BANGKOK — Leader of the opposition faction said Tuesday that status quo is about to change when the public hears its case in the upcoming no-confidence motion – the first in nearly seven years.
Pheu Thai Party executive Phumtham Wechayachai likened it to a “political execution” that can deal a mortal blow to the fragile coalition under PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. The debate is yet to be scheduled; the opposition previously said they would submit their motion by today, but that date has now been postponed.
“It won’t be a process where opposition MPs rehearse how to speak in Parliament,” Phumtham said. “It would be a political execution.”
He then laid the case against Prayut, calling him the root of what is wrong with the current administration. The opposition is expected to have Prayut and his close allies, such as Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, under their sight when the debate is convened.
“This is because he is in control of nearly all aspects, security, economy. He was also the former junta leader … The prime minister is the center of the problems,” Phumthum said.
But Gen. Prayut told reporters yesterday that he is not worried about being the prime target of upcoming censure debate. The premier said he and all other ministers are prepared to defend themselves.
“Those who ask questions will ask, and those having to answer will answer. What’s important is people who follow it at home should be mindful in listening as to whether what is true and what is not,” Prayut said. “So far, the government has done its best in every issue.”
He continued, “However, we must admit that we are now in full democratic process. We are a country that held elections … I have not made any attempt to evade the censure debate, so I ask that people continue to have confidence in me and the administration.”
Under Thai laws, if half of the lower house votes for a no-confidence motion against any Cabinet member after hearing the debate, the individual must leave the post. If the Prime Minister is dealt with a no-confidence vote, then his or her entire Cabinet must leave, and a new election be held.
The last time Thailand saw a no-confidence debate was in 2013, when opposition lawmakers attempted to unseat then-PM Yingluck Shinawatra. Though she survived the motion, Yingluck was forced to dissolve the lower house and call a snap election later that year amid street protests.
Phumtham said even if Prayut also made it through the vote, the retired general will lose his credibility in the eyes of the public after it hears how inept his government is.
“He will not be able to [play] politics after that,” he said.
Deputy Future Forward Party leader Chamnan Chanruang said the opposition will keep its arsenal of debate topics secret until “the last minute.” He believes some Cabinet members may not gather enough support from their own side when the vote is called.
“It could lead to their resignations, and even the dissolution of the House of Representatives,” Chamnan said.