PM requires joint Parliament sitting to vet NASA request


BANGKOK, June 29 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Friday that a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament will deliberate the US space agency’s request to use U-Tapao naval airbase for a regional climate study project even after NASA has already cancelled the project.

The premier explained that the mechanism of parliamentary review is needed to scrutinise it as a matter of national interest.

Ms Yingluck made her statement after the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) called off its airborne science mission planned for Southeast Asia this year citing an “absence of necessary approvals by regional authorities in the timeframe necessary to support the mission.”

The US space agency earlier set a deadline for the Thai Cabinet to decide whether to grant permission by June 26, but the cabinet referred the matter to parliament when it reconvenes in ordinary session in August following criticism from the opposition Democrat party and others.

The premier said that once the joint sitting concluded the matter, it would not be necessary to bring it up again once the US space agency decides to continue the project next year.

She stated that parliament is the appropriate mechanism to solve the problem and that she will not hit back (at the opposition Democrat party’s allegation about the government’s mismanagement that led to NASA cancellation). Instead, Ms Yingluck said she wanted all parties to work together on a transparent basis.