thaicables – It's Your Right to know the Truth!

09BANGKOK2855 COLOR ME GREEN – YELLOW-SHIRTS ENTER THE POLITICAL RING AND CHANGE COLORS ALONG THE WAY

leave a comment »

“233748”,”11/9/2009 3:31″,”09BANGKOK2855″,”Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”09BANGKOK1265|09BANGKOK2207|09BANGKOK982″,”VZCZCXRO2690

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHBK #2855/01 3130331

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 090331Z NOV 09

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8879

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7660

RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 0871

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0140

RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 1680

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 5939

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2071

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0183

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 7260

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002855

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR WALTON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2019

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, KDEM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: COLOR ME GREEN – YELLOW-SHIRTS ENTER THE

POLITICAL RING AND CHANGE COLORS ALONG THE WAY

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2207 (DEMOCRAT PREVAILS)

B. BANGKOK 1265 (THAI POLITICAL ROUNDUP)

C. BANGKOK 982 (SONDHI SHOT)

 

BANGKOK 00002855 001.2 OF 003

 

Classified By: POL Counselor George Kent, reasons 1.4 (b, d)

 

SUMMARY AND COMMENT

——————-

 

1. (C) The New Politics party (NPP), led by media tycoon

Sondhi Limthongkul, is the newest entry into Thailand\’s

political sweepstakes. Built on the yellow-shirt People\’s

Alliance for Democracy (PAD), whose leaders comprise the NPP

leadership, the NPP aspires to channel the energy and

nationalistic spirit of the \”yellow-shirt\” movement into an

effective formal political machine — with a new light green

color scheme — capable of advancing its policy objectives.

Sondhi\’s political gambit represents a belief that the

established Democrats cannot represent PAD interests within

the formal political, parliamentary-based process. Despite

lofty rhetoric and ambitious electoral goals, however, most

analysts suspect the NPP will have only modest success in the

next round of elections, and inflict only minimal damage on

the Democrats. Perhaps even more troubling for the NPP\’s

prospects moving forward, the party — as well as \”the yellow

shirts\” more broadly — also appears to be riven by internal

disagreements about core party orthodoxy, namely whether to

promote fealty to the institution of the monarchy, or simply

to the current King himself.

 

2. (C) Any analysis of the electoral map reveals that the NPP

has a long, tough slog ahead of it. Realistically, the party

would be fortunate to capture 10 seats in the next election.

It is not clear how such a small foothold in the Parliament

would allow Sondhi and company to fundamentally restructure

the Thai political system, one of NPP\’s stated objectives.

Moreover, the ascension to the thrown of the widely-disliked

Crown Prince could splinter the PAD and NPP, if prominent

members of the party openly question the presumed heir to the

throne\’s fitness to assume the monarchical reins. Either

way, Sondhi and company appear to have hedged their bets by

keeping the PAD in play while building the NPP as a party.

If, as expected, the NPP underwhelms on election-day and

finds the business of winning votes more complicated than the

business of occupying airports, Sondhi and crew can always

fall back to the streets and cyberspace to make their

messages heard. End Summary and Comment.

 

PAD DECIDES IT\’S PARTY TIME

—————————

 

3. (C) The New Politics Party (NPP) was founded on June 2,

2009 as the political arm of the PAD. The NPP was

established to complement, rather than supplant the PAD; and

the party and street movement enjoy a substantial overlap in

terms of membership, funding, and objectives. PAD

coordinator and NPP Secretary General Suriyasai Katasila told

us November 3 that the PAD would \”remain focused on

countering Thaksin,\” while the NPP would pursue the

movement\’s goals within the formal, parliamentary-based

political process. In a development that surprised no one,

party loyalists overwhelmingly elected Sondhi as the party\’s

first party leader during the NPP\’s inaugural general

assembly on October 6. Sondhi, who has almost fully

recovered from the spring assassination attempt that nearly

killed him earlier this year (REF B) accepted the job,

despite the fact that he once famously told his admirers to

\”slap my face with your shoes if one day I take any political

position.\”

 

4. (SBU) The transition also involved a change in color, from

yellow (of the PAD, in honor of King Bhumibol) to light green

(of the NPP). The party\’s symbol contains four yellow

interlocking arms (representing unity among the Thai people

in all four regions) set against a green backdrop, with the

 

BANGKOK 00002855 002.2 OF 003

 

green scheme representing the party\’s commitment to clean

governance. The party has also embraced an environmental

agenda, which it believes is consistent with its other goal

of promoting sustainable development.

