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Archive for December 2010

Regional Wikileaks – Media Responses

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Source: FACThai http://bit.ly/elVG4J 31/12/2010

FACTorial: Wikileaks’ Cablegate and Thailand’s monarchy

31-12-10

FACTorial: Wikileaks’ Cablegate and Thailand’s monarchy

http://www.angkor.com/2bangkok/2bangkok/forum/showthread.php?p=28368#post28368

Many of us have been waiting anxiously for the release of US diplomatic cables relating to Thailand. The cables are being released slowly but the first few are out.

A new website, Thaicables http://thaicables.wordpress.com/, is hosting the leaked cables andCablesearch http://cablesearch.org/ provides easy searching as well as organising the cables by location, date, source, tag, etc. Cablesearch also provides free email subscriptions for those who would like to receive newest releases by location.

The cables so far in chronological order:

THAILAND: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES PRIVY COUNCIL CHAIR

18 h ago / leaked 2010-12-15 21:09 · 2010-01-25 07:07:00 from Embassy Bangkok · #10BANGKOK192 · SECRET PP · Original Source

NEXT STEPS ON THE VIKTOR BOUT EXTRADITION CASE IN

Wednesday / leaked 2010-12-07 21:09 · 2009-08-13 09:09:00 from Embassy Bangkok · #09BANGKOK1998 · SECRET OO · Original Source

AMBASSADOR ENGAGES PM ABHISIT AND DEFENSE MINISTER

Wednesday / leaked 2010-12-01 23:11 · 2009-02-13 10:10:00 from Embassy Bangkok · #09BANGKOK385 · SECRET OO · Original Source

PALACE INSIDER TELLS AMBASSADOR OF THE KING’S

Wednesday / leaked 2010-12-14 21:09 · 2008-11-06 07:07:00 from Embassy Bangkok · #08BANGKOK3317 · SECRET//NOFORN OO · Original Source

AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES WITH FORMER PM SAMAK HIS

Wednesday / leaked 2010-12-14 21:09 · 2008-10-01 10:10:00 from Embassy Bangkok · #08BANGKOK2977 · CONFIDENTIAL OO · Original Source

THAILAND: MY MEETING WITH GENERAL SONTHI

Wednesday / leaked 2010-12-14 21:09 · 2006-09-20 12:12:00 from Embassy Bangkok · #06BANGKOK5811 · CONFIDENTIAL OO · Original Source

Readers must remember that lèse majesté repeated, regardless of motivation, is still lèse majesté. The subjects and even the titles of articles simply cannot be redacted sufficiently to protect one from such spurious legal adventures so you’ll have to look for yourself.

Although articles from the wire services have been published here in English. most were quickly removed or blocked by govt. However, I thought it might be useful to compile the Cablegate Thailand reportage for readers here.

December 14, The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/176996

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/172121?INTCMP=SRCH

December 14, Foreign Policy

http://wikileaks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/14/former_thai_prime_minister_says_queen_was_responsible_for_2006_coup

December 15, Agence France-Presse

http://www.bangkokpost.com/print/211410/

December 15, Manager Online

http://www.manager.co.th/Home/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9530000176188

http://www.manager.co.th/Home/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9530000176948

December 15, New Mandala

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2010/12/15/samak-the-queen-and-the-bangkok-post/

December 15, The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/15/wikileaks-thailand-royal-succession-prince

December 16, New Mandala

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2010/12/16/wikileaks-and-crown-prince-vajiralongkorn/

December 16, Asia Sentinel

http://asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2878&Itemid=185

December 16, Council on Foreign Relations

http://blogs.cfr.org/asia/2010/12/16/more-reading-the-wikileaks-cables-thailand’s-monarchy/

December 17, Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6BG1GD20101217

December 17, Sydney Morning Herald

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/fears-for-thai-unity-over-playboy-crown-prince-20101216-18zmz.html

December 17, Bangkok Pundit

http://asiancorrespondent.com/bangkok-pundit-blog/thai-foreign-ministry-we-should-not-give-credence-to-wikileaks

http://asiancorrespondent.com/bangkok-pundit-blog/wikileaks-who-is-the-well-connected-scion-with-close-palace-ties

December 17, New Mandala

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2010/12/17/thai-media-coverage-of-wikileaks/

December 17, NVS Blog of Politico-Economics

http://nvs-stream.com/2010/12/17/thailands-political-instability-connected-to-monarchys-uncertainty/

December 18, World Socialist Website

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/thai-d18.shtml

December 20, Asia Sentinel

http://asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2885&Itemid=185

The publication of these frank cables will undoubtedly have effects on public expression which may have once considered such expression to be lèse majesté. If mainstream media such as Bangkok Post and Manager can print these statements without accusations of lèse majesté, the landscape may be changing.

However, some might argue that even linking to these articles is itself lèse majesté. Lèse majesté accusations, charges and prosecutions keep govt, police and military strong because of the climate of fear.

We should all be proud for WikiLeaks.

Source: ReadWriteWeb http://rww.to/h7bKks 29/12/2010

wikileaks-150x150.pngThe contentious whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks has ruffled so many feathers that it’s been shut down not just in the countries we think of as repressive, but in those we like to think are open. Because of that, mirror sites have proliferated. But accompanying the mirrors are clones. Clone sites reproduce access to some or all of the material available on the home site or serve a similar function as WikiLeaks but independently of that group. All of them add value by focusing on a specific concern or geography.

We’ve put together a far-from-complete list of clones around the world. If you know of more currently-functioning clones, please drop the URL and a brief descriptions in the comments.

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Balkan Leaks: Balkans, site, modeled on WikiLeaks, exists to “promote transparency and fight the nexus of organized crime and political corruption in the Balkan states.”

BrusselsLeaks: Belgium, focused on exposing funky doings behind the scenes of the EU.

Haikuleaks: “Haïkuleaks Cable is poetry 65 haikus in 1830 cables.”

Indoleaks: Indonesia

israeliLeaks: Israel, focused on gathering leaked documentation in and about Israel and surrounding countries.

OpenLeaks: Europe-based, but focus is global; due to open in January with a different approach to the process of leaking.

PinoyLeaks: Philippines, “(T)he mission is specifically focused on exposing corruption only, the scope is limited to the Philippines, and PinoyLeaks works with bloggers instead of traditional media.”

PirateLeaks: Czech Republic, run by the Czech Pirate Party.

Rospil: Russia, documenting corruption in upper echelons of Russian government and economy.

thaicables: Thailand, focused soley on Thailand.

Thaileaks: Thailand (original site banned), “This is not about disrespecting the Thai State or the Royal family. It is about making a statement for the freedom of information.”

Tunileaks: posts and discusses Tunisia-specific cables.

Source: GlobalVoices  http://bit.ly/eebjHY   28/12/2010

Wikileaks, Thaileaks, Indoleaks, Pinoyleaks

There are Wikileaks clones in Southeast Asia: Thaileaks from Thailand, Indoleaks from Indonesia and PinoyLeaks from the Philippines. These websites were established/revived this month to support the work started by Wikileaks and to expose secret government documents in their respective countries.

Thaileaks ‘resurrected’ Wikileaks in Thailand after the latter was blocked by the government

For unknown reasons the Thai Government has closed access to the Wikileaks website. This means that Thai internauts and webizens are not allowed to take part in the current netbased movement of freedom. This is not acceptable, anywhere in the world. Therefore we make all Thai-related content from the Wikileaks website available for direct download.

Please note – This is not about disrespecting the Thai State or the Royal family. It is about making a statement for the freedom of information.

thaicables has published Wikileaks documents related to Thailand

With the release of approximately 3000 cables originating from the US Embassy in Bangkok which have been sent mostly from 2005 until February 2010 it is just a question of time before MICT will block the access to Wikileaks published cables

We do not believe in censorship and think that everyone in Thailand should get access to any information available on the internet, which also includes Wikileaks. This is the reason for this blog.

Indoleaks was launched on December 10 during the Human Rights Day celebration. Its tag line “Sebab informasi adalah hak asasi” translates into “Because information is a human right.”

After two days of operation, Indoleaks reported that more than 100,000 documents have been downloaded already by visitors of the website. It hit a million visits after one week.

