Anti-Prayuth Coalition Ready to Grill Gov’t in Marathon Session

BANGKOK — Both government and opposition camps on Wednesday said they are  prepped for what promised to be the first time PM Prayuth Chan-ocha faces his critics in a parliament since coming to power five years ago.

The rival coalitions said they have lined up the speakers for the government’s inaugural address to the parliament, in which Gen. Prayuth and his cabinet will detail their policies. Opposition leaders said they will use the session, which is expected to last at least two days, to grill Prayuth for his failures in governance and question his administration’s legitimacy.

Pheu Thai MP Suthin Klangsaeng said the party and its allies have named 55 politicians to scrutinize Prayuth and his cabinet, from issues like corruption allegations to economic performances. Suthin also teased that the opposition will drop a bombshell when the two sides clash tomorrow.

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“Something that people all over the world is interested in were not included in the government’s [published] policies, and I believe it would definitely impact credibility and investment,” Suthin said. “But I would not disclose it here. I’d talk about it in the parliament.”

“I’d like to ask everyone to keep watching,” the MP added.

The government’s policy address is mandatory under the parliament regulations. Prayuth and his cabinet members are required to attend the session, while opposition politicians will be granted time slots to question the government leaders directly.

Abhisit Vejjajiva’s address to the parliament in 2009.

Unlike Prayuth’s previous appearances at the interim parliament stacked with the Yes-Men he handpicked, the general is expected to face relentless broadsides from the opposition bench when the parliament convenes tomorrow – his first taste at parliamentary politics since seizing power in a 2014 coup.

In brief comments to reporters today, Prayuth said he is “not worried” about tomorrow sessions, though he did imply nervousness when he spoke to Phalang Pracharath MPs at their conference on Saturday.

“Help me out. Don’t just abandon me!” Prayuth teased.

Both pro- and anti-government factions have been announcing their strategies for the two-day “battle,” littering the news with military lingo and threats directed at the other side in the process.

Pheu Thai said its vanguard will consist of veteran shock troops like Seripisut Temiyavet, Jirayu Huangsap, Mingkwan Sangsuwan, Sompong Amornwiwat and Wan Muhamad Noor Matha.

Yingluck Shinawatra’s inaugural session at the parliament in August 2011.

Meanwhile, Phalang Pracharath Party said the government coalition has designated 20 MPs for what it calls “a rapid deployment unit” – ready to counter any allegations the opposition plan to hurl at the cabinet members.

“If they address anything outside the scope, we will hit back immediately,” Phalang Pracharath official Wirakon Khamprakop told reporters.

Pro-government MPs to be deployed in the frontline include Parina Kraikup, Anucha Nakasai, Sira Jenjaka, and Pada Vorakanon.

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said the opposition parties will be given a total time slot of 13 hours and 30 minutes for their addresses and challenges, while the cabinet and coalition MPs will receive five hours each. The junta-appointed senate will also be granted a total of five hours.

The time will be allotted in accordance with the proportion of MPs won in the March election; for instance, Pheu Thai will get seven hours compared to Phalang Pracharath’s two hours and Bhumjaithai’s 59 minutes.

Chuan also said he might be partial to extending the session for an extra day if the debates could not be completed by Friday midnight.

Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks to the interim parliament in 2014.