Opposition lawmakers walked out of parliament Thursday morning for a second time over maneuvering by house leadership to walk back a vote authorizing an investigation of the prime minister’s tenure as chief of the junta that ruled the country for over five years.
House Speaker Chuan Leekpai’s call for a recount that the opposition decried as a bid to force a do-over of their 234-230 win to establish the investigatory committee, led parliament to be suspended just before noon after enough opposition members walked out and there was no longer a quorum.
It was the second time Chuan tried to force the issue in as many days. His proposed recount, which he said was in accordance with parliamentary rules, was objected to by the opposition as leading a new vote rather than a recount.
Members of the opposition first cried foul Wednesday after he conceded to a demand from the governing party to redo the vote because it won by a slim margin.
After the vote passed Wednesday, members of the pro-establishment Palang Pracharath Party quickly demanded a recount, saying the margin was too thin, causing parliament to erupt in chaos as MPs argued with one another. Many members loudly objected to the recount, causing Chuan to warn them to “keep their good manners, the parliament is not a bootleg bar.”
Refusing to go along, opposition parties refused to send a representative to count the votes again. After Wednesday’s walkout, only 92 MPs remained, short of the 250 members necessary for a quorum.
That the opposition’s motion yesterday to investigate former junta leader and current PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha won 234-230 means some members of the governing coalition voted in favor of it, such as Democrat Party MPs.
Prayuth was elevated to the premiership following Thailand’s first election in over five years staged in March. Prior to that, he had ruled as unelected prime minister and head of the so-called National Council for Peace and Order, or NCPO, after staging a coup d’etat in 2014.
The motion calls for investigating the impacts of extra-legal orders issued by Prayuth using the absolute power he granted himself upon seizing power.