So far, it has published government documents about the murder of activist Munir, the Sidoarjo mudflow and a transcribed conversation between Indonesian and U.S. leaders regarding Indonesia’s policy on East Timor before the December 1975 invasion.

Uppercaise blogs about the thrust of Indoleaks

It calls on the Indonesian public to submit original documents without the opinions of the sender, to be published anonymously. It promised not to publish bank account details, medial histories and other personal details.

He also wrote about the website’s flaws

Unfortunately, Indoleaks has a slightly amateurish feel to it, with documents being published at public sites such as Google Docs, and the site owners using a Gmail address, thus raising concerns about the security of the documents published, and the protection afforded to anonymous communications.

For the moment, the site does not seem to use encrypted communications nor does it provide visitors with any advice on Internet anonymity or secure means of protecting their identities when browsing or when submitting documents.

PinoyLeaks will start to publish ‘leaks’ on corruption cases in the Philippines on February 1, 2011.

PinoyLeaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to exposing corruption in the Philippine national and local governments, by means of channelling evidence to the blogosphere. We have a secure and safe system for whistleblowers to submit information anonymously.

PinoyLeaks is similar to Wikileaks, except the mission is specifically focused on exposing corruption only, the scope is limited to the Philippines, and PinoyLeaks works with bloggers instead of traditional media. It is up to the bloggers whether to spread news about a leak.

It clarifies that it has no ties with Wikileaks

We would like to emphasize that while we are riding in Wikileaks’ slipstream, we have no ties, official or unofficial, with Wikileaks.

Please help PinoyLeaks play in a role in transforming the Philippines from a corrupt and impoverished third-world country into a modern nation-state.

Source: Thai Presslog:  http://goo.gl/KXj0x

สิ่งที่สื่อไทยเสนอได้-ไม่มีรายงานข่าวอึกกระทึกคึกโครมระดับโลกในสื่อไทยฉบับเช้าวันนี้ มิหนำซ้ำยังนำเสนอข่าวพาดหัวเกี่ยวกับแชมป์มหาเศรษฐีหุ้นชื่อเสี่ยทองมา ซึ่งในแวดวงหุ้นทั้งไทยและเทศรู้ดีว่า แชมป์ตัวจริงเป็นเสี่ยอีกรายที่สำนักข่าวBloombergเคยนำเสนอว่าเป็นมหาเศรษฐีหุ้นอันดับ1ตัวจริงเสียงจริงมาอย่างแน่นเหนียวนานหลายปี เพียงแต่ว่าสื่อไทยนำเสนอข่าวนี้ไม่ได้ และก็ไม่มีใครกล้าพูดด้วย

โดย ทีมข่าวไทยอีนิวส์
16 ธันวาคม 2553

ประชาไท รายงานข่าวว่า เว็บไซต์การ์เดียนรายงานในเซ็คชั่น ‘You ask, we search’ ซึ่งเปิดให้ผู้อ่านสอบถามประเด็นที่สงสัยและจะมีการค้นหาคำตอบจากวิกิลีกส์ (wikileaks) เว็บไซต์จอมแฉชื่อดัง โดยมีตอนหนึ่งระบุถึงเหตุการณ์รัฐประหารในประเทศไทยเมื่อปี 2549 โดยอ้างอิงถึงเอกสารจากสถานทูตสหรัฐฯที่ระบุเอาไว้ว่า นายสมัคร สุนทรเวช อดีตนายกรัฐมนตรี ได้กล่าวว่าบุคคลระดับสูงของไทยมีความเกี่ยวข้องกับการรัฐประหารที่เกิดขึ้น รวมทั้งยังเกี่ยวพันกับความวุ่นวายอย่างต่อเนื่องโดยผู้ชุมนุมกลุ่มพันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย ซึ่งนำไปสู่การล้มรัฐบาลหลายชุดที่มีความเกี่ยวข้องกับ พ.ต.ท.ทักษิณ ชินวัตร ตั้งแต่ปี 2549 เป็นต้นมา

นอกจากนี้การ์เดียนยังเปิดเผยเอกสารเกี่ยวกับการรัฐประหารอีก 2 ฉบับ ซึ่งเป็นการพูดคุยส่วนตัวของนายราล์ฟ บอยซ์ อดีตเอกอัครราชทูตสหรัฐฯ กับ พล.อ.สนธิ บุญยรัตกลิน หัวหน้าคณะรัฐประหาร ในวันที่ 20 กันยายน 2549 และการสื่อสารระหว่างนายอีริค จีจอห์น เอกอัครราชทูตสหรัฐคนปัจจุบันกับแหล่งข่าวในพระราชสำนักด้วย

ข่าวนี้ถือเป็นข่าวอึกกระทึกคึกโครมระดับโลก แต่น่าประหลาดใจที่ไม่พบรายงานในสื่อกระแสหลักอื่นใด นอกจากในสื่อกระแสหลักภาษาอังกฤษคือBangkok Postฉบับออนไลน์เมื่อวานนี้ และข่าวนี้หายไปในเวลาไม่นานนัก วงการเชื่อว่าBangkok Postหลุดเดี่ยว โดยพลั้งเผลอ แต่ก็ลบทัน

นอกจากนั้นเวบไซต์ผู้จัดการASTVก็นำข่าวนี้ขึ้นรายงานด้วยเช่นกัน โดยอ้างแหล่งข่าวจากAFP และมีรายงานว่าหน้าเวบผู้จัดการหายไปช่วงหนึ่งหลังนำเสนอข่าวนี้ ก่อนจะปรากฎตัวใหม่ โดยข่าวนี้หายไปจากสารบบของเวบแล้ว

ดร.สมศักดิ์ เจียมธีรสกุล นักวิชาการด้านประวัติศาสตร์เขียนลงในเฟซบุ๊คเขาด้วยว่า ยังมีโทรเลขล่าสุด ที่ The Guardian เอามาอภิปรายนี้ (ขณะที่ผมเขียนนี้ ตัวบท โทรเลขจริงๆ ยังไม่ได้มีการตีพิมพ์ มีแต่บทวิเคราะห์-รายงาน) เป็นโทรเลขเมื่อเดือนมกราคมปีนี้เอง ทูตสหรัฐได้รายงานการสนทนากับ เปรม, สิทธิ เศวตศิลา และ อานันท์ ปันยารชุน เกี่ยวกับปัญหาการสืบราชสันตติวงศ์

เรื่อง “ตลก” ที่ไม่ตลก เกี่ยวกับเนื้อหาที่ เปรม อานันท์ สิทธิ พูดกับทูตสหรัฐอยู่ นั่นคือ ถ้าเป็นคนธรรมดาทั่วไป พูดเรื่องแบบนี้ แม้ในที่ “ไพรเวท” ก็ยังเสี่ยง่ต่อการโดนเล่นงานด้วย ม.112 ได้ ผมพูดนี่ ไม่ได้เสนอเลยว่าให้เล่นงาน เปรม อานันท์ สิทธิ ด้วย ม.112 นะครับ ต้องย้ำ ผมไม่เคยยุให้ใช้กฎหมายนี้กับใครเลยทั้งสิ้น แม้แต่…กับกรณีสนธิ ลิ้มทองกุล หรือพวกพันธมิตร พวกจงรักภักดีทั้งหลาย

Written by thaicables

December 31, 2010 at 2:11 am

Posted in General

Thai leaders doubt suitability of prince to become king

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Source: Guardian http://goo.gl/H5uaj  15/12/2010

Thai leaders harbour grave misgivings about the crown prince’s fitness to become king owing to his reputation as a womaniser and links to a fugitive former prime minister, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

Three senior members of Thailand‘s powerful privy council, a group of advisers appointed by the king, make clear their preference for an alternative to Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is considered a political liability because of his extramarital affairs in several European countries.

The succession is of pressing concern as King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turned 83 this month, is in poor health. Revered by most Thais, he is one of the few unifying figures in a country deeply divided between an urban elite and a rural poor.

The great fear within the authorities is that with the divisive figure of the crown prince as king, any future political turbulence could split Thailand in two. The military and the police rely on loyalty to the crown to maintain control and without it their authority would be greatly weakened.

This year Thailand experienced the worst political violence in its modern history. Ninety-one people died as protesters who support Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted as prime minister in a 2006 military coup, called for the dissolution of parliament and new elections. A state of emergency imposed at the time still remains in force.

