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05BANGKOK2261 AMBASSADOR HILL’S MEETING WITH OPPOSITION MP SURIN PITSUWAN

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“29753”,”3/30/2005 12:00″,”05BANGKOK2261″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“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 002261

 

SIPDIS

 

SEOUL FOR AMBASSADOR HILL. DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ

USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2015

TAGS: PREL, PHUM, TH, BM, BURMA, ASEAN,

ARF – Asean Regional Forum, Southern Thailand,

NRC – National Reconciliation Committee

SUBJECT: THAILAND: AMBASSADOR HILL\’S MEETING WITH

OPPOSITION MP SURIN PITSUWAN

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission, Alex A. Arvizu, Reason: 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: A/S Designate for East Asia and Pacific and

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Christopher Hill met with opposition

Democrat Party (DP) Deputy Leader and former Foreign Minister

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan on March 29. Surin urged the U.S. to

continue to pressure Thailand and ASEAN partners to seek

democratic reform in Burma by withholding the ASEAN

chairmanship from the SPDC in 2006. He stated that the ASEAN

Regional Forum (ARF) should become more than just a

discussion group, and suggested appointment of an ARF

\”special envoy\” for the Korean peninsula. Surin opined that

the new National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), chaired by

former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, might prove to be

more than Prime Minister Thaksin bargained for. End Summary.

 

2. (U) U.S. Ambassador to Korea Christopher Hill, the A/S

Designate for EAP, Ambassador Boyce and Poloffs from Embassy

Seoul and Bangkok met with opposition DP Party Leader Dr.

Surin Pitsuwan, a former foreign minister in the Chuan

Leekpai administration. The veteran Muslim MP recalled how

former Secretary of State Colin Powell, at the ARF meeting in

Phnom Penh in June 2003, had set the right tone for U.S.

relations in Southeast Asia with the statement that although

the fight against terror must be made, the U.S. must uphold

human rights at the same time. Surin said that he had

recently spoken with some Thai economists who were surprised

at the recent U.S. Human Rights Report chapter on Thailand.

Surin\’s contacts were under the (obviously uninformed)

impression that the US was only concerned about the war on

terror and other security issues and no longer interested in

human rights.

 

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON BURMA

 

3. (C) Surin stated that \”Southeast Asia is coming back\” in

the area of human rights, citing recent democratic changes in

Indonesia. He commented that the current Thai government has

an \”authoritarian bent\” under Prime Minister Thaksin. He

lamented being in the opposition and the magnitude of his

party\’s defeat in the recent national elections, but said

that the DP and other opposition parties will continue to

debate the government, albeit with a weaker voice. He

stressed that, because of the governing Thai Rak Thai (TRT)

party\’s dominance in Parliament, U.S. dialogue with the RTG,

especially via ASEAN, is vital. On Burma, Surin said he

thought that U.S. approaches to ASEAN to \”pressure\” the SPDC

to skip their slated 2006 chairmanship would meet with a

favorable response at this time. He suggested that one

compromise would be to allow the SPDC to host some ASEAN

meetings, but not serve as chair. Surin thought that ASEAN

was undertaking a \”real evaluation\” of the issue. The EU and

Australia were \”coming around\” to this point of view and,

with help from the US, Japan might as well. Ambassador Boyce

mentioned his recent meeting with Japanese Deputy Foreign

Minister Tanaka and Tanaka\’s recent meeting with Burmese

Prime Minister Soe Win (Septel).

 

ARF ROLE IN KOREAN PENINSULA?

 

4. (C) Surin raised the issue of the ASEAN Regional Forum

(ARF) and its need to play a more meaningful role in the

region. He suggested that an ARF \”special envoy\” to the

Korean peninsula be appointed, not as a mediator, but as a

\”messenger\” — one who could gather information and share it

among the members of the six-party talks. Ambassador Hill

said he would raise this idea in Washington once he takes up

his new post.

 

SOUTHERN THAILAND

 

5. (U) On continuing violence in the three southernmost

provinces of Thailand, Surin commented that the south has

been a problem for many previous governments. The Thaksin

government had seriously miscalculated by dismantling

previous successful security structures shortly after it

assumed power in 2001, Surin said. This led to a crisis in

human rights violations and in the rule of law as the

government tried to quell rising violence. Surin noted not

only the thousands of suspected extrajudicial killings

nationwide in 2003 during the government\’s anti-narcotics

campaign — which he said some put as high as 3,000 — but

claimed that he has heard of thousands of disappeared or

\”kidnapped\” Muslim \”suspects\” in the South. (Comment: These

numbers, in both cases, strike us as exaggerated. End

Comment.)

 

EDUCATION REFORM, THE NRC AND COUNTERING THAKSIN\’S WEEKLY

RADIO ADDRESS

6. (U) On other topics, Surin discussed the need for

education reform in Muslim schools (pondoks or madrasas). In

most areas of the far south, he said, the traditional Muslim

curriculum was taught in the morning, while the \”modern\”

curriculum was left for the afternoons, resulting in a

\”half-baked\” education that left the youth entering the job

market with few skills or educational achievements. The

curricula in Thai, English, math, science and information

technology must be strengthened. Surin commented that the

composition of the newly formed National Reconciliation

Commission (NRC) was good, balanced and hopeful. He wondered

openly what the Commission will do with its 9-month mandate

and expressed his hope that recommendations can be passed

along quickly for action, and that meetings can be held as

events take place. Surin was pleased that Anand Panyarachun,

the highly respected former prime minister, was not afraid to

openly criticize Thaksin, noting Anand,s call for public

release of the reports of the Independent Commissions

investigating the incidents at the Krue Se mosque in April

2004 and at Tak Bai in October 2004. Surin noted that

\”Thaksin may come to regret appointing Anand.\” He also

mentioned the worrisome trend toward concentration of

corporate and RTG control of the broadcast media and said

that DP opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva will propose an

equal air time \”right of reply\” to counter PM Thaksin,s

influential weekly Saturday radio address.

 

7. (U) Ambassador Hill did not have the opportunity to clear

on this message.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 8:06 am

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