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05BANGKOK2261 AMBASSADOR HILL’S MEETING WITH OPPOSITION MP SURIN PITSUWAN

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“29753”,”3/30/2005 12:00″,”05BANGKOK2261″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002261

 

SIPDIS

 

SEOUL FOR AMBASSADOR HILL. DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ

USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2015

TAGS: PREL, PHUM, TH, BM, BURMA, ASEAN,

ARF – Asean Regional Forum, Southern Thailand,

NRC – National Reconciliation Committee

SUBJECT: THAILAND: AMBASSADOR HILL\’S MEETING WITH

OPPOSITION MP SURIN PITSUWAN

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission, Alex A. Arvizu, Reason: 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: A/S Designate for East Asia and Pacific and

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Christopher Hill met with opposition

Democrat Party (DP) Deputy Leader and former Foreign Minister

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan on March 29. Surin urged the U.S. to

continue to pressure Thailand and ASEAN partners to seek

democratic reform in Burma by withholding the ASEAN

chairmanship from the SPDC in 2006. He stated that the ASEAN

Regional Forum (ARF) should become more than just a

discussion group, and suggested appointment of an ARF

\”special envoy\” for the Korean peninsula. Surin opined that

the new National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), chaired by

former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, might prove to be

more than Prime Minister Thaksin bargained for. End Summary.

 

2. (U) U.S. Ambassador to Korea Christopher Hill, the A/S

Designate for EAP, Ambassador Boyce and Poloffs from Embassy

Seoul and Bangkok met with opposition DP Party Leader Dr.

Surin Pitsuwan, a former foreign minister in the Chuan

Leekpai administration. The veteran Muslim MP recalled how

former Secretary of State Colin Powell, at the ARF meeting in

Phnom Penh in June 2003, had set the right tone for U.S.

relations in Southeast Asia with the statement that although

the fight against terror must be made, the U.S. must uphold

human rights at the same time. Surin said that he had

recently spoken with some Thai economists who were surprised

at the recent U.S. Human Rights Report chapter on Thailand.

Surin\’s contacts were under the (obviously uninformed)

impression that the US was only concerned about the war on

terror and other security issues and no longer interested in

human rights.

 

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON BURMA

 

3. (C) Surin stated that \”Southeast Asia is coming back\” in

the area of human rights, citing recent democratic changes in

Indonesia. He commented that the current Thai government has

an \”authoritarian bent\” under Prime Minister Thaksin. He

lamented being in the opposition and the magnitude of his

party\’s defeat in the recent national elections, but said

that the DP and other opposition parties will continue to

debate the government, albeit with a weaker voice. He

stressed that, because of the governing Thai Rak Thai (TRT)

party\’s dominance in Parliament, U.S. dialogue with the RTG,

especially via ASEAN, is vital. On Burma, Surin said he

thought that U.S. approaches to ASEAN to \”pressure\” the SPDC

to skip their slated 2006 chairmanship would meet with a

favorable response at this time. He suggested that one

compromise would be to allow the SPDC to host some ASEAN

meetings, but not serve as chair. Surin thought that ASEAN

was undertaking a \”real evaluation\” of the issue. The EU and

Australia were \”coming around\” to this point of view and,

with help from the US, Japan might as well. Ambassador Boyce

mentioned his recent meeting with Japanese Deputy Foreign

Minister Tanaka and Tanaka\’s recent meeting with Burmese

Prime Minister Soe Win (Septel).

 

ARF ROLE IN KOREAN PENINSULA?

 

4. (C) Surin raised the issue of the ASEAN Regional Forum

(ARF) and its need to play a more meaningful role in the

region. He suggested that an ARF \”special envoy\” to the

Korean peninsula be appointed, not as a mediator, but as a

\”messenger\” — one who could gather information and share it

among the members of the six-party talks. Ambassador Hill

said he would raise this idea in Washington once he takes up

his new post.

 

SOUTHERN THAILAND

 

5. (U) On continuing violence in the three southernmost

provinces of Thailand, Surin commented that the south has

been a problem for many previous governments. The Thaksin

government had seriously miscalculated by dismantling

previous successful security structures shortly after it

assumed power in 2001, Surin said. This led to a crisis in

human rights violations and in the rule of law as the

government tried to quell rising violence. Surin noted not

only the thousands of suspected extrajudicial killings

nationwide in 2003 during the government\’s anti-narcotics

campaign — which he said some put as high as 3,000 — but

claimed that he has heard of thousands of disappeared or

\”kidnapped\” Muslim \”suspects\” in the South. (Comment: These

numbers, in both cases, strike us as exaggerated. End

Comment.)

 

EDUCATION REFORM, THE NRC AND COUNTERING THAKSIN\’S WEEKLY

RADIO ADDRESS

6. (U) On other topics, Surin discussed the need for

education reform in Muslim schools (pondoks or madrasas). In

most areas of the far south, he said, the traditional Muslim

curriculum was taught in the morning, while the \”modern\”

curriculum was left for the afternoons, resulting in a

\”half-baked\” education that left the youth entering the job

market with few skills or educational achievements. The

curricula in Thai, English, math, science and information

technology must be strengthened. Surin commented that the

composition of the newly formed National Reconciliation

Commission (NRC) was good, balanced and hopeful. He wondered

openly what the Commission will do with its 9-month mandate

and expressed his hope that recommendations can be passed

along quickly for action, and that meetings can be held as

events take place. Surin was pleased that Anand Panyarachun,

the highly respected former prime minister, was not afraid to

openly criticize Thaksin, noting Anand,s call for public

release of the reports of the Independent Commissions

investigating the incidents at the Krue Se mosque in April

2004 and at Tak Bai in October 2004. Surin noted that

\”Thaksin may come to regret appointing Anand.\” He also

mentioned the worrisome trend toward concentration of

corporate and RTG control of the broadcast media and said

that DP opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva will propose an

equal air time \”right of reply\” to counter PM Thaksin,s

influential weekly Saturday radio address.

 

7. (U) Ambassador Hill did not have the opportunity to clear

on this message.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 8:06 am

05BANGKOK2257 THAI POLITICAL UPDATE — MARCH 30, 2005

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“29740”,”3/30/2005 9:47″,”05BANGKOK2257″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED”,”05BANGKOK2017″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS BANGKOK 002257

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, TH, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE — MARCH 30, 2005

 

REF: BANGKOK 2017

 

1. (U) HOUSE SPEAKER\’S PARLIAMENTARY PERFORMANCE HARSHLY

CRITICIZED

 

The opposition Democrat Party (DP) again walked out in

protest of actions by House Speaker Bhokin Bhalakula. The

latest protest occurred on March 25 when Bhokin rejected a

request by Democrat Party Chief Advisor (and former prime

minister) Chuan Leekpai to clarify references made to him by

Deputy Interior Minister Sermsak Pongpanich. This is the

second walkout in less than two weeks (reftel). Bhokin, who

was strongly backed Prime Minister Thaksin and his wife for

the House Speaker\’s position has been subject to ridicule

even by some Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party colleagues, especially

the Mod Dum (Black Ant) faction led by First Deputy House

Speaker Suchart Tanchareon, for his clumsy performance as

Speaker. DP MPs, of course, are scathing in their accusations

that Bhokin is biased and prejudiced in a position that

should be at the least nominally neutral. Critics of a

Thai-language daily even dubbed him \”dictatorial Bho-Shin,\”

sarcastically rhyming his name with that of the PM Thaksin,s

Shin Corporation. More serious commentators have criticized

Bhokin but also chastised the DP for being so quick to walk

and trivializing its role as the lead opposition party.