The cable, written by the US ambassador, Eric John, in January, reports on his conversations with General Prem Tinsulanonda, the head of the privy council and a former prime minister, Anand Panyarachun, another former prime minister, and Air Chief Marshall Siddhi Savetsila.

“All three had quite negative comments about Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn,” the cable reads. “While asserting that the crown prince will become King, both Siddhi and Anand implied the country would be better off if other arrangements could be made. Siddhi expressed preference for Princess Sirindhorn; Anand suggested only the King would be in a position to change succession, and acknowledged a low likelihood of that happening.”

There are repeated references to the prince’s affairs. When the US ambassador asked where the prince was, Prem is quoted as saying: “You know his social life, how he is,” which John says is a “presumed reference to Vajiralongkorn’s preference to spend time based out of Munich with his main mistress, rather than in Thailand with his wife and son”.

John also conveys Siddhi’s observations about the prince’s dalliances. The cable states: “Siddhi, in a similar vein, noted that the Crown Prince frequently slipped away from Thailand, and that information about his air hostess mistresses was widely available on websites; he lamented how his former aide, now Thai ambassador to Germany, was forced to leave Berlin for Munich often to receive Vajiralongkorn.”

Apart from their concerns over the prince’s behaviour, the privy council members also express unease over his ties with the fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin, best known in the UK for owning Manchester City football club from 2007 to 2008. Thaksin spends most of his time in Dubai in self-imposed exile.

“Prem acknowledged Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn probably maintained some sort of relationship with fugitive former PM Thaksin, ‘seeing him from time to time’. Prem, clearly no fan of either man, cautioned that Thaksin ran the risk of self-delusion if he thought that the Crown Prince would act as his friend/supporter in the future merely because of Thaksin’s monetary support; ‘he does not enjoy that sort of relationship.'”

In the cable, Anand blames the king’s poor health partly on Thaksin, who at the time was acting as a political adviser to the Cambodian government. The king was in hospital in January, exercising 30 minutes a day on a stationary bicycle and passing a medicine ball with a physical therapist to build up strength and regain weight.

Despite their reservations about the crown prince, John’s interlocutors seemed resigned to his becoming king.

“Anand said that he had always believed that the Crown Prince would succeed his father, according to law. However, there could be complicating factors – if Vajiralongkorn proved unable to stay out of politics, or avoid embarrassing financial transactions … The consensus view among many Thai was that the Crown Prince could not stop either, nor would he be able, at age 57, to rectify his behaviour,” the cable reads.

“After another pause, Anand added that someone really should raise the matter with the King, before adding with regret that there really was no one who could raise such a delicate topic (note: implied was the need for an alternative to Vajiralongkorn).”

Royal intrigue is also conveyed in another cable by John in October 2008. This confidential message reports on complaints by Samak Sundaravej, a former prime minister, that Queen Sirikit encouraged the coup that overthrew Thaksin.

“He showed disdain for Queen Sirikit,” John writes, “claiming that she had been responsible for the 2006 coup d’etat as well as the ongoing turmoil generated by PAD [People's Alliance for Democracy] protests. He alleged the Queen operated through privy council president Prem Tinsulanonda who, along with others presenting themselves as royalists, worked with the PAD and other agitators. Citing his own regular meetings with King Bhumibol, Samak claimed he – rather than his opponents – was sincerely loyal to the king and enjoyed the king’s support.”

What constitutes an insult?

The Thai royal family is protected by the country’s lese majesty laws, making it an offence to insult the monarchy.

Under article 112, anyone can file a complaint against someone they consider to have defamed the monarch.

Missing from the code, however, is a definition of what actions constitute defamation or insult. Neither the king nor any member of the royal family has ever filed any charges under this law.

In 2005, King Bhumibol encouraged criticism: “I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know.” He later added: “But the king can do wrong.”

Since 2005, use of the law has been on the rise, for politicians, journalists and activists.

In March 2007, a Swiss, Oliver Jufer, convicted of lese majesty, was sentenced to 10 years for spray-painting graffiti on portraits of the king while drunk. He was pardoned then deported.

In 2008, Jonathan Head, the BBC’s south-east Asia correspondent and vice-president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, was accused of lese majesty by a police colonel, Watanasak Mungkijakarndee. Watanasak said Head’s reporting between 2006 and 2008 had “damaged and insulted the monarchy”. The BBC rejected the charges as groundless.

Also in 2008, Harry Nicolaides, an Australian, was arrested at Bangkok’s international airport and charged with lese majesty, for an offending passage in his self-published book Verismilitude. After pleading guilty, he was jailed for three years. He was deported last year after being pardoned by the king.

In June, the Thai government, which has removed tens of thousands of web pages in recent years for insulting the royal family, approved the creation of an online crime agency that will pursue alleged violators of the lese majesty laws.

• The paragraph referring to Jonathan Head was amended on Thursday 16 December 2010 at 8.49am, removing a reference to him being expelled. The BBC says Head was not expelled but moved on as part of his rotation.

Thai officials worried about crown prince

Source: http://goo.gl/iVVvj 15/12/2010

LONDON (AFP) – Top palace officials in Thailand expressed concerns about the prospect of the crown prince becoming king, a leaked US diplomatic cable showed.

Three influential Thai figures, including two senior advisers to revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, “had quite negative comments about Crown Prince (Maha) Vajiralongkorn,” said the January 2010 memo from the US embassy in Bangkok.

Two of them, while asserting that the crown prince would become king, “implied the country would be better off if other arrangements could be made,” according to the cable, published by British daily The Guardian, which obtained the confidential document from the WikiLeaks whistleblower website.

It cited concerns about his private life and suspected links to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who remains hugely popular with many rural poor but is seen by the establishment as corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.

King Bhumibol, the world’s longest reigning monarch, widely revered as a demi-god by many Thais, has been hospitalised since September 2009.

The 83-year-old has no official political role but is seen as a unifying figure in a country that has been frequently riven by political violence, particularly since the 2006 military coup which ousted Thaksin from office.

Any discussion of the royal family is an extremely sensitive topic in Thailand, where the palace has been silent over the organisation of the king’s succession.

Anxiety over the king’s health sent Thailand’s stock market plunging in October 2009.

“On the two most difficult and sensitive issues of the day in Thailand — Thaksin and the monarchy — the Thai elite appear as unsure about the future as any other sector of society,” the cable said.

“The stakes are significant for all sides, and resolution of the political divide and royal succession could still be far over the horizon.”

Just weeks after the memo was sent Thaksin’s red-shirted supporters staged mass opposition protests in Bangkok, sparking violence that left more than 90 people dead in a series of clashes between demonstrators and armed troops.

General Prem Tinsulanonda, a former premier who is head of the privy council of advisers to the palace, was “clearly no fan” of the crown prince, Bhumibol’s only son, the US cable said.

“When Ambassador (Eric John) asked where the Crown Prince was currently, in Thailand or Europe, Prem replied dismissively: ‘You know his social life, how he is’,” it added.

The memo said this was “a presumed reference to Vajiralongkorn’s preference to spend time based out of Munich… rather than in Thailand with his wife and son.”

Prem also said the prince “probably maintained some sort of relationship” with Thaksin, who lives overseas to avoid a prison sentence for corruption and is accused by the Thai authorities of inciting unrest from overseas.

The memo also quoted Siddhi Savetsila, a retired military office and privy council member, who stated that succession “would be a difficult transition time for Thailand.”

It said he “expressed preference” for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is widely respected by Thais for her charitable work.

A third influential figure, former premier Anand Panyarachun, “suggested only the King would be in a position to change succession, and acknowledged a low likelihood of that happening,” the cable added.

“Anand added that the consensus view among many Thai was that the Crown Prince could not stop either, nor would he be able, at age 57, to rectify his behavior,” according to the memo.

Source: BBC 17/12/2010 http://goo.gl/K1vS2

Wikileaks cable: ‘Thai concerns about Crown Prince

A leaked US diplomatic cable obtained by the Wikileaks website says three influential figures in Thailand expressed concerns about the prospect of the crown prince becoming king.

Two of those mentioned are senior advisers to the king.

The cable was sent to Washington in January this year by the then American ambassador in Bangkok.

