Reporters find only one 'shining star' this year
As part of their annual ritual, reporters on the Parliament beat yesterday came up with nicknames and labels for prominent members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.The reporters decided to call the Lower House the "House of Revenge and Squandering". A press release obtained by The Nation yesterday explained that the House - dominated by MPs from the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the opposition Democrat Party - focused on finding fault, blaming and trying to get even with each other in the past year. Also, many MPs wasted taxpayers' money on overseas trips, the statement said.
The divided Senate was labelled "Selective Screens". According to the attached explanation, rival groups of senators did their job of scrutinising issues, but each group seemed to target politicians of the opposite side. For instance, the Group of 40 appeared to focus more on politicians in power, while its rival group targeted the opposition.
This is the second consecutive year in which nobody was named "Good Person of Parliament". The explanation said that though many parliamentarians had done a fairly good job of serving the public and addressing their problems, nobody had achieved anything exceptional to win him or her the honour.
As for the "Event of the Year", the Parliament reporters voted for the upheaval on the House floor in late May during the debate on the ruling coalition's controversial reconciliation bills - which were described by the opposition as a move to whitewash ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his cohorts' actions. Scenes of MPs throwing documents at each other and grappling to attack the chairman were broadcast live nationwide and became a hot topic of conversation.
The "Quote of the Year" was given to Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung's remarks about the services he has rendered to Thaksin.
During the censure debate in November, Chalerm admitted to having acted as the former leader's "servant" in response to an allegation made by Democrat MP Satit Wongnongtaey. "I have been his servant for quite a long time now. I am sorry that Satit just learned about it. I see nothing wrong with it. I am willing to do this job," Chalerm said.
House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranond was nicknamed "Little Gavel, Red Hat" for the series of embarrassing scandals he was found to be involved in. These included an audio clip in which he was heard making comments that were clearly in favour of the government and its red-shirt supporters and against the opposition, as well as an extravagant trip to Europe at the expense of taxpayers.
Senate Speaker Nikom Wairachpanit got named the "Last Baton in the Relay" for becoming the first elected senator to head the Upper House. He is expected to be the last speaker before the Senate's term ends in early 2014. His predecessors in this Senate had all been appointed.
Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was nicknamed "Handsome at the Receiving End".
The attached statement explained that the Democrat leader faced a huge political storm in the past year, especially in relation to the murder charges he faces for the deaths of protesters in 2010 and being dismissed from the Army more than 20 years after he left it.
Second Deputy House Speaker Visut Chainarun got called "Shining Star" for his role as meeting chair. He earned rare praise from the opposition for being neutral in performing his duty, particularly during the censure debate, the press release said.
Pheu Thai MP Prasit Chaisrisa and Democrat MPs Warong Dejkitwikrom and Rangsima Rodrasami were voted "Dark Stars" for their "violent, aggressive and crude behaviour" during House meetings. Chalerm and opposition MP Chuwit Kamolvisit from the Rak Thai Party were voted the "Foes of the Year" for their frequent disputes inside and outside the House chamber. They often exchanged arguments during House meetings as well as via the mass media.