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05BANGKOK7345 SONDHI’S TENTH AND LARGEST RALLY TO DATE ATTRACTS 50,000

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“46169”,”11/28/2005 10:29″,”05BANGKOK7345″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”05A:BANGKOK7317″,

 

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

 

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 007345

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2015

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KPAO, PINS, PROP, TH, Media/Freedom of the Press

SUBJECT: SONDHI\’S TENTH AND LARGEST RALLY TO DATE ATTRACTS

50,000

 

REF: A. A: BANGKOK 7317

 

B. B: BANGKOK 7253

C. C: BANGKOK 7197

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton for Reasons 1.4 (d)

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Government critic Sondhi Limthongkul hosted

his tenth \”mobile talk show\” from a monastery in Udon Thani.

A crowd of approximately 50,000 gathered in Bangkok\’s Lumpini

Park to listen to Sondhi offer revelations of new scandals

concerning the Thai Rak Thai government. In the two-hour

program, Sondhi alleged that shadowy \”powers that be\” had

threatened his life. He also criticized the 2004 decision to

appoint an \”acting Supreme Patriarch\” and offered a scathing

rebuttal to Deputy Transport Minister Phumtham\’s accusations

of disloyalty. He also slammed the RTG for trying to cover up

the scandal involving PM Thaksin\’s younger sister Montathip

and the C-130. Sondhi ended the rally with a call for 500,000

people to attend his next show on December 9 to \”show the

government that it no longer has legitimacy to run this

country\”. Barring any unforeseen developments, it appears

unlikely that they could possibly attract an audience that

size. END SUMMARY.

 

NEW SCANDALS TARGET THAI FIRST LADY; DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER A

\”SHAMEFUL LIAR\”

 

2. (U) With Bangkok still abuzz with last week\’s scandalous

revelations and passionate appeals for the general public to

\”fight for the King\”, Sondhi Limthongkul\’s \”mobile talk show\”

in Bangkok\’s Lumpini Park has emerged as the place to be on

Friday evenings. Political activists have been joined by

curious onlookers, picnicking families and entrepreneurs

selling unofficial paraphernalia. While the majority of

people were clearly interested in hearing what Sondhi had to

say, many in the crowd were clearly there to be entertained.

Poloff remarked more \”coming and going\” compared to the

previous week\’s show and many people left before the end.

Better weather helped the rally achieve its largest numbers

yet- Thai Police estimated that 50,000 people showed up.

Sondhi\’s \”Manager\” newspaper reported a hopelessly

exaggerated figure of 150,000, with a 150,000 more listening

to the speech via the web. The speech is also broadcast via

92.25 radio and a number of satellite cable TV stations.

Police presence was beefed up considerably, and some in the

audience were subject to seemingly random searches. As with

previous events, the rally went on peacefully and without

incident.

 

3. (U) Sondhi himself did not attend the rally. Instead, he

and his co-host Sarocha Pornudomsak did the show via

satellite from the monastery of controversial monk Luangta

Maha Bua in Udon Thani Province. The monk had invited Sondhi

and PM Thaksin to a meeting at his monastery the previous

day, although the PM declined citing other engagements.

Sondhi\’s first scandal of the night consisted of allegations

that the \”powers-that-be\”, led by an unnamed \”Master Lady\”,

were seeking to silence him through threats of imprisonment,

intimidation, harassment and unspecified attempts on his

life. The \”Master Lady\” is widely suspected to be a reference

to the Thai First Lady, Khunying Potjaman Shinawatra, who is

widely known to be an influential adviser and confidante to

her husband, PM Thaksin. Sondhi alleged that the \”Master

Lady\” had verbally given the order to the 3rd Region

Provincial Police Command to file lese majeste charges

against him and his co-host. (Reftel A) Sondhi also alleged

that police authorities in several Northeastern provinces had

been ordered by Regional Commander (and former classmate of

Thaksin) to file libel suits against him for publicly

discussing the monarchy.

 

4. (U) Sondhi called Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kruangam a

\”shameful liar\” for his move in January 2004 to appoint

Somdet Phra Phuthajarn as acting Supreme Patriarch (more or

less the \”Pope\” of Thai Buddhism). (Reftel C) Wissanu had

stated that the incumbent Supreme Patriarch was ill and only

able to work occasionally. Sondhi showed a video of the

incumbent Supreme Patriarch, supposedly taken the day he was

replaced, looking perfectly active and healthy. (NOTE: One of

Thaksin\’s lawsuits against Sondhi involves the publication of

a sermon by Luangta Maha Bua which touches on the

controversy. END NOTE) Sondhi alleged that the real reason

for the appointment was an attempt by Thaksin to put

supporters in high-level positions, including the sacred

Buddhist clergy.

 

5. (U) Sondhi also hit back at Deputy Transport Minister

Phumtham Wechayachai, who had publicly made allegations that

Sondhi\’s rallies were \”practice\” for a future coup d\’etat.

(Reftel A) Sondhi made a number of stinging accusations

revolving around Phumtham\’s past activities as a member of

the Communist Party in the 1970s, saying \”(Phumtham) is so

arrogant to think he can teach me about democracy, and can

accuse me of dragging down the Monarchy for my own selfish

purposes. I dare you to explain why you joined the Communist

Party of Thailand if you really have any respect for the

Monarchy.\” He also made references to Thai Rak Thai being

committed only to a \”4-second democracy\” in which they buy

votes in order to win democratic elections, and then rule

essentially undemocratically.

 

UPDATING OLD SCANDALS

 

6. (U) Sondhi also offered new information on the two big

scandals from last week. In response to charges that

Thaksin\’s younger sister had used a Thai Army aircraft to fly

her and her guests to a housewarming party (Reftel B), the

RTG responded that the party had been allowed to tag along on

an aircraft which was doing a routine mail run. At Friday\’s

rally, Sondhi dismissed this as a cover-up noting that the

only regular mail flights scheduled for that day were going

to Udon Thani, not Chiang Mai. Sondhi also charged that the

party had been flown to Chiang Mai on a plane with VIP seats,

which were not available on planes doing routine mail

flights. Sondhi also repeated charges made by an opposition

MP earlier this year which question whether Thaksin had used

state aircraft to fly home to Chiang Mai to celebrate Thai

New Year with his family. Sondhi challenged Thaksin to

release travel logs of Thai Koo Fah, the Thai equivalent of

Air Force One.

 

SETTING EXPECTATIONS TOO HIGH? SONDHI ASKS FOR 500,000 TO

SHOW UP AT NEXT RALLY

 

7. (C) Sondhi ended his show with an appeal to the Thai

people to \”show the government that it no longer has

legitimacy to run this country\” by having 500,000 people

attend his December 9 rally. (NOTE: Sondhi announced that he

is taking December 2 off in honor of the King\’s birthday. END

NOTE) One English-language newspaper is claiming the December

9 rally will be a \”final showdown\” between the PM and the

pundit. This is a dangerous gamble for the opposition. If

they can turn out 500,000 people, it would shake the

government and have major repercussions for Thaksin. Barring

some extraordinary new factor between now and then, we don\’t

think they can do it.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

June 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Confidential, Sonthi

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