 

PARTY OBJECTIVES

—————-

 

5. (C) By and large the PAD supporters who now constitute the

NPP party base have traditionally cast their ballots for

Democrat candidates. With the NPP now in the political

arena, most analysts believe the NPP will be pulling votes

away from the Democrats rather than introducing new voters

into the political process or attracting votes from other

constituencies. According to the party, NPP supporters are

largely comprised of — but not limited to — educated,

relatively affluent people in urban areas. NPP Sec-Gen

Suriyasai predicts the NPP is likely to do the best in

Bangkok and the Bangkok suburbs, in Pichit (in the lower

north), and upper north. The party could also steal a seat

here and there through Democrat party defections (Note: MP

elections generally turn on personalities and individuals

rather than party affiliation. End Note.)

 

6. (C) Publicly at least, the NPP has set very bold

objectives for the next round of elections. Privately,

Suriyasai stated that the NPP expected to be in opposition

regardless of whether the Democrats or Thaksin-backed Puea

Thai formed the next government; they would play a checking

role on corruption and bad governance from the opposition

benches.

 

7. (SBU) In April, for example, PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang

told the media \”that it would be important for the new party

to lead the government in the next coalition, otherwise it

will be no different from all the old politics with its

vote-buying, mud-slinging and money politics.\” In May, on

the eve of the party founding, PAD leader (and current DP MP)

Somkiat predicted to us that their new political force could

score 30 seats in the next election. Suriyasai recently

offered up a more sober minded analysis, telling us the NPP

hoped to win 20 seats in the next election, a number that

most observers feel is still overly optimistic. Based on

conversations with contacts from across the party spectrum,

most informed Thai political observers believe the party will

pick-up anywhere between zero and 10 seats.

 

DEMOCRATS NOT SHAKING IN THEIR BOOTS

————————————-

 

8. (C) Current DPM and Democrat Secretary General Suthep told

us in August 2008 that he fully expected the PAD movement

eventually to morph into an actual party and acknowledged

that such a party would siphon votes from the Democrats,

while posing as a \”nationalist\” political force. Outwardly,

Democrats do not appear worried now that the NPP has been

formed. Democrat MP M.L. Apimongkol Sonakul, who represents

a district in Bangkok that is arguably one of the NPP\’s

strongholds (he estimated 15-20,000 PAD supporters in his

district), told us recently that he enjoyed a 60,000 vote

plurality in the last election; even if the NPP doubled its

base, stripping 40,000 votes from him, he could win

re-election comfortably.

 

9. (C) In explaining why the NPP would be hard pressed to

translate its base of support into parliamentary seats,

Apimongkol told us that although the NPP enjoyed some

popularity and support, its membership was scattered

throughout the country without any one centralized \”NPP

base.\” The NPP voters were spread too thin around the

country and were only concentrated in a handful of areas

where they might have a shot at taking a seat or two away

from the Democrats; he predicted the NPP might win 7-8 seats

on the party list based on percentages, and no constituency

seats outright.

 

BANGKOK 00002855 003.2 OF 003

 

10. (C) Government Whip and Democrat MP Chinnaworn Boonyakiat

also told us that the NPP would have little to no impact

during the next election. Chinnaworn pointed to the August

by-election in the province of Surat Thani as evidence of the

party\’s weakness, noting that the party had urged its

supporters to \”vote no\” on election day by failing to

register a preference on their ballots. In the event,

despite the hype and build-up, only ten percent of the votes

were marked with no preference, and the Democrat candidate

steamrolled his way to a comfortable victory.

 

SOME IN NPP BELIEVE THIS PRINCE SHOULD BE A PAUPER

——————————————— ——

 

11. (C) For a party that was publicly built at least in part

on a foundation of loyalty to the institution of the

monarchy, the NPP privately is surprisingly schizophrenic on

the succession question. Suriyasai revealed to us that the

PAD/NPP was split between those who unreservedly supported

the institution, and those who merely supported the King

personally. He counted himself in the latter group,

indicating a lack of support for the presumed heir to the

throne: Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. This begs the obvious

question of what would happen to the party if — as expected

— the Crown Prince inherited the keys to the Kingdom?

Suriyasai told us that he personally believed the monarchy

needed to be reformed, and even went so far as to

characterize some elements of the royalist movement as

\”dangerous,\” perhaps even more so than the red-shirt movement

backing Thaksin.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 2:21 am

Posted in Confidential, PAD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: