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06BANGKOK1947 RESPONSE TO APRIL 2 ELECTIONS

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“58884”,”3/31/2006 11:04″,”06BANGKOK1947″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO8577

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1947 0901104

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 311104Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7600

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 001947

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: RESPONSE TO APRIL 2 ELECTIONS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) The USG should refrain from comment on the April 2

elections that could be used by either side to boost their

competing claims. These elections are only one step in a

complicated political contest that has been unfolding in

recent weeks, and which will not be decided by the poll

results alone. After the vote, each side will do its utmost

to spin the results — which are likely to be inconclusive at

best — to its advantage. PM Thaksin may consider whether to

step down, thus perhaps defusing further crises, or he may

attempt to stay on and plow ahead with plans to govern with a

one-party parliament. Any public statement we make runs a

serious risk of being used in ways we would not want.

 

2. (C) Beyond these political issues, there are several

looming problems with the election process that will make it

difficult to render a positive assessment in the near future:

 

— In order to undermine the boycott by the main opposition

parties, several little-known parties submitted fraudulent

candidate registrations. There are serious and unresolved

accusations that the members of the ruling Thai Rak Thai

(TRT) and the Election Commission colluded in this fraud.

 

— There will be no systematic monitoring of any kind on

April 2. The opposition parties are not running, so they

cannot have agents in the polling places. Poll Watch, the

respected independent poll monitoring NGO, is also

boycotting.

 

3. (C) Under these circumstances, we are highly unlikely to

be in a position to make an objective assessment of the

fairness of the vote right after April 2. At a minimum, it

would be inappropriate to comment on the election while the

various claims of fraud are being considered — a process

that is likely to take weeks.

 

4. (C) We are consulting with other embassies to determine

their position on post-election statements or anticipated

letters of congratulation to the PM. So far, most have

expressed reservations about making any public statement,

especially immediately after the election (Japan, Australia,

EU). They all recognize the risk of being drawn into the

middle of the debate, and having any official statement

misused by one side or the other. Among the embassies with

which we have consulted, only the Canadians seem inclined to

send a letter of congratulations.

 

5. (SBU) We propose the following guidance:

 

— We note that elections took place in Thailand on April 2.

 

— There are still a number of issues to be resolved in these

elections, including allegations of fraud and constitutional

questions.

 

— We believe that it would be inappropriate to comment until

these issues have been settled according to Thai law.

 

— We would urge the Election Commission and all Thai

authorities to work to resolve any allegations fairly.

 

If there is any violence, we would add:

 

— We are particularly concerned by reports of violence in

some locations. We urge the government to ensure that

everyone expressing political views peacefully can do so

without fear of intimidation or violence.

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:46 am

Posted in Confidential, Election

06BANGKOK1946 ELECTION ON APRIL 2. THEN WHAT?

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58883″,”3/31/2006 11:02″,”06BANGKOK1946″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO8574

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1946/01 0901102

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 311102Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7597

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 001946

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2016

TAGS: PGOV, ASEC, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: ELECTION ON APRIL 2. THEN WHAT?

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The elections on Sunday will not end the

political crisis. Given the lack of monitors or meaningful

opposition parties, it seems likely that Thaksin\’s Thai Rak

Thai (TRT) will be able to rack up a substantial vote.

However, it faces serious problems in the South, and

potentially in Bangkok, getting the required 2 percent of the

eligible vote for single candidate seats. If Thaksin steps

down, as some people have predicted, there will still be many

unresolved Constitutional problems to deal with resulting

from this essentially one-party election. If he does not

step down, the long period of peaceful and generally amusing

demonstrations may be over, and the risk of miscalculations

and provocations resulting in violence becomes much more

pronounced. The EAC has reviewed our security posture, and

our Consular Information Sheets give appropriate warnings.

Septel provides suggested press guidance. We will use

contacts with security officials and protesters to urge that

all sides exercise maximum restraint and avoid violence

during this volatile time. End summary.

