Members of the opposition Move Forward Party spoke out Thursday against the government’s tone in the ongoing censure debate, saying some responses were personal attacks and lacked professionalism.
“It is disappointing the way the government has answered questions,” said Move Forward Party MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn. “For example, MP Amarat Chokepamitkul was body shamed when she asked about the prime minister’s holiday home and taxes.”
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha responded to the question by quipping at the petite parliamentarian, “you are becoming shorter and shorter because you are hiding behind the protests.” The taunt was taken up online under the hashtag #อีเตี้ยหลังม็อบor Tia Lung Mob (midget behind the protest).
The censure debate has entered the third day, where opposition parties have been grilling Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and nine other ministers.
The opposition agenda covers the ministers’ fitness for their respective roles, alleged tax evasion by the prime minister, questions over submarine procurement, the alleged mishandling of the Covid-19 outbreak and apparent delays in vaccine acquisition.
Wiroj acknowledged the debate was unlikely to bring down the ruling coalition, but told Thai Enquirer it was worthwhile nonetheless to bring the government’s failings to wider public attention.
“We are not concerned about toppling the government because we do not have the votes. We know that the government will survive the censure debate,” he said.
“We are not disheartened because the Move Forward Party believe in the people. We know that if we do our best, more people will understand us and we will have more support. We are looking at the next election.”
Voters need to consider “many inappropriate things that are happening under this government, from providing incentives to particular groups, and even things that would be considered as corruption,” he said.
“We would like to use this as an opportunity to connect the dots, show how government agencies have been involved, and the legal loopholes” that have been exploited, he said.
Wiroj also dismissed as off-topic the criticism he received for greeting Health Minister Anuthin Charnvirakul with unhygienic intimacy. “Maybe your DNA is still on my tie” the minister said during the debate, referring to an allegedly close-up wai greeting by Wiroj while they were gathered outside the building. The hashtag #โรจน์กราบอก (Wiroj greets close to chest) was also trending following the exchange.
Fellow Move Forward Party MP Taophiphop Limjittrakorn also expressed concerns over the use of the royal institution by the government to shield themselves during the censure debate.
People should question this tactic, he told Thai Enquirer. Anyone on the fence over supporting the government “might not agree with the party that this is the actions of those who are loyal to the institution.”
Wiroj also said the debate’s biggest impact would be on swing voters.
“Today we are competing for the people in the middle. Are those getting any substance [from my input]?” he asked. “At the very least it should give them something to notice and questions to ask.”