Govt looks to its record to save it from censure
As the political situation heats up again with the Parliament session opening this week, the Yingluck Shinawatra government has three major tasks to deal with.First, the House of Representatives debate on the second and third readings of the 2013 budget bill, scheduled for August 15-17. Second, the government will present its one-year performance record to Parliament. The address is expected to take place in the last week of this month.
And third, a censure debate is expected to be filed by the opposition Democrat Party at the end of August or in early September.
Apart from targeting Yingluck's administration, the opposition party will try to take aim at the prime minister's brother Thaksin in the no-confidence motion.
Although the opposition did not make clear which topics or ministers would be grilled, they have been able to shake the government already.
The opposition party has a reputation for keen rhetoric and greater experience in censure debate, and perhaps this is what rouses concern among the government members.
The only goal for the fugitive ex-prime minister for now is that his sister's government stays until the end of its term.
To achieve that ambition, the government has to improve its performance. But according to surveys, the public has ambivalent feelings about its record so far.
By contrast, the government itself considers that several of its policies have worked well. For example, the drug crackdown, increasing the minimum wage and other salaries, and price management of agricultural crops.
"Even though we took a long time to handle the flood crisis last year, we still have a performance record," said a minister who asked not to be named.
This was in accordance with the Abac poll last Sunday. Fifty-two per cent of respondents believed it was not appropriate to hold a censure debate now because the government was still performing well. A debate would bring about only political turmoil and hurt Parliament, leading Thais to have a more negative attitude towards politics.
The government, which will complete a year in office on August 23, hopes the one-year statement will help boost its popularity.
Apart from addressing its performance before Parliament, it will also be speaking to the public. It is not certain yet just what the statement's formula will be. Some have suggested the prime minister should hold the event at Government House or, if she wants to avoid questions from media, she should speak through her weekly television programme.
The PM's secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva is in charge of handling the content and presentation of the two events and their preparation is complete.
An organiser has been hired to take care of the presentation, a Pheu Thai key man said.
However, the government has not set a date to talk to the public, wanting to know the exact time of the censure debate first.
"We want to show our performance to the public near the [time for] the opposition's debate so we can use our performance to distract [attention from the] debate," the source said.
PM's Office Minister Nivatthamrong Boonsongpaisal said the censure debate would provide a chance for the government to promote its record to the public.
It seems that Yingluck is likely to escape the censure debate by relying on her majority support in the House as well as the Pheu Thai MPs who will protect her from attack.
And one thing is certain: Thaksin will never let his sister be cornered. As for the Democrats, if they fail to score a knockout punch on the PM, they could help to boost her strength and popularity.