BANGKOK – A group of parliamentary journalists have withheld this year’s “MP of Honour” award due to a lack of suitable candidates.
They also said they had noted many examples of unprofessional conduct in the House.
The journalists, who come from various media outlets and cover the parliament beat, traditionally review MPs’ performance at the end of each year. The tradition includes naming an MP of honour, but this year they said they had found no one worthy of the title.
Although many House members and senators had highlighted problems affecting the public, especially relating to flood prevention, the journalists considered this to be part of their basic duties and not worthy of special recognition.
The reporters said they did not see any examples of an MP going above and beyond their duty in 2012.
But they did say they had witnessed plenty of acts which should detract from MPs’ honour. In the Lower House, MPs from the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the core opposition Democrat Party alike were occupied throughout most of the year with childish personal attacks, they said.
MPs from both parties have this year requested House committees under their control to investigate political opponents. They also accused their rivals of dereliction of duty, tactics which the parliamentary reporters found counter-productive.
The journalists found House members too focused on spending state funds for the benefit of themselves and their parties.
They also used public money to fund overseas trips, which the reporters believed were holidays rather than study trips.
In the Upper House, senators descended into fierce partisanship rather than focusing on their principal roles of scrutinising bills and objectively examining the performance of the government, they said.
A group of 40 anti-government senators seemed bent on attacking government projects instead of examining them impartially, the reporters said. This included the senators’ request for the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the royal decree for flood-rehabilitation loans was constitutional, and their negative responses to government attempts to amend the charter and rice-pledging scheme.
The parliamentary reporters have also noticed pro-government senators openly towing the Pheu Thai line, even holding a separate debate on the government’s performance from a similar one staged by anti-government senators.
The reporters questioned the objectivity of Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont. They were also critical of his official overseas trip to Europe, which included attending Premier League football matches in England at the taxpayers’ expense.
Meanwhile, reporters praised Deputy House Speaker Wisut Chainarun for acting impartially and issuing warnings to Pheu Thai MPs who misbehaved during parliamentary sessions.
The journalists said they were disappointed with opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. They said his performance may have been affected by allegations of murder and draft-dodging, and internal party rifts.