[Update] Parliament boycotting MPs warned of dereliction of duty charges by former election commissioner

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Lawmakers skipping parliament in order to prompt a lack of quorum in the parliament so as to scuttle the bills they do not like could face allegations of dereliction of duty as some smaller parties are looking to muzzle amendments that may benefit them in the next general elections.

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a member of the opposition Seri Ruam Thai party, which is one of the smaller parties in the opposition block, said he may file a petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) if the bigger political parties skip their duty to be present in the parliament for the 3rd reading of the electoral law amendments.

“We pay taxes for you to go to work not for you to play around and irresponsibly forced a lack of quorum,” Somchai wrote on his social media page.

The former election commissioner was referring to lawmakers from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and Pheu Thai Party, who he said have knowingly skipped parliament meetings so that the draft amendment bill to use 500 as the divisor for the calculation method of party list MPs could technically be dropped.

According to the charter, any bill that passed its 2nd reading but did not pass its 3rd reading within 180 days will be dropped. The deadline for this bill is August 15 and there is only one more parliament meeting on August 10 before then.

The reason why there was only one meeting left instead of two was because the meeting between the coalition whip, the opposition whip, the senator whip and House Speaker Chuan Leekpai decided that senators will need the meeting on August 9 to discuss other scheduled matters.

Pheu Thai Party leader and the leader of the opposition Cholnan Srikaew said last week that some MPs are not joining parliament meetings because they do not want to be used as “tools” for the ruling government.

The ruling PPRP earlier wanted to change the calculation method from using 100 as the divisor to using 500 instead because it would hamper the Pheu Thai Party’s landslide strategy.

However, the draft bill is expected to be thrown away either by the Election Commission or Constitutional Court after vetting because it could be unconstitutional.

Some senior members of the PPRP also changed their mind about the amendment because using 100 would benefit large parties like the PPRP.

With the government hesitation, the Pheu Thai Party, which would also benefit of 100 is use as a divisor, saw an opportunity to force the bill to be dropped while the PPRP is also letting it go.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has earlier said that an earlier version of the bill will be adopted if the House failed to pass the amendment bill in its 3rd reading. The previous version uses 100 as the divisor for the calculation method.

However, Somchai from Seri Ruam Thai, a small party that would benefit if 500 was use as a divisor because it would be easier for them to win a list MP seat, disagreed with Pheu Thai’s tactic.

He said that if there are MPs who intentionally skipped the upcoming parliament meeting on August 10, he will file a petition to ask the NACC to rule whether they have broken the law or not.

Somchai said that according to the law which regulate the conducts of parliamentarians stated that lawmakers cannot skip a parliament meeting without a proper cause because it is their job to discuss on legislations and listen to people’s grievances.

“I will use my right to file a petition to ask the NACC to rule on this severe ethical misconduct,” he said. “If they are found guilty, they will be stripped of their MP status and their political rights will be lifted for 10 years.”

Dissolving small parties

The leader of the Seri Ruam Thai Party Sereepisuth Temeeyaves on Monday filed a petition to ask the Election Commission to investigate the claim that small parties have allowed themselves to be dictated by a larger party.

The Former Commissioner of the Royal Thai Police said lawmakers from small parties are taking monthly bribes from a large party for their votes, especially during the previous voting for the charter amendment bill to use 500 as the divisor for the calculation of party list MPs.

He said there are evidence of audio records and financial transactions.

Thammanat Prompao, the former secretary general of the PPRP who was in charge of small parties’ affairs during his time with the ruling party, told reporters in July that MPs from small parties are taking bribes and he has evidence.

Shortly after the Former Deputy Agriculture Minister’s interview, leaked LINE messages were released to reporters which showed the names of MPs from small parties who are allegedly taking bribes of up to 100,000 baht per month.

Sereepisuth said that even though there was an explanation that the money were loans not bribes but he does not believe it because there was no loan contract.

The former police commissioner said that these actions were clearly against the law and small parties that are taking bribes could be dissolved, if the EC found them guilty.

Sereepisuth said his party has gathered evidence of social media messages, photos and audio records and he urged the EC to be fair and to not allow themselves to be influenced by any party.

He said the EC should be able to finish their investigation into this case within a month before asking the Constitutional Court to rule on it.

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