The ailing 83-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the world’s longest-reigning current head of state.

The reverence in which the monarch is held is invariably evident whenever and wherever he appears in public.

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn is in his late fifties.

The ambassador’s cable quotes alleged conversations with General Prem Tinsulanonda, the head of the privy council, and two former prime ministers, Anand Panyarachun and Air Chief Marshall Siddhi Savetsila.

It says all three had quite negative comments about the crown prince and two of them – while asserting that the crown prince will become king – implied that the country would be “better off if other arrangements could be made”.

The cable also cited concerns about the crown prince’s private life.

The ambassador’s conclusion in the cable is that “on the two most difficult and sensitive issues of the day in Thailand – [ousted Prime Minister] Thaksin [Shinawatra] and the monarchy – the Thai elite appear as unsure about the future as any other sector of society”.

He says the stakes are significant for all sides.

Analysts point out that these views are reported in a cable sent at the start of what has been one of the most turbulent years in Thailand’s recent history.

Dr Tim Forsyth, an East Asia expert from the Development Studies Institute at the London School of Economics, told the BBC:

“The Wikileaks cables certainly give the impression that the members of the privy council of Thailand are concerned about the suitability of the crown prince. Of course these cables are unconfirmed and it is very difficult for outside people to comment on it.

“But it does seem to suggest that some of the origins of the political problems in Thailand over the last few years are somehow connected to this worry about what will happen to the monarchy.

Dr Forsyth said some people in Thailand had told him that the 2006 coup which sought to depose Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister took place partly because they were worried about the relationship between him and members of the royal family.

“This might suggest,” Dr Forsyth said, “that this underlying uncertainty about the royal family might be part of the political problems going on in Thailand over the last few years, such as the riots in Bangkok earlier this year.”

There has been no comment so far from those cited in the leaked US cable, including the crown prince.

Thani Thongpakdi, foreign ministry spokesman, said: “Regarding documents that have been released by Wikileaks in general, Thailand is not in a position to confirm the accuracy or authenticity of such documents because they were not issued by us.

“Additionally many documents seem to be conveying hearsay or gossip which in some circumstances may have been reported out of context. We should therefore not give credence to them.”

Source: Council of Foreign Relations  http://goo.gl/LrSKo   16/12/2010

More Reading the Wikileaks Cables: Thailand’s Monarchy

The latest bunch of released Wikileaks cables, online at the Guardian’s archive, offer fascinating insight into Thailand’s opaque monarchy, and should put to rest, once and for all, any idea that the royals stay out of politics except for occasions of national emergency, such as the bloodshed of 1992.

Theoretically, Thailand’s monarchy is “above politics” – the royal institution does not involve itself in political life, and is theoretically a constitutional monarch, like Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, Thais and experienced Thailand watchers know this is not the case; Thailand scholar Duncan McCargo, at Leeds University, coined the term “network monarchy” to explain how the palace influences politics through a network of its supporters and loyalists. But the recent batch of leaked cables show in much more detail how directly the monarchy intervenes in Thai politics, and how much more regularly it intervenes than some Thai observers thought. The royals are hardly saving their powder for occasional instances of dire national emergency. Inone cable, a former Thai prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, tells US officials that Thailand’s Queen Sirikit pushed for the 2006 coup against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and also backed anti-government protests by groups that had demonstrated against Thaksin. In another, senior Thai officials tell American diplomats that Thailand’s king “explicitly told [army commander] Anupong Paojinda not to launch a coup” in 2008, two years after the previous putsch.

Though these cables will be blocked from servers in Thailand, and Bangkok-based newspapers and bloggers will refer to them without referencing the royal family, for fear of being charged with lèse majesté, undoubtedly many Thais will find out about them, just as they have found out about most other stories about the royal family. Of course, Thailand’s government will officially ignore them. But eventually, it will have to address their substance. In yet another cable, senior Thai officials express dismay to the US ambassador at the eventual transition to Thailand’s crown prince, whom they hint is flighty, womanizing, and unsuited to rule. When he finally takes over the palace, if Thailand has not crafted a better way to contain the monarchy’s influence, there could be major trouble.

 

Source: Reuters 17/12/2010   http://goo.gl/2DxiH

Analysis: Leaked cables shed light on Thai succession risks

By Andrew Marshall

SINGAPORE | Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:36am EST

 

Reuters) – Confidential U.S. Embassy cables released by WikiLeaks have shed unprecedented light on the biggest political risk faced by investors inThailand — the prospect of a royal succession intensifying social conflict.

Strict lese-majeste laws make it hard for investors to make informed predictions, but the issue of succession looms large at a time of deepening tension in Thailand following the worst political violence in its modern history over April and May.

While 83-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-serving monarch, commands supreme moral authority in Thailand, the leaked cables show doubts among key royal advisers about the suitability of his son and heir, 58-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

General Prem Tinsulanonda, the head of the privy council and a former prime minister, Anand Panyarachun, another former prime minister, and privy councilor Siddhi Savetsila all expressed concern about the prince as the likely heir in private conversations, according to a leaked cable written by former U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Eric John.

“All three had quite negative comments about Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn,” John wrote in a memo dated January 25, 2010, and posted on the Guardian newspaper’s website on Thursday.

There has been no public comment by those quoted in the leaked cable on whether the comments attributed to them are genuine. “We’re not in a position to comment on the authenticity and accuracy of these documents because they did not originate from us,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdihe.

Although talk of the Thai monarchy’s role and possible problems on the horizon are taboo and illegal, the topic is followed closely in Thailand’s financial markets, which fell briefly last year on concerns over the King’s health.

Siddhi, an Air Chief Marshall, acknowledged that “succession would be a difficult transition time for Thailand,” the U.S. ambassador said in the memo.

“While asserting that the Crown Prince will become King, both Siddhi and Anand implied the country would be better off if other arrangements could be made. Siddhi expressed preference for Princess Sirindhorn,” John wrote.

Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is highly respected by Thais, while there is widespread disapproval of the prince’s lifestyle.

“Anand suggested only the King would be in a position to change succession, and acknowledged a low likelihood of that happening.”

Analysts say privately that there could be a prolonged period of turmoil and even civil unrest if the succession does not go smoothly.

“It’s the big issue, there is no doubt about it, and it comes up often in private discussions with our clients but it is not something to be aired in public,” said a Singapore-based regional analyst at an international investment bank, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Another major bank said in a report that succession worries impose a political risk discount on Thai assets.

Thailand’s financial markets are among the world’s strongest this year. Stock prices are up more than 40 percent and the Thai baht is trading at 13-year highs, making Thailand among several emerging markets vulnerable to a correction.

 

Written by thaicables

December 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

BANGKOK 000192 AMBASSADOR ENGAGES PRIVY COUNCIL CHAIR

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Monday, 25 January 2010, 07:59
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 000192
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR WALTON
EO 12958 DECL: 01/25/2030
TAGS PRELPGOVTH
SUBJECT: THAILAND: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES PRIVY COUNCIL CHAIR
PREM, OTHER “ESTABLISHMENT” FIGURES ON YEAR AHEAD
REF: BANGKOK 184 (SEH DAENG)
BANGKOK 00000192 001.2 OF 003
Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reason 1.4 (b,d)

1. (S) Summary: Ambassador paid a series of New Year’s-related calls on influential

Thai figures,including Privy Council Chair GEN Prem, Privy Council member ACM

Siddhi, and former PM Anand,

to discuss the year ahead. Abhisit’s performance, issues related to the royal family,

and challenges posed by Thaksin/Hun Sen emerged as the primary themes. Prem

offered a more positive assessment of Abhisit’s performance than Siddhi, who

criticized Abhisit for a lack of resolve and the absence of an effective team to carry

out his policies. All three focused on the challenge posed by Thaksin to the

government and, indirectly, to the monarchy; Anand attributed part of the King’s

poor health to Thaksin, and both Prem and Siddhi were upset about Thaksin’s

alliance of convenience with Cambodian leader Hun Sen. All three had quite

negative comments about Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. While asserting that

the Crown Prince will become King, both Siddhi and Anand implied the country

would be better off if other arrangements could be made. Siddhi expressed

preference for Princess Sirindhorn; Anand suggested only the King would

be in a position to change succession, and acknowledged a low likelihood

of that happening.