 

2. (C) The elections on Sunday will not end the political

crisis gripping Thailand; they are just the next pivot point

for this long-running drama. Many of the possible scenarios

for the next few weeks are not very appealing. For the past

several months, through waves of huge demonstrations, the

Thai — both demonstrators and police — have shown admirable

restraint and commitment to peaceful protest. We should be

prepared for the possibility that this will change as both

the Prime Minister and his opponents become more desperate to

end the uncertainty, and win.

 

3. (C) First, a quick look at what the election will and

will not tell us. We will probably see preliminary election

results Monday, but the Election Commission (EC) will likely

require weeks or even months to investigate and resolve fraud

charges. Each side will try to spin the results to its

advantage, but opposition to Thaksin will not be dampened

even in the face of a large vote in his favor.

 

COUNTING THE BALLOTS

———————

 

4. (C) Many analysts are speculating about what it will

\’mean\’ if TRT gets a million more votes than the 19 million

it got in 2005, or a million less. In reality, TRT should be

able to rack up hefty totals in the countryside. There are

about 45 million total registered voters. About 15 million of

them live in the northeast, and about another 8 million in

the north, both areas where local officials, at least, seem

to be solidly behind Thaksin. There will be no independent

observers (the local poll monitoring organization is also

boycotting), and no genuine opposition parties to monitor the

vote. We have already seen the lengths to which some Thaksin

supporters will go in this election — about a third of the

candidates who registered were disqualified, many for blatant

fraud in which TRT members are likely to be implicated. The

northeast and north are prone to voter fraud already (the

Northeast is known as the area where \”the voters stay

bought\”). With no monitoring, the sky is really the limit.

Under such circumstances, almost everyone expects TRT to do

extremely well in these areas.

 

4. (C) Greater Bangkok (7 million voters) and the South (6

million voters) will pose stiffer challenges for TRT, as

polling place personnel and local officials are more likely

to be Thaksin opponents. But there will still be no official

monitoring, and the integrity of the process will depend on

the commitment of the election officials. The Bangkok vote

is difficult to predict, as many people here are recently

from the northeast or other rural areas, and their sympathies

may lie with their rural roots. There may also be lurking

resentment at the middle class and student-oriented protests

that have rocked Bangkok for weeks. TRT ran well in Bangkok

just a year ago, capturing most of the seats. In the far

South, TRT does not seem to be even trying to turn out the

vote, and it made an even worse showing in the mid-South in

2005, getting less than 20 percent of the vote in most

districts. Greater Bangkok and the South have over 120 seats,

for many of which there is only one candidate. These are the

areas most likely to provoke a constitutional dilemma: what

to do if the voting does not produce all 500 MPs required?

 

WILL THAKSIN STEP DOWN?

———————–

 

5. (C) The first question on everyone\’s mind Monday morning

will be: is Thaksin going to step down? The media has been

 

BANGKOK 00001946 002 OF 003

 

full of hints that he is considering \’taking a break\’ and

some TRT members and officials predict he will follow

through. At this point, Thaksin himself probably doesn\’t

know what he\’ll do after the vote. Unfortunately, even if he

steps down, there are still many problems in store. He may

be planning a very short break indeed — just a few months to

permit constitutional reform, and then new elections. This

offer is unlikely to satisfy the demonstrators. Even if

Thaksin is ready to step down for a longer period, the

question will arise, what about these April 2 elections? No

one discussing post-election scenarios has really dealt with

that question. One logical solution if Thaksin steps down

would be to toss out the results of the April 2 vote and

start over, giving the opposition parties time to regroup and

participate. However, the expense and effort make this a

tough option to choose. Declare the elections void and

reconstitute the old Parliament? Also a difficult choice.

 

OR WILL HE TOUGH IT OUT?

————————

 

6. (C) If Thaksin decides to fight on, then there will be a

wrenching process with seating the newly-elected Parliament.

If, as expected, the election does not produce 500 winners,

the EC has said that the question will have to go to the

Constitutional Court, to see if the Parliament can be seated

without the full quota of 500. In a similar situation five

years ago, the Court ruled that the Senate had to have all

200 members before it could convene. Nonetheless, this Court

has a reputation for falling in line with the PM\’s interests,

Thus, it is possible that, after several re-votes fail to

produce a legitimate winner, Thailand will have a House of

Representatives composed almost exclusively of TRT members.

