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06BANGKOK3916 WHAT’S THAKSIN UP TO?

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“70116”,”7/3/2006 13:00″,

 

“06BANGKOK3916”,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO7886

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #3916/01 1841300

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 031300Z JUL 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9859

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003916

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: WHAT\’S THAKSIN UP TO?

 

REF: BANGKOK 3349 (NOODLES WITH THAKSIN)

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: PM Thaksin asserted himself aggressively in

the past week, suing the Democrat Party for over usdols 25

million, and alleging that an unnamed \”person with charisma\”

was trying to use undemocratic means to gain power. He has

refused to name the person, but it is widely recognized as an

attack on Privy Council President Prem, a highly respected

former Prime Minister, viewed as almost a proxy for the King.

Such comments are very inflammatory. A palace insider

recounted how the Queen has been educated on Thaksin\’s

efforts to undermine the royal institution. This royal

confidant also alleged that Thaksin\’s judgment has been

affected by taking large doses of valium to cope with the

stress. The Democrat Party leader said the Party was ready

to defend itself against Thaksin\’s attacks, Thaksin, as

usual, is his own worst enemy; his attack on Prem has

probably done him more harm than any of his \”enemies\” could

do. End Summary.

 

ATTACK ON PRIVY COUNCILLOR PREM

——————————-

 

2. (C) After a brief break to celebrate the King\’s 60th

anniversary on the throne, PM Thaksin has come out swinging,

more aggressively than ever. While his own political

fortunes are still very unclear, he appears bent on fighting

every step of the way, and taking everyone down with him if

he goes. He may have miscalculated, however, in making a

not-so-veiled attack on the very popular Privy Council

President General Prem Tinsulanonda. Thaksin, speaking

before a assembly of civil servants and military officers on

June 29, railed against a \”person who has charisma\” who is

\”outside the Constitution,\” saying, \”Some people think that

they are more important than others\” and \”want to be Prime

Minister under Article 7 despite his Majesty\’s comments that

it is undemocratic.\” He claimed that this unnamed person was

behind the resignations of two top legal advisors in his

administration (Cabinet secretary Bowornsak and DPM Wisanu.)

He vowed to fight against undemocratic changes as long as he

was prime minister.

 

3. (C) Immediately after the speech, journalists asked

Thaksin who the \”person with charisma\” was. (Charisma –

\”barami\” – is a term signifying great merit and high status,

not just popularity.) Thaksin has so far refused to answer,

as have various spokesmen for the party and government. The

local press coverage was a little timid at first, but it is

now widely commenting on the PM\’s remarks and noting that

they refer pretty clearly to General. Prem. Thaksin\’s

comments have been described by various academics \”an open

declaration of war.\” In addition to the high esteem the

public feels for Prem himself, the General is regarded in

many ways as a proxy for the King.

 

PALACE INSIDER\’S VIEW

———————

 

4. (C) The Ambassador met on June 30 with Piya Malakul Na

Ayutthaya (protect), a close associate of the Queen and a

very knowledgeable palace insider. Piya said that those

attending the PM\’s speech had been shocked by his attack on

Gen. Prem; Piya has received many calls since the speech

expressing dismay and asking what should be done about the

PM\’s remarks. He felt that the PM was trying to attack the

King himself through Prem. He described the many ways in

which Thaksin and his associates had been working to

undermine the King and the royal institution. There was an

overseas website which for months had carried scurrilous and

crude attacks on the monarchy. Piya presented a convincing

case that he had traced the source of the money being paid to

the webmaster of this site (usdols 4000/month) to the wife of

the TRT deputy secretary general Phumtham Vechayachai. He

described the website as part of a program by Thaksin and his

supporters to diminish the role of the monarchy. The

Ambassador noted that Thaksin felt he was a rival of the King

for the affections of the rural population. Piya agreed, and

pointed out how TRT officials had sycophantically received

Thaksin on his trips to the North and Northeast, swelling his

ego.

