[Update-2] Military defends taking back documents from parliament’s budget committee

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense told Thai Enquirer on Thursday that it was normal procedure for army personnel to take back top secret documents from any government meeting to prevent the leak of sensitive information and refuted claims that the ministry acted irregularly.

Opposition MPs had earlier complained about military personnel interrupting a budget committee meeting to seize all financial documents related to spending by the Ministry of Defense, forcing an end to the committee’s deliberation.

“It is normal procedure to take back the documents which has sensitive information about arms purchases and acquisitions,” defense ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit told Thai Enquirer.

“It is normal procedure that after the committee considers each armed force whether it be the navy, the army or the air force, we will take back the documents one by one instead of waiting until the end of the meeting,” he said.

The committee had been deliberating the reimbursement of funds from various ministries back to the government to help fund its coronavirus relief programs.

Move Forward MP Benja Saengchan told reporters that as a result of the interruption and seizure of the documents, the committee could not carry out its duties and the meeting was called off.

According to parliamentary clerks interviewed by Thai Enquirer at parliament on Wednesday, the proceedings were ‘highly irregular’ but the clerks said that they could not reveal more details.

According to Kongcheep, the Ministry of Defense has been in touch with parliament on finding a solution.

“Top secret documents must always be returned even during deliberations by the cabinet,” he said. “We are now coordinating with the parliament to find a way around this misunderstanding in the future.”

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