 

IS THE PARTY OVER?

——————

 

7. (C) The opposition to Thaksin is tired, but they are not

running out of steam. The demonstrations are getting bigger,

and our contacts in the countryside indicate that they are

making some headway even in the cities and towns of the TRT

strongholds. If the PM tries to dig in after the elections,

the anti-Thaksin demonstrators will assuredly be back on the

streets again.

 

8. (C) Until now, the anti-Thaksin PAD (People\’s Alliance for

Democracy) has been impressively disciplined and organized;

their demonstrations have generally been cheerful, family

affairs with a festive atmosphere. They have cultivated good

contacts with the police. They have also had almost a

complete monopoly on demonstrating — there has been

remarkably little protest activity outside the framework of

the PAD. But this could change if Thaksin does not step

down. Particularly in Bangkok, tensions are high and nerves

are frayed. There will be at least a few who will be inclined

to employ more confrontational methods.

 

9. (C) During the past week, we saw several previews of

demonstrations that could have provoked a violent response.

In Bangkok, a group of students dumped trash in front of the

TRT party headquarters in the middle of the night. Farmers

seeking debt relief blockaded a bank and the PAD blockaded

the Electoral Commission headquarters. In Chiang Mai,

violence actually broke out on Thursday, when pro-Thaksin

supporters blocked the roads to prevent a Democrat Party

rally, and then disrupted the meeting with jeers, throwing

rotten eggs, and eventually driving the Democrat leader off

the stage and back to the airport. A small bomb was also

found at Democrat Party headquarters in Bangkok earlier this

week.

 

10. (C) The police and military have so far refrained from

intervening to arrest peaceful protesters, despite some

threats from the government that it would like to do so.

After the election, the pressure on police to arrest

demonstrators is likely to increase greatly, as Thaksin

struggles to reassert control over the capital. The

government has also announced that it has videotaped protest

speeches and will prepare to bring criminal defamation

charges against the speakers. Efforts to arrest the

charismatic demonstration leaders or peaceful demonstrators,

or a heavy-handed police response to rowdy students — any of

these options could provoke a violent response. Without

wanting to sound alarmist, there is a very real risk in the

next few weeks that the situation could deteriorate fairly

quickly.

 

ACTION ITEMS

————

 

BANGKOK 00001946 003 OF 003

 

11. (C) We plan to convene the EAC after the elections, and

as often as necessary, to review our security posture.

However, there are no signs of any anti-American element to

the demonstrations. In addition:

 

— We have reviewed the Consular Information Sheet and warden

messages, which advise travelers to avoid crowds and

demonstrations. We believe that this advice is still

appropriate.

 

— We have prepared press guidance (septel) for use

immediately after the election, if we are called upon to

comment.

 

— Post will continue to use contacts with security forces,

opposition groups and government officials to underscore the

need for restraint and the use of only peaceful means in

resolving the conflict.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

12: (C) It is generally believed here (rightly or not) that

if violence breaks out and people are injured or killed,

Thaksin will have to step down. Since Thaksin and his

stalwarts understand this, they have a compelling reason to

avoid violence. Even so, Thaksin himself may not be able to

control the forces supporting him. The incident at the

Democrat rally in Chiang Mai could easily have resulted in

serious injuries or worse. The anti-Thaksin forces have also

whipped up strong feelings they may be unable to contain.

There are still optimists who believe that Thaksin will find

a way to make a graceful exit after April 2, or that the

Palace will intervene in the event that he stubbornly refuses

to go. Two things appear certain: 1) the election, which

many saw as a 50/50 proposition only a couple of weeks ago,

will almost certainly proceed as scheduled on April 2; and 2)

the period after the election will be tense. The protests to

date have been remarkably peaceful, given the stakes. But

it\’s unlikely to remain that way indefinitely.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:45 am

06BANGKOK1945 THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: THAKSIN LOYALISTS FIGHT BACK

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“58873”,”3/31/2006 10:35″,”06BANGKOK1945″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO8520

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1945/01 0901035

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 311035Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7595

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001945

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: THAKSIN LOYALISTS FIGHT

BACK

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Alexander Arvizu reason 1.4 (b)

