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05BANGKOK7091 PRIVY COUNSELOR SURAYUD ON SITUATION IN SOUTHERN THAILAND

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“45234”,”11/16/2005 0:15″,”05BANGKOK7091″,

 

“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 007091

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS, EAP

OSD FOR POWERS

PACOM FOR FPA HUSO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2015

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MARR, TH, Southern Thailand

SUBJECT: PRIVY COUNSELOR SURAYUD ON SITUATION IN SOUTHERN

THAILAND

 

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

 

1. (C) Summary. On November 10, Privy Counselor General

Surayud Chulanont indicated to visiting DAS Eric John and the

Ambassador that the Queen now has a better understanding of

the situation in southern Thailand. He was critical,

however, of the police — suggesting that they still do not

have a grasp of the culture, language or grievances of

Muslims in the South. General Surayud also accused PM

Thaksin of pandering to Buddhist voters by taking a hard line

towards the violence and suggested that Thaksin\’s \”D-Day\”

against agitators would start on November 15. He suggested

that Thailand should do more to work with Malaysia to address

their common problem. End Summary.

 

THE QUEEN IS STARTING TO UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM

 

2. (C) On November 10, Privy Counselor Surayud (strictly

protect) briefed the Ambassador and DAS John on the situation

in the South. Surayad had returned the day before from six

weeks with Queen Sirikit in Narathiwat. He suggested that,

although some progress was being made in reaching out to

Muslim clerics and elders in the troubled region, Muslim

youths continued to be disaffected and posed ripe targets for

agitators. Surayud admitted that the Queen had shown a lack

of understanding about the South in the past. Now, however,

after spending more time interacting with residents in the

region, he believes she now understands that the violence is

being pushed by only a fringe of Muslim society. Surayud

said that the Queen was in the south to promote agricultural

and local handicraft projects and that, during the course of

these promotions, she had many opportunities to meet with

local residents, especially housewives, to hear their

concerns. In conversations with southern leaders and

ordinary citizens, the Queen and Surayud urged prominent

clerics and political figures to lead by example, to speak

out against violence, and to organize local self-defense

groups in cooperation with the security forces.

 

THE SECURITY FORCES DON\’T UNDERSTAND THE SITUATION

 

3. (C) Surayud repeatedly expressed frustration over the

lack of understanding the security forces, especially the

police, have over the situation in the south. \”They don\’t

speak the local dialect, they don\’t understand Islam and they

don\’t have proper supervision,\” he said. Surayud

acknowledged that the situation in the South was also being

affected by the international situation. \”Just as in France,

the population watches TV and sees violence directed at

Muslims and are upset; and just as in France, our police do

not understand the root causes for the protests,\” he noted.

 

AND NEITHER DOES THE PM

 

4. (C) He was also very critical of Thaksin, suggesting

that the Prime Minister was pandering to Buddhist voters who

supported a hard-line policy towards the South. Surayud said

that police in Thailand are not generally respected and that

for years the South had been a dumping ground for bad Thai

cops who used their postings to feather their nests (i.e.,

through involvement in smuggling and other illegal

activities). General Surayud suggested that, because he was

trained as a policeman, Thaksin was overly influenced by the

police in forming his policy for the region. He also

believes that the situation is taking a toll on the PM,

describing Thaksin as looking \”exhausted\” the last time he

saw him in the South. Surayud described how agitators are

effectively linking the PM personally with their grievances

by putting Thaksin\’s face on scarecrows throughout the area.

 

RUMORS OF HIT LISTS

 

5. (C) Surayud said that he has heard rumors of lists of

agitators being compiled by the security forces, particularly

the police. He said that he has cautioned Royal Thai Army

officials against committing extra-judicial killings (EJKs)

by arguing that \”hit-squads\” and \”death lists\” would only

play into the hands of the agitators and stir up even more

unrest in the region. He did not indicate that he expected a

wave of EJKs as Thailand experienced two years ago during the

crackdown on drugs.

 

D-DAY IS COMING

 

6. (C) General Surayud was particularly critical of PM

Thaksin\’s announcement that the RTG would undertake a move

called \”D-Day\” to address the violence in the South.

Surayud, like most of our contacts, was uncertain exactly

what the security forces intended to do on \”D-Day,\” but

characterized the move as needlessly antagonistic to Muslims

and one that would play into the hands of extremists.

 

RELATIONS WITH MALAYSIA

7. (C) The Privy Counselor maintained that Thaksin and

other senior leaders were making the issue of the 131 Thai

Muslims seeking UNHCR protection in Malaysia more difficult

than it needed to be. \”If they want to go, let them go,\” he

offered. Of more concern, according to Surayud, was

Thaksin\’s inability to work closely with Malaysian leaders to

address the situation in the South. Surayud agreed with the

Ambassador\’s assessment that Thaksin\’s southern crisis is

also Malaysian PM Badawi\’s northern crisis. Until the two of

them can work in harmony, he suggested, the problem will only

get worse.

 

IMPROVING SCHOOLS

 

8. (C) General Surayud said that Thai officials were

increasingly concerned about the influence that Pesantren in

Indonesia had on young Thai Muslims. He confessed that the

security forces had no clear indication of how many Thai

young people had been educated in Indonesia or at what

schools. He said that his time in Narathiwat only confirmed

his belief that the RTG must work to improve the schools in

the region to address the root causes of the violence.

 

COMMENT

 

9. (C) Surayud is a highly-regarded elder statesman in

Thailand, influential and well regarded by the Royal Family,

the Army, and the public. Although a Thaksin critic, his

insights into the Prime Minister\’s Office in the past have

been spot on.

 

10. (U) DAS John has cleared this message.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 1:11 am

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