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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

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