(d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In Chiang Mai, around one thousand agitated

Thaksin supporters disrupted the Democrat\’s planned rally

last night, forcing the Democrats to cancel the rally amidst

flying rotten eggs and cries to \”get out.\” Meanwhile, in

Bangkok, heavy rain poured on People\’s Alliance for Democracy

(PAD) supporters camped in front of the Election Commission

(EC), dispersing many but prompting others to dance in the

rain. The Central Administrative Courts ruled yesterday that

pens should also be used in addition to the new, EC-required

rubber stamps, addressing some of the concerns about fraud

during the April 2 elections. End summary.

 

SIGNS OF THINGS TO COME?

————————

 

2. (C) Democratic Party leaders were greeted by 1,000 to

2,000 pro-Thaksin loyalists blocking the entrance of their

planned outdoor rally last night in Chiang Mai. Democratic

leader Abhisit\’s speech was drowned out and cut short by loud

jeers and angry shouts for him and other party leaders to

\”get out\”; protesters burned Abhisit and key PAD leaders in

effigy. Abhisit was finally forced to cancel the rally when

the event turned violent and protesters began to pelt the

speakers with rotten eggs and plastic chairs. (Comment:

Chiang Mai (septel) notes that suspicions have fallen on the

brother of a TRT MP and former mayor as the organizer of the

mob. End Comment.)

 

MONSOON ON PAD\’S PARADE

———————–

 

3. (C) In Bangkok, the PAD crowd marched from the business

district of Siam Square to besiege the EC headquarters

yesterday, demanding that the EC to cancel the April 2

election and calling for the resignation of the EC panel in

general. The EC did not receive their letter of demand and

shut their doors to the protesters. The PAD was preparing to

camp out in front of the EC last night when the first of

Bangkok\’s monsoon season rainstorms began. The rain sent

many demonstrations scrambling for shelter while the PAD

leaders attempted to keep the movement going by turning to

open songs on stage and prompting the crowd to dance in the

rain. But as the rain subsided, only the hard-core Dharma

Army demonstrators remained on site. In the meantime, the

PAD announced today that they will regroup for another mass

demonstration to Government House on April 7, following the

election on Sunday.

 

YOU GOTTA VOTE, YOU GOTTA EAT

—————————–

 

4. (C) At a dinner for invited foreign election observers

(including the US, Japan, India and the ASEAN members) on

March 30, a subdued EC Commissioner Virachai described his

\”escape\” from the PAD barricade earlier in the day by riding

in disguise on a motorcycle. Virachai acknowledged to the

assembled officials the uncertainty lying ahead after the

April 2 polls. Virachai stated to Poloff that the EC will

hold follow-up polls in constituencies where only one

candidate runs and receives less than twenty percent of the

eligible vote. As of the evening of March 30, there were an

astounding 278 constituencies of 400 where only one candidate

was running due to disqualifications. If the reruns are

inconclusive, then additional polls could be held.

 

5. (C) Citing the earlier resignation of a TRT party list

candidate, Virachai noted that the EC was looking at the

Constitution to determine if seating less than 100 party list

MPs would be allowable. He also said that EC is

investigating allegations that the TRT provided money and

other assistance to support fraudulent applications by

candidates from smaller parties. Virachai said that it was

impossible for the investigation to conclude before the

elections as demanded by Thaksin\’s opponents. He predicted

that preliminary vote results should be available on Monday,

April 3.

 

PENS ARE ALLOWED

—————-

 

6. (U) The Central Administrative Court yesterday endorsed

 

BANGKOK 00001945 002 OF 002

 

the use of pens for ballot-marking in response to the

Consumer Foundation Network\’s lawsuit against the EC. The

group cited concerns that the EC\’s requirement to use a

rubber stamp on the ballots may prompt a higher chance for

election fraud. The court, however, ruled that limiting

ballot-marking to only rubber stamps would be in violation to

a citizen\’s \”right to choose how to cast his or her vote,\”

and thus required that the EC make both pens and stamps

available to voters this Sunday.

 

STOP THE HARASSMENT!

