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05BANGKOK6798 OPPOSITION POLITICIAN PESSIMISTIC ON SOUTH, PARTY PROSPECTS

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“43921”,”10/28/2005 12:10″,”05BANGKOK6798″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”05BANGKOK6240″,

“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 006798

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL:10/26/2015

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Democratic Party,

Political Parties, Southern Thailand

SUBJECT: OPPOSITION POLITICIAN PESSIMISTIC ON SOUTH, PARTY

PROSPECTS

 

REF: BANGKOK 6240

 

CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL COUNSELOR SUSAN M. SUTTON, reason

1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: A Democrat party MP gave downbeat

assessments of his party\’s short term prospects, and of the

security situation in the troubled South. The MP warned

that the current government would be unable to resolve the

problems in the South because it had completely lost the

trust of the people. Meanwhile, the PM was not too

concerned, as his nationalist rhetoric on the issue was

actually winning him support around the country. The

Democrat party must rebuild from the grass roots, in the

MP\’s view, and cannot rely on a \”people power\” type revolt

to unseat the prime minister and his powerful Thai Rak Thai

party. His view of the South is overly pessmistic, we

believe, but he is probably right about his own party\’s

weakness in the face of a still-strong TRT. End summary.

 

Prospects for the South — bad

——————————

 

2. (C) Polcouns met with Sukhumbrand

Paribatra, a party list MP and Democrat Party

(DP) leader. Sukhumbrand echoed the concerns

of other DP interlocutors in assessing the

situation in the South. He respected the

members of the National Reconciliation

Commission (NRC) but doubted whether their work

could have much impact. At this point, he

said, it won\’t help even if the government

comes up with a good solution to respond to the

core problems in the South. The government

itself is the problem, and more specifically

the Prime Minister. The people in the South

have no faith in the government or PM anymore

and will not trust anything they do.

 

3. (C) Further, Thaksin has little incentive

to make concessions that might help quiet the

problems in the South. Thaksin\’s nationalist

rhetoric is still popular with the people in

the rest of the country. \”For every one enemy

he makes in the South, he gets ten supporters,\”

Sukhumbrand claimed. Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai

(TRT) party is prepared to concede the South to

the opposition. \”What does it matter that he

loses 40-50 MPs from the South, if he wins

everywhere else in the country?\” Sukhumbrand

asked.

 

Prospects for the opposition — bad

———————————–

 

4. (C) Polcouns asked what the Democrat Party

strategy would be for the Senate elections next

year. \”Shall I tell you honestly? We will get

on our knees and pray.\” Sukhumbrand said. He

expected that TRT would \”use state power\” and

their control over the media so effectively

that the DP and other opposition parties would

not have a chance. DP was also to blame; for

many years it had been \”coasting,\” certain that

it would muster enough seats to have a role in

any coalition government. The dramatic losses

in 2001 and this year had shaken up the party,

and now they would have to rebuild. The new

party leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, had told the

party that it must now compete to win, not just

to be part of a coalition.

 

5. (C) In the by-elections on October 30, the

opposition could only hope to gain one or two

seats. It had hoped to win three of the four

contests, reaching 125 seats in the Parliament;

this is the number needed to initiate censure

and impeachment motions. Sukhumbrand did not

expect to succeed. The opposition would take

the seat in Satun in the South, which TRT had

decided not to contest (unless low turn-out

rendered the election void). The opposition

had a chance Phichit, which has been hotly

contested . In Uthai Thani, \”all that matters

is money\” and TRT has more of it. In Singburi,

the opposition candidate has not maintained

good contact with his constituency, and so is

not expected to do well.

 

6. (C) Polcouns asked about the impact of the

Auditor-General scandal (reftel) and the

efforts by opposition groups to gin up

widespread public discontent and anti-

government demonstrations over the issue.

Sukhumbrand discounted the effect of the

scandal. \”It\’s too complicated,\” he said, \”I

had to have it explained to me twice.\”

(Comment: us, too. end comment.) If the public

does rise up against the government, it would

probably be over some simple issue that no one

can now predict, like the death of a family

from bird flu. He drew a parallel with the

student demonstrations of the past, which had

grown out of narrow grievances.

 

Comment

——-

 

7. (C) Sukhumbrand gave a more realistic

assessment of the political situation than we

have heard from many other opposition and civil

society figures. His view that the party

cannot count on public unrest and \”people

power\” revolt against Thaksin is probably

unwelcome among many of his colleagues, who

would like to avoid the long, hard job of

building grassroots support around the country.

His assessment of the South may be too grim, in

our view. We don\’t think that it is yet too

late for good government policies effectively

implemented to improve the conditions in the

South. Unfortunately, the situation might

reach that point if the government doesn\’t work

more effectively soon.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 6:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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