New MPs register at Parliament

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BANGKOK, July 14 – Thailand’s new members of parliament on Thursday reported to the House of Representatives registration process at parliament after the Election Commission (EC) officially issued their endorsement status notices.

The EC officially endorsed 358 MP candidates but delayed the endorsement of 142 others, including outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, prime minister-to-be Yingluck Shinawatra and the leaders of the Red Shirt movement.

The first MP who turned up at parliament Thursday morning to register is Komdej Chaisivamongkol, constituency-based MP for Kalasin province.

MPs elected in the July 3 general election will also receive higher salaries at Bt113,560 (US$3,785) per month, a new pay rate, approved earlier, which has just taken effect for the new set of lawmakers.

The atmosphere at parliament was reportedly lively in welcoming the new MPs.

EC Secretary General Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn earlier said that the poll agency will consider  endorsing the remaining MPs next week, with the last batch expected to be announced by July 28.

Under Thai law, the parliamentary session is required to open within 30 days from the election date, and is due on August 1.

The last cabinet meeting under outgoing premier Abhisit on Tuesday agreed in principle on a royal decree to open ordinary session of parliament, but the Secretariat of the Cabinet can only proceed when the poll agency officially endorses at least 95 per cent of the elected MPs or 475 out of 500 persons.

Meanwhile, Ms Yingluck, set to be the next prime minister, on Thursday dismissed rumours that the Pheu Thai No2 party-list candidate, party leader Yongyuth Vichaidit, is on standby to take the premiership in case she is not endorsed by the election agency.

Ms Yingluck urged all parties to wait and see the EC decision, while expressing confidence that the poll agency will carry out its duty fairly.

The youngest sister of ousted prime minister Thaksin said her legal team is now preparing information to defend her in case the EC asks for clarification.

The EC secretary-general earlier said Ms Yingluck’s MP endorsement is delayed due to complaints of the involvement of banned politicians during her election campaign rallies, while Mr Abhisit was faulted for allowing the organisation of a trade fair of low priced consumer goods during advance voting in Samut Prakan province.

The outgoing prime minister on Thursday said that so far the EC has not notified him about the allegation, but he said he stands ready to defend himself against any complaint.

Mr Abhisit argued that the trade fair was organised as concerned state agencies wanted to sell low-priced products to consumers. He said he had already instructed all politicians not to engage in the matter when the cabinet agreed in principle to approve the project.

The Democrat No1 party-list MP said he is confident that he will be able to defend himself before the EC and that he had no intention to breach the law.