 

2. (U) BUT THAKSIN DENIES BHOKIN ABOUT TO BE REPLACED

 

Prime Minister Thaksin subsequently defended Bhokin\’s

performance as House Speaker, saying that he was

\”straightforward\” in his approach to the job but also

suggesting that Bhokin could be \”more compromising\” in

conducting House sessions and seek more cooperation from both

Government and Opposition whips in settling any conflict.

Thaksin denied any truth to widespread rumors that House

Speaker Bhokin was about to be replaced, claiming that any

new speaker would face the same challenges from Opposition

members.

 

3. (U) TRT FACTION LEADER SANOH REPORTEDLY SNUBS THAKSIN\’S

GOLF INVITATION

 

Meanwhile, Sanoh Thienthong, leader of the TRT Wang Nam Yen

faction, is apparently still smarting over Prime Minister

Thaksin\’s \”insulting\” offer to appoint him as honorary chief

advisor to the government whip. He has spurned the Prime

Minister\’s offer to join in a conciliatory round of golf.

The invitation from Thaksin came after last week\’s strong

public grumbling by Sanoh and his faction supporters over

what they considered a paucity of positions allocated to

their faction – the last straw being the offer to Sanoh of

the honorary whip advisor\’s post — a position that Sanoh

described as \”a joke.\” Thaksin shrugged off the snub,

telling reporters that he had not invited only Sanoh to play

and besides that, The Prime Minister added, the only purpose

of his game was \”to have fun and relax.\”

 

4. (U) CABINET MAKES NEW APPOINTMENTS

 

On March 22, the Cabinet announced the appointment of a

number of MPs and others to political posts. Some of these

include:

 

(1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dr. Pracha Kunakasem (Party List 2) – appointed as the

Foreign Minister\’s Advisor

Mr. Pitiphong Temcharoen (Bangkok MP) – appointed as the

Foreign Minister,s Secretary

Mr. Phairot Tanbanchong (Phayao MP) – appointed as the Deputy

Foreign Minister\’s Secretary

(2) Dr. Phansak Winyarat – appointed as Chairman of the PM,s

Policy Advisory Board.

 

(3) Mr. Jakrapop Phenkhae (the ex-Government Spokesman)

appointed as Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Surakiat

Sathienthai,s Secretary.

 

(4) Former Justice Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana appointed

as Head Government Whip.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

Posted in Unclassified

05BANGKOK2255 NATIONAL RECONCILIATION COMMISSION ANNOUNCED

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“29739”,”3/30/2005 9:46″,”05BANGKOK2255″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

“05BANGKOK1528″,”This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002255

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, NRC – National Reconciliation Committee

SUBJECT: NATIONAL RECONCILIATION COMMISSION ANNOUNCED

 

REF: BANGKOK 1528

 

1. (U) Summary: On March 28, Prime Minister Thaksin

officially appointed a broad-based 48-member National

Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to explore solutions to the

ongoing separatist turmoil in Thailand\’s predominantly Muslim

southern provinces. NRC Chairperson and former Prime

Minister Anand Panyarachun, who is not a political ally of

Thaksin, expressed satisfaction at the Prime Minister\’s

immediate acceptance of the list of recommended members he

submitted. Anand told the press that he had tried to

assemble a diverse group and noted that some members were

critics of Thaksin\’s policies. Local observers have praised

the composition of the NRC for its balance of government,

academic, NGO, military and political opposition

representatives. About one third of the NRC\’s members are

Muslims. Anand counseled patience to the public, saying that

the NRC will likely need a full nine months to finish its

work and present policy recommendations. The first meeting

of the Commission is slated for April 8. The NRC membership

follows in para 2.

 

2. (U) National Reconciliation Commission Members are:

 

Chairman: Anand Panyarachun – Former Prime Minister

 

Deputy: Prawese Wasi – Noted social critic and Ramon

Magsaysay winner for Government Service (1981)

 

Civilian Representatives (from the South):

 

Gen. (retd.) Narong Dejudom – Former 4th Army Commander

 

Netr Chantharasami – Businessman and department store

owner in Hat Yai

Bancha Pongpanich – Former Rector of Walailak

University, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province

Prasit Meksuwan – Secretary-General of the Teachers

Confederation in five southern provinces

Piya Kitthavorn – Faculty of Humanities and Social

Science, Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani

Petdao Tohmena – Medical Doctor and daughter of Senator

Den Tohmena

Maryam Samoh – Director of the Orphanage Center in

Pattani Province

Muhamad Adam – Director of the Narul Islam Bhumi School

in Pattani Province

Ratiya Salae – Lecturer, Thaksin University, Songkhla

Province

Woravit Baru – Vice-Rector, Prince of Songkhla

University, Pattani

Aedueramae Mamingli – Chairman of the Pattani Islamic

Committee

Ananchai Thaiprathan – Advisor to the Young Muslim

Association

Ismail Lutfi Japakiya – Rector of Yala Islamic College

Abduirohmae Jehsae – Chairman of the Yala Islamic

Committee

Abduraman Abdulsamad – Chairman of the Narathiwat

Islamic Committee

Asmadsomboon Bualuang – Lecturer, Prince of Songkhla

University

 

Civilian Representatives (from other regions of Thailand):

 

Chaiwat Satha-anand – Lecturer and Director of the Peace

Information Center, Foundation for Democracy and

Development Studies

Dejudom Krairit – President of the Law Society of Thailand

Naree Charoenpolpirlya – Instructor at the Peace Information

Center

Pichai Rattanpol – Chairman of the National Security

Council\’s Non-Violent Strategy Committee

Piphob Thongchai – Advisor to the Campaign for Popular

Democracy

Paisal Promyong – Deputy Secretary-General of the

Central Islamic Committee of Thailand

Phra Paisal Visaro – Abbot of Wat Pasukato, Chayaphum

Province

Mark Tamthai – Director of the Religious and Cultural

Studies Center, Pyap University

Srisak Wallipodom – Historian and Archaeologist

Saowanee Chitmuad – Lecturer Rajabhat University

Ammar Siamwala – Honorary Advisor to the Thailand

Development and Research Institute (TDRI)

 

Political Representatives:

 

Kanchana Silpa-archa – Chart Thai Party MP from

Suphanburi Province

Chaturon Chaisaeng – Deputy Prime Minister

Pol.Gen. Chitchai Wannasathit – Deputy Prime Minister

and Interior Minister

Prasert Pongsuwansiri – Democrat Party MP from Yala

Province

Pongthep Thepkanchana – Thai Rak Thai Party-List MP and

Government Head Whip

Surin Pitsuwan – Democrat Party Deputy Leader and

former Foreign Minister

Sophon Supapong – Bangkok Senator

 

Government:

 

Kittipong Kityarak – Director-General of the Probation

Department, Ministry of Justice

Jiraporn Bunnag – Deputy Secretary-General of the

National Security Council, The Prime Minister\’s Office

Pornnipa Limpapayom – Secretary-General of the Office

of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education

Vichai Thienthawom – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of

Public Health

Lt.Gen. Weipote Srinual – Assistant Chief-of-Staff,

Royal Thai Army

Sirachi Choterat – Deputy Director-General of the

National Intelligence Agency, The Prime Minister\’s Office

Pol. Lt.Gen. Somsak Khwaengsopa – Commissioner of the

Border Patrol Police

Gen. Sirichai Thanyasiri – Director-General of the

Southern Border Provinces Peace Promotion Center

Sucharit Patchimnant – Director-General of the

Provincial Administration Department, Ministry of Interior

 

