House Speaker warned of legal action if he enforces new House committee rule

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai was today warned that he might face a legal action for interference in the duties of House standing committees over his recent enforcement of a new rule governing chairmen of the various committees.

The new rule requires all House committees to report their dealings to the House speaker.

Mr. Chirayu Huangsap, a Pheu Thai MP and chairman of the House standing committee on the affairs of independent organizations, state enterprises and public organizations, today questioned the House speaker's authority to regulate the performance of the House committee chairmen, claiming that they are answerable to the House of Representatives, not to the House speaker.

The opposition MP argued that Mr Chuan's introduction of the new rule could be construed as interference in the affairs of the House committees, adding that the House speaker's job is to oversee parliament's officials and to make sure that order is maintained during House meetings.

I am not a subordinate of the House speaker, said Chirayu, as he maintained that the House committee chairmen are empowered to invite any individuals to be questioned or to give information to the committees in the course of the performance of their duties.

He added that he would defy Mr Chuan's order for all House committee chairmen to report to him about issues they have been handling, which is intended to prevent duplication of work among the committees.

Chirayu said he would consult the opposition whips and committee chairmen about taking Mr. Chuan to court if he insists on enforcing the new rule.

Mr. Chuan, meanwhile, said that the rule was incorporated in the regulations for parliamentary meetings and it was proposed to him by the secretary-general of the House to be in line with the regulations.

He maintained that the new rule had nothing to do with the House standing committee on corruption, chaired by Pol Gen Seripisut Temiyavet, which has repeatedly demanded Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to be questioned over the alleged incomplete recital of a vow during the swearing-in ceremony.

Chuan said he didn't doubt the authority of the committee chairman to invite people to be questioned or to testify, but noted that the committees should treat them with respect because they are not defendants, adding that most committee chairmen do not have problem with the new rule.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)