Debate like a lion, vote like a mouse, packing heat like a gangsta’

“Debate like a lion, vote like a mouse.”

The phrase hit social media as last night (2 June), the parliament voted 268 to 201 in favor of the first reading of the 3.1 trillion baht budget bill for the 2022 fiscal year starting 1 October.

During the two-day debate, coalition partners Bhumjaitai and Democrat went at the government as if they were representing the people’s interests.

The highlight was Bhumjaitai’s Chada Thaised, who criticized the reduced budget for the Health Ministry headed by his boss, Anutin Charnvirakul. He said in parliament:

“The Budget Department thinks General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the prime minister, no longer loves Mr. Anutin. That’s why the reduced budget. I would like to say, boss krub, if they don’t love [us], then let’s go home. With respect.”

When it was time to vote, Bhumjaitai didn’t go home but instead chose to stay in the hot-and-cold embrace of General Prayut.

Often, we read names and words of a politician, only to go, “WTF.” But it doesn’t take much digging to understand their motivations. In a 28 May 2017 report, The Nation stated that Chada was on the police list of “mafia-style” figures. He was arrested on weapon charges.

But of course, in a country like our beloved Thailand, what’s the point of being an alleged “mafia-style” politician if two years later you don’t become an MP. And what can the people expect from such a figure?

Take a look at Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Thammanat Prompow. Following the 2014 military coup, he was on General Prayut’s list of “influential figures” that needed to “have a chat with.” Five years later, he became a Palang Pracharat MP and government minister. Two years after that, he became the second most powerful man in the government party, General Prawit Wongsuwan’s trusted right-hand man. We don’t even need to mention the “fleur” thing.

Then two days ago, upon entering parliament, the Deputy Minister’s entourage, which included two police officers/bodyguards, got into an argument with parliament police. Only one bodyguard is allowed in parliament, and no guns are allowed. That’s the rule.

Later on that day, Thammnat summoned the parliament police “for a chat” and, according to reports, to have the parliament police apologize by kowtowing at his feet. After news broke, Thammanat said his entourage did not carry any gun, and the summoning was just “to have a chat” and form “understanding.” There was no kowtowing at anyone’s feet.

So now, everything is “sabaai sabaai, mai pen rai.”

Yes, folks, it was just another week of parliament, which is best capped off by another delicious quote from General Prayut:

“I am not a dictator. I work with politicians, ministers, and MPs. I’ve changed a lot, but my voice is still loud. It’s because sometimes [emotions] are bottled up, so I want to apologize. I have no intentions against anyone. Everyone, please follow the plan, it will be fine. If this year isn’t good, then hopefully, the next year will be. If that isn’t good, then we still continue. That’s all there is to it. Do the best. Some people say this is not the best. Then I don’t know how to do more. Day and night, I’m not happy. As long as the Thai people are not happy, I’m not happy. I”m not blackhearted. I
don’t want any benefits. This is me.”

That’s pretty much sums up our beloved kingdom. It ain’t good, but let’s do the same. Promised to return happiness, seven years later, admitted no one is happy.

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