 

2. (S) Comment: On the two most difficult and sensitive issues of the day in

Thailand — Thaksin and the monarchy — the Thai elite appear as unsure

about the future as any other sector of society. The stakes are significant for

all sides, and resolution of the political divide and royal succession could

still be far over the horizon. Elite concerns about Abhisit in office appear

to reflect less on his performance than on general worries about the

ultimate resolution of issues. End Summary and Comment.

Mixed Views on Abhisit’s performance

————————————

3. (C) Privy Councilor Chair GEN Prem shared his assessments of PM Abhisit,

the Crown Prince’s relationship with Thaksin, and difficulties dealing with

Cambodia/Hun Sen with Ambassador over lunch January 13. Regarding

Abhisit, Prem referenced widespread criticism that the PM was too young and

not strong enough to be an effective leader in trying times. However, Prem

felt that Abhisit had proved in 2009 that he was up to the challenge of doing

what was necessary to run a fractious coalition government, no easy task.

In addition, there were no other politicians available who were more principled

and had more integrity than Abhisit, and Thailand needed such a leader at this

point. Prem expressed hope that Thais and foreigners alike would be more

patient with Abhisit, who he believed was the right man to serve as premier.

4. (C) Fellow Privy Councilor ACM Siddhi, hosting Ambassador at his home

January 11, was more critical of Abhisit than Prem. Siddhi said that he had told

Abhisit’s father, his own long-time personal physician, that his son needed to

be more decisive and “make more friends” in 2010. Abhisit spent too much time

at the podium and not enough time assembling an effective team to which he

could delegate action and rely on for well-thought out policy initiatives, in Siddhi’s

view. Abhisit also needed to get out to engage the grassroots, one of Thaksin’s

strengths. On Siddhi’s wish list: Abhisit pushing through a permanent appointment

for Acting Police Chief Pratheep; using his power over wayward coalition parties

by threatening parliamentary dissolution if they did not get in line; and telling

the Army to take action to dismiss renegade MGEN Khattiya, even if Defense

Minister Prawit refused to sign a dismissal order.

 

Political Year Ahead

——————–

5. (C) While GEN Prem expressed moderate concern about the potential for violence

and political discord in early 2010, he felt the situation was no worse than six

months ago. Prem asked about U.S. laws regarding demonstrations and avoiding

excessive disruptions of government functions and daily lives of citizens; Ambassador

explained the U.S. system of permits for protests which allowed for free speech but not

free access everywhere. Ambassador shared U.S. frustration about decisions negatively

affecting economic/investment climate, such as Ma Tha Phut and the digital lottery

cancellation; the uneven application of the rule of law, breaches of contract, and

regulatory shifts affected the investment climate more negatively at this point than

political turmoil.

 

6. (C) ACM Siddhi expressed more concerns than Prem about the security situation

in 2010, suggesting that Army Commander Anupong’s inability to control wayward

red-affiliated MGEN Khattiya’s M-79 attacks on yellow-shirt rallies and trips to

see Thaksin overseas was not a good harbinger (note: three days later, someone

attacked Anupong’s office at night with an M-79, with Khattiya widely seen as the

likely suspect, see reftel. End note). Siddhi said he had higher hopes for deputy

Commander Prayuth, widely expected to replace Anupong in October and seen as

particularly close to the Queen. Siddhi claimed Prem had sent a signal of his

displeasure with Anupong by snubbing him during a group call at Prem’s residence

to pass birthday greetings, not stopping to talk to Anupong personally as he did

with other key military commanders.

 

Royal Family: King, Crown Prince, Entourages

——————————————–

7. (S) Regarding King Bhumibol’s health, Prem indicated that the King was

exercising 30 minutes a day on a stationary bicycle at Siriraj Hospital and

passing a medicine ball with a physical therapist to build up strength and

regain weight. Prem acknowledged that he had not seen the King since the

hospitalization, but that the Queen and Princess Sirindhorn saw the King

daily. When Ambassador asked about the Crown Prince’s involvement,

Prem repeated: the Queen and Sirindhorn visit him daily.

 

8. (S) Prem acknowledged Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn probably maintained

some sort of relationship with fugitive former PM Thaksin, “seeing him from

time to time.” Prem, clearly no fan of either man, cautioned that Thaksin ran

the risk of self-delusion if he thought that the Crown Prince would act as his

friend/supporter in the future merely because of Thaksin’s monetary support;

“he does not enjoy that sort of relationship.” When Ambassador asked where

the Crown Prince was currently, in Thailand or Europe, Prem replied

dismissively: “You know his social life, how he is.” (Note: a presumed reference

to Vajiralongkorn’s preference to spend time based out of Munich with his

main mistress, rather than in Thailand with his wife and son).

 

9. (S) ACM Siddhi, in a similar vein, noted that the Crown Prince frequently slipped

away from Thailand, and that information about his air hostess mistresses was

widely available on websites; he lamented how his former aide, now Thai

Ambassador to Germany, was forced to leave Berlin for Munich often to receive

Vajiralongkorn. Siddhi raised Thaksin’s controversial November Times

On-line interview, which Siddhi claimed cast the King in a bad light and

attempted to praise the Crown Prince as broad-minded and educated abroad,

hinting that Vajiralongkorn would be ready to welcome Thaksin back to

Thailand once he became King.

 

10. (S) Ambassador mentioned to Siddhi the Crown Prince’s more engaging

approach in the early December King’s Birthday reception with Ambassadors,

shaking each envoy’s hand and appearing more at ease than in the 2008

reception. Siddhi stated that succession would be a difficult transition time

for Thailand. According to Palace Law, the Crown Prince would succeed

his father, but added after a pause, almost hopefully: “if the Crown Prince

were to die, anything could happen, and maybe Prathep (Sirindhorn)

could succeed.”

 

11. (S) Ambassador similarly raised the Crown Prince’s more confident

demeanor with former PM Anand in late December, seeking Anand’s

assessment of the dynamics in play as succession inevitably drew nearer.

Anand’s response was similar to Siddhi’s, but more detailed and blunt.

Anand said that he had always believed that the Crown Prince would succeed

his father, according to law. However, there could be complicating factors –

if Vajiralongkohn proved unable to stay out of politics, or avoid embarrassing

financial transactions. After a pause, Anand added that the consensus view

among many Thai was that the Crown Prince could not stop either, nor

would he be able, at age 57, to rectify his behavior. After another pause, Anand

added that someone really should raise the matter with the King, before adding

with regret that there really was no one who could raise such a delicate topic

(note: implied was the need for an alternative to Vajiralongkorn).

 

12. (S) ACM Siddhi expressed his personal concern about the declining image of

the royal family in Thailand, noting that something as simple as excessive

motorcade-related traffic jams caused by minor royals was an unnecessary

but enduring irritant. Personal Private Secretary Arsa Sarasin had raised this

with the King about eight years ago, according to Siddhi, and the King had agreed,

authorizing Arsa to talk to royal family members and to set up new rules limiting

entourages and occasions when traffic would be stopped. Nothing had changed;

Siddhi noted that he had been caught up in traffic for 45 minutes the previous

week returning for a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador, due to a royal

motorcade. Stories that the Crown Prince now ordered second story windows

closed as his motorcade passed achieved nothing but additional popular r

esentment, Siddhi added sorrowfully.

 

Thaksin and Hun Sen

——————-

13. (C) Thaksin clearly remained on the mind of all three “establishment” figures.

Former PM Anand asserted that the King’s health and mood remained poor

“primarily because of Thaksin” and the challenge Thaksin posed to the stability

of the country. GEN Prem asked Ambassador what the U.S. would do in the

situation Thailand found itself, with a neighboring country appointing as an

adviser a former leader bent on bringing down the government. Ambassador

replied that while former U.S. Presidents did occasionally give paid speeches

overseas, they would never work for another government; he advised Prem and

Thai officials to take the high road in their public comments about Cambodia,

and not to be drawn into a tit for tat with Thaksin and Hun Sen. (Note: Prem

seemed to be musing out loud, but he clearly was focused on what he perceived

as a threat from Thaksin and Hun Sen’s facilitation of Thaksin’s efforts).

