BANGKOK — Thailand’s next prime minister will be voted in by parliament with much less grandeur than previous years.
Because the new parliament building remains under construction, for the next six months lawmakers will have to hold sessions in an auditorium north of Bangkok. That includes the selection of the new PM, interim parliament chairman Pornpetch Wichitcholchai told reporters.
“We will use the TOT auditorium until the end of this fiscal year,” Pornpetch said. Fiscal years typically end in October.
A parliament official said he’ll have to ask the cabinet for emergency funds to rent the auditorium because the parliament is currently running low on cash. Renting the auditorium, owned by telecom firm TOT, will cost taxpayers about 11 million baht each month.
“Rent costs 11.36 million baht per month, but the parliament only has 19 million baht right now,” parliament secretary Sorasak Pienvej said. “We will make a request for [money] from the cabinet to facilitate meetings from May to September.”
He added, “After that, we will use the new parliament. I’m confident it will be completed in time.”
Extra seats are also being installed at the TOT auditorium after officials realized the venue lacked sufficient chairs to accommodate 750 MPs and Senators.
Thailand’s legislative branch lost its home after its 30-year-old office was returned in December to the palace for an unspecified project. The new venue, located at a riverside plot of land in a military neighborhood, remains unfinished despite years of construction.
Interim parliament chairman Pornpetch said a ceremony to open the first session of the elected legislature will still take place at the old parliament building. His Majesty the King will preside over the inauguration.