The planned international tour by deputy House Speaker, Padipat Santipada, has elicited assurance from House Speaker and Parliament president Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, expressing total transparency concerning the Singaporean visit. Slated for September 21–24, the expedition, helmed by Mr. Padipat and involving several MPs, received Mr. Wan’s nod of approval, following comprehensive legal consultations with parliament.
Instrumental in endorsing disbursement, Mr. Wan stipulates the travel budget adheres strictly to official regulations. Pitched as an opportunity to delve deep into Singapore’s sophisticated parliamentary model besides understanding the city state’s strategy against haze contamination, he believes the expedition would significantly impact House committees grappling similar issues.
The Parliament shoulders the entire tour expense considering the MPs non-affiliated status with any organization or agency sponsoring their trip. Budget availability is no concern, according to Mr. Wan, who anticipates a full report concerning the journey upon the MPs’ homecoming.
However, opposition on the journey’s luxurious pricing was initiated by Pongpol Yodmuangcharoen, deputy spokesman of United Thai Nation Party. Voicing concerns on social media platform, Facebook, Mr. Pongpol deemed the 1.3 million baht expense towards flights and hotel accommodations ‘exorbitantly high’. For instance, the MPs, he noted, intend to lodge in a 12,500-baht per night luxury hotel, while each round-trip airfare, presumably via business class, would cost an MP 51,250 baht.
Justifying his standpoint, Mr. Pongpol accuses the MPs of splurging on the trip saddled with ‘excessive pricetag’ and suggests lower-priced options for hotel accommodations coupled with budget-friendly air tickets would essentially safeguard taxpayers’ hefty investment.
Detailing the tour further, Mr. Padipat revealed the Singaporean sojourn would initially include 12 MPs, incorporating himself and four parliamentary staff. Having invited two MPs from both the Pheu Thai Party and the Bhumjaithai Party, he appreciated the former’s participation despite the absence of the Bhumjaithai MPs, attributing their absence to the fact that the majority of MPs in the expedition hail from the Move Forward Party, just like Mr. Padipat.
He further emphasized the study tour’s necessity, implying Singapore’s wisdom might offer innovative solutions to battle smoke haze pollution. Discussing travel arrangements, Mr. Padipat shared his unsuccessful plea, urging parliamentary officials to consider budget airlines for the two-hour Singaporean flight. The refusal claimed MPs on official tours need to patronize a national airline.
Mr. Padipat dismissed rumors of high lodging costs by clarifying his group’s request for moderately priced accommodations ranging between 7,000 and 8,000 baht a night. However, external conditions dictated fiscal decisions, he confessed.
Promising to scrutinize every expense upon returning, he called on the government to impose stricter rules on study tour budgets that should be universally applicable, and not directed towards MPs only.