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05BANGKOK2017 THAILAND\’S WEEK IN POLITICS, MARCH 13-18, 2005

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“29122”,”3/18/2005 11:47″,”05BANGKOK2017″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

“05BANGKOK1375|05BANGKOK1739|05BANGKOK1819”,

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

The full text of the original cable is not available.

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002017

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV; HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, TG, Thailand\’s Week in Politics

SUBJECT: THAILAND\’S WEEK IN POLITICS, MARCH 13-18, 2005

 

REF: (A) BANGKOK 1819 (B) BANGKOK 1739 (C) BANGKOK 1375

 

THAKSIN RANK ORDERS HIS DEPUTY PRIME MINISTERS

 

1. (SBU) Prime Minister Thaksin has announced the ranking

of his six deputy prime ministers and delineated their

individual oversight authorities. The Public Administration

Act allows the Prime Minister to delegate to the deputy prime

ministers, including designating the order in which they are

authorized to act on his behalf in his absence from the

country. The deputy prime ministers are ranked as follows:

 

Deputy Prime Minister (and Finance Minister) Somkid

Jatusripitak – In addition to being first among equals in

acting on Thaksin\’s behalf in the event of the Prime

Minister\’s absence from Thailand, Somkid is tasked with

overseeing the Finance Ministry, Tourism and Sports Ministry,

Commerce Ministry, Industry Ministry, the Budget Bureau, and

the National Economic and Social Development Board. In the

event that Thaksin died in office, Somkid would become acting

PM in the short period before Parliament would be expected to

officially chose a new prime minister.

 

Deputy Prime Minister (and Interior Minister) Pol. Gen.

Chidchai Vanasatidya, although a newcomer to the Cabinet, is

second in line to act for Thaksin. His oversight duties

include the Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, Justice

Ministry, the National Security Council, the National

Security Agency, and the Royal Thai Police. He will also

reportedly act as the ex-officio Chairman of the National

Security Council, the National Policy Commission, the Police

Commission, the Narcotics Control Board and the Anti-Money

Laundering Commission.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang, third in line, is

overseeing the Information and Communications Technology

Ministry, the Education Ministry and the National Buddhist

Bureau.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, the former

Foreign Minister, will be fourth in line to act for Prime

Minister Thaksin. His oversight responsibilities include the

Foreign Affairs Ministry, Social development and Human

Security Ministry and the Labor Ministry.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Pinij Jarusombat, fifth in line, is

overseeing the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, the

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Public Health

Ministry, the Consumer Protection Board, and the National

Village and Urban Community Fund.

 

Wissanu Krea-Ngam, sixth in line, oversees the Transport

Ministry, the Energy ministry, the Prime Minister\’s Office,

the Council of State, the Civil Service Commission, the

National Economic and Social Advisory Board, and the Office

of the Civil Service Development Commission.

 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTERS ALSO TASKED TO OVERSEE COUNTRY\’S

ADMINISTRATIVE ZONES

 

2. (SBU) Govt Spokesman Pol. Gen. Chaloemdet Chomphunut

disclosed after the cabinet meeting on March 15 that PM

Thaksin has also tasked the deputy prime ministers, and one

minister, to oversee the \”overall administration\” in

Thailand\’s 76 provinces. To facilitate this goal, the

Thaksin team reportedly divided the country into 19

administrative zones, excluding Bangkok, and doled out to

each deputy PM at least 3 zones for their oversight.

However, this new system is not as significant a change as it

might appear. For example, the deputy prime ministers\’ new

provincial \”oversight\” responsibilities do not give them

direct authority over the governors or other Thai provincial

authorities. Deputy prime ministers must still go through

the Interior Minister Pol. Gen. Chidchai Vanasatidya, who is

also a deputy prime minister, to suggest changes to be

implemented by the governors. The new responsibility appears

to amount to each deputy prime minister having a special

brief to keep on top of developments in certain provinces and

advise PM Thaksin. The allocation of zones is as follows:

 

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak:

 

Zone 1 (Chiang Rai / Chiang Mai / Nan / Phayao / Phrae / Mae

Hong Son / Lampang / Lamphun)

