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09BANGKOK2606 KING BHUMIBOL HOSPITALIZATION UPDATE

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“229327”,”10/13/2009 5:38″,”09BANGKOK2606″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”SECRET”,”09BANGKOK2488″,”VZCZCXRO8136

OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #2606/01 2860538

ZNY SSSSS ZZH

O 130538Z OCT 09

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8585

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2000

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7579

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 5870

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0056

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 7147

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY”,”S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002606

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR BADER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2029

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: KING BHUMIBOL HOSPITALIZATION UPDATE

 

REF: BANGKOK 2488

 

BANGKOK 00002606 001.2 OF 002

 

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

 

1. (S) Summary: As King Bhumibol\’s hospitalization pushes

close to four weeks, elements of why he was hospitalized and

why it has lasted so long have become clearer, even as it

seems that he has recovered physically. It appears likely

that issues related to his Parkinson\’s led to the initial

hospitalization, that he probably caught pneumonia about a

week into his stay at Siriraj hospital, and that what a

number of informed observers describe as depression hinders a

quick recovery. One palace source indicated that the King

was out of bed and cleared for discharge by October 6, but

that he had chosen to remain in hospital to facilitate

physical therapy.

 

2. (S) Comment: The mid- to long-term implications of the

extended hospitalization remain unclear. Privy Council Chair

Prem told Dutch diplomats to expect the King to remain in

hospital through the end of October and not to deliver his

annual Birthday Address in December. Given the difficulty

with which the King now speaks (several of his semi-public

speaking engagements, such as the State dinner for the

visiting Malaysian King in the spring, were marked by

frequent loss of place, repetitions, and a very soft voice),

it may be that he has already delivered his final such

national address (in 2007), even if he lives on for years.

For now, it does not appear the King\’s hospitalization is

affecting the political process in any way; opposition

red-shirts still plan to hold a rally October 17 focused on

lack of progress in Royal Thai Government review of their

petition to the King for a pardon for fugitive former PM

Thaksin. Septel will examine different centers of influence

within the Thai monarchy and implications for dynamics during

succession, as well as purported negotiations with Thaksin

via intermediaries. End Summary/Comment.

 

Longer, and possibly more serious, than initially thought?

——————————————— ————-

 

3. (S) Few would have predicted at the time of a routine

September 15 check-up that King Bhumibol was on the cusp of a

month-long hospitalization. Initial reports seemed focused

on a low-grade temperature and difficulty swallowing; the

absence of stress on the part of insiders or visits by the

Queen and Princess Sirindhorn seemed proxy indicators that

the hospitalization was not particularly serious (reftel).

A series of conversations over the past several weeks with

contacts in the palace, and those with connections inside the

medical team treating the King at Siriraj Hospital, combined

with the opaque, generally cheerful daily medical bulletins

from the Royal Household Bureau, paint a more nuanced picture

of what may have been going on with King Bhumibol\’s health.

 

4. (S) Several sources reported that the King had

difficulties moving his tongue or swallowing initially, which

matches public reports that he was put on IV/feeding tubes

for the first part of the hospitalization, and that outside

neurologist consultants were called in to examine the King

several weeks into his hospitalization. The King is known to

be suffering from Parkinson\’s; one of our sources, whose

father died of Parkinson\’s, stated that he believed

complications from Parkinson\’s led to the initial

hospitalization (he also noted in passing that his father

exhibited symptoms very similar to the King approximately two

years before his death). There has also been some

speculation whether he might have suffered a minor stroke.

 

5. (S) About ten days into his hospitalization, King Bhumibol

appeared to be recovering, with the low-grade fever

disappearing for several days. Once the fever returned, the

Royal Household Bureau daily updates started mentioning chest

x-rays, lung inflammation, and a full course of anti-biotics.

While \”pneumonia\” was never mentioned, the descriptions fit

the definition, as well as highlight the perils of weakened,

elderly patients in hospitals; one medical doctor who has not

had access to the King or his records nevertheless suggested

the King had suffered from aspirated pneumonia. Not

mentioned as well were the start of hospital visits by

 

BANGKOK 00002606 002.2 OF 002

 

members of the Royal family, including overnight stays by

Princess Sirindhorn. Access to two floors of Siriraj

hospital was even more tightly controlled the past two weeks,

according to our sources.

 

6. (S) DPM Suthep confirmed to then-Charge on October 1

reftel\’s assessment that King Bhumibol exhibits classic

symptoms of depression. Tapping his forehead, Suthep claimed

that the King\’s physical health was okay, but that the really

worry was his state of mind, depressed at the state of

affairs in his Kingdom at the end of his life.

 

What next? No early release, apparently

—————————————

 

7. (S) One contact in the office of the King\’s Principal

Private Secretary told us October 8 that the King had started

walking about in the hospital October 6 and that, noticing

that the Grand Palace was not lit late at night, gave

instructions for lights to be turned on so that he could see

it. The King\’s physicians had given him clearance to leave

the hospital for nearby Chitrada Palace, according to our

contact, but the King had chosen to remain in hospital to

facilitate his physical therapy sessions. The October 12

daily public update indicated that the King\’s health

continued to improve, and that his latest blood tests were

\”normal.\”

 

8. (C) Privy Council Chair Prem told Dutch diplomats October

8 not to expect the King to leave hospital before the

upcoming ASEAN Summit (October 23-25). Prem also stated that

the King would not be delivering his traditional birthday

address in December.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 1:39 am

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