 

5. (C) Piya said he had spent three days with the Queen

right before the 60th anniversary celebrations earlier last

month \”explaining\” to her what the PM was up to. He gave her

hundreds of pages of printouts from the anti-monarchy

website. (Comment: The Queen was long considered a Thaksin

supporter in the Palace, perhaps beholden to the PM for

 

BANGKOK 00003916 002 OF 002

 

funding and for his support for her rather unpopular son.

Piya\’s story corroborates what we have heard from other

sources, that the Queen may no longer be a fan of Thaksin.

End comment.)

 

6. (C) Piya recounted how Thaksin\’s star was falling. The

Army First Cavalry Division commander is an ally of

Thaksin\’s, from the same prep class in the police/military

academy (Class 10). Piya told us that the First Cavalry

deputy commander had recently reassured him that the First

Cavalry would not support any kind of pro-Thaksin coup

attempt; no matter what their chief ordered, \”We won\’t

listen to him.\” Piya welcomed the assurance that the unit

would not take part in a coup, even while bemoaning the

weakened state of the military, in which subordinates would

flout their superiors\’ orders. He also indicated that, if

the situation did not resolve itself soon, the Army might

step in, in some unspecified manner.

 

IT\’S THE VALIUM TALKING

———————–

 

7. (C) Everyone is speculating on why Thaksin launched this

attack. Piya claims that Thaksin is taking large doses of

Valium (28 mg) to cope with the pressure he\’s under. The

Democrat party spokesman suggested that Prem may be operating

behind the scenes, encouraging the Constitutional Court

justices to find against Thaksin; these efforts may have come

to Thaksin\’s attention, infuriating him so that he blew a

gasket. (Thaksin told the Ambassador over lunch on June 1

that Prem and other privy councillors were out to destroy him

– reftel.) Others point to Thaksin\’s penchant for spouting

off combined with his ingrained arrogance, Whatever the

reason, this was a reckless act, provocative to society at

large and particularly to the Army. (Just a few months ago,

for example, former Bangkok governor and political blowhard

Samak was taken off the air when he criticized General Prem

on his morning TV show on the Army channel.)

 

8. (C) The Privy Council isn\’t Thaksin\’s only target.

Immediately after the King\’s celebration, Thaksin sued the

Democrats (for calling him a blood-sucking demon) and three

newspapers for publishing those accusations. On June 30, he

sued the Democrats again, for one billion baht (about usdols

26 million), for defaming him in a speech earlier this year.

(The Democrats reportedly accused him of culpability the

incidents at Krue Se and Tak Bai, of evading taxes on the

sale his Shin Corp in January, and of destroying the

parliamentary system.)

 

9. (C) During a meeting with the Ambassador on July 3,

Democrat Party leader Abhisit said that the Democrats would

welcome the chance to defend themselves in court on the PM\’s

charges. Abhisit said that, unlike Singapore, the goal of

these cases against the opposition is not really to win a

large settlement, but just to keep them busy and off-balance,

constantly on the defensive. In such cases, the plaintiff\’s

lawyers will often ask for many continuances, so that they

never have to make their case. Abhisit said he will

challenge Thaksin to actually appear in court so the

Democrats can make their case.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) Thaksin, once again, may be his own worst enemy.

Although his opponents were unhappy with his return to a more

active political role during this interval, most probably

accept the need for someone to run the country until the new

elections return a new government. Whether on account of

stress or hubris, Thaksin has seemingly overstepped, leaving

himself exposed by firing off a salvo in the general

direction of the Palace. Given the growing impatience of the

King (and those around him) with prime minister, everyone is

waiting to see what the response will be to Thaksin\’s upping

the political ante. The Ambassador will call on Prem at his

residence on July 5; it will be interesting to see what the

usually phlegmatic gentleman has to say about the latest

twist in Thailand\’s seemingly endless political drama.

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 2:58 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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