Solution sought to House speaker spat
Efforts are being made to defuse tensions between the Move Forward Party (MFP) and the Pheu Thai Party over who should get the role of House speaker.
MFP leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat on Friday said that the MFP and its seven prospective coalition partners must hold talks to thrash out the issue.
He added that the MFP’s allies must stick together and go ahead with the formation of a government.
Move Forward, and its seven allies — the Pheu Thai, Prachachart, Thai Sang Thai, Seri Ruam Thai, Fair, Palang Sangkhom Mai and Pheu Thai Ruam Phalang parties — signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday agreeing the policies of the government they plan to form together.
Mr Pita was non-committal on Friday over whether the House speaker should be an MFP-chosen candidate, saying that negotiators must discuss the matter first.
Mr Pita also said he was confident that Pheu Thai would not pull out of the coalition over the issue.
“I believe the MFP and Pheu Thai can reach an understanding. I am not concerned that Pheu Thai will pull out of the coalition. I am sure there will be a solution.
“I don’t think there will be a free vote on who will become the House speaker,” Mr Pita said.
“People have pinned their hopes on coalition partners forming a government. We need to talk through the matter. There are still several challenges lying ahead,” he said.
He went on to say that after the Election Commission officially endorses all winning election candidates, negotiators will continue to meet for talks to ensure a smooth transition of power so the new government can get down to work immediately.
“I am not concerned that Pheu Thai will pull out of the coalition. I am sure there will be a solution”, Pita Limjaroenrat, MFP leader and prime ministerial candidate.
“Differing opinions among coalition partners over the House speaker post during the past few days are a trivial matter compared to the task entrusted to us by people,” Mr Pita said.
“Coalition partners must hold hands firmly together and steer the country towards democracy. From now on, all parties should work on fine-tuning their policies so we can succeed in forming a government,” he said.
The House speaker is one of the most important roles in politics as it involves overseeing House meetings and the agenda.
If the MFP wants to push its legislative initiatives and fulfil its campaign promises, it needs to take control of the post, according to sources.
Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai said that Pheu Thai’s negotiators had asked that the House speaker role be filled by Pheu Thai because the MFP already wants the post of prime minister.
“The MFP’s negotiators said they would consider the matter and give a reply. We have been waiting until now, and they don’t get back to us yet.
Asked about a proposal that Prachachart leader Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, a former House speaker, take up the role again as a solution to the conflict, Mr Phumtham insisted that the issue can only be settled privately by the two parties themselves.
“Speaking out in public will only cause more problems,” Mr Phumtham said.
Mr Wan said on Friday that he agreed that the two parties should reach an agreement over the matter to avoid any conflict that could arise during a vote in parliament.
“The House speaker will be responsible for coordinating with political parties, chairing meetings and representing the country. Anyone who takes the role must meet these requirements,” Mr Wan said.
MFP deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakun on Thursday said that the MFP needed to take the House speaker post so it could push all 45 bills and other articles of legislature proposed by coalition partners during their campaigns, and pursue an agenda that includes amending the constitution.
Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Chantararuangthong, however, reaffirmed the party’s support for Mr Pita as prime minister, but added that the House speaker role had not been included in the MoU.