———————

 

7. (C) The Thai Journalists Association and the Thai

Broadcast Journalist Association issued a joint statement

yesterday calling for an end to media harassment. This was

in response to some 2,000 pro-Thaksin \”Caravan of the Poor\”

demonstrators that swarmed the Kom Chad Luek newspaper office

yesterday, reportedly upset over an alleged slight to the

monarchy. The Kom Chad Luek newspaper announced yesterday

that it will suspend publications for five days and its

editor will resign. In their statement, the Thai media

condemned the protest as intimidation of the media, claiming

that the newspaper had already taken full responsibility for

the mistake. The statement denounced the protesters for

involving the monarchy in the conflict and urged their media

colleagues to take precautions against exploitation.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:44 am

06BANGKOK1918 THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: MARCH 30

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“58703”,”3/30/2006 10:13″,”06BANGKOK1918″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK1888″,

“VZCZCXRO8123

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1918 0891013

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

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FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7573

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 001918

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/29/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: MARCH 30

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 1888

 

B. BANGKOK 1844

C. BANGKOK 1692

 

Classified By: Charge d\’Affaires Alex A. Arvizu for reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) Summary. Over 150,000 anti-Thaksin protesters

demonstrated peacefully last night in the heart of Bangkok\’s

upscale shopping district. This morning, the protesters

marched on the offices of the Election Commission where about

one thousand still remain this afternoon. PAD announced that

the demonstration would end this evening and that the next

large-scale demonstration will not be called until April 7.

However, a group of protesters remains camped in front of the

Election Commission offices demanding the resignation of the

Commissioners. As election day draws closer, the media is

reporting pessimistic leaks coming from TRT officials worried

about the party\’s ability to succeed in many of the

single-candidate races. End Summary.

 

BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE MALLS

——————————

 

2. (U) Over 150,000 PAD-led protesters descended on Bangkok\’s

upscale shopping district yesterday evening. The event was

boisterous but peaceful, and the much feared traffic chaos

never materialized – or a least went unnoticed given the

normal state of traffic in Bangkok. This looked to us like

the biggest showing for an anti-Thaksin rally yet.

Protesters packed the four-lane street, the median, and the

broad sidewalks to listen to the usual fare of anti-Thaksin

rhetoric.

 

3. (C) Sensing that the mall closures and potential traffic

snarls caused by the protest\’s new venue were weakening their

support among Bangkok\’s shopping classes, the PAD announced

an early end to the demonstration in front of Siam Paragon

mall. At about 10:00am on Thursday, the remaining

demonstrators (approximately 5,000) marched from the shopping

district to the Election Commission (EC) to protest the

Commission\’s failure to take action against Thaksin for

allegations that he made illegal payments to entice

candidates from smaller parties to run it the April 2

election. Roads and shops that had closed during the protest

began reopening this afternoon following the PAD\’s departure.

 

4. (C) Some PAD leaders announced that the demonstrations

would end today and would not resume until April 7 to offer

protesters the chance to go to the polls (to check the \’no

vote\’ box) and take a break from the sweltering streets.

However, Chamlong Srimuang – leader of the Dharma Army –

hinted that his followers may continue their demonstration at

the EC offices. By late afternoon, a group of about a

thousand protesters remained in front of the EC offices.

Sources in the EC inform us that the demonstrators have set

up tents, blocked all of the exits from the building, and are

demanding the resignation of the Election Commissioners.

They expect the number of demonstrators to grow as people

begin to leave work for the evening.

 

TRYING IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARD FAILURE

—————————————

 

5. (C) Signs of pessimism continue to leak out of TRT

rank-and-file. The Bangkok Post today cited an unnamed TRT

official voicing concern that as many as 100 of the TRT

candidates running unopposed might fail to secure the 20

percent of the electorate needed to win in their districts.

The source claimed that this estimate was based on results of

an internal TRT survey and was confirmed with a follow-up

survey. This figure is much gloomier than previous estimates

with regard to the number of seats at risk. Naturally, TRT

officially denied that any such internal survey was taken.

