This week’s deadlock has dismayed many insiders within both the Move Forward and Pheu Thai camps with rising speculation of an alternative coalition involving the Pheu Thai Party, Bhumjaithai Party and the Democrat Party being speculated upon. Nonetheless, there is reported to be a strong determination within Pheu Thai not to walk away from the democratic will of the people but this will be tested further in the coming days when cabinet portfolios are due to be discussed and decisions made.
On Saturday, it was reported that the eight-party coalition was anxious to smooth differences that arose this week between the key Move Forward and Pheu Thai partners to the proposed new governing coalition over the selection of a new Speaker for the House of Representatives to be voted on when the parliament meets again in July. It is understood that a meeting will be held on Tuesday afternoon in the capital with a proposal being floated by at least one coalition partner for the post to go to Mr Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, the leader of the Prachachart Party, a parliamentary veteran since 1979, former minister, deputy prime minister and who formerly carried out the role from 1996 to 2000.
The Move Forward and Pheu Thai Party and other representatives of the eight-party coalition have scheduled talks for Tuesday next May 30th to work out an agreement on the divisive issue of who will take up the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives when parliament meets for the first time in July.
The two parties have been at loggerheads during the week over the issue with background noises from supporters of the main coalition partners making uncompromising views known including former Secretary-general of the now disbanded Future Forward Party Piyabutr Saengkanokkul who insisted in recent days the tussle over the position was one the radical Move Forward Party could not afford to lose while in Dubai, Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, made remarks suggesting that the position rightfully should be left to the Pheu Thai Party.
Pheu Thai members wanted to install party leader Mr Cholnan Srikaew while Move Forward executives consider it important to push a legislative agenda
Many in Pheu Thai think that veteran MP and party leader Mr Cholnan Srikaew should have the role but the latest noises from Pheu Thai suggest that the mood is changing.
There is a growing body of opinion both inside and outside the coalition parties who suggest that the position of the House of Representatives Speaker is a neutral one and more thought should be given to this.
Some reports are suggesting that the role may go to Mr Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, the leader of the Prachachat Party which won nine seats in the General Election and who was a former Pheu Thai Party member.
Mr Wan is a veteran MP having been first elected in 1979 and as well as being a minister during the Thaksin era with various portfolios including holding the position of Deputy Prime Minister.
He was also Speaker of the House of Representatives from November 1996 to June 2000.
He is also a longtime critic of the 2017 Constitution, the replacement of which is at the heart of the proposed new government’s legislative agenda.
Memorandum of Understanding unveiled on Monday sidestepped divisive Article 112 issue but outlined a packed legislative agenda of reform and change
It is understood that General Sereepisuth Temeeyaves of the Seri Ruam Thai Party has proposed the Prachachat leader for the position.
The eight-party coalition unveiled a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday last which sidestepped the highly sensitive issue of Article 112 but, at the same time, promised a highly ambitious reform agenda including a new constitution which would involve up to 45 different laws and bills to be passed by the parliament.
The 42-year-old Move Forward Party deputy leader, Ms Sirikanya Tansakul, widely seen as the next Minister of Finance, argues strongly that the position of House Speaker should be one controlled by her party to drive the reforms in parliament.
Fears an alternative coalition may arise as tensions are predicted to skyrocket with decisive talks on cabinet portfolios to begin in the coming week
‘The House Speaker is one of the most important roles in politics, overseeing House meetings and the agenda. If the Move Forward Party wants to push its legislative initiatives and fulfil its campaign promises, it needs to take control of the post,’ explained Ms Sirikanya.
However, with louder rumours of an alternative coalition involving the Pheu Thai Party, Democrat Party and the Bhumjaithai Party which have been repeatedly dismissed by the Pheu Thai leadership, this week, there have been calls to both leading parties to keep their eye on the ball and finalise the formation of a government given the battle that still awaits in parliament in August with the coalition requiring the support of at least 60 senators to elect a prime minister.
It is thought that next week’s talks will focus on the ministerial portfolios and how they will be divided if a new government is formed in August.
This is bound to generate further tension within the eight-party group with mounting pressure from business leaders expressing concern about some of the Move Forward Party’s policies on the economy, in particular, a commitment to a ฿450 per day minimum wage within 100 days of the new government taking office.