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Opposition vows to grill Prayut in Parliament

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha . Xinhau

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) – Thursday’s parliamentary debate on the government’s policy manifesto looks set to be a fiery one after the opposition vowed on Tuesday to lay bare the controversial qualifications of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his two junta brothers.

Key members of seven opposition parties met on Tuesday to outline their attack strategy ahead of the policy debate, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow and Friday. It was agreed at the meeting that the qualifications and role of cabinet ministers would be addressed.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda, who both served in the previous military government, are among those in the opposition’s cross-hairs.

Pheu Thai spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard said that apart from the policy manifesto the opposition would focus on Gen Prawit who made an appearance at a weekend seminar held by the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) Party in Nakhon Ratchasima.

“Why did he go there and in what capacity? How is he involved with the PPRP? As far as we know, he isn’t a party member and it raises the question of whether he is influencing the party,” Mr Anusorn said.

The choice of seminar venue, the 88 Garmonte Resort in tambon Thai Sammakkhi of Wang Nam Khieo district, will also be brought up during the debate, said Mr Anusorn. It was revealed that the venue is among resorts facing legal action by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation for being illegally built on forest land.

He also hinted that Gen Anupong would be grilled during the policy debate.

“We’re warning that another Por [a reference to Gen Anupong’s nickname Pok] shouldn’t take it too easy. We’ll give him a clue. It’s about garbage. And the cabinet ministers who’ve made a comeback should also be prepared,” he said.

Mr Anusorn also said the 66-page policy document released by the government looked more like a collection of election brochures from coalition partners than a policy manifesto and that it lacked any coherence.

“One policy says that the government will allocate land to low-income earners while another says that it will increase forest areas. But these two policies cannot be implemented simultaneously,” he said.

Future Forward Party (FFP) secretary-general, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, said the manifesto was very broad and a mishmash of election promises made by political groups and parties.

He said the document also fails to detail where the money to implement policies or projects will come from, despite the constitution requiring the government to do so.

He insisted party MPs assigned to speak in the debate would focus on the policies, not the individual ministers, but noted that Gen Prayut would not escape scrutiny.

Mr Piyabutr said the party has prepared a team of 18 speakers to cover all issues in the policy debate. He himself would cover political reforms and charter amendments.

Suthin Khlangsaeng, Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, said opposition parties were putting together teams to cover various topics ranging from economics to decentralisation of power to national reforms.

Seri Ruam Thai Party leader Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves and Pheu Thai MP for Nan Chonlanan Srikaew would spearhead a team in charge of examining the qualifications of cabinet ministers, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam warned opposition MPs to tread carefully because the Constitutional Court already accepted a petition to look at Gen Prayut’s qualifications.

“The government will also have to be careful and avoid remarks which could influence the outcome,” he said, referring to the PPRP’s assembling of 20 MPs to counter the allegations against Gen Prayut.

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