Parliament president Chuan Leekpai informed the House last week that more than 30 MPs from various parties had resigned from the House of Representatives.
Most of the MPs are expected to join the Bhumjaithai Party, whose leader Anutin Charnvirakul emerged as the most favoured PM candidate in a recent opinion poll conducted by Super Poll.
Bhumjaithai on Friday introduced 34 former MPs who had applied for membership and who confirmed their intention to contest the next polls under the party’s banner.
Of them, 11 ex-MPs are from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).
Political analysts have mixed opinions over the consequences of the move. Some say the mass resignation of the MPs will affect the work of the Lower House and could bring about a House dissolution but some disagreed, saying it will not affect how the House works.
With the MPs’ resignations, the House is left with 442MPs, with a quorum to be met at meetings requiring a vote of at least 236 MPs.
It is not just these 34 MPs; many more MPs are expected to quit the House to move to other parties in the near future.
The resignation of those MPs reflects one harsh reality: Thai politics has never been reformed despite government promises to set political reform as a national agenda item over the past eight years.
Those lawmakers quit the House during the opening session of parliament despite the fact they have until Feb 7 to move to another party.
They opted to abandon their duties out of self-interest, in spite of the fact that they represent people’s concerns and interests.
Voters have expectations and preferences about their political representation as well as their MPs’ behaviour.
“Political siphoning” is the root problem of Thai politics and it has never been solved. Siphoning of MPs happens every time before an election.
In the past, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra was accused of enticing politicians from other parties into his Thai Rak Thai Party. The end result was an absolute majority in parliament after winning the election of 2005.
In 2018, the PPRP which was set up to back Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister was accused of siphoning ex-members of parliament from various parties into its party to gain electoral power.
History is repeating itself. As long as there are only politicians within the power structure and the voice of the people remains too weak to counter those in this dirty game, things will never change. These greedy politicians are damaging real democracy in Thailand.
Thai politics now looks like a large auction house in which politicians offer themselves for auction. They seem ready to move to anyone who offers higher prices and leave the people’s interests and their ideology behind.
All MPs must stick to their parliamentary responsibilities. It is the responsibility of all parties and MPs to fulfil their duties of representing the people’s voice in parliament.
After Gen Prayut staged the 2014 coup, “political reform” was pledged to promote morality, ethics and good governance. But the current situation shows the promise was never kept.
The politics of Thailand needs serious reform to get more people involved and ensure transparency and fairness.