PM, 3 ministers, sail through censure debate


BANGKOK, Nov 28 – Thailand’s House of Representatives today upheld Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and three cabinet members after a heated no-confidence debate, which started Sunday and ended late last night, spearheaded by the opposition Democrat Party. 

While the prime minister was sustained, her subordinates received less support from Parliament.

Ms Yingluck received 308 votes in support of her performance, against 159 votes to censure, while her deputy, Chalerm Yubumrung, passed with a vote of 287 to 157, with 25 abstentions and 11 MPs expressed no decision.

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat and Deputy Interior Minister Chat Kuladilok were each given 284 votes of confidence.

ACM Sukumpol received 160 no confidence votes, 25 abstentions and 11 remained silent, while Pol Lt-Gen Chat was given 182 no confidence votes, five abstentions and 10 remained silent.

The Thai Parliament’s electronic voting system has three categories with buttons for ‘Yea’, ‘Nay’ and ‘Abstention’. In practice there is a fourth category in which members of parliament are present in the house but do not press any of the three buttons, and express no verbal statement, sometimes described as ‘silent’ votes.

The constitution stipulates that the opposition needs at least half of the total 500 MPs to unseat a cabinet member. Currently, there are 493 MPs attending the House.

Supachai Jaisamut, deputy secretary general of the opposition Bhumjaithai Party, said the party’s 24 MPs voted in favour of the prime minister as they viewed that the Opposition’s allegations against the premier had no substantial grounds.

The party MPs abstained from voting for deputy prime minister Chalerm and defence minister Sukumpol, Mr Supachai said, adding that the decision was to allow the country to move forward. The MPs however cast no-confidence votes for deputy interior minister Chat believing that the Democrats had strong evidence against the minister.

Mr Supachai stated that the party’s vote should not be interpreted as a desire to join the Pheu Thai-led government.

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont later announced that all four cabinet ministers received sufficient votes of confidence from the Lower House.