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

09BANGKOK3110 KING’S BIRTHDAY AUDIENCE DECEMBER 5 – CLOSING THE CURTAIN ON AN ERA?

leave a comment »

“238797”,”12/9/2009 8:48″,”09BANGKOK3110″,”Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO1193

PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #3110/01 3430848

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 090848Z DEC 09

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9232

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2160

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7762

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 6032

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0235

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 7375

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003110

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR WALTON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/09/2029

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINRTH, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: KING\’S BIRTHDAY AUDIENCE DECEMBER 5 –

CLOSING THE CURTAIN ON AN ERA?

 

BANGKOK 00003110 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: DCM James F. Entwistle, reason 1.4 (b,d)

 

1. (C) Summary and Comment: 82 year-old Thai King Bhumibol

Adulyadej held court in his throne hall at the Grand Palace

on his birthday December 5, in what was seen by many Thai as

a possible last public hurrah. Leaning heavily on his right

side, the King offered brief remarks to several hundred key

officials, stressing his recent themes of national unity and

the need to place national interests above personal benefits.

As the golden curtain closed at the end of the audience and

cameras flashed as if at a rock concert, Thais watching

around the country on TV cried and commented that it seemed

like a closing of an era. To emphasize the sense of

transition, the Crown Prince stood in for the King at

subsequent birthday events. End Summary and Comment.

 

One last hurrah, delivered in a VW van?

—————————————

 

2. (C) No longer able to maneuver in and out of his yellow

Rolls Royce, King Bhumibol left Siriraj hospital, where he

has been since mid-September, in a wheelchair pushed up the

back ramp of a VW van to make the brief trip to the Grand

Palace\’s throne hall for his birthday morning audience. The

audience, before a select crowd of several hundred officials,

was only the third public sighting of the King in three

months: Chulalongkorn Day (October 23), Loy Krathong

(November 2), and his December 5 birthday.

 

3. (C) Unlike the previous two occasions, when Bhumibol

looked very much like a recuperating patient, in a wheelchair

pushed by Siriraj hospital doctors, the King settled into his

throne in all his royal regalia, against a spectacular

backdrop. The ceremony, normally carried live on TV, ran

this year with a 15-20 minute delay, with observers

suggesting the delay was designed to avoid any potentially

embarrassing moments. Sensing the audience might well be one

of the last such occasions, the normally well-behaved crowd

was unusually anxious, pushing in the back to get a better

view of the King\’s arrival and requiring the palace police to

restore order, according to one of our contacts.

 

4. (C) In their greeting remarks, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn

and Prime Minister Abhisit both hailed the King\’s full

recovery. What those in attendance and watching on TV saw

was something quite different: their beloved monarch leaning

markedly to his stronger right side, barely moving his left

hand/arm–leading to speculation that he may have suffered

another minor stroke while in hospital–and speaking with a

soft monotone of a voice. The King\’s message was a familiar

one: urging Thais to join hands to help the country return to

normalcy, and to set aside personal benefits for the sake of

the national interest, stability prosperity.

 

5. (C) At the end of the short remarks, the golden curtain

separating Bhumibol from the audience closed slowly,

accompanied by a blinding flash of cameras. The moment

carried with it the metaphorical feel of a curtain closing on

an era – a reaction we heard from many contacts we talked to

over the succeeding several days; many Thais cried as they

watched the curtain close to the Royal Anthem. Later that

evening, hundreds of thousands of pink-clad Thai turned out

in downtown Bangkok for a candle-light tribute to the King,

mixed with fireworks in his honor. The palace had decreed

that this year pink was the color to honor the King,

supposedly in honor of his recovery (the King wore pink, the

royal color for Tuesday, when he left the hospital in late

2007 after suffering a stroke). Most people, however,

interpreted the color switch as a sign of a desire to avoid

the polarizing yellow appropriated by the People\’s Alliance

for Democracy (PAD) in their 2008 protests.

 

Signaling the Crown Prince as Da Next Man

——————————————

 

6. (C) In his remarks, the Crown Prince also vowed to do his

best as a Thai and as a member of the Chakri dynasty to serve

the country–with many people seeing that remark as a a

reminder that sooner rather than later Vajiralongkorn will

 

BANGKOK 00003110 002.2 OF 002

 

likely succeed his father as Rama X, the tenth member of the

Chakri dynasty.

 

7. (C) The atmosphere at the palace\’s diplomatic birthday

reception December 8 was notably different than in 2008, when

the Crown Prince also stood in for Bhumibol. The Crown

Prince, accompanied by wife Sirasmi and his eldest daughter

Ong Pa, made a special effort to greet each of the

ambassadors; he projected more authority and certainty than a

year earlier. All 13 healthy Privy Councilors were standing

at attention, a much higher number than in 2008. While

beloved Princess Sirindhorn had also attended the 2008

reception, this year she had already left the country – to

China, the proud Chinese Ambassador told the Ambassador.

 

8. (C) At a seminar entitled \”Thailand in Transition\” held

elsewhere on December 8, noted Thai scholar (at

Madison-Wisconsin) Thongchai Winichakul addressed the

sensitive issue of succession and transition in this way:

\”Transition is not only about the institution of monarchy and

royal succession. It is much larger, and the process of

transition is well under way, a train that has left the

station and cannot be reversed.\” Even within the narrower

confines of the institution of monarchy, the last several

days have been rich with symbolism and signals about the

transition which is indeed underway.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 1:41 am

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: