AFP’s headline “Thai opposition MPs in parliament brawl with police”. Key excerpt:
Thailand’s parliament briefly descended into chaos Tuesday as opposition lawmakers brawled with police during a debate on controversial proposals to amend the constitution.
Scuffles broke out after 57 members of the opposition Democrat party stood up simultaneously to voice their objections to the plans and refused to be silenced by the Speaker.
Television images showed politicians surrounded by police and grappling with them as they were marched towards the exit of the chamber, while screams were heard in the background.
BP: If this sounds like deja vu, well it is as blogged about something similar back in June 2012.
Videos of part of the scuffle is below:
BP: Key image is below:
BP: The Bangkok Post‘s caption for a photo of the same event reads “an angry Democrat MP grabs the throat of a parliamentary police officer called in to restore order on the opposition benches of the Democrat Party”.
The Bangkok Post:
Tensions brewed when Mr Somsak took over as chairman of the meeting and evicted some Democrat Party MPs out of the chamber for booing Mr Samart.
After senators and MPs spent two hours discussing possible changes to the controversial amendment plans, Mr Somsak told them he would allow one more MP and another senator to debate on the issue before calling a vote, citing time restraints.
However, opposition MPs said the house speaker should allocate time to all 57 parliamentarians, mostly Democrat MPs and appointed senators, who wanted to propose changes to the amendment plans, and criticised him for limiting the rights of individual parliamentarians.
BP: The problem for the Democrats is a vote was called and they lost 339 to 15 (did the Democrats not vote?). One Democrat MP, Thepthai, just recently tweeted that in the end civil disobedience had to be used with the House Speaker who abused his power (ถึงที่สุดแล้ว ก็ต้องใช้วิธีการ อารยะขัดขืน กับประธานรัฐสภา ที่ลุแก่อำนาจ).
However, it is not unusual for the opposition to be upset at rulings of the Speaker and for a vote to be called. The Nation in February 11, 2011 on Puea Thai unhappiness over the ruling of the Speaker in the previous parliament:
Parliament convened on Friday for the roll-call vote lasting more than three hours to approve the final reading of two draft bills for charter amendments.
Before the vote, more than 100 opposition lawmakers walked out in protest for what they saw as unfair ruling by House speaker Chai Chidchob….
In the consultation session ahead of the vote, Pheu Thai MPs urged Chai to postpone the third and final reading of draft amendments.
The motion was filed and defeated during the second reading last month but the main opposition party wanted to revive the debate on pertinent issues. The oppostion MPs argued for suspending the final vote and seeking the Constitution Court review on the draft. They said the draft might be unconsitutional since it failed to spell out the intent and justificaion for proposing the amendments.
Chai overruled the opposition arguments and proceeded with the vote. The opposition lawmakers have threatened to block the promulgation of the amendments by petitioning for a judicial review.
BP: BP is unsure how to quantify exactly how long a debate should last – although would prefer a longer period of time for the debate, but there are always going to be limits. Ignoring the screams of dictatorship and abuse of power this time around is it that different from 2011? If you going to break the rules, you will have to accept being ejected out of the chamber….
h/t to Kaewmala for the Thepthai tweet (have used her translation)