THE IMAGE of Thai parliamentarians worsened recently after several incidents of misbehaviour inside the assembly hall, but apparently this is nothing new. Parliamentarians generally seem to be badly behaved.
Over the past two years, Thai lawmakers have been caught at least three times viewing pornographic images during national debates. Last Friday, an elected senator – believed to be Krabi Senator Pinyo Sainui – was caught on camera surfing porn on his mobile phone. In fact, the captured image showed him zooming in on photographs of a woman with her genital area clearly visible. He admitted to looking at photographs on his iPhone during a Senate meeting, but said they were photographs of his niece.
Last month, Pheu Thai MP for Nong Khai Pongpan Sunthornchai was caught looking at pictures of a scantily dressed woman on his iPad during a parliamentary debate. He later claimed that he had accidentally clicked on a link that downloaded the images.
Back in April last year, photographs of a red-faced Democrat Party MP Nat Bantadtan viewing pornography on his mobile phone during a parliamentary meeting were widely distributed among Facebook users. Nat was caught viewing the photo at almost the same time as images of girls in bikinis striking sexy poses were accidentally shown on a monitor inside the assembly hall.
Last week, Huffington Post UK revealed that according to official records, more than 300,000 attempts had been made to access pornographic websites from the British Parliament in the past year.
After Huffington Post UK filed a Freedom of Information request, the authorities of the House of Commons had no choice but to acknowledge that users of the parliamentary network, including MPs, peers and their staff, had repeatedly tried to access websites classed as pornographic between May 2012 and July 2013.
In the United States, Senator John McCain was spotted by a Washington Post photographer as playing poker on his iPhone during a US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Syria.
Some might put the blame on technology, as it makes it easy for politicians to give in to temptation and access both pornography as well as online games.
But how do voters feel about this?
The Internet should be used as a tool for MPs to scrutinise the government, not to entertain themselves. Other than failing to focus on issues at hand, Thai parliamentarians were recently seen using physical force – getting into scuffles and even throwing around chairs inside the chamber. Luckily, nobody had a gun handy.
An AFP report said yesterday that a Jordanian MP was arrested after firing a Kalashnikov assault rifle in Parliament at a colleague. Fortunately, nobody was injured. Sources said the shooting came in the wake of an argument in Parliament between the two MPs.
Judging from how things are heating up in Thai politics, we can only hope our lawmakers don’t follow the ways of the Middle East.