National Reconciliation Commission Secretariat Office:

 

Bavornsak Uvanno – Secretary-General of the Southern

Border Provinces Peace Promotion Center

Gothom Ariya – Lecturer, Peace Solution Studies and

Development Center, Mahidol University

Surichai Wankaeo – Lecturer, Political Science Faculty,

Chulalongkorn University

 

A DIVERSE GROUP

 

3. (SBU) As noted above, Anand recruited a diverse group of

nationally-known academics, government officials, opposition

politicians, and social activists to the NRC. For example,

Police General Chitchai Wannasathit is the senior Deputy

Prime Minister, Interior Minister, a close personal associate

of Thaksin and his designated overseer of security activities

in the south. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, on the other hand, is a

nationally-regarded opposition Democrat Party Member of

Parliament (MP), a Muslim, and former foreign minister in

Chuan Leekpai\’s government. He has sharply criticized the

Thaksin Administration\’s policies in the South. Prawet Wasi

is a sharp-tongued social commentator and frequent Thaksin

critic. Ammar Sianwalar is an Advisor to the Thailand

Development Research Institute, and Gothom Ariya was Chairman

of Forum Asia, the regional human rights NGO. Mark Tamthai

is a prominent academic and senior advisor to the Thai

National Security Council (NSC) on southern issues. Ismael

Lutfi Japakiya is the highly controversial Rector of Yala

Islamic College. Many of the NRC civil society members

strongly criticized Thaksin for seeking to establish a

\”zoning policy\” in southern Thailand, that would have

punished villages in \”red\” areas for \”cooperating\” with

separatist groups. Widespread opposition to this zoning

policy eventually led to Thaksin\’s formation of the

Commission and selection of Anand to head it (Reftel). More

detailed bio material on NRC members will be provided septel.

 

NOW ANAND HAS HIS MISSION

 

4. (SBU) Comment: Thaksin\’s choice of the widely-regarded

former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun to head the

high-profile NRC was a surprise. During a meeting March 29

with visiting A/S Designate Chris Hill and the Ambassador

(Septel), opposition MP and commission member Surin noted

Anand\’s ability to openly criticize Thaksin, even as the NRC

is just being formed. \”The Prime Minister may regret that he

appointed Anand to head this commission,\” Surin said. Some

cynics say that Thaksin wants to pass the responsibility for

solving the chronic troubles in the South to Anand and his

Commission, while others have insisted that Thaksin,

realizing that he\’s hit a dead end in resolving the violence

is sincerely hoping Anand and the NRC come up with a workable

plan. We lean towards the latter characterization of the

Prime Minister\’s attitude. For now, all eyes will be on the

commission at the outset of what will be a long and difficult

process to find ways to peacefully resolve the increasingly

bloody conflict in the Muslim south.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 8:03 am

05BANGKOK2137 MEGAPROJECTS: WE KNOW WHY, NOBODY KNOWS HOW

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“29541”,”3/25/2005 5:18″,”05BANGKOK2137″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

“05BANGKOK1266″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002137

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EB

STATE PASS TO USTR FOR WEISEL AND COEN

TREASURY FOR OASIA

COMMERCE FOR 4430/EAP/MAC/OKSA

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON, EFIN, ETRD, PREL, TH

SUBJECT: MEGAPROJECTS: WE KNOW WHY, NOBODY KNOWS HOW

 

REF: BANGKOK 1266

 

1.(SBU) Summary. The economic centerpiece of Prime Minister

Thaksin\’s second term is a series of major infrastructure

projects estimated to cost US$57.5 billion over five years.

It remains unclear how the RTG will finance these projects

given self-imposed fiscal constraints, previous projects that

disadvantaged private investors and an illiquid bond market.

Given the importance Thaksin attaches to these projects, we

expect he will engineer a formula to try and attract

financing without any government guarantee of repayment.

Whether he actually convinces enough investors to put their

money where the PM\’s mouth is must await specifics. End

Summary.

 

\”COMMITTED PROJECTS\” NOT A PROBLEM

———————————-

 

2.(SBU) As reported previously (reftel), the Thaksin

government has announced plans to undertake massive

infrastructure expansion and modernization projects estimated

to cost Bt2.35 trillion (US$57.5 billion) over the next five

years. The total RTG budget for FY2005 is about Bt1.2

trillion (US$30.8 billion) and 2004 GDP was Bt6.6 trillion

(US$169.3 billion). Projects the RTG describes as \”committed\”

include the purchase of new aircraft by parastatal Thai

Airways, rail links to the new Bangkok international airport

and industrial development in the area around the airport,

expansion of the existing Skytrain and subway lines,

expansion of the highway system, expansion of the gas

pipeline system and low-income housing development. Projects

that are planned but \”non-committed\” include expansion of the

railroad network, expansion and modernization of the water

grid and development of a refinery and oil pipeline

associated with the \”land bridge\” project across the Thai

isthmus between the Andaman Sea and Gulf of T

hailand.

 

WHY THE SUDDEN URGE TO SPLURGE

——————————

 

3.(SBU) The RTG has several goals in pursuing these ambitious

\”megaprojects.\” First, is to stimulate investment as the new

driver to the Thai economy now that domestic consumption and

export growth are leveling off. The second goal is to upgrade

Thailand\’s infrastructure so that the country is better able

to compete internationally. The stated intention is to reduce

the cost of logistics in Thailand to less than 10 percent of

GDP from its current level of about 19 percent (U.S. and

Japan figures are 10 and 11 percent respectively). It is also

intended to improve worker productivity by reducing the

amount of time Bangkokians spend commuting. In the aftermath

of the 1997-1998 financial crisis, little new public

infrastructure investment has been made. Finally, in keeping

with Thaksin\’s self-image as Thailand\’s CEO, he views the

on-going excess liquidity in the banking sector (estimated to

be Bt200-300 billion -US$5.1-7.7 billion) as an

under-utilized asset that should be mobilized.

 

FISCAL POLICY TO REMAIN CONSERVATIVE

————————————

 

4.(SBU) The RTG does not intend to pay for these projects out

of current budget expenditures or by increasing the net debt

on the government\’s balance sheet. \”Fiscal sustainability\”

is the government\’s watchword: defined, in part, as a maximum

public debt/GDP ratio of less than 50 percent (currently

about 47.9 percent – down from 52.9 percent in January 2002 -

with an RTG goal of reducing this number to 40 percent by

2009), a balanced budget and debt service comprising less

than 15 percent of the yearly RTG budget. With additional

calls on the budget ranging from increasing the salaries of

low-paid civil servants to tsunami and drought relief efforts

to expenditures related to quelling the separatist movement

in the south, there is little room in the RTG budget to

finance the megaprojects and within the defined fiscal limits

even if the economy continues to grow at 6 percent each year.

 

SO HOW TO PAY FOR IT ALL?

