine procurement. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a prominent politician of the opposition movement, questioned why Siam Bioscience, a company owned by the Crown Property Bureau, was given the right to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine over other companies. In response, the government filed a criminal complaint against Thanathorn under the country’s lese-majeste (defamation or insult against the monarchy) law.
Addressing the elephant in the room . . .
The use of Thailand’s draconian lese-majeste law has increased in recent months, with more than 60 people charged under the law in the last 60 days. However, only the progressive Move Forward Party plans to raise the lese-majeste issue at the upcoming no-confidence debate, even though the broader group of opposition lawmakers behind the motion have accused Prime Minister Prayut of “using the monarchy as an excuse to deepen the division in society.” While most politicians in Thailand are reluctant to discuss the controversial topic of the monarchy, the issue will continue to loom large, especially in the minds of pro-democracy activists who made the role of the monarchy a focal point of their large-scale protests throughout the second half of 2020.
- Bangkok Post: Thailand logs record-high 959 Covid cases Tuesday
- Khaosod English: Censure debate over Prayut’s handling of virus slated for Feb. 16
- Thai Enquirer: Anutin defends government’s vaccine strategy; thanks Thanathorn