 

14. (C) ACM Siddhi said that PM Abhisit had called him on his 90th birthday

recently and had indicated that now that Thailand was no longer ASEAN Chair,

Abhisit would feel less constrained in responding to Hun Sen’s bullying rhetoric

more freely. Siddhi expressed concern that in addition to Cambodia and Brunei,

clearly in Thaksin’s camp due to his close personal ties with Hun Sen and the

Brunei Sultan, Laos and Vietnam might back Hun Sen in the ongoing

Thai-Cambodia diplomatic spat.

 

15. (C) ACM Siddhi attacked Thaksin as trying to use money, red-shirt protests,

and Hun Sen to “destroy our country,” but he predicted Thaksin would not succeed.

Thaksin never had tried to negotiate, Siddhi alleged, but only issued demands;

had he been willing to come back and spend a nominal time in jail for his conviction,

Thaksin likely would have been quickly pardoned/released as a former PM. Now

Thaksin would try to create chaos, possibly sparking the use of force. While Siddhi

expected Thaksin to lose the February 26 decision on his 76 billion baht ($2.3 billion)

in frozen assets, he claimed his sources indicated Thaksin still had 240 billion baht

($7.3 billion) overseas. Rather than live overseas quietly, Thaksin had decided to

fight, funding websites attacking the King and Queen to stir up

anti-monarchy views. JOHN

Written by thaicables

December 16, 2010 at 2:24 am

08BANGKOK3317 PALACE INSIDER TELLS AMBASSADOR

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VZCZCXRO4310
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #3317/01 3110730
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 060730Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4937
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1154
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 6471
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 5023
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 9171
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 5795
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

 

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 003317 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

NSC FOR WILDER AND PHU 

EO 12958 DECL: 11/06/2018 
TAGS PGOV, KDEM, MOPS, ASEC, TH 
SUBJECT: PALACE INSIDER TELLS AMBASSADOR OF THE KING’S 
OPPOSITION TO A COUP AND TO PAD PROTESTS
REF: A. BANGKOK 3289 (POLARIZATION TO PERSIST)  B. BANGKOK 3280 
(THAKSIN ADDRESSES UDD)  C. BANGKOK 3226 (HOPES FOR MEDIATION)  
D. BANGKOK 3080 (QUEEN SHOWS SUPPORT)
BANGKOK 00003317 001.2 OF 003

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reason: 1.4 (b and d).

SUMMARY AND COMMENT
------------------- 

1. (C) King Bhumibol explicitly told Army Commander Anupong 
Paojinda not to launch a coup, XXXXXXXXXXXX, an advisor to 
Queen Sirikit, told Ambassador November 4. XXXXXXXXXXXX also 
claimed that the Queen had not meant to signal support for 
the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) anti-government 
agenda when she presided over funeral ceremonies on October 13. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX said PAD’s activities had irritated the King, 
who reportedly wants PAD protestors to leave Government House. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX spoke well of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, 
saying Somchai was open to compromising with the PAD, although 
XXXXXXXXXXXX guessed Somchai would be forced from office by 
the end of the year. Separately, a politically active businessman 
with strong connections to the palace told us that the Queen’s 
funeral appearance had hurt the monarchy’s image, thereby 
serving the agenda of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. 
This contact also discussed a possible assassination plot against 
Thaksin and PAD plans for violence. Both contacts claimed the King 
suffered from back pain and his condition was frail.


2. (S/NF) Comment: XXXXXXXXXXXX’s claim that the King instructed 
Anupong not to conduct a coup is the strongest account we have 
heard to date about the King’s opposition to a coup and his 
communicating this to Anupong; it would explain why Privy 
Counselors Prem and Siddhi, both seen as opponents of the 
current government, gave recent assurances to the Ambassador 
that there would not be a coup. While  XXXXXXXXXXXX did not 
specify how he heard of this exchange, the purported 
instruction does appear consistent with Anupong’s actions, 
other high-level military assurances to the Ambassador, 
and reporting in other channels. We agree that the Queen’s 
funeral appearance was a significant blunder, jeopardizing 
the public’s perception of the palace’s neutrality. PAD 
appears increasingly divided; this divide, as well as the 
intense and dynamic condition of Thai politics, may make it 
appear realistic to hope for a PAD-government compromise. 
Possible further violence, however, remains a concern. 
End Summary and Comment.


PALACE-PAD RELATIONS
-------------------- 

3. (C) Ambassador met privately at the Residence on November 4 
with XXXXXXXXXXXX, a close advisor to Queen Sirikit who in the 
past has also served as a confidant of the King.XXXXXXXXXXXX 
remarked that he regretted the Queen’s October 13 appearance 
at the funeral of a PAD supporter (ref D). He claimed the Queen 
had been emotionally affected when she learned that one victim 
of the October 7 violence was a young lady about to be married, 
and that she had told her father she was going to the protest 
to defend the monarchy. Initially, the Queen had wanted to send 
Princess Chulabhorn to the funeral. It was only at the request 
of Chulabhorn and Chulabhorn’s companion, Chaichon Locharernkul, 
that the Queen decided to go herself. XXXXXXXXXXXX said there 
was no intention for the Queen to involve either herself or 
the monarchy in political matters, but, unfortunately, some 
members of the public could interpret the funeral appearance 
differently. XXXXXXXXXXXX said the Queen later reached out to 
seriously injured police officers in an attempt to show her 
neutrality, but this signal went largely unnoticed.


4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX remarked that King Bhumibol was highly 
irritated by PAD’s occupation of Government House and other 
disruptions caused by the anti-government group, but the 
King was unsure how best to ensure PAD would vacate the compound. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX said the King had instructed two of his loyalists 
to convey his desire that PAD leave Government House. 
(One of these messengers was well-known associate of the King 
Disathorn Watcharothai, who said publicly on October 29 that 
Thais who love the King should “go home”; see ref A.) 
XXXXXXXXXXXX considered XXXXXXXXXXXX to be obstinate, however, 
saying Sondhi had become obsessed with his own sense of mission. 
By contrast, XXXXXXXXXXXX thought that XXXXXXXXXXXX was 
reasonable and willing to compromise.


POSITIVE VIEW OF SOMCHAI
------------------------ 

5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed to have spoken to Prime Minister 
Somchai Wongsawat about the current standoff. XXXXXXXXXXXX 
told the Ambassador that Somchai had agreed that the government 
could meet with the PAD and reach a compromise, but the time 
was not yet ripe. In his conversation with the Ambassador, 
XXXXXXXXXXXX spoke highly of Somchai, saying he was “very good” 
and had many qualities that made him suitable to be Prime Minister, 
including a sense of fairness and a moderate temperament. 
Nevertheless, XXXXXXXXXXXX predicted that Somchai could not 
remain long in office because he would likely be forced out 
by an adverse Constitutional Court ruling in the People’s Power 
Party (PPP) dissolution case (ref A), which XXXXXXXXXXXX believed 
the Court might issue before the King’s birthday (December 5). 
XXXXXXXXXXXX guessed Somchai would dissolve the parliament 
before being forced from office.


KING TO ANUPONG: NO COUP
------------------------ 

6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX predicted that the current turmoil would not 
result in a military coup. He said that the King, speaking with 
Army Commander Anupong Paojinda, had referred to the 2006 coup 
and made a statement to the effect that there should be no further 
coups.


POLITICIZATION OF THE MONARCHY
------------------------------ 

7. (C) We also met on November 5 with XXXXXXXXXXXX (strictly protect), 
the well-connected scion of a wealthy family with close palace ties. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX had a leading role in the XXXXXXXXXXXX; his wife, 
XXXXXXXXXXXX, has the royal title of “XXXXXXXXXXXX” and works 
closely with the Queen. XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed that the Queen’s 
appearance at the October 13 funeral had highly negative ramifications, 
saying that even politically neutral Thais felt she had inappropriately 
brought the monarchy into politics. He also acknowledged increasing 
semi-public criticism of the monarchy, focused on the Queen (septel). 
XXXXXXXXXXXX stated with confidence that the King had sought to deter 
the Queen from attending the funeral by questioning the wisdom of that 
plan, but had stopped short of forbidding her to do so.


8. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX discussed former Prime Minister Thaksin’s 
statement in his November 1 address to supporters (ref B) that 
either “royal mercy or the people’s power” could allow his return 
to Thailand. XXXXXXXXXXXX said this juxtaposition, which he viewed 
as highly strategic, had the predictable effect of energizing 
Thaksin’s opponents in the royalist camp. This reaction allowed 
Thaksin to demonstrate publicly that many palace figures were aligned 
against him, thereby eroding the prestige that the palace derived 
from its status as an institution above politics. (Separately, 
after Thaksin’s remarks, a member of Thaksin’s legal team told us 
that the sentence in question was part of a “very refined product” 
and that she had heard this sentence “four or five times” in 
Thaksin’s rehearsal of the speech.)


THAKSIN’S ENEMIES’ PLANS FOR VIOLENCE
------------------------------------- 

9. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX believed PAD continued to aim for a violent 
clash that would spark a coup. He asserted that he had dined on 
October 6 with a leading PAD figure (NFI), who explained that 
PAD would provoke violence during its October 7 protest at the 
parliament. The unnamed PAD figure predicted (wrongly) that the 
Army would intervene against the government by the evening of 
October 7. XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted to us that PAD remained intent 
on a conflict that would generate at least two dozen deaths and 
make military intervention appear necessary and justified.


10. (C) We mentioned to XXXXXXXXXXXX the claim by Thaksin associate 
XXXXXXXXXXXX that Thaksin had been the target of an assassination 
plot (ref C). (Note: Subsequent to the Ambassador’s meeting with 
XXXXXXXXXXXX, another Thaksin ally related the same claim, and 
said Thaksin himself had spoken of this plot. End Note.) XXXXXXXXXXXX 
suggested XXXXXXXXXXXX’s list of conspirators -- including two 
prominent judges -- was not credible, but XXXXXXXXXXXX said he 
could confirm (presumably because of first-hand discussion with 
an organizing figure) that certain enemies of Thaksin (NFI) 
had sought to kill him. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he had been surprised 
to learn that the contract on Thaksin’s life entailed a relatively 
low payment of only several hundred thousand Baht (in the range of 
10,000 USD), although it also entailed resettlement abroad for the 
person(s) directly involved.


REMARKS ON THE KING’S HEALTH
---------------------------- 

11. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX (late August/early September). At that time, 
he said, the King’s complexion appeared healthy, but overall the 
King appeared frail. He added that the King was upset with the Thai 
doctor who had organized the team that performed back surgery on 
the King two years ago, as the operation had not worked as well as 
the King had been led to expect. XXXXXXXXXXXX, in his meeting with 
the Ambassador, also said the King was suffering from back pain, 
and his activities were more limited than in recent years. JOHN

Source: http://goo.gl/xYmxq

Written by thaicables

December 15, 2010 at 6:03 pm

08BANGKOK2977 AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES W. FORMER PM SAMAK

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VZCZCXRO5919
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #2977/01 2751048
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011048Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
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INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 9057
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 2440
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1741
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 6372
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 4922
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1065
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 5675
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002977 

SIPDIS 

EO 12958 DECL: 10/01/2018
TAGS PGOV, KDEM, KJUS, PINR, TH
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES WITH FORMER PM SAMAK HIS
DOWNFALL,
REF: BANGKOK 2778 (SAMAK UNDERCUT)
BANGKOK 00002977 001.2 OF 002

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reason: 1.4 (b, d)

1. (C) Summary: Former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej resigned from his 
position as Party Leader of the People’s Power Party (PPP) September 30. 
He remains free on bail as he continues to appeal a years-old defamation 
conviction. Samak told the Ambassador September 26 that he believed Queen 
Sirikit, working through Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, 
supported the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest movement. 
Samak viewed himself as loyal to the King, but implied that the Queen’s 
political agenda differened from her husband’s. Separately,  
XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed to the Ambassador October 1 that he had begun 
direct negotiations with the PAD and suggested that he and the current 
Somchai administration had 90 days to produce results.


2. (C) Comment: XXXXXXXXXXXX’s expectation that his term in office may 
be short-lived tracks with a widespread view among Thais that the PPP 
will be fighting against the odds for its survival in upcoming party 
dissolution proceedings. Although XXXXXXXXXXXX provides proof that 
senior Thai politicians can often revive careers, we believe Samak 
has lost virtually all of his influence and has little prospect of 
staging a political comeback. PM Somchai Wongsawat appears likely to 
succeed Samak as PPP Party Leader. End Summary and Comment.
SAMAK QUITS PPP POST, HEADS TO DISNEY WORLD
------------------------------------------- 

3. (C) On September 30, a PPP official told the media that former 
PM Samak Sundaravej had formally resigned from his position of PPP 
Party Leader. This resignation followed an Appeals Court’s September 25 
ruling upholding a previous conviction of Samak on defamation charges, 
and affirming the two-year prison sentence for Samak. In a September 26 
lunch with the Ambassador, Samak explained that he expected to remain 
free on bail while continuing to appeal this case through other channels; 
he predicted his legal battle could continue for approximately two years 
before he might have to face incarceration. Samak planned to join unnamed 
associates for an extended North American vacation starting with Disney 
World, criss-crossing the United States and parts of Canada by car.

4. (C) Note: Once Samak lost face after PPP legislators signaled their 
unwillingness to support his reelection as Prime Minister (reftel), it 
would have been awkward for Samak to retain the position of Party Leader. 
PPP immediately named PM Somchai as acting party leader. Political 
parties typically nominate their Party Leaders for the position of Prime 
Minister; it would be logical to assume that Somchai will formally take 
the top job in PPP. Samak’s resignation will not protect Samak from a 
five-year loss of political rights in the event that PPP is dissolved. 
Party dissolution by the Constitutional Court entails sanctions against 
the executive board that was in place at the time of the 
dissolution-warranting offense.

SAMAK DISCUSSES HIS DOWNFALL, CRITICIZES THE QUEEN
--------------------------------------------- ----- 

5. (C) Samak described to Ambassador the political pressure against him 
during his seven months in office. He showed disdain for Queen Sirikit, 
claiming that she had been responsible for the 2006 coup d’etat as well 
as the ongoing turmoil generated by PAD protests. He alleged the Queen 
operated through Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda who, along 
with others presenting themselves as royalists, worked with the PAD 
and other agitators. Citing his own regular meetings with King Bhumibol, 
Samak claimed he -- rather than his opponents -- was sincerely loyal to 
the King and enjoyed the King’s support. In his discussion of the

monarchy, Samak made no mention of the Crown Prince.

6. (C) Samak, a former journalist, lamented his opponents’ success in 
manipulating media coverage of his administration.  Samak noted that 
jockeying for control over the media had often caused rifts within Thai 
Rak Thai and, subsequently, the People’s Power Party.

7. (C) Samak’s eyes became misty as he recalled that, when he was 
contemplating returning to the premiership after eviction from office 
by the Constitutional Court, his wife and one of his daughters had 
pressed him to abandon this quest. “I told them to get out,” he 
related. “I didn’t need to be betrayed by them.”

Out with the Old, Out with the New?
----------------------------------- 

8. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX indicated to Ambassador October 1 that he expected 
the Somchai administration to be short-lived, though he hoped it could 
be extended if it proved successful in addressing the serious challenges 
facing the country. XXXXXXXXXXXX  If Somchai’s administration were to 
prove effective, he hoped the Constitutional Court might delay 
dissolution proceedings against various coalition parties to allow the 
government more time in office (note: the Attorney General announced 
later on October 1 that he had referred the first case, against Chat 
Thai, to the Constitution Court for review).

9. (C) On the ongoing PAD occupation of Government House, XXXXXXXXXXXX 
said he had twice spoken with PAD XXXXXXXXXXXX, most recently on the 
night of September 30.  XXXXXXXXXXXX described his approach toward the 
PAD as similar to that which he had taken toward communist insurgents 
in the 1970s and 80s: he would initially stress commonalities while 
deemphasizing differences, which would be sorted out later. 
(Septel will report XXXXXXXXXXXX’s views on mediating the southern 
insurgency.) JOHN

Written by thaicables

December 15, 2010 at 5:54 pm

06BANGKOK5811 MY MEETING WITH GENERAL SONTHI

with one comment

VZCZCXRO4357

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #5811 2631229
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201229Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1782
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC  IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 005811 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

TREASURY PASS TO FRB SAN FRANCISCO/TERESA CURRAN 

EO 12958 DECL: 09/19/2016
TAGS PGOV, PHUM, TH
SUBJECT: THAILAND: MY MEETING WITH GENERAL SONTHI 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce, reason 1.4 (b)(d)

1. (C) I met with General Sonthi privately directly after he addressed the diplomatic 
corps this afternoon. He thought the session had gone well (see septel for details; 
I doubt most of the Western diplomats, at least, will share his assessment).

