Always pointing out that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had rarely answered MPs’ questions in Parliament, the opposition on the third and final day of the censure debate yesterday tried to pressure the premier to answer its questions by herself.
Yingluck, who attended all the parliamentary meetings in the past three days, and opposition and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva took turns to speak on the issue yesterday morning.
Towards the opposition’s objection for her having left it to ministers to clarify allegations, Yingluck promised she would finally clarify the issues by herself.
“About the policies, I am ready to clarify, I will definitely clarify. But may the people involved – [those ] we assigned [for policy implementation] in the process and there are sub-committees – be in charge [of replying]?
“There were issues debated yesterday and involved people who were damaged. Please let them clarify as they were accused on many issues, such as lowering agricultural production or implementing [their sales] in a way that caused corruption. MPs, please let the working people clarify [their problems] so you can consider [any] problems [arising] from my policies. Then finally I will come to clarify them,” she said.
Abhisit said the chairman of the meeting could decide who was damaged in the scrutiny process and deserved a chance to speak. Meanwhile, it should be only Yingluck who should answer the questions because the Opposition were asking about policies, not the details of implementation.
“For questions on policies, I’d like to tell the prime minister that there’s no need for any minister to clarify what we don’t ask,” he said.
“On rice-related issues, what I doubt is the design of the policy. The prime minister herself said she was in charge. Yesterday she listened to my debate and got up to answer. I wonder if she had carefully considered what I said? For instance, she said this policy gave money to farmers. She said, ‘give it to them, please’.
“We said we didn’t oppose this policy if it gave money to farmers. But the figures from the government showed that each year Bt240 billion [would be raised from rice exports]. [But] the government’s figures showed that out of this Bt240 billion, only about Bt1 billion reached farmers. Does the premier, as head of the government, think why we should allow other people to get the Bt1 billion? The finance minister couldn’t answer this, the commerce minister couldn’t answer it, the agriculture minister couldn’t answer this – because it’s for the PM to decide why this policy should carry on,” Abhisit said.
“About rubber, I asked why the Cabinet had approved Bt15 billion for the project but rubber prices had not risen and the prime minister had still approved more budget for the implementation with the same methods.
“I don’t mind if it’s agreed that answering is according to responsibility. If it’s the PM’s part, the PM answers. If it’s a minister who’s involved, the minister answers. But please don’t waste Parliament’s time by letting a minister answer what was not asked,” Abhisit said.
Yingluck stood up and replied: “To clarify the policies, we emphasise that all spending of the budget must reach farmers directly. For income, we have government agencies in charge of income. The policies are clear,” she said, adding that she might give some not-too-accurate information on some issues and asked for the chance to involve others to explain the facts.
Yingluck said she had also set up a committee to prevent corruption, and asked the Opposition to share information if it found any irregularities.
Yingluck took up the microphone again in the evening following Democrat female MPs’ criticism about her leadership.
However, she said only briefly that achievements would be the prove of her leadership and it took time and for the people to judge.
She continued with introduction that she would let her ministers clarify the censure further.