 

6. (C) COMMENT: Most assessments predict that 20 to 50 seats

may remain vacant due to unopposed candidates failing to

garner the votes of at least 20 percent of the electorate in

their constituencies on April 2. The leak from TRT about as

many as 100 seats going unfilled suggest growing frustration

among TRT rank-and-file with the party\’s leadership (Reftels

A, B, and C). For every note of pessimism from within TRT,

however, there are matching predictions of resounding victory

on April 2 from Thaksin stalwarts. Even at this late stage,

both sides seem convinced they have the upper hand. End

Comment.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:43 am

06BANGKOK1889 THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: REFUGE AT THE MALLS

leave a comment »

“58551”,”3/29/2006 9:45″,”06BANGKOK1889″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO5342

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1889/01 0880945

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O 290945Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7543

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001889

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: REFUGE AT THE MALLS

 

Classified By: Charge Alex A. Arvizu reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: More rumors from Thaksin\’s cabinet predicts

that the PM may be \”taking a break\” from politics.

Reflecting a change in tactics, the People\’s Alliance for

Democracy (PAD) stationed their demonstration today at Siam

Square, the heart of Bangkok\’s shopping district. Three

major shopping malls in the area announced closure for the

next two days. The total loss of business for these two days

are reportedly estimated to be as high as 600 million baht.

A heavy police presence is reported at Siam Square. The

police further announced the indefinite street closure of the

section of the roads affected by the protest. Meanwhile, up

to 5,000 farmers known as the \”Network of Farmers in Debt of

Thailand\” have set up camp in front of the Krungthai Bank

Headquarters further down the road. PM Thaksin held his

cabinet meeting via video-conference from his hometown of

Chiang Mai. Registration for the Senate election on April 19

closed yesterday with a total of 1,477 candidates

nation-wide. End summary.

 

ANOTHER VOTE FOR \”TAKING A BREAK\”

———————————

 

2. (C) On March 27, the Ambassador heard from another TRT

stalwart that Thaksin would likely take a \”short break\” from

politics following the election. The Health Minister, who

attended a dinner at the residence, volunteered this view.

However, the minister seemed to think that the PM would step

down for just a few months to allow consideration of

amendments to the constitution. The Health Minister

suggested that top TRT ministers Somkid (Commerce), Sudarat

(Agriculture), or Chaturon (Education) could serve as PM for

the interim. He raised the rather odd alternate suggestion

that Thaksin could serve as president of Parliament during

this interim period. Then, presumably, there would be new

elections with all parties participating, in which Thaksin

would again head the TRT list. The Ambassador noted that, in

his personal view, it seemed unlikely that the strong

feelings in Bangkok against the PM would cool down in just a

couple of months.

 

ON THE OTHER HAND…

——————–

 

3. (C) At the same dinner, the two Vice Ministers of Health

told DCM there was \”no way\” Thaksin would resign after April

2. They suggested the PAD had overplayed their hand by

taking their protests to the commercial districts of Bangkok

in recent days. Bangkok citizens were growing weary of the

commotion and growing more concerned about the impact on the

economy. \”Thaksin will outlast them (the protesters), you

watch.\”

 

DEMOCRACY A LA MALL

——————-

 

4. (U) The PAD proceeded to move their demonstration quarters

from a location near the Government House (where they have

been stationed since March 14) to the Siam Square area for

the next two days. They claim that by moving their protest

to the center of Bangkok, they could \”raise public awareness\”

of the political situation. In response, three major

shopping malls in the area (Siam Paragon, Siam Center and

Siam Discovery) announced that they will close their doors

for these two days due to traffic considerations. The

businesses reportedly pleaded unsuccessfully for the PAD to

move the demonstrations elsewhere, as the total loss of sales

is estimated to be as high as 600 million baht.

 

AS IF TRAFFIC ISN\’T BAD ENOUGH ALREADY…

—————————————–

 

5. (C) The Royal Thai Police have a heavy presence in the

area, with a reported 450 officers stationed at each of the

three temporary command posts. The police stated that the

PAD did not apply to use the traffic space in the area. They

further warned that they will be imposing a 500 baht fine on

PAD protesters violating traffic regulations, only to later

announce an indefinite closure of the streets affected by the

protest. (Comment: This section of the road is already

heavily congested. The street closings would undoubtedly add

to the traffic congestion and perhaps cause popular annoyance

at the PAD if their activity in Siam Square is prolonged.