Zone 9 (Chanthaburi / Chon Buri / Trat / Rayong)

Zone 17 (Krabi / Phang-nga / Phuket)

 

Deputy Prime Minister Pol. Gen. Chidchai Vanasatidya:

 

Zone 14 (Yasothon / Si Sa Ket / Amnat Charoen / Ubon

Ratchathani)

Zone 18 (Narathiwat / Pattani / Yala)

Zone 19 (Songkhla / Satun)

 

Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang:

 

Zone 6 (Kanchanaburi / Nakhon Pathom / Ratchaburi / Suphan

Buri)

Zone 8 (Chachoengsao / Nakhon Nayok / Prachin Buri / Samut

Prakan / Sa Kaeo)

Zone 11 (Kalasin / Nakhon Phanom / Mukdahan / Sakon Nakhon)

 

Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai:

 

Zone 2 (Tak, Phitsanulok / Phetchabun / Sukhothai / Uttaradit)

Zone 3 (Kamphaeng Phet / Nakhon Sawan / Phichit / Uthai Thani)

Zone 16 (Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat / Phattalung)/

 

Deputy Prime Minister Pinij Jarusombat:

 

Zone 10 (Nong Khai / Nong Bua Lam Phu / Loei / Udon Thani)

Zone 12 (Khon Kaen / Maha Sarakham / Roi Et)

Zone 13 (Chaiyaphum / Nakhon Ratchasima / Buriram / Surin)

Zone 15 (Chumphon / Ranong / Surat Thani)

 

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam:

 

Zone 4 (Nonthaburi / Pathum Thani / Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya

/ Angthong)

Zone 5 (Chainat / Lop Buri / Saraburi / Sing Buri)

Zone 7 (Prachuap Khirikhan / Petchaburi / Samut Songkhram /

Samut Sakhon)

 

Prime Minister\’s Office Minister Suranand Vejjajiva has been

given oversight of the administration of Bangkok.

 

SPARKS FLY IN FIRST PARLIAMENT BUSINESS SESSION

 

3. (SBU) Opposition Democrat Party (DP) MPs walked out of

Parliament on February 16 during its first business session

after Speaker Bhokin Bhalakula ejected one of their fellow

members following an altercation over voting procedure.

According to reports, Democrat MP Rangsima Rodrasamee accused

Thai Rak Thai (TRT) MP Phayap Punket of voting more than

once, using an absent TRT MP\’s electronic voting card.

Phayap demanded an apology from Rangsima. Rangsima refused.

After exchanges between government and opposition MPs, Bhokin

told Rangsima to withdraw her accusation or leave the

chamber. Rangsima chose to depart, sparking a walkout by her

DP colleagues. The vote that started the bitter

recriminations was over a disagreement between TRT and DP MPs

over what time to start the next meeting of the lower

chamber. In addition to criticism from DP lawmakers for

ejecting Rangsima, Bhokin has also reportedly been criticized

by members of the Wang Nam Yen faction of the TRT Party, who

accused the Speaker of mishandling the whole situation.

Former Deputy House Speaker and Chart Thai Party MP Somsak

Prisanananthakun characterized Bhokin\’s chairmanship as a

\”rubber stamp.\”

 

4. (SBU) Comment: Feelings were already raw among DP MPs

over what they consider the Speaker\’s blatant lack of

neutrality. Bhokin was previously Thaksin\’s Interior

Minister and took the untraditional step of voting for

Thaksin last week when he was formally elected Prime Minister

(see Bangkok 1739). By his abrupt decision to eject Rangsima

from the Parliament chamber he has shown a lack of political

finesse by ignoring the expectation that the Speaker will

strive to appear objective and non-partisan. TRT

subsequently admitted that several MPs had engaged in

covering up for absent colleagues by using their electronic

cards to vote.