————————-

 

5.(SBU) The official capital-raising framework outlined by

the Ministry Of Finance plans for 26 percent of the required

capital to come from the government budget, 35 percent from

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and 39 percent from \”other

means such as securitisation or property development of areas

adjacent to the projects.\” In fact, to bridge the apparent

gap between fiscal rectitude and an investment binge, the

Thaksin administration is studying a variety of approaches to

keep these projects off the government books. First, many of

the \’committed\’ projects will be undertaken by SOEs (Thai

Airways, Airports of Thailand, PTT) that will finance the

projects themselves either on the strength of their own

balance sheets, through asset-backed financing or by forming

joint ventures with private sector companies and/or financial

institutions. Market observers seem confident that these

established organizations can use the cash to be generated by

the projects, backed by their other substantial assets, to

secure proj

ect financing.

 

6.(SBU) For the mass transit expansion projects – extensions

of the Skytrain, subway and toll roads – the RTG would like

follow its previously successful method of granting long-term

concessions (typically 25 years) to Special Purpose Vehicles

- companies created specifically to build and operate these

concessions. Existing examples of such entities are Bangkok

Metro PCL – subways, Bangkok Expressway PCL – toll roads, and

Bangkok Mass Transit PCL – Skytrain. These companies are

typically joint ventures between leading Thai companies with

the key foreign infrastructure suppliers (e.g. Siemens,

Obiyashi) often taking an equity stake. The problem is that

the equity investors in these projects have not done well.

The RTG has limited the amounts the ventures may charge for

their services (fares and tolls) and is currently trying to

force operators of the Skytrain and subway to sell out to the

mass transit regulatory authority at what the companies

consider a low price. This history will make it very

difficult to

convince new private investors to commit to any equity

positions in the proposed projects.

 

7.(SBU) The most likely structure will be for the RTG to

create \”Public-Private partnerships\”, not-for-profit limited

liability companies with initial capital provided by the

government and granted a concession to built and operate a

subway line or toll road or some other potential asset. These

entities will issue bonds backed by the value of the

anticipated future cash flow from its concession. There would

be no RTG guarantee backing the debt.

 

BOND MARKET PROBLEMS

——————–

 

8.(SBU) There are several problems with this model. First,

given the inherent risk of construction delays and over-runs,

the debt will have to be very attractively priced (i.e. offer

a high yield) in order to attract investors, especially in

the absence of RTG backing. Second, if Bt2.3 trillion in new

projects actually start-up over the next five years, in a

domestic bond market which currently has severe liquidity

problems and rising interest rates, the effect on corporate

borrowing rates and crowding out effect could be severe.

There is considerable skepticism among Thai market

participants whether the domestic market has sufficient depth

to absorb this much new paper. In November 2004, the total

value of all outstanding bonds in Thailand was Bt2.74

trillion (US$70.3 billion) of which Bt2.51 trillion (US$64.4

billion) was either issued or backed by the RTG.

 

9.(SBU) Some observers posit that the RTG will provide the

necessary capital to the PPPs with no effect on the RTG net

debt level through the proceeds from IPOs of State-Owned

Enterprises EGAT (electricity) and CAT and TOT (telecom)

while also removing the government guarantee from the debt of

these entities (thereby making room for new RTG debt to be

issued under the debt/GDP cap). While this would be a start,

the total of all RTG-guaranteed SOE bonds outstanding is only

about Bt322 billion (US$8.3 billion); not enough even with

the IPO proceeds to fund everything anticipated. Others

point to the Asian Bond market initiative as a source of

funds. There is no indication, however, that ASEAN central

banks are interested in funding Thai infrastructure

development, or even having more than a nominal exposure to

Baht. This nascent effort for a pan-Asian debt market would

have to develop much more quickly than it has to date in

order to be a source of funds for the mega-projects

 

10.(SBU) COMMENT. We have spoken to money managers, bond

market senior officials, academics and RTG officials

responsible for managing government debt and designing some

of the projects. None have been able to explain how the

government will follow through on its seemingly contradictory

promises of expanding investment while reducing debt. Most

are dubious it can be done, with some arguing that the entire

exercise is designed to channel funds to Thaksin family and

cronies (septel will examine the issue of corruption in

Thailand – anecdotally it appears that large scale corruption

may be getting worse while petty corruption may have

marginally improved).

 

11.(SBU) The mega-projects are the single most important new

plank in Thaksin\’s economic strategy for his second term. As

an economist who helped design the \”dual track\” economic

policy of Thaksin\’s first term told us, \”Keynesian demand-led

recovery is played out. We must move on to the next level for

the economy to continue to grow.\” He continued: \”In creating

economic value, Thailand is ahead of China and about ten

years behind Taiwan and Korea. We must maintain our pace to

stay ahead of fast-moving China. We can\’t do that without

significant new investment in infrastructure and improving

human resources. I just don\’t know how we will pay for it.\”

Although many here believe the PM\’s program is mostly talk

and the majority of projects won\’t get off the ground, the

Prime Minister\’s penchant for financial engineering means we

cannot rule out a scheme that, at least on its face, gets the

mega-projects underway. We suspect that Thaksin will be

aggressively marketing portfolio investment in Thailand to

foreigners

beginning with a planned visit to New York in June.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 8:02 am

05BANGKOK2088 THE AMBASSADOR\’S MEETING WITH THAI NSC SECRETARY GENERAL WINAI

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“29385”,”3/23/2005 9:24″,”05BANGKOK2088″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002088

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, PRM, EAP/BCLTV. GENEVA FOR RMA. HQ

USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2015

TAGS: PREF, PREL, PTER, PGOV, TH, BM, BURMA, Refugee

SUBJECT: THE AMBASSADOR\’S MEETING WITH THAI NSC SECRETARY

GENERAL WINAI

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason: 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) Summary. Thai National Security Council Secretary

General Winai told the Ambassador on March 21 that after two

postponements of the original August 2004 deadline for the

move of the urban Burmese to the border camps, there would be

no further extensions of the current deadline of March 31.

Only a small percentage of the urban Burmese have registered

so far for the camp transfer. The Ambassador emphasized U.S.

concern about the camp move and expressed hope that there

would be no general crackdown on urban Burmese who did not

register, and particularly no refoulement of urban Burmese

refugees. Winai said the RTG was not planning any crackdown

or searches for urban Burmese but Thai immigration law would

be applied to those who were detained by Thai authorities.

The Ambassador noted U.S. interest in further discussions

with the RTG on refugee resettlement from the Burma border

camps and the planned April visit of PRM DAS Ryan in which

this issue could be explored further. Winai welcomed the

news of Ryan\’s visit and said the RTG was open to

resettlement from the camps. Winai also described the

evolution in the RTG\’s assessment of the violence in southern

Thailand. The RTG had not initially understood the situation

and that real sensitivities and grievances existed which

needed addressing. The RTG believed the strategy of those

behind the violence was to separate the people from the

government and internationalize the issue. The latter and

the possibility that the southern situation would become a

religious conflict were what the RTG feared most. At the

conclusion of the meeting, Winai told the Ambassador that he

did not expect to remain long in his position. End Summary.

 

2. (C) On March 21, Ambassador called on General Winai

Phattiyakul, Thai National Security Council Secretary

General, and raised refugee issues and the situation in

southern Thailand.

 

————————————

Urban Burmese Refugee Issue

————————————

 

3. (C) General Winai began the discussion by expressing Thai

gratitude for the U.S. resettlement programs for the Hmong

and urban Burmese. Winai noted that both groups were in a

difficult situation and had few opportunities in Thailand.

