PM gives 1st policy statement before elected lawmakers

0
631
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha smiles during a parliamentary session in Bangkok, Thursday, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha smiles during a parliamentary session in Bangkok, Thursday, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Bangkok (AP) —Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gave his first policy statement in the face of genuine parliamentary scrutiny Thursday after five years as an unchallenged military leader.

He read out a 34-page statement to lawmakers about how his government would handle issues such as the economy, education, labor, and the fight against drugs and corruption.

“We must move our country forward though progress, stability, discipline in Thai society, unity and generosity,” Prayuth told Thursday’s parliament session. “The quality of Thai people’s lives must improve and we must be ready for life in the 21st century.”

Prayuth raised his voice on several occasions as he addressed Thursday’s parliament session which prompted opposition lawmakers to ask him to soften his tone. But the former army commander made a noticeable effort to keep his cool and humor intact, despite repeated interruptions and strong criticism from the opposition.

“I have no confidence that the government will utilize the policies presented today to fix the country’s problems,” said Sompong Amornvivat, leader of the opposition Pheu Thai party.

“The lack of trust for the leadership of the prime minister and the economic team that features the same faces, who had failed over the past five years will lead the country to disaster, dark times, and bring danger to the people,” Sompong said.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary general of the opposition Future Forward party, said Thursday’s policy statement was worse than the one issued under the previous military government and much worse than ones issued by other former democratic governments.

He said the policy statement was full of promises but lacked methodology and included populist and conflicting policies. He said it also failed to include policies that were promised during the election campaign of the pro-army party that nominated Prayuth, such as a minimum wage guarantee.

Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, leader of the opposition Prachachart party, said he doesn’t trust Prayuth to restore democracy and recalled the events leading up to the coup.

“How can someone who led a coup say that he will adhere to democratic principles?” Wan asked the parliament session.