Somsak goes the gavel way
"THIS IS THE first time I've used it," House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont said yesterday, pointing to his gavel, during the House-Senate meeting on the second reading of the charter review bill when a near riot broke out on the floor.
He showed his gavel to Parliament and then slammed it three times. However, Democrat MPs refused to sit down and continued shouting.
Somsak, a nine-time MP from Khon Kaen, had gained fame as "Gavel Master" when he was deputy House speaker in 1997. He introduced the gavel as an instrument to intervene and end bickering during House sessions. It featured in the no-confidence debate against then prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.
"I saw a situation that could not move forward. The whips on both sides [government and opposition] failed to end the debate, and that led to chaos. I thought I should do something. I then picked up the gavel to show it to the MPs but I did not bang it," he said.
He said that the "gavel" and "standing up" are the ultimate measures for the House speaker to restore order. If MPs who create confusion do not stop acting up and refuse to sit down, the speaker will order them to leave.
In his previous stint, Somsak brought the gavel to the House, but never used it, but his successors Uthai Pimchaichon and Bhichai Rattakul used it at least once.
During the debate, many Democratssaid Somsak had no right to bang the gavel. "Somsak is 'Fake Gavel Master' and the opposition cannot trust him to chair after this," a Democrat said.