The urban Burmese in particular faced an uncertain future.

It was unclear whether there would be positive political

developments in Burma that would allow them to return there.

Winai said that some in the group were driven by political

principles and were involved in political activities. Others

were engaged in criminal activities. Thailand had to exert

some control over them. The Ambassador replied that the

Hmong resettlement program had been delayed by a disease

outbreak that would delay the completion of the program for

several months. He asked General Winai to explain the

background of the urban Burmese situation and the current

plan to move them to the border camps.

 

4. (C) Winai recounted that political demonstrations in

mid-2003 by urban Burmese outside the Burmese Embassy in

Bangkok, which criticized Thai and Burmese government

policies had led Prime Minister Thaksin to direct that the

urban Burmese be moved to the border camps by August 2004 and

not engage in political activities. Winai added that the

Prime Minister had also accused UNHCR at the time of

conducting refugee status interviews for this group without

informing the Thai government. (Comment. UNHCR had in fact

regularly kept the Thai Foreign Ministry appraised of its

refugee interview activities. End comment.) The Thai

government had decided also that the urban Burmese could

choose resettlement to third countries. UNHCR had not

contested the Thai government position. Winai continued that

the United States had then stepped in and offered to resettle

the urban Burmese. As August 2004 approached, the United

States and UNHCR had asked for an extension of the deadline

for the border camp move. The RTG had agreed to this and

also to a subsequent request to postpone the deadline to the

end of March 2005. Over this period the number of urban

Burmese whom UNHCR said had refugee status had increased from

about 1,800 to about 4,400. Resettlement countries had taken

so far about 2,000 of the 4,400.

 

5. (C) Winai said that there could not be further extensions

of the March 31 deadline. He added that there was space for

1,800 persons in three of the refugee camps near the

Thai-Burma border. To ensure there was enough room in the

camps, the urban Burmese could be staged into the camps

according to their position in the resettlement pipeline.

That is, those who had been refused by resettlement countries

should be moved first and those who had appealed a negative

decision by a resettlement country could be moved next.

Those who already had a date for departure to a third country

should be the last to move to the camps. Winai noted that

only a small number of urban Burmese in Bangkok had

registered so far for the camp transfer. The number in Mae

Sot was about 400. UNHCR had told the urban Burmese that

they would lose their right to resettlement if they did not

report for the transfer. Resettlement countries would be

able to continue processing of the urban Burmese after they

went to the camps.

 

6. (C) The Ambassador emphasized that there was serious

concern among NGOs and in the U.S. Congress about the planned

move. He added that some of the refugees had worries about

camp conditions. Others might have medical or security

problems if they moved to the camps. The Ambassador said

that the U.S. hoped that there would not be a strong RTG

reaction against those urban Burmese who did not register for

the camp transfer. In particular the United States opposed

any refoulement of refugees.

 

7. (C) Winai responded that, &frankly,8 the RTG was not

planning a general crackdown or large-scale searches for the

urban Burmese after the March 31 deadline passed. However,

the urban Burmese would be subject to Thai immigration law

after March 31. He added that the Thai government had not

formally deported refugees to the Burmese authorities, but

acknowledged that some were taken to the Burma border and

released there, whereupon they typically returned to Thailand.

 

——————————————-

Burma Refugee Camp Resettlement

——————————————-

 

8. (C) The Ambassador said that the U.S. was interested in

resettlement of refugees from the Burma border camps. As a

start, the U.S. wanted to look at the Tham Hin refugee camp.

Resettlement from that site could begin towards the end of

this year. He noted that PRM DAS Kelly Ryan would be

visiting Thailand April 20-22 and would have more to say on

this issue.

 

9. (C) Winai responded that he looked forward to Ryan\’s

visit. He said that the situation in Tham Hin was not good

and the refugees there had little opportunity to develop

themselves. Many had been in the camps for 20 years. The

best alternative would be if they had an opportunity to

return to Burma. Winai described how a recent Thai military

delegation to Rangoon had raised this issue and Burmese

leader Maung Aye had said that the Burmese government, in a

policy shift, was now willing to issue passports to Burmese

workers who returned to Burma from Thailand so they in turn

could come back to Thailand under the Thai migrant worker

registration program. Winai said this statement by Maung Aye

would have to be pursued further to determine if it

represented a real change. Maung Aye had also said Rangoon

was willing to accept back to Burma those who had left

because they were fleeing fighting. However, Rangoon was not

willing to permit those Burmese who rebelled against the

government to return. Winai said that it was not clear what

distinction there was between the second and third groups.

 

10. (C) Winai said that when he first took the position of

NSC Secretary General, there had been concern in the RTG that

any resettlement program from the border camps would be a

pull factor and draw more Burmese into Thailand. Now,

however, there was little fighting in eastern Burma and so

concerns in this area had lessened. The RTG, including the

Prime Minister, was agreeable to resettlement from the border

camps. Winai said it was important now also for the camp

refugees to have greater educational and vocational training

opportunities. This would give them skills that they could

use if they were able to return to Burma. If, on the other

hand, they stayed in Thailand and became Thai, they could

make a contribution to Thai society.

 

————————–

Situation in the South

————————–

 

11. (C) Winai said that the RTG\’s views about the situation

in southern Thailand had changed over the past two years.

Initially, the RTG had thought that the perpetrators of the

violence were bandits, criminals involved in illegal

activities, or influential local persons who had differences

with Thai officials. The RTG also believed that some in the

South, particularly the younger generation, still had notions

of separatism, but did not have the means to put such ideas

into action. Later, the RTG realized the situation was more

complex and that some Southerners felt that Thai society and

Thai officials did not treat them justly. These feelings

were genuine, different from the feelings of other Thai.

Southerners were very sensitive on this point. The RTG also

discovered that the Ministry of Education had little

knowledge about the teachers and curriculum in the Muslim

schools in the South. It learned that many Thai students

were going to schools in Indonesia. The Indonesian

government had asked for the Thai government\’s assistance in

tracking the movements of these students.

 

12. (C) Winai said those behind the southern violence wanted

to separate the people from the government, draw foreign

attention to the situation, and internationalize the issue.

The RTG feared most that the situation would become a

religious conflict and become internationalized. Winai noted

that it was not yet clear what role the newly formed National

Reconciliation Commission (NRC) headed by former Prime

Minister Anand Panyarachun would play. He thought it would

try to identify legitimate grievances and what could be done

to address them.

 

13. (C) The Ambassador said that as a friend of Thailand, he

was concerned about the situation in the South. He

understood the issue of the sensitivity of Muslim feelings

based on his experience in Indonesia. The Ambassador said

there seemed to be disagreement on whether the disbanding

several years earlier by Prime Minister Thaksin of the

long-standing commission of military, police, officials and

southern civilians that had addressed general problems in the

region was a mistake and contributed to the current

instability. Winai responded that he felt the old commission

had played a useful role. However, the Prime Minister at the

time had been told that law enforcement officials could

handle the situation and that the number of persons with guns

in the South totaled no more than 50. In addition, the three

southern provinces were a part of Thailand and should not

necessarily be treated or governed differently from the rest

of the country. Winai added that the problems in the South

had ebbed and flowed for about 100 years.

 

14. (C) Winai said that the new RTG approach would be to

accept that there were cultural differences with the South.

These differences should be looked at as an asset.

Southerners would also have full religious freedom. However,

there would be no special autonomy. The RTG was now giving

Southerners special preferences in the test for entering the

police force since they would otherwise not pass. Many of

the 1,900 new police hired for the South would be from the

region. The Ministry of Education would also take a much

more active role in improving the curriculum in the Islamic

schools. The schools currently did not teach regular

subjects and this made it difficult for graduates to obtain

jobs. Winai stated that senior southern religious leaders

had recently met with the RTG and said that they wanted a

return to normalcy. They asked the RTG to improve security

in the South and said that most southerners wanted peace.

 

15. (C) In an aside to the Ambassador at the conclusion of

the meeting, General Winai said that he did not expect to

remain long in his current position. He hoped to return to

the military and retire from there.

 

16. (C) Comment. Winai\’s comment that there are no plans for

a general crackdown on urban Burmese after the March 31

deadline is positive, but Embassy will watch this issue

carefully. UNHCR and the RTG are now working feverishly to

put in place the necessary logistical arrangements for the

camp transfer. While some arrangements have been made

already, whether they will be sufficient will likely depend

on how many of the urban Burmese sign up for the camp move

and the pace of the movements.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 8:00 am

05BANGKOK2087 AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER APHISIT

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“29382”,”3/23/2005 9:16″,”05BANGKOK2087″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,”05BANGKOK1933″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002087

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, INR/B

PACOM OF FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH, Political Parties, Southern Thailand, US-Thai FTA, BIO Info

SUBJECT: THAILAND: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW DEMOCRAT PARTY

LEADER APHISIT

 

REF: BANGKOK 1933

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On March 21 the Ambassador met with

newly installed Democrat Party (DP) leader Aphisit

Wetchachiwa. Aphisit spoke candidly about mistakes made by

the DP during the election and discussed how he hoped to form

the party into an effective opposition to Prime Minister

Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. Acknowledging the

seriousness of the situation in southern Thailand, Aphisit

said the creation of a National Reconciliation Commission

(NRC) offered the Thaksin administration a rare opportunity

to change its current failing policy; but the DP was not

convinced Thaksin would turn from populist calls for a

continued hard-line approach. Aphisit said Free Trade

Agreements would continue to be the government\’s highest

external priority. Aphisit is young, smart, telegenic,

articulate, and ambitious and could develop into a serious

future challenger for Thaksin. END SUMMARY

 

AFTER THE ELECTION DISASTER, A NEW DEMOCRAT LEADER

 

2. (U) On March 21 the Ambassador met with newly installed

Democrat Party (DP) leader Aphisit Wetchachiwa at the party\’s

headquarters. Aphisit assumed leadership of the DP after

Banyat Bantadtan stepped down (along with the entire DP

Executive Board) on February 8, 2005 following the party\’s

staggering defeat in the general election. The DP\’s 96 seats

in Parliament leave them unable to raise censure motions

against Prime Minister Thaksin\’s ministers.

 

3. (U) The DP, with more that 3.8 million registered

members, is Thailand\’s oldest active political party and has

deep roots in modern Thai democratic history (reftel).

However, the party has struggled with its current role as the

opposition party and has developed few successful approaches

to confront Thaksin and the TRT. During the election, the DP

was unable to pose a strong alternative to Thaksin, offering

policies that mimicked the TRT\’s while virtually conceding

defeat more than a year in advance.

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DEMOCRATS IN THE ELECTION?

 

4. (SBU) Discussing the recent election, Aphisit admitted

the DP never offered a credible alternative to Thaksin and

Thai Rak Thai (TRT). He said the DP had \”no clear message,\”

and didn\’t offer policy ideas clearly different from

Thaksin\’s populist measures. Aphisit said the DP would not

be an effective opposition party until they convinced the

public that they could effectively govern the country. He

promised that the DP would start offering alternatives to

Thaksin and TRT, instead of just criticizing from the

sidelines.

 

5. (SBU) Aphisit has indicated publicly that he is serious

about restructuring the DP to be more pro-active and capable

of dealing with the new style of politics that Thaksin has

introduced. He has also set a target of attracting at least

14 million votes in the 2009 general election; almost double

the votes the party received in February of this year.

Aphisit told the Ambassador that the DP would learn from

Thaksin and TRT\’s sophisticated campaign methods.

 

BECOMING AN EFFECTIVE OPPOSITION

 

6. (SBU) Aphisit agreed that Thai politics is evolving into

a two party system. However, the DP has a long way to go

before it is a credible alternative to Thaksin\’s TRT.

Aphisit said that the DP\’s goal was to establish a \”shadow\”

cabinet within two years, and within four years to have

developed enough credibility with the public to be viewed as

a real alternative to TRT.

 

WILLING TO WORK WITH THAKSIN ON THE SOUTH

 

7. (SBU) The Democrats won decisively in southern Thailand,

winning 52 of the region\’s 54 seats. They did especially

well in the three troubled provinces of Pattani, Yala, and

Narathiwat, winning 10 of 11 seats — including six held by

TRT incumbents. The DP\’s strong regional victory seems to

indicate a popular backlash to the Government\’s heavy-handed

security policy. Following the election, Aphisit has

traveled to the region, and has publicly discussed

alternatives to Thaksin\’s policies.

 

8. (SBU) Aphisit told the Ambassador the situation in

Thailand\’s far south is a \”national problem,\” and that he is

willing to work with the Thaksin administration. He said

there had been some hopeful recent developments in the South,

leading to a more conciliatory atmosphere. Aphisit said as

members of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) are

publicly announced — and as new policies were presented –

the DP would offer suggestions and would not be overly

critical.

 

9. (SBU) Aphisit opined that the creation of the NRC gave

the government a small window of opportunity to change its

approach to the problems of southern Thailand. Aphisit said

Anand Panyarachun, the universally respected former Prime

Minister and designated Chairman of the NRC, will give the

government good advice, and would not be unduly influenced or

bullied by Thaksin. Aphisit is worried, however, that

Thaksin will \”respond\” to public opinion — which clamors for

a hard-line approach — and end up ignoring the NRC\’s

findings.

 

10. (SBU) Aphisit blames Thaksin for the deteriorating

situation in the south and the widening gap between the

Buddhist and Muslim communities. He cited Thaksin\’s decision

to dissolve the combined civilian, military and police

command (CMP-43), which had been successful in building trust

among the local populace and coordinating security forces,

and his insensitive statements about Muslims. He said

Thaksin\’s hard-line approach plays right into separatist

hands by further alienating the population.

 

U.S./THAI RELATIONS – FOCUS ON THE FTA

 

11. (SBU) Turning toward the state of U.S./Thai relations,

Aphisit noted that much of the public\’s perceptions of the

U.S. would be influenced by developments in Iraq. He said

the government, however, is focused on the FTA. Aphisit

believes that Thaksin wants Thailand to become the first

country to have an FTA with China, India, Japan, and the U.S.

He said that the FTA will be the focus of our bilateral

relationship, and is correspondingly at the top of the DP\’s

agenda.

 

COMMENT

 

12. (SBU) Aphisit is very articulate and speaks in a crisp

English accent. He has made for TV good looks, and appears

even younger than his 40 years. With his appearance,

intellect, and experience, Aphisit could evolve into a

formidable political presence. However, he has yet to

demonstrate a forceful personality needed to counter

Thaksin\’s. Aphisit also has a huge challenge in crafting the

often fractious Democrats into a real opposition party, with

national reach, that can stand up to Thai Rak Thai and

recapture Government House. END COMMENT

 

BIOGRAPHIC NOTE

 

13. (U) Aphisit was born on August 3, 1964, in Bangkok.

