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PPRP House vote rebels face censure of their own

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob speaks as Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul looks on during the censure debate in Parliament. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob speaks as Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul looks on during the censure debate in Parliament. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) is considering taking action against a group of six party MPs led by Wathanya Wong-opasee who abstained from voting for Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob at the end of last week’s censure debate, a party source said.

There are fears the snub could affect ties with the Bhumjaithai Party — of which Mr Saksayam is the secretary-general — as Newin Chidchob, Bhumjaithai party’s de facto leader and elder brother of Mr Saksayam, is said to be pressuring the PPRP to take action.

The PPRP’s executive board is expected to address the matter on Monday, according to the source. He said when Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon ordered party MPs to give equal number of votes to each minister, he was clear that meant all 10 targets, not just the PPRP ministers.

Key PPRP figures are said to have discussed the matter and agreed that Ms Wathanya, who is a party-list MP and the group leader, should consider resigning from the party as the group will likely now be shunned from activities of any note, including serving on House committees, said the source.

The Democrat Party, meanwhile, will ask its three MPs who abstained from voting for Commerce Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, also Democrat leader, to explain themselves, said party spokesman Ramet Rattanachaweng. The MPs are Panit Wikitset, Apichai Techa-ubon, and Anwar Salae who cast a vote of confidence for the other ministers but abstained from voting for their own leader.

Mr Ramet said the party secretary-general has been asked to gather information about the matter, which will be reviewed by the party’s executive board. However, the Democrat spokesman declined to say whether the issue was an indication of internal conflict.

Pheu Thai deputy leader Yuttapong Charasathien will on Monday ask the anti-graft agency to investigate Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan for an alleged conflict of interest over the appointment of his close aide as chief of Office of Welfare Promotion Commission for Teachers and Educational Personnel.

The censure debate against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and nine cabinet ministers concluded with a vote on Saturday. Yutthaporn Issarachai, a political scientist at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said the opposition did a better job than in the previous no-confidence debate. He said a cabinet shake-up may take place in July or August to mark the government’s two years in office and the cabinet ministers’ performance in the debate is likely to be taken into consideration.

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