'Political games' blocking people's right to clean air, say Democrats

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): With most of Thailand covered in a fog of fine dust nowadays, key Democrat figures say political games are delaying the deliberation of its bill on clean air.

Watanya “Madam Dear” Bunnag (pic), who oversees the party’s working group on political innovation, blamed the delay on the frequent collapse of Parliament meetings due to a lack of quorum.

“The frequent collapses are obviously caused by politicians playing games. The Clean Air Bill is still stuck in Parliament, waiting to be tabled,” she said.

Watanya severed ties with the ruling Palang Pracharath Party on Aug 16 after the vote on calculating the number of party-list MPs was blocked by it. She joined the Democrat Party a month later.

On Saturday, the Democrat politician reiterated that everybody in the country has the basic right to clean air.

“The PM2.5 toxic dust is even more dangerous than a virus and has long-term impacts on your health.”

She was referring to the fine particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, which can be hazardous to people with lung and respiratory problems.

Many areas of Thailand, particularly Bangkok, have been shrouded by unhealthy levels of fine dust in recent weeks.

Watanya said many political parties and the civic sector have been supporting the Democrat Party’s Clean Air Bill.

“I call on the government and those responsible for this delay to face up to the suffering of the people,” she said.

Watanya also noted that politicians appeared to be paying more attention to campaigning ahead of the next general elections.

She made these comments while visiting residents in Bangkok’s Bang Kho Laem district along with other key Democrats.

Meanwhile, former Democrat governor candidate Suchatvee Suwansawat, who joined Watanya during the visit, said on Saturday that PM2.5 levels in Bangkok were alarming.

“Bangkok residents should not consider this normal. These levels are among the highest in the world and this toxic dust is harmful to your health,” Suchatvee said.

PM2.5 readings exceeded 100 micrograms per cubic metre of air (μg/m³) in many parts of Bangkok on Saturday, well above the government’s safe limit of 50 μg/m³. The safe level set by the World Health Organisation is 12 μg/m³ or lower.

Suchatvee, a former university rector, said that one of the Democrat Party’s policy platforms is restoring Bangkok’s environment. He explained that the Clean Air Bill was aimed at “truly changing the lives of Bangkok residents” by putting strict controls on vehicles entering the city while preventing “irresponsible construction” to curb PM2.5 dust.

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Thailand , Bangkok , air


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