His father, Dr. Atthasit Wetchachiwa, was Deputy Public

Health Minister in the Anand Panyarachun Administration. He

completed junior and senior high school at Eaton College,

England. Aphisit continued his studies in England, receiving

a bachelor\’s degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

(with First Class Honors) from Oxford University in 1986.

Upon returning to Thailand he taught economics for two years

at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, earning the rank of

Army Sub-Lieutenant. During this period he earned a LL.B.

from Ramkhamhaeng University. Aphisit then returned to

England where he completed a master\’s degree in Economics at

Oxford University, ranking first among 200 graduates.

 

14. (U) Due to his extraordinary academic record Aphisit

was admitted to the Economics Faculty of Thammasat University

in 1990 without undergoing the normal written examination.

During his two-year teaching stint at Thammasat he was well

regarded by both colleagues and students. During a one-year

period after the 1991-coup d\’etat Aphisit joined the

well-known economist and TV commentator Dr. Choemsak Pinthong

in running a political-oriented TV program \”Mong Tang Mum\” or

\”From Different Angles\”. Aphisit was an active academic

during this period, and publicly stood against the

military-dominated regime.

 

15. (U) Aphisit began his political career in March 1992

when he won a close race over a Phalang Tham Party candidate

to become the DP\’s only Bangkok MP. His decision to enter

politics came as no surprise to colleagues familiar with his

political ambition. He won successive elections in September

1992, July 1995, and November 1996. In the January 2001 and

February 2005 elections, he was elected from the DP Party

List.

 

16. (U) Aphisit was Government Spokesman from 1992-1994,

Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister in 1995, Chairman of

the House Standing Committee on Education during 1996-1997,

and Minister attached to the PM\’s Office from 1997-2001 –

his first ministerial assignment. At the DP\’s general

meeting on April 20, 2003, he lost a bitter leadership

contest to Banyat Bantadtan after former Prime Minister Chuan

Leekpai stepped down as DP leader. In that meeting, he was

chosen as the first deputy party leader.

 

17. (U) Following the TRT\’s landslide victory in the

February 2005 general election, the DP General Assembly

elected Aphisit as the new Party Leader with veteran southern

MP Suthep Thuaksuban as the Party Secretary General.

 

18. (U) Aphisit is married to Phimphen, the daughter of a

political scientist of Chulalongkorn University, Phongphen

Sakuntaphai, and a Bank of Thailand Assistant Governor,

Praphaiphan. They have 2 young children. END BIOGRAPHIC NOTE

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 7:59 am

05BANGKOK2017 THAILAND\’S WEEK IN POLITICS, MARCH 13-18, 2005

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“29122”,”3/18/2005 11:47″,”05BANGKOK2017″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

“05BANGKOK1375|05BANGKOK1739|05BANGKOK1819″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002017

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV; HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, TG, Thailand\’s Week in Politics

SUBJECT: THAILAND\’S WEEK IN POLITICS, MARCH 13-18, 2005

 

REF: (A) BANGKOK 1819 (B) BANGKOK 1739 (C) BANGKOK 1375

 

THAKSIN RANK ORDERS HIS DEPUTY PRIME MINISTERS

 

1. (SBU) Prime Minister Thaksin has announced the ranking

of his six deputy prime ministers and delineated their

individual oversight authorities. The Public Administration

Act allows the Prime Minister to delegate to the deputy prime

ministers, including designating the order in which they are

authorized to act on his behalf in his absence from the

country. The deputy prime ministers are ranked as follows:

 

Deputy Prime Minister (and Finance Minister) Somkid

Jatusripitak – In addition to being first among equals in

acting on Thaksin\’s behalf in the event of the Prime

Minister\’s absence from Thailand, Somkid is tasked with

overseeing the Finance Ministry, Tourism and Sports Ministry,

Commerce Ministry, Industry Ministry, the Budget Bureau, and

the National Economic and Social Development Board. In the

event that Thaksin died in office, Somkid would become acting

PM in the short period before Parliament would be expected to

officially chose a new prime minister.

 

Deputy Prime Minister (and Interior Minister) Pol. Gen.

Chidchai Vanasatidya, although a newcomer to the Cabinet, is

second in line to act for Thaksin. His oversight duties

include the Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, Justice

Ministry, the National Security Council, the National

Security Agency, and the Royal Thai Police. He will also

reportedly act as the ex-officio Chairman of the National

Security Council, the National Policy Commission, the Police

Commission, the Narcotics Control Board and the Anti-Money

Laundering Commission.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang, third in line, is

overseeing the Information and Communications Technology

Ministry, the Education Ministry and the National Buddhist

Bureau.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, the former

Foreign Minister, will be fourth in line to act for Prime

Minister Thaksin. His oversight responsibilities include the

Foreign Affairs Ministry, Social development and Human

Security Ministry and the Labor Ministry.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Pinij Jarusombat, fifth in line, is

overseeing the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, the

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Public Health

Ministry, the Consumer Protection Board, and the National

Village and Urban Community Fund.

 

Wissanu Krea-Ngam, sixth in line, oversees the Transport

Ministry, the Energy ministry, the Prime Minister\’s Office,

the Council of State, the Civil Service Commission, the

National Economic and Social Advisory Board, and the Office

of the Civil Service Development Commission.

 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTERS ALSO TASKED TO OVERSEE COUNTRY\’S

ADMINISTRATIVE ZONES

 

2. (SBU) Govt Spokesman Pol. Gen. Chaloemdet Chomphunut

disclosed after the cabinet meeting on March 15 that PM

Thaksin has also tasked the deputy prime ministers, and one

minister, to oversee the \”overall administration\” in

Thailand\’s 76 provinces. To facilitate this goal, the

Thaksin team reportedly divided the country into 19

administrative zones, excluding Bangkok, and doled out to

each deputy PM at least 3 zones for their oversight.

However, this new system is not as significant a change as it

might appear. For example, the deputy prime ministers\’ new

provincial \”oversight\” responsibilities do not give them

direct authority over the governors or other Thai provincial

authorities. Deputy prime ministers must still go through

the Interior Minister Pol. Gen. Chidchai Vanasatidya, who is

also a deputy prime minister, to suggest changes to be

implemented by the governors. The new responsibility appears

to amount to each deputy prime minister having a special

brief to keep on top of developments in certain provinces and

advise PM Thaksin. The allocation of zones is as follows:

 

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak:

 

Zone 1 (Chiang Rai / Chiang Mai / Nan / Phayao / Phrae / Mae

Hong Son / Lampang / Lamphun)

Zone 9 (Chanthaburi / Chon Buri / Trat / Rayong)

Zone 17 (Krabi / Phang-nga / Phuket)

 

Deputy Prime Minister Pol. Gen. Chidchai Vanasatidya:

 

Zone 14 (Yasothon / Si Sa Ket / Amnat Charoen / Ubon

Ratchathani)

Zone 18 (Narathiwat / Pattani / Yala)

Zone 19 (Songkhla / Satun)

 

Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang:

 

Zone 6 (Kanchanaburi / Nakhon Pathom / Ratchaburi / Suphan

Buri)

Zone 8 (Chachoengsao / Nakhon Nayok / Prachin Buri / Samut

Prakan / Sa Kaeo)

