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The research, entitled “Roles and Communications During Parliamentary Sessions of Women Members of Parliament During B.E.2554-2556”, has two objectives; (1) To study the political contexts which contributed to the roles and communications during parliamentary sessions of Thai women members of parliament (MPs) during B.E.2554-2556; and (2) To study the roles and communications during parliamentary sessions of Thai women members of parliament (MPs) during B.E.2554-2556.
This is a qualitative research under the political communication framework of Brian McNair and James N. Danzinger’s concepts concerning the roles and responsibilities of political actors. The research techniques employed were documentary research of 148 official records of parliamentary debates during the 24th House of Representatives parliamentary sessions as well as in-depth interviews.
The research findings of this study are as follows:
First, it was found that the controversial Amnesty Bill B.E.2556, proposed by the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand’s first female prime minister, was alleged to have created the unprecedentedly chaotic atmosphere and projected the worst image in the history of the House of Representatives. The proposed bill prompted commotion in parliament , followed by a stern protest from opposition Democrat MPs, and an attempt by a female Democrat MP to remove the chair of the House Speaker. Outside of the Parliament building, fierce protests to the proposed bill were organized resulting in blockades of government offices and public chaos. Despite the dissolution of Parliament by the Yingluck’s government, the critical political situation remained uncontrollable; the military was then prompted to stage a coup d’etat on 22 May B.E.2557.
The second finding, their roles and communications were in line with the political communication model of Brian McNair; these women MPs did play a significant role in parliamentary deliberations and manage to have caught media attention and able to communicate with the public through a variety of media channels, namely, newspaper, TV, radio, magazines as well as social media. With respect to James N. Danzinger’s concepts concerning the roles and responsibilities of political actors, it was found that although their roles in legislation were not so outstanding as their male counterparts due to their much smaller numbers; they have, however, competitively performed all major legislative duties, namely introducing 12 out of 48 legislative bills, asking 83 out of 352 parliamentary questions, monitoring and scrutinizing government’s performances and proposing general motions as well as 9 motions of no confidence.
The above research findings can be synthesized as follows
- The roles and communications during parliamentary sessions of Thai women MPs did portray both positive and negative images of the House of Representatives as a whole; it is recommended that negative images be avoided.
- Thai women MPs are yet to fully perform their roles as experts in raising matters of public importance.
- Being women is no obstacle to perform duties as members of parliament; in some circumstances, it gives them an edge over their male counterparts.
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