But beginning next month, about 3,000 former MPs and senators, both elected and non-elected, will be entitled to a life-long 15,000 baht monthly living allowance, thanks to our generous parliament.
To be eligible, these ex-lawmakers will have to register with the parliament first. So far, more than 300 of them have already done so, said a smiling Democrat MP Boonyod Sukthinthai, spokesman of the House parliamentary affairs committee, last week.
According to Mr Boonyod, the pension will be paid from the parliament’s Living Allowance Fee Fund, which comes from two sources: the government’s contribution, or taxpayers’ money to be accurate, and contributions by current lawmakers – 500 baht a month deducted from their salaries, to increase to 3,000 baht starting this October.
All former lawmakers, both elected and appointed, and no matter how long or short the time they served in the parliament, including those banished from politics for five years by the Constitution Court, are entitled to this handout -- just so long as they register with the parliament.
This 15,000 baht a month gratuity is too much to swallow and totally unjustified, given the poor performance of most of them. How many of them actually did their job properly, and not just raising their hands when told to and never speaking a word in the parliament, or dozing off most of the time, or looking at pictures on their phones?
And even those who did their job well, the 15,000 baht a month is unjustified because most of them can afford to live a more comfortable life than most of us, the salary men and women, without any need of an allowance from the government or the parliament.
Have you ever seen a poor MP or senator? Their mandatory assets declarations should provide a clue to their financial standing.
I just do not see any moral or economic justification for helping these former lawmakers, who were given privileged treatment while they were still in "active" service. For instance, they all flew free on Thai Airways' domestic flights, no matter the reason for the trip. And how many ever paid for an international flight?
Some might argue that they have done good service for the country, and we should feel grateful to them. But I doubt many of us would buy this argument.
While these former MPs and senators will be receiving a generous allowance, the ordinary retiring office workers who have paid taxes throughout their working life will be paid a 600 baht a month "living allowance" pension. Are these people not as worthy as the former lawmakers?
Strangely enough - or maybe not - there was no debate in the parliament about this allowance issue – not even a word of objection from the opposition parties. This was in sharp contrast to the opposition Democrats’ recent exposure of extravagant spending by the parliament - such as the purchase of digital clocks at 70,000 baht apiece, and fancy sets of tables.
The silence was deafening. We all know why!