Parliament wraps up second day of policy debate amidst calls for transparency and reform

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The second day of Thailand’s parliamentary debate drew attention to a host of contentious issues, from inequality in legal treatment to potential changes in the military conscription system. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was in the hot seat, fielding questions and concerns from parliamentarians across the board.

PM’s Response to Criticism

Srettha expressed gratitude for the criticisms and recommendations that he and his administration have received over the past two days. He pledged to consider these valuable inputs in future government policies. While timelines for policy implementations were not provided, Thavisin asserted that such details would be forthcoming.

Public Debt and Economic Concerns

Addressing economic concerns, Srettha highlighted that his government is committed to avoiding unnecessary increases in public debt, which currently sits at 63% of the GDP. Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn also announced plans to increase the daily minimum wage to 450 baht per day by 2024, with higher-skilled workers potentially earning up to 600 baht.

Military and Defense

Srettha, who once championed replacing mandatory military conscription with a voluntary system, stated that the military’s stance must be respected. While he announced a reduction in the number of conscripts, no timeline was given for its complete removal, stirring skepticism among opposition ranks. The appointment of the first civilian Defence Minister, Sutin Klungsang, has not significantly shifted the government’s stance on military reform, according to critics.

Corruption and Constitution

MFP MP Rangsiman Rome questioned the unequal treatment of figures like Thaksin Shinawatra and Pol Maj Maj Paween Pongsirin, highlighting apparent privileges granted to Thaksin. Rome also released a voice recording implicating a senator in negotiations potentially tied to a major Chinese syndicate. These allegations add another layer to ongoing calls for transparency and justice.

Deputy PM Phumtham Wechayachai announced that the proposal for a referendum on constitutional rewrite would be presented in the first official Cabinet meeting. However, details on whether the redrafting would be conducted by an elected committee were not specified.

Social Welfare

An array of social welfare commitments were also discussed. Social Development and Human Security Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said the welfare for disabled persons could be tripled by 2027. However, this would significantly increase the budget, requiring careful planning. Varawut also acknowledged the delay in the 600 baht monthly welfare for child caregivers, attributing it to government transition issues, with rectification expected by September 18.

Democrats back on form?

The debate wrapped up with Democrat MP Chuan Leekpai urging the new government to focus on public welfare over personal benefits and alliances. Leekpai also called for urgent attention to the ongoing separatist conflict in the southern region.

Today’s debate underscored the high expectations and immense challenges that lie ahead for PM Thavisin’s new government. Whether the administration can effectively navigate these complex waters will be a subject of close scrutiny in the coming days.


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