Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha remained in high spirits despite receiving the second-fewest votes of confidence and the most no-confidence votes among six targets when MPs cast their votes on Saturday.
Gen Chan-o-cha along with five of his cabinet ministers comfortably won a vote of confidence from the House with no surprises in the wake of rumours about a plot by some key figures in the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) to unseat him in the no-confidence vote.
However, the premier secured 264 votes of confidence against 208 votes of no confidence with three abstentions — the second-fewest votes of confidence after Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin of the PPRP, who bagged 263-201 with 10 abstentions.
The 208 no-confidence votes he received was also the most of all six on the list.
Emerging from the vote, Gen Chan-o-cha said he was contented with the outcome and would continue working. He also thanked the MPs for their support.
“My fist is big, so is my heart,” he said as he pounded his chest twice with a fist.
“My morale is also high.”
Asked if he would spend more time with PPRP MPs and coalition partners, Gen Chan-o-cha said everyone was welcome to talk to him about matters beneficial to the public.
In the midst of the four-day censure debate, there were reports about the move to topple him by some PPRP heavyweights and a number of renegade government MPs.
On the eve of the vote, Gen Chan-o-cha was said to have seen off the threat.
The prime minister also shrugged off observations about the number of votes he received from the MPs, saying he did not focus on the details.
“Did I survive the censure motion? If I did, it is done and over with,” he said.
In previous censure debates, Gen Chan-o-cha sailed through with the most votes of confidence, with 274, both in February last year and February this year.
Coalition MPs who cast a vote of no confidence for the prime minister were Democrat MP for Pattani Anwar Salae, Forest Conservation Party leader Damrong Pidech, Thai Rak Tham Party MP Peerawit Ruangluedolapak, New Democracy Party (NDP) leader and list-MP Suratin Picharn and New Economic Party list-MP Niyom Wiwatthanaditkul.
Democrat list-MP Panich Vikitsreth broke ranks and abstained from voting.
Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on of the Democrat Party won the most votes of confidence with 270-199 with eight abstentions while Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, the new digital economy and society minister from the PPRP, received 267-202 with nine abstentions.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul received 269-196 with 11 abstentions. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob got 269-195 votes with 10 abstentions. Both were from the Bhumjaithai Party.
Mr Charnvirakul thanked the MPs for their support while declining to discuss a possible cabinet reshuffle. He said the cabinet shake-up was the prime minister’s job.
Mr Sri-on said the outcome reflected unity in the coalition government and for the government as a whole.
He added that two Democrat MPs who failed to toe the party line were instructed to submit an explanation.
Meanwhile, seven Pheu Thai MPs broke ranks with the party in the vote by abstaining.
The Move Forward Party also saw six renegade MPs who voted against the party stance with Kharom Polpornklang casting a vote of confidence for Gen Chan-o-cha and the five cabinet ministers.