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08BANGKOK2977 AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES W. FORMER PM SAMAK

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OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #2977/01 2751048
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011048Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4536
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

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