 

REPORTS OF RUMBLINGS IN MAJOR TRT FACTION OVER SPOILS

 

5. (SBU) Members of the Wang Nam Yen (WNY) faction of

influential politician Sanoh Thienthong are grumbling over

what they consider a disproportional allocation of

ministerial and assistant slots to Bangkok MPs rather than to

the MPs from the other regions of the country, especially the

Northeast, their bailiwick, which brought in a massive TRT

seat tally. His faction members especially complained to

Sanoh about the following appointments: former Health

Minister and Thaksin\’s Bangkok campaign manager (and TRT

faction leader in her own right) Sudarat Keyuraphan as

Agriculture Minister; Suranand Vejjajiva as Prime Minister\’s

Office Minister; Phumtham Wechayachai as Deputy

Communications Minister; Pimon Sriwikorn as Deputy Secretary

General to Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister

Chidchai; and Pitipong Temjareon as Secretary to the Foreign

Minister. The WNY MPs are also unhappy over the replacement

of Sanoh as party Chief Whip former Justice Minister Pongthep

Thianthong, who they view as more junior and less capable.

Sanoh reportedly told his followers to be patient and see

what develops over the coming months.

 

6. (SBU) Comment: Sanoh has been battling to maintain his

position vis-a-vis other TRT factions over the past three

years, particularly with the rise in influence of the Wang

Babuan faction headed by Thaksin\’s sister Yaowapa Wongsawat.

He has also seen his star eclipsed by the very low rankings

that his faction members received on the TRT party list

compared to those given members of rival factions. His

private secretary and confidant Burin Hiranburans, for

example was ranked no 95 on the list compared to the number

52 ranking he held in the 2001 election. In another case,

close aide Boonthueng Panpanit was ranked 88th this time

around, compared to 56th in the previous election. Sanoh\’s

followers don\’t need much more evidence to sense that their

leader\’s influence within the TRT is on the wane.

 

CHUWIT COMES UP WITH HIS OWN COLOR ZONES – FOR THAKSIN\’S NEW

CABINET MEMBERS

 

7. (SBU) In an obvious spoof of Thaksin\’s use of color

codes to denote the level of security in Thailand\’s southern

provinces\’ districts (ref. C), outspoken Chart Thai Party

List (Bangkok) MP Chuwit Kamolwisit, announced on March 16

his idea of categorizing the Prime Minister\’s new cabinet

ministers by color. Chuwit straight-faced declared that

under his plan, he would divide all new ministers into 3

colored groups; \”Green\” for those with acceptable

qualifications, \”Yellow\” for those with doubtful

qualifications, and \”Red\” for those with unacceptable

qualifications. According to Chuwit, ministers in \”Yellow\”

and \”Red\” groups must be kept under close watch. He

identified 9 of Thaksin\’s new Ministers who in his view

qualify for the \”Red\” group.

 

Chuwit\’s \”Red\” list

 

Pinij Jarusombat (Deputy PM)

Wissanu Krea-Ngam (Deputy PM)

Sudarat Keyuraphun (Minister of Agriculture & Cooperatives)

Suriya Jungrungruengkit (Minister of Transport)

Pracha Maleenont (Minister of Social Development and Human

Security)

Somsak Thepsutin (Minister of Tourism and Sports)

Adisai Bodharamik (Minister of Education)

Watana Muangsook (Minister of Industry)

Newin Chidchob (Deputy Minister of Agriculture & Cooperatives)

 

8. (U) Chuwit added that there are 14 ministers in the

\”Green\” group and 12 in the \”Yellow\” group. He reportedly

intends to evaluate all the ministers every 6 months, and

those with better or more satisfactory performance would be

re-categorized into a better color group. (Note: Chuwit did

not explain if those in the \”Green\” group would be degraded

if their performance got worse. End note.)

 

9. (SBU) Comment: Chuwit, the \”Massage Parlor Tycoon,\”

gained immense public popularity in Bangkok when he

threatened to reveal the names of police and other officials

who had demanded bribes and other payoffs from his brothel

operations over the years. Chuwit ran for governor last year

and came in a strong third. He won a Chart Thai (CT) Party

List seat in the February general elections. True to his

independent image, Chuwit was the only MP to register a vote

against Thaksin for Prime Minister in the Parliament after

the other CT members (save CT Leader Barnharn Silpa-archa)

and the opposition Democrat Party decided to abstain.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 7:58 am

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