Thailand: Chuan says House can meet in May

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai | Bangkok Post

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai on Tuesday said a session can be convened on May 22 as scheduled, despite the state of emergency, to work on laws.

Mr Chuan said the government would come up with “a special justification” to ease restrictions under the emergency decree so members can hold an ordinary session that day.

He said the House plans to deliberate a set of government-sponsored executive decrees to help people affected by Covid-19.

Otherwise, bills will remain stalled in parliament, Mr Chuan added, noting the legislative work has been affected by the state of emergency which imposes a nationwide curfew and ban on large gatherings and inter-provincial travel.

Sorasak Pienvej, secretary-general of the House of Representatives, said that the state of emergency should not impede the work of lawmakers because they are protected by parliamentary immunity.

But House standing committee members have been asked to suspend meetings at parliament during the virus outbreak, Mr Sorasak added.

Chief government whip Wirat Rattanaset said Mr Chuan can decide to hold a session.

But if there are obstacles, the House speaker can halt and adjourn the meeting, Mr Wirat said.

He added that the government has disagreed with the opposition’s call for a special House session ahead of the ordinary session, noting the special session was to scrutinise executive decrees as the kingdom struggles to battle Covid-19.

The opposition Pheu Thai Party is seeking a motion for a special session to debate the aid money request invoked by the decrees, including the borrowing of one trillion baht.

Cholnan Srikaew, deputy Pheu Thai leader, previously said the decrees require input from parliament as the borrowing, through an aid package, is one of the biggest in the country’s history, which “was a cause for concern”.

Mr Cholnan said only some experts were appointed to analyse the spending plans.