2. (C) I began by asking Sonthi about the audience with the King last night. Who 
had attended? He said Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda had brought him, 
Supreme Commander Ruangroj and Navy Commander Sathiraphan in to meet the King. Sonthi 
stressed that they had been summoned to the palace; he had not sought the audience. 
He said the King was relaxed and happy, smiling throughout. He provided no further details.

3. (C) Turning to the US reaction, I reminded him of our conversation, August 31, when I 
told him any military action would result in immediate suspension of assistance programs 
such as IMET, FMF and numerous others. I told him he could expect us to announce such a 
measure shortly. He understood.  I added that the restoration of such assistance could 
only come after a democratically elected government took office. In the meantime, I 
stressed that the coup group needed to make every effort to demonstrate a sincere 
intention to return to civilian rule as soon as possible. His announcement today that 
an interim constitution and civilian government would be installed within two weeks 
was a good example. I reiterated these points several times.

4. (C) Sonthi responded by saying the military had truly acted in order to improve 
Thai democracy, not destroy it. The prevailing situation had become untenable. Had 
Thaksin only been willing to announce publicly that he would not return as Prime Minister, 
this action could have been avoided. But his unwillingness to do publicly what he had 
repeatedly told many privately had led people to fear that his true intention was to seek 
a renewed mandate and return to power. Thus the military had acted. But they did not seek 
sustained political power and would return to barracks as soon as possible. The sooner the 
better, I repeated. I told him to expect fairly broad international criticism, as military 
coups were generally seen as a thing of the past.

5. (C) Was he going to seize Thaksin,s assets? No, he stated flatly. Would Thaksin and his 
family and colleagues be allowed to return to Thailand? Yes, unconditionally. What is the 
officially approved English rendition of the coup group,s title? &Council for Democratic 
Reform Under Constitutional Monarchy,8 or CDRM.

6. (C) Why had the military chosen to act at this particular point in time? Smiling slightly, 
he leaned forward. &Thaksin was at his weakest and we were at our strongest.8

7. (C) Comment ) Sonthi was relaxed and calm. Clearly the royal audience was the turning 
point last night. (Septel reports Thaksin,s defiant attitude dissolving completely when he 
learned of the audience.) For now at least, the CDRM appears to be taking the high road as 
far as how they will treat Thaksin. We have ready access to this group and will press them 
to implement their announced intention to return to civilian rule as soon as possible. 
Meanwhile, a coup is a coup is a coup and we believe a strong U.S. statement announcing the 
suspension of assistance and a call for an early return to civilian rule and eventually 
elections is entirely warranted and will submit suggested text via septel.
BOYCE BOYCE

Source: http://goo.gl/Causf

Written by thaicables

December 15, 2010 at 5:47 pm

BANGKOK 002977 AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES WITH FORMER PM SAMA

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Source: Guardian   http://goo.gl/rHWa5    14/12/2010

Wednesday, 01 October 2008, 10:48
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002977
SIPDIS
EO 12958 DECL: 10/01/2018
TAGS PGOV, KDEM, KJUS, PINRTH
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES WITH FORMER PM SAMAK HIS
DOWNFALL,
REF: BANGKOK 2778 (SAMAK UNDERCUT)
BANGKOK 00002977 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reason: 1.4 (b, d)

1. (C) Summary: Former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej resigned from his position as Party Leader

of the People’s Power Party (PPP) September 30. He remains free on bail as he continues to appeal a

years-old defamation conviction. Samak told the Ambassador September 26 that he believed Queen

Sirikit, working through Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, supported the People’s Alliance

for Democracy (PAD) protest movement. Samak viewed himself as loyal to the King, but implied that

the Queen’s political agenda differened from her husband’s. Separately, XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed

to the Ambassador October 1 that he had begun direct negotiations with the PAD and suggested that

he and the current Somchai administration had 90 days to produce results.

2. (C) Comment: XXXXXXXXXXXX’s expectation that his term in office may be short-lived tracks with

a widespread view among Thais that the PPP will be fighting against the odds for its survival in

upcoming party dissolution proceedings. Although XXXXXXXXXXXX provides proof that senior

Thai politicians can often revive careers, we believe Samak has lost virtually all of his influence and

has little prospect of staging a political comeback. PM Somchai Wongsawat appears likely to succeed

Samak as PPP Party Leader. End Summary and Comment.

SAMAK QUITS PPP POST, HEADS TO DISNEY WORLD

3. (C) On September 30, a PPP official told the media that former PM Samak Sundaravej had formally

resigned from his position of PPP Party Leader. This resignation followed an Appeals Court’s

September 25 ruling upholding a previous conviction of Samak on defamation charges, and affirming

the two-year prison sentence for Samak. In a September 26 lunch with the Ambassador, Samak

explained that he expected to remain free on bail while continuing to appeal this case through other

channels; he predicted his legal battle could continue for approximately two years before he might

have to face incarceration. Samak planned to join unnamed associates for an extended North

American vacation starting with Disney World, criss-crossing the United States and parts of Canada by car.

4. (C) Note: Once Samak lost face after PPP legislators signaled their unwillingness to support his

reelection as Prime Minister (reftel), it would have been awkward for Samak to retain the position of

Party Leader. PPP immediately named PM Somchai as acting party leader. Political parties typically

nominate their Party Leaders for the position of Prime Minister; it would be logical to assume that

Somchai will formally take the top job in PPP. Samak’s resignation will not protect Samak from a

five-year loss of political rights in the event that PPP is dissolved. Party dissolution by the Constitutional

Court entails sanctions against the executive board that was in place at the time of the dissolution-

warranting offense.

SAMAK DISCUSSES HIS DOWNFALL, CRITICIZES THE QUEEN

5. (C) Samak described to Ambassador the political pressure against him during his seven months

in office. He showed disdain for Queen Sirikit, claiming that she had been responsible for the 2006

coup d’etat as well as the ongoing turmoil generated by PAD protests. He alleged the Queen operated

through Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda who, along with others presenting themselves

as royalists, worked with the PAD and other agitators. Citing his own regular meetings with King

Bhumibol, Samak claimed he — rather than his opponents — was sincerely loyal to the King and

enjoyed the King’s support. In his discussion of the

BANGKOK 00002977 002.2 OF 002

monarchy, Samak made no mention of the Crown Prince.

6. (C) Samak, a former journalist, lamented his opponents’ success in manipulating media coverage of his

administration. Samak noted that jockeying for control over the media had often caused rifts within

Thai Rak Thai and, subsequently, the People’s Power Party.

7. (C) Samak’s eyes became misty as he recalled that, when he was contemplating returning to the

premiership after eviction from office by the Constitutional Court, his wife and one of his daughters

had pressed him to abandon this quest. “I told them to get out,” he related. “I didn’t need to be betrayed

by them.”

Out with the Old, Out with the New?

8. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX indicated to Ambassador October 1 that he expected the Somchai administration

to be short-lived, though he hoped it could be extended if it proved successful in addressing the serious

challenges facing the country. XXXXXXXXXXXX If Somchai’s administration were to prove effective,

he hoped the Constitutional Court might delay dissolution proceedings against various coalition parties

to allow the government more time in office (note: the Attorney General announced later on October 1

that he had referred the first case, against Chat Thai, to the Constitution Court for review).

9. (C) On the ongoing PAD occupation of Government House, XXXXXXXXXXXX said he had twice

spoken with PAD XXXXXXXXXXXX, most recently on the night of September 30. XXXXXXXXXXXX

described his approach toward the PAD as similar to that which he had taken toward communist

insurgents in the 1970s and 80s: he would initially stress commonalities while deemphasizing

differences, which would be sorted out later. (Septel will report XXXXXXXXXXXX’s views on mediating

the southern insurgency.) JOHN

Written by thaicables

December 15, 2010 at 3:33 am

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