BANGKOK — Future Forward Party drew praise, criticism, and some head-scratching after its female MPs showed up for a parliamentary debate in traditional dress on Thursday.
In a colorful departure from the sea of black suits and yellow ties, the Future Forward lawmakers made a splash on social media with traditional northern garments. A representative of the group said she wants to highlight the diversity of Thai culture and promote regional products.
“I’ve liked these textiles since I was a kid, especially Thai fabric,” party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich told reporters at parliament. “Whenever I go somewhere, I buy garments from different places, because each place expresses its own culture.”
Read: Back in Fashion? Thai Traditional Dress and How to Pull it Off
Pannika said her party picked northern dress to kick-off the initiative, which will expand to cover other traditional garment styles. The politician also invited other parties to join her campaign to promote local textiles.
“I’d like to invite MPs from other parties to dress up too. I think many people actually want to wear it,” Pannika said. “Many male MPs also want to dress up, but might still feel shy about it.”
The move won admiration from some on social media, who say it’s refreshing to see lawmakers embracing local cultures.
“Beautiful. This is a good example,” user Nichanan Siwasauksarun wrote in a news thread.
โพสต์โดย Thairath เมื่อ วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 4 กรกฎาคม 2019
“I think it’s a good idea. It adds color to parliament and preserves Thai culture and tradition,” Chalerm Mahaprom wrote.
However, some also criticized the campaign as a political stunt, and questioned whether it was appropriate to turn a parliamentary session into a catwalk.
“The venue is not a place to organize a fashion show. They should have some common sense and humility,” user Virat Srianan wrote in the same news thread. “If they want to put on Thai dress, they can do so when there’s a cultural fair.”
“Parliament is a place to debate and discuss the people’s livelihood, not to show off fashion. Especially E Chor, she’s not pretty and acts disgusting,” Kasarapa Manacha commented, using a derogatory nickname for Pannika.
Chief among the detractors is Phalang Pracharath Party MP Parina Kraikup, who accused the Future Forward lawmakers of breaching parliament dress codes.
In an online post, Parina – who has a history of toxic feuds with Pannika – said she will complain to the House Speaker about the violation.
But an official in charge of drafting parliament rules said the dress codes for current parliament sessions – which will only allow Western-style suits and royally bestowed outfits – have yet to be enacted.
The dress codes, along with other rules for MPs like salaries and office spaces, will be submitted to the House Speaker on July 11, regulation commission spokeswoman Thanikarn Pornpongsaroj said.
After the rules are formally enacted, MPs who wish to don traditional garments or any other outfits not permitted by the dress codes will have to seek permission from the House Speaker on a case by case basis, Thanikarn said.