June 23, 2023
BANGKOK – Seree Ruam Thai Party leader Sereepisuth Temeeyaves on Thursday expressed confidence that the Move Forward and Pheu Thai parties will reach an agreement on who the next House speaker will be.
“I believe Pheu Thai and Move Forward can end the fight for the House speaker post and reach an agreement,” Sereepisuth told reporters after he reported for work at the House of Representatives.
“Once an agreement is reached, they must keep their word. To serve the people, one cannot change words back and forth,” he added.
Sereepisuth warned that if the two largest partners of the coalition continued to fight for the post, they might provide an opportunity for “the dictatorial side” to return to power.
Seri Ruam Thai won only one party-list House seat, held by the party leader. The party has agreed to join the Move Forward-led eight-party coalition.
When asked which party Seri Ruam Thai would support if Move Forward and Pheu Thai failed to resolve their dispute over the House speaker post, Sereepisuth said:
“I can’t say for now because by the time there is a vote, the two parties will already have reached an agreement. Once an agreement is reached, they must keep their word or damage will happen.”
The House is expected to elect the speaker and two deputies about 10 days after the 500 newly-elected MPs are sworn in early next month.
The Move Forward and Pheu Thai parties have 151 and 141 MPs, respectively. They have been embroiled in a fight for the post of House speaker since shortly after they announced the formation of their coalition.
Move Forward has insisted that it must control the House speaker post to enact its policies, but Pheu Thai has argued that since the Move Forward will control the executive branch, it should leave the top legislative post to its key coalition partner.
Reports say that Palang Pracharath MP Thamanat Prompao will nominate Pheu Thai party-list MP Suchart Tancharoen to contest for the post of House speaker in a move to drive a wedge between the two largest coalition partners.
Asked to comment on the report, Sereepisuth said he could not speak on behalf of the Palang Pracharath Party.
Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai said over the weekend that the party with the most MPs must be given the post of House speaker. He was referring to the Move Forward but also said the official number of MPs had yet to be announced by the Election Commission.
Phumtham said Pheu Thai would seek two deputy House speaker posts for its MPs, and one of them would be Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Chanruanthong.
The Election Commission confirmed the number of MPs for each party on Monday.
On Wednesday, Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew told reporters that more than 90% of Pheu Thai MPs want their party to take the top legislative post.
They argued at a meeting that day that Pheu Thai has only 10 fewer MPs than Move Forward.
Suchart did not attend the meeting.
Reports have said Move Forward is considering four candidates for the House speaker’s post: Padipat Suntiphada, 42, Thiratchai Phanthumas, 49, Nattawut Buaprathum, 46, and Parit Wacharasindhu, 30.
Sources from Move Forward say Padipat is the most appropriate candidate for the post.
Sereepisuth is not the only leader of a coalition partner to call for Move Forward and Pheu Thai to end their dispute. Prachachart leader Wan Muhamad Noor Matha and Thai Sang Thai leader Khun Ying Sudarat Keyuraphan also called on the two parties to move on.
They warned that if the dispute is decided by a free vote in the House without the coalition taking the side of a candidate, it could bring their attempt to form the next government to a quick end.