Chuan defends purchase of new official B7.5m car

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Parliament Speaker Chuan Leekpai supports the planned purchase of a new official 7.5 million baht car, not for himself but for the post he occupies. (File photo from Bangkok Post)

Parliament Speaker Chuan Leekpai on Monday defended the planned purchase of an official 7.5 million baht car for his use, saying it was not for him personally but for the person in the post.

Asked by reporters, he explained that it was time to replace the official car now that MPs had been elected and the House of Representatives had approved the national budget, which included an allowance to purchase the vehicle.

The absence of MPs under the previous government made the purchase impossible and the official car of the Speaker of Parliament was now old and in need of replacement, he said.

Mr. Chuan, who is also the Speaker of the House, said he personally believed that a new vehicle was unnecessary because he attached importance to austerity. However, his successor would likely benefit from the new official car as well, as he was unsure how long he would stay in the job.

“It’s not about approving a budget for me. It’s for the occupant of the post,” Chuan said.

House Secretary General Sorasak Pienvej insisted that the budget allocation was in line with spending regulations.

Mr. Sorasak was responding to questions from members of the parliamentary sub-committee responsible for examining the budget bill.

Subcommittee spokesman Yutthapong Charasathien said members asked Sorasak to clarify whether Mr. Chuan, who is known to be frugal, approved the proposed purchase.

Mr. Sorasak said the budget was not requested by Mr. Chuan. It was fixed as a matter of protocol, since a speaker of parliament, as head of the legislative branch, was entitled to an official car worth 7.5 million baht.

Official cars in the same price range have been awarded to the prime minister, who heads the executive branch, and the president of the Supreme Court, head of justice, Sorasak said.

Mr. Chuan had approved the purchase, although he preferred a cheaper car and the excess funds returned to national coffers, he said.

Mr. Chuan has yet to decide which official car brand he will opt for. At present, he commutes either in his own car or in the official rescue vehicle, according to the secretary general of the House.

The official car of the Speaker of Parliament is over eight years old and should have been taken out of service two years ago according to regulations.

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