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Censure motion filed against PM, 7 ministers

The opposition Wednesday submitted its censure motion targeting Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and seven other Cabinet members.

Opposition chief whip Sathit Wongnongtoei called on the government to open another extraordinary parliamentary session next month (July) for the no-confidence debate.

He accused the Cabinet of trying to "escape a censure debate" by resolving on Tuesday to seek royal endorsement for its decision to have the current extraordinary parliamentary session closed on June 28.

"What happened has pointed to government efforts to reject the scrutiny mechanisms within the Parliament," said Sathit, who is an executive member of the Democrat Party.

Sathit, accompanied by a small group of Democrat MPs, submitted the motion to first deputy House speaker Somsak Kiatsuranond as House Speaker Chai Chidchob said he was too busy with chairing a House meeting.

The opposition chief whip called on the House leadership to negotiate with the government for opening of a new extraordinary parliamentary session. "The speaker should retain his dignity as the head of the legislature by negotiating with the government. In fact, he and they are from the same party," Sathit said.

Somsak said that a new extraordinary parliamentary session was possible if it was viewed as necessary.

Sathit said the opposition would wait and see if Chai would take any action about the censure motion. If the House speaker did nothing about it, the opposition would discuss its next move.

 "It's the government's duty to call another extraordinary parliamentary session, which could be in July. It all depends on the government powers. They should not try to shut us out, which is very ugly. It's like trying to keep the lid on a pot that is bursting out," he said.

"The remains of the Thaksin regime still exist. I have asked Chai since he assumed office that he should not allow the administration to influence the legislature. He should be independent, or the Parliament work will be just ceremonious and there will be a crisis similar to one that happened during the Thaksin regime," Sathit said.

In its motion, as required by the Constitution, the opposition also nominated Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as candidate for prime minister.

In addition to Samak, who is also the defence minister, the motion also targets two deputy premiers Mingkwan Sangsuwan and Surapong Suebwonglee, who also serve as commerce minister and finance minister, respectively, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, Transport Minister Santi Prompat, his deputy Songsak Thongsri, Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, and Justice Minister Sompong Amornwiwat.

The motion accused Samak of nine points of mistakes and wrongdoings.

"Over the past four months, the prime minister's actions caused severe damage to the administrative system, the ethical values and the unity in this country. Corruption, economic and security problems have expanded beyond cure. The country's main institutions have been shaken and the national stability as a whole is affected," the motion read.

Meanwhile, Chalerm, one of the targeted ministers, said Wednesday that he was not worried by the censure motion and would respond to the opposition's accusations in Parliament.

The interior minister thanked the Democrat Party for "playing by the rules" and relying on the Parliament channel. Chalerm said he would send the Democrats flowers and fruits from his orchard as a token of appreciation.

He also said that he was confident with support from coalition parties during the post-debate vote. "I don't think there will be back-stabbing," he said.

Deputy Transport Minister Songsak said Wednesday that he was prepared to explain against the opposition's allegation of corruption within the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority. He said the BMTA's Bt6-billion project to acquire new air-conditioned buses on lease was done in a transparent way.


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