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08BANGKOK2243 THAKSIN PREDICTS NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT, PARDON, LIFE ABROAD

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“163172”,”7/23/2008 9:51″,”08BANGKOK2243″,”Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”07BANGKOK2994|08BANGKOK2091|08BANGKOK2092|08BANGKOK2226″,”VZCZCXRO4017

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INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 8913

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0936

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 6185

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1704

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 5488

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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002243

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR PHU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/23/2018

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, KJUS, TH

SUBJECT: THAKSIN PREDICTS NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT,

PARDON, LIFE ABROAD

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2226 (NO CLEAR PATH TO STABILITY)

B. BANGKOK 2092 (THAKSIN\’S TEAM PESSIMISTIC)

C. BANGKOK 2091 (COURT RULINGS CLOUD FUTURE)

D. 07 BANGKOK 2994 (THAI RAK THAI DISSOLVED)

 

BANGKOK 00002243 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reason: 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Former Prime Minister Thaksin told the Ambassador in a

four-eyes meeting on July 23 that Prime Minister Samak had

received royal approval to form a government of national

unity in order to heal Thailand\’s political rifts. Thaksin

estimated this government, incorporating all political

parties, would likely last for a year and undertake

constitutional reform. In the near future, as part of the

deal, political figures, including Thaksin, would receive a

pardon; Thaksin would regain control over his frozen assets,

and he would give up politics and reside primarily abroad.

Thaksin also discussed his relationship with the King, Queen,

and Crown Prince. The concept of a national unity government

may help calm the current volatile and highly adversarial

political environment, but we are skeptical that the

arrangement that Thaksin outlined will truly resolve

fundamental conflicts between major interest groups in

Thailand. End Summary.

 

NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT, PARDON:

A PATH TO STABILITY IN THAI POLITICS?

————————————-

 

2. (C) Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called on the

Ambassador at his Residence on July 23 for a four-eyes

discussion. Thaksin told the Ambassador he had requested the

meeting in part to bid farewell, as he anticipated he would

soon spend most of his time outside of Thailand. His

departure overseas would be part of an elaborate solution

intended to provide stability in Thai politics.

 

3. (C) Thaksin related that King Bhumibol had received Prime

Minister Samak Sundaravej for an audience on July 22. At

that audience, Samak had received approval for the creation

of a government of national unity, which would entail each

party holding positions in the cabinet in proportion to its

number of seats in the House of Representatives. Thaksin

appeared to presume — but not to consider it certain — that

Samak would remain as Prime Minister. The Democrat Party —

the second largest, currently the sole opposition party —

would receive some Deputy Prime Minister positions, as well

as Ministerial portfolios. Thaksin estimated the new

government of national unity would last up to one year;

during that time, the parliament would undertake a

constitutional reform process.

 

4. (C) Soon after the government\’s formation, Thaksin added,

a wide-ranging pardon would be issued. This was necessary in

part because Thaksin and his wife would be convicted in

ongoing court cases, most notably the \”abuse of power\” case

(ref B). Thaksin attributed this upcoming conviction to the

judiciary\’s bias against him, alleging that King Bhumibol had

conveyed to at least one Constitutional Court Justice during

a royal audience that the Court should, in Thaksin\’s words,

to do whatever was necessary to eliminate Thaksin.

 

5. (C) The upcoming pardon would allow Thaksin to regain

control over his frozen assets, Thaksin said. In return,

however, he would have to renounce politics forever and focus

instead on his business activities, while residing primarily

abroad. Thaksin told the Ambassador he was willing to abide

by these conditions. He added that, before his departure

overseas, he hoped that the King and Queen might receive him

for separate audiences; he said he would, on those occasions,

make sizeable donations to each of them. (Note: We presume

these donations would be directed toward foundations, not to

the King and Queen per se. End Note.)

 

BACKGROUND ON THAKSIN\’S TIES TO THE PALACE

 

BANGKOK 00002243 002.2 OF 002

 

——————————————

 

6. (C) Thaksin reflected that he had enjoyed a good

relationship with the King during his first term as Prime

Minister. The King was particularly grateful that Thaksin

had taken steps to improve Crown Property Bureau (CPB)

management of its assets, significantly increasing the CPB\’s

wealth. The King\’s attitude toward him soured after his Thai

Rak Thai party won a supermajority (377 out of 500 seats) in

the 2005 election. Thaksin said many figures at the palace

felt threatened by his political power and his popularity

with rural Thais, who appreciated his commitment to

eradicating poverty.

 

7. (C) Thaksin cited his decision to sell his Shin

Corporation conglomerate to Singaporean investment firm

Temasek as a key turning point in his relationship with the

King. Thaksin claimed he told the King about the sale in an

audience prior to a public announcement. On hearing that

Thaksin would sell the conglomerate to a foreign entity, the

King reportedly stiffened visibly and asked, \”To whom?\”

Thaksin told the Ambassador he had not heard the King\’s

question clearly and asked, \”Pardon?\” The King then erupted,

loudly and angrily repeating his question. Thaksin told the

Ambassador he had never before seen the King behave thusly.

After this incident, Thaksin said, his political opponents

effectively went on the offensive; the People\’s Alliance for

Democracy drew substantially more supporters to rallies, had

more funding at its disposal, and effectively manipulated the

issue of the Shin Corp sale, paving the way for popular

acceptance of the 2006 coup d\’etat.

 

8. (C) Thaksin added that he believed that he still had a

good relationship with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. The

Crown Prince, however, had explained to Thaksin (at an

unspecified time post-coup) that he would be unable to meet

with Thaksin for an extended period of time, because of Queen

Sirikit\’s antipathy toward the former Prime Minister.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) Many key elements of the plan Thaksin outlined remain

unclear to us. Would the pardon of which Thaksin spoke

entail a legislative or royal act? Would it cover the 110

former Thai Rak Thai party executives who, along with

Thaksin, were stripped of their political rights in May 2007

(ref D)? Would the threat of further party dissolutions (ref

C) somehow be lifted? What sort of constitution would an

amendment process produce? Nevertheless, if a plan along

these lines does materialize, it may provide some valuable

breathing room and calm the current volatile and highly

adversarial political environment.

 

10. (C) We doubt, however, that either side in the

long-running dispute between Thaksin and the Palace will act

in good faith, or expect the other to do so. We note that

Thaksin has already repeatedly pledged publicly that he has

retired from politics, but he appears deeply involved in

governmental affairs. It is nearly inconceivable that Thai

politicians will stop consulting Thaksin, requesting his

financial support, and trying to tap into his popular support

for their own gain. And, if Thaksin is pardoned and has his

funds released, it is unclear how the Palace would ensure

that he upholds his side of the bargain.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 2:10 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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