[UPDATE-1] Senior Democrat MP says unless government changes, the party must withdraw from coalition

Senior Democrat MP Panich Vikisreth told Thai Enquirer on Tuesday that unless Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha made major changes to address public concern, he would advocate for the party to leave the coalition government.

Panich was speaking to Thai Enquirer after leaked internal conversations from the Democrat Party showed party-list MPs unhappy with cabinet and the government.

Panich said that he and other Democrat Party MPs were concerned over reports of cabinet members linked to the export of sanitary masks at a time when nationwide supplies were running low.

“There are individuals connected to the deputy agricultural minister [Thamanat Prompao] that have added to the suffering of the people,” he said.

“That they would sell the masks when we are experiencing a shortage in the middle of an outbreak is inexcusable. It is a terrible thing.”

The Democrats have to realize that one of the conditions of their joining the coalition has not been met, to be free from corruption, he said.

“I am not willing to paddle the boat for a bunch of thieves.”

Panich said that unless Prayut would shake up the cabinet to address the issues, he would see no other option but to leave the coalition.

“It would then be time to reconsider our options.”

Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told reporters outside parliament on Tuesday that the party respected the voice of its MPs and members and that any decision to leave the coalition would be decided by a vote.

Jurin said that some MPs have forwarded the motion to leave the coalition but the party must respect its own democratic processes and vote for an outcome.

He did not specify when such a vote might occur.

Prayut response

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha told reporters on Tuesday that if the Democrat Party wanted to withdraw from the government it would be up to them.

Prayut angrily rebuked questions from reporters over the possibility.

“Well they haven’t withdrawn yet,” Prayut said before Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. “If they want to withdraw, you will have to go talk to them.”

Prayut’s coalition could ill-afford to lose the 53 Democrat seats should the party withdraw despite gaining seats from Future Forward’s dissolution.

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