MPs walked out after the Speaker Chuan Leekpai called for a recount of votes following the surprising government defeat vote by 234 votes to 230 in a parliamentary division. The defeat comes as Thai PM Prayut Chan ocha returned to Thailand from a visit to South Korea on Wednesday landing at the military airport in Don Mueang at 6 pm.
The governing Thai coalition fell to a shock defeat in the House of Representatives on Wednesday after which the speaker was prevented from conducting recount due to a walkout by opposition party MPs at the decision to proceed with such a move.
It comes in a week which has seen the coalition government beset by tensions over the country’s deteriorating economy and the handling of a controversial chemical ban. The vote on the same day the ban supported by a the Bhumjaithai Party, a key player in the coalition, was postponed in shock move supported by the Industry Minister. There are also reports of factionalism within the Democrat Party which may have played a part in today’s defeat.
Issue centres on Section 44 decree mechanism
Today’s issue was completely unrelated to these controversies and centred on a plan to investigate the use of the Section 44 mechanism used by the former military junta which ruled Thailand from 2014 up to this July.
Parliament adjourned in confusion
The parliament adjourned on Wednesday in confusion after it appeared that the government lost the vote to the opposition on the motion to establish a parliamentary panel to review and look into the controversial Section 44 powers used by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha during the tenure of the military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order.
Opposition motion carried by 234 votes to 230
Following the vote result which was shown on parliamentary screens, it appeared that 234 MPs vote in favour of the measure while 230 on the government side voted against.
Recount ordered by the Speaker
This prompted the speaker of the house Chuan Leekpai to order a recount of the votes.
He was responding to the government chief whip Wirat Rattanaset who asked for the recount on the basis that the vote result showed a tight margin.
Vociferous objections from opposition MPs
This drew vociferous objections from opposition parties who after the speaker acquiesced to demand, withdrew from the chamber. The opposition was led by Sutin Klansaeneg who was coordinating the opposition alliance in the chamber.
It is being reported that two government MPs opted to abstain while one failed to vote.
No quorum for a recount
After the walkout, the PheuThai MP for Chiang Rai, Pichet Chueamuangphan, drew the speaker’s attention to the numbers of the MPs present which was found to be 92, well short of the 250 members necessary for a quorum.