Zone 11 (Kalasin / Nakhon Phanom / Mukdahan / Sakon Nakhon)

 

Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai:

 

Zone 2 (Tak, Phitsanulok / Phetchabun / Sukhothai / Uttaradit)

Zone 3 (Kamphaeng Phet / Nakhon Sawan / Phichit / Uthai Thani)

Zone 16 (Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat / Phattalung)/

 

Deputy Prime Minister Pinij Jarusombat:

 

Zone 10 (Nong Khai / Nong Bua Lam Phu / Loei / Udon Thani)

Zone 12 (Khon Kaen / Maha Sarakham / Roi Et)

Zone 13 (Chaiyaphum / Nakhon Ratchasima / Buriram / Surin)

Zone 15 (Chumphon / Ranong / Surat Thani)

 

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam:

 

Zone 4 (Nonthaburi / Pathum Thani / Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya

/ Angthong)

Zone 5 (Chainat / Lop Buri / Saraburi / Sing Buri)

Zone 7 (Prachuap Khirikhan / Petchaburi / Samut Songkhram /

Samut Sakhon)

 

Prime Minister\’s Office Minister Suranand Vejjajiva has been

given oversight of the administration of Bangkok.

 

SPARKS FLY IN FIRST PARLIAMENT BUSINESS SESSION

 

3. (SBU) Opposition Democrat Party (DP) MPs walked out of

Parliament on February 16 during its first business session

after Speaker Bhokin Bhalakula ejected one of their fellow

members following an altercation over voting procedure.

According to reports, Democrat MP Rangsima Rodrasamee accused

Thai Rak Thai (TRT) MP Phayap Punket of voting more than

once, using an absent TRT MP\’s electronic voting card.

Phayap demanded an apology from Rangsima. Rangsima refused.

After exchanges between government and opposition MPs, Bhokin

told Rangsima to withdraw her accusation or leave the

chamber. Rangsima chose to depart, sparking a walkout by her

DP colleagues. The vote that started the bitter

recriminations was over a disagreement between TRT and DP MPs

over what time to start the next meeting of the lower

chamber. In addition to criticism from DP lawmakers for

ejecting Rangsima, Bhokin has also reportedly been criticized

by members of the Wang Nam Yen faction of the TRT Party, who

accused the Speaker of mishandling the whole situation.

Former Deputy House Speaker and Chart Thai Party MP Somsak

Prisanananthakun characterized Bhokin\’s chairmanship as a

\”rubber stamp.\”

 

4. (SBU) Comment: Feelings were already raw among DP MPs

over what they consider the Speaker\’s blatant lack of

neutrality. Bhokin was previously Thaksin\’s Interior

Minister and took the untraditional step of voting for

Thaksin last week when he was formally elected Prime Minister

(see Bangkok 1739). By his abrupt decision to eject Rangsima

from the Parliament chamber he has shown a lack of political

finesse by ignoring the expectation that the Speaker will

strive to appear objective and non-partisan. TRT

subsequently admitted that several MPs had engaged in

covering up for absent colleagues by using their electronic

cards to vote.

 

REPORTS OF RUMBLINGS IN MAJOR TRT FACTION OVER SPOILS

 

5. (SBU) Members of the Wang Nam Yen (WNY) faction of

influential politician Sanoh Thienthong are grumbling over

what they consider a disproportional allocation of

ministerial and assistant slots to Bangkok MPs rather than to

the MPs from the other regions of the country, especially the

Northeast, their bailiwick, which brought in a massive TRT

seat tally. His faction members especially complained to

Sanoh about the following appointments: former Health

Minister and Thaksin\’s Bangkok campaign manager (and TRT

faction leader in her own right) Sudarat Keyuraphan as

Agriculture Minister; Suranand Vejjajiva as Prime Minister\’s

Office Minister; Phumtham Wechayachai as Deputy

Communications Minister; Pimon Sriwikorn as Deputy Secretary

General to Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister

Chidchai; and Pitipong Temjareon as Secretary to the Foreign

Minister. The WNY MPs are also unhappy over the replacement

of Sanoh as party Chief Whip former Justice Minister Pongthep

Thianthong, who they view as more junior and less capable.

Sanoh reportedly told his followers to be patient and see

what develops over the coming months.

 

6. (SBU) Comment: Sanoh has been battling to maintain his

position vis-a-vis other TRT factions over the past three

years, particularly with the rise in influence of the Wang

Babuan faction headed by Thaksin\’s sister Yaowapa Wongsawat.

He has also seen his star eclipsed by the very low rankings

that his faction members received on the TRT party list

compared to those given members of rival factions. His

private secretary and confidant Burin Hiranburans, for

example was ranked no 95 on the list compared to the number

52 ranking he held in the 2001 election. In another case,

close aide Boonthueng Panpanit was ranked 88th this time

around, compared to 56th in the previous election. Sanoh\’s

followers don\’t need much more evidence to sense that their

leader\’s influence within the TRT is on the wane.

 

CHUWIT COMES UP WITH HIS OWN COLOR ZONES – FOR THAKSIN\’S NEW

CABINET MEMBERS

 

7. (SBU) In an obvious spoof of Thaksin\’s use of color

codes to denote the level of security in Thailand\’s southern

provinces\’ districts (ref. C), outspoken Chart Thai Party

List (Bangkok) MP Chuwit Kamolwisit, announced on March 16

his idea of categorizing the Prime Minister\’s new cabinet

ministers by color. Chuwit straight-faced declared that

under his plan, he would divide all new ministers into 3

colored groups; \”Green\” for those with acceptable

qualifications, \”Yellow\” for those with doubtful

qualifications, and \”Red\” for those with unacceptable

qualifications. According to Chuwit, ministers in \”Yellow\”

and \”Red\” groups must be kept under close watch. He

identified 9 of Thaksin\’s new Ministers who in his view

qualify for the \”Red\” group.

 

Chuwit\’s \”Red\” list

 

Pinij Jarusombat (Deputy PM)

Wissanu Krea-Ngam (Deputy PM)

Sudarat Keyuraphun (Minister of Agriculture & Cooperatives)

Suriya Jungrungruengkit (Minister of Transport)

Pracha Maleenont (Minister of Social Development and Human

Security)

Somsak Thepsutin (Minister of Tourism and Sports)

Adisai Bodharamik (Minister of Education)

Watana Muangsook (Minister of Industry)

Newin Chidchob (Deputy Minister of Agriculture & Cooperatives)

 

8. (U) Chuwit added that there are 14 ministers in the

\”Green\” group and 12 in the \”Yellow\” group. He reportedly

intends to evaluate all the ministers every 6 months, and

those with better or more satisfactory performance would be

re-categorized into a better color group. (Note: Chuwit did

not explain if those in the \”Green\” group would be degraded

if their performance got worse. End note.)

 

9. (SBU) Comment: Chuwit, the \”Massage Parlor Tycoon,\”

gained immense public popularity in Bangkok when he

threatened to reveal the names of police and other officials

who had demanded bribes and other payoffs from his brothel

operations over the years. Chuwit ran for governor last year

and came in a strong third. He won a Chart Thai (CT) Party

List seat in the February general elections. True to his

independent image, Chuwit was the only MP to register a vote

against Thaksin for Prime Minister in the Parliament after

the other CT members (save CT Leader Barnharn Silpa-archa)

and the opposition Democrat Party decided to abstain.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 7:58 am

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