Also, by 3:00pm, the PAD crowd was only about 2,000 people,

 

BANGKOK 00001889 002 OF 002

 

but it is expected to grow tonight as people get out of work

to join the protest. End comment.)

 

…AND NOW ANOTHER GROUP IS ON THE STREET??

——————————————-

 

6. (C) A group of farmers from sixteen provinces called the

\”Network of Farmers in Debt of Thailand\” gathered in the Nana

section of Sukhumvit Road (two sky train stops away from

Siam) early this morning. Poloff estimated the crowd to be

around 1,000 people, but numbers as high as 5,000 were

reported by the Thai press. This group claimed that they are

not affiliated with either the PAD or the pro-Thaksin

\”Caravan of the Poor,\” but are independently protesting in

front of the Krungthai Bank Headquarters for lower interest

rates and reduced loan repayments. The group claims that

they will remain in front of Krungthai Bank and will not join

the PAD rally further up the street. (Comment: The two

protest groups actually on the same road with two different

names — the protesters at the Nana district are yet another

group adding to the traffic woes. End comment.)

 

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER RACE?

————————–

 

7. (C) Unlike the MP race, the registration for senate

candidates closed without a hitch yesterday. A total of

1,477 candidates registered nation-wide for the April 19

election. At the last minute, twenty-seven more candidates

registered their names to contest in Bangkok, bringing a

total of 260 candidates to run in the capital. According to

the Election Commission, this is a decrease of only five

candidates from the senate race in 2000.

 

READING BROADENS THE MIND

————————-

 

8. (U) Several papers have published a suggested reading list

for Thaksin when he goes on his \”post-election break,\”

including \”1984,\” \”The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus,\” and, of

course, \”Macbeth,\” an obvious dig at the PM\’s famously

ambitious wife.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:42 am

Posted in Confidential, PAD, Thaksin

06BANGKOK1873 CABINET SECRETARY-GENERAL PREDICTS THAKSIN WILL RESIGN AFTER ELECTIONS

leave a comment »

“58401”,”3/28/2006 11:26″,”06BANGKOK1873″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO4052

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1873 0871126

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 281126Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7510

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

BANGKOK 001873

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: CABINET SECRETARY-GENERAL PREDICTS THAKSIN WILL

RESIGN AFTER ELECTIONS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) The Ambassador spoke on March 28 with Cabinet

Secretary-General Bowornsak Uwanno. Bowornsak was critical

 

SIPDIS

of the opposition PAD leaders, especially Sondhi Limthongkul

and Chamlong Srimuang, for trying to force the King to

intervene and resolve the political impasse. He complained

that the PAD leaders were trying to induce the PM to use

force to end the demonstrations, and thus provoke a crisis

that would bring down the government. The government,

however, would not resort to force.

 

2. (C) Bowornsak then volunteered that, after the election

on April 2, he expected the PM to seek an audience with the

King and \”ask the King\’s opinion.\” Thaksin would then decide

to step down for a period, during which political reforms

could be undertaken. In fact, Bowornsak said, \”perhaps a

decision has already been made,\” but the PM had to have the

election first, before he would consider stepping down.

\”Things will be all right after the vote,\” Bowornsak assured

the Ambassador.

 

3. (C) The Ambassador raised the question of the extent of

political reform needed. Bowornsak said that while PAD

leaders like Sondhi and Chamlong are apparently advocating

for a new constitution entirely, many in the opposition

believe that only a few changes are needed. The reform

process would not take a long time. The Ambassador asked

about the threat of asset seizure. Wouldn\’t this threat

encourage Thaksin to cling to his position in order to better

protect his fortune? Bowornsak found this argument

unconvincing. The courts would have to first find Thaksin

guilty of a crime before there could be any threat to his

assets, and there was no evidence that Thaksin had committed

a crime.

 

4. (C) Comment: We have heard predictions of this scenario

from a number of other sources: Thaksin wants the

vindication of a big vote for him on Sunday, and would then

be able to step down from a strong position, and plan to

return to politics after things cool down for him. Bowornsak

predicting it is signicant, because he is an intimate Thaksin

advisor. We believe that Bowornsak is not idly speculating

in discussing this scenario. He sounded like he was quite

sure that things would play out as he anticipated, and he is

in a good position to have the inside scoop. However, even

if the PM has mapped out this strategy, he may still change

his mind, or be influenced by others to harden his position

after the election. Nothing will be certain until the

mercurial PM makes his decision public. End comment.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:41 am

06BANGKOK1872 PALACE REITERATES – LEAVE ME OUT OF THIS

with one comment

“58390”,”3/28/2006 10:56″,”06BANGKOK1872″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO4024

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1872 0871056

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 281056Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7509

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

BANGKOK 001872

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: PALACE REITERATES – LEAVE ME OUT OF THIS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The King\’s Principal Private Secretary, Asa

Sarasin, told the Ambassador that the King would not

intervene to resolve the political impasse. The Palace

believes that the situation can be resolved without the need

for royal intervention, and anticipates that Thaksin will

eventually be forced to step down. Asa thought that it was

conceivable that the Constitutional Court might approve the

seating of a Parliament made up of less than 500 members.

While the Court is viewed as subject to undue influence from

the PM, it would be difficult for it to approve the seating

of a truncated Parliament, since the Court ruled back in 2000

that the Senate could not be seated until all 200 of its

seats were filled. END SUMMARY

 

2. (C) The Ambassador called on Asa Sarasin, the King\’s

Principal Private Secretary, on March 28 to deliver an

advance copy of the controversial biography of the King that

is slated to be published in the United States in May. Asa

discussed the Palace\’s concerns about the repeated calls from

anti-Thaksin demonstrators for the King to intervene to

resolve the current political impasse. Asa said that the

King did not intend to intervene, since that would be a set

back for Thailand\’s democratic development. The Palace

believes that the situation can be resolved without the

King\’s intervention.

 

3. (C) The election on April 2 will result in one of two

outcomes, according to Asa. It appears impossible that all

500 constituencies will produce a legal winner; the

widespread opposition to TRT in the South and a few other

areas means that TRT is unlikely to win the required 20

percent of the vote in these constituencies, where it is the

only candidate. The Constitutional Court will then have to

rule on whether the Assembly can be convened and elect a new

cabinet even though all the seats are not filled. TRT

leaders argue that a truncated Parliament should be permitted

to sit, elect a new government and carry out all the

functions of the Parliament. TRT representatives have said

that they expect the Court to rule in their favor on this

point. If the Court supports TRT, Asa predicts, the

demonstrations will continue unabated. Eventually, in his

assessment, the PM will be forced to concede to the unending

opposition, and step down.

 

4. (C) The other option is that the Constitutional Court

will rule that the Parliament cannot convene until all the

seats are filled. In this case, the caretaker government

will continue in place for a period of time, but it will be a

very clear signal to the PM that he would have to go.

 

5. (C) In either case, Asa said, the situation will be

resolved without the need for royal intervention. It may take

time, since the PM is \”ignoring all the signals.\” But the

Palace prefers this to the option of a premature and

unnecessary interference in politics.

 

6. (C) Comment: Despite predictions of all-out efforts by

TRT to make sure all of its candidates win on election day,

most observers anticipate that perhaps 20 – 50 seats in the

parliament will not be filled due to the 20 percent rule. The

action will then presumably move to the Constitutional Court.

Although the Constitutional Court has a shady reputation

based on previous rulings and interpretations, it will have

to contend with the precedent it set in the Senate elections

in 2000. Then, over 80 races did not result in a certified

winner, due to allegations of fraud and vote buying. The

judges ruled that the 112 Senators who were elected could not

hold a sitting to perform the duties of senators under the

Constitution. The Senate was not seated until several rounds

of by-elections resulted in winners in all 200

constituencies. If the Court makes an opposite ruling in

this case, it is likely to bolster the PAD\’s argument that

Thaksin is systematically undermining the rule of law, and

stimulate further opposition. End comment.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:39 am

Posted in Confidential, Court