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06BANGKOK1091 CHALLENGE TO THAKSIN — ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

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“53989”,”2/23/2006 10:16″,”06BANGKOK1091″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK1034″,

“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 001091

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, TRT – Thai Rak Thai, Thai Prime Minister

SUBJECT: CHALLENGE TO THAKSIN — ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

 

REF: BANGKOK 1034 AND PREVIOUS

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY : Thaksin is in serious trouble. The forces

against him are mounting, and he is showing signs of strain.

Every day brings more bad news: yesterday, former military

dictator Suchinda advised Thaksin to dissolve Parliament.

Cabinet ministers are openly showing concern. MPs from the

PM\’s own party are beginning to call for his resignation and

pundits are considering his possible successors. Opposition

politicians are concerned that Thaksin may resort to the

arrest of his opponents, and that extremists in the

opposition may launch violent provocations at Sunday\’s

protest rally. We are not predicting that either of those

things will happen, but these fears show the high level of

political agitation here. Thaksin does not appear to have a

strategy to counter the opposition, other than trying to buy

time with the call for a special joint session of parliament

starting March 6, and buy loyalty with more money for local

officials salaries and students. We believe that unless he

comes up with a more effective strategy quickly, the most

likely outcomes are the dissolution of Parliament, or even

his resignation. This could happen soon, or it could take

weeks to play out. The fact that we are even speculating on

these outcomes indicates how fast this situation is moving.

End Summary.

 

I CAN DISSOLVE PARLIAMENT

————————-

 

2. (C) The Ambassador spoke briefly to a visibly

beleaguered Thaksin at the state banquet for the King and

Queen of Spain on February 22. Asked about the prospects for

a dissolution of Parliament, Thaksin replied in an agitated

fashion, \”I can dissolve Parliament; I\’m ready to do that.\”

Other ministers are candidly expressing their concern.

Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Liptapanlop told the Ambassador

that everyone was worried about Sunday. Another Deputy PM,

Visanu Kreuangam, privately told the Ambassador that Sunday

is important, but whether the crowds stay on after Sunday and

don\’t disperse is even more so. Members of the PM\’s ruling

Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party are inching toward the door; a few

have publicly called for Thaksin to step down, and others are

speaking \’off the record\’ to the press.

 

3. (C) Every day brings more bad news for the Prime

Minister. Today\’s story: Former military ruler General

Suchinda, ousted in the democracy demonstrations of 1992,

told the press that Thaksin should dissolve Parliament.

Suchinda resisted calls for his own resignation until he was

forced to step down following a bloody military crackdown on

demonstrators and the King\’s intervention. He said that the

current government should learn from his experience.

 

DRINKS FOR ALL MY FRIENDS

————————–

 

4. (C) Thaksin\’s maneuvers to regain his footing seem

woefully inadequate. TRT announced pro-government rallies on

March 3 in Bangkok and around the country. He called for a

special joint session of Parliament to discuss issues of

concern to society, including \”corruption\” and \”free trade

agreements.\” Officials have been coy about whether the

specifics of the controversial Shin Corp deal would even be

fair game for discussion. The Feb. 21 Cabinet meeting

announced a generous assortment of hand-outs: salary

increases for local officials at the village and district

level, the allocation of 200 million Baht to fund summer

employment for students, and a new Educational Loan Fund for

university students.

 

5. (C) And for those he can\’t buy off? A prominent

opposition senator warned us today that Thaksin was

considering issuing an emergency order calling for the arrest

of opposition leaders. (Comment: We don\’t believe that

Thaksin is actually foolish enough to try this in the end,

even if he may be tempted by the option. Further, we don\’t

believe that the security forces would carry out such an

order if it were given. The mere fact that such a story is

circulating and is given credence by experienced political

figures, however, shows how heated the political environment

is getting. End Comment.) The senator also raised concerns

about the extreme elements in the anti-Thaksin opposition,

and worried that they might resort to violence in an effort

to provoke the government into a violent response which would

galvanize public opposition to the PM.

 

LIMITED OPTIONS

—————

 

6. (C) One of the most striking developments is the sudden

shift in political discourse. \”Everyone\” is talking about two

options: should Thaksin resign or should he dissolve

Parliament? Pundits are already handicapping his likely

replacement as PM. Almost overnight, the option of Thaksin

riding it out and serving out his term seems to have

disappeared from discussion. Of course, most of Thailand\’s

citizens don\’t join in this conversation, which is dominated

by the Bangkok elite. It\’s not yet clear how strongly the

masses may feel about supporting the PM. A big turnout by

Thaksin supporters — one that arises from genuine support,

and not TRT-funded rent-a-crowds — could boost the PM and

inspire greater unity and fighting spirit in the TRT.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Almost anything could happen now. Thaksin is no

dope, and he is surely working to shore up his own support,

including in ways that we cannot see. In any case, Thaksin

has been too slow to recognize that he faces a serious

challenge. Hubris is just part of his nature, and may turn

out to be his tragic flaw. It is our best assessment that

the rally on Sunday will be peaceful. The opposition does not

need to resort to provocations — things are going pretty

well for them right now without that. The police appear

committed to continue to behave correctly, as they have

during the past rallies. They do not want to be stuck

holding the bag for Thaksin if there is violence. If the

Prime Minister does not have a better plan, we believe that

the dissolution of Parliament or his forced resignation are

the most likely outcomes — this could happen tomorrow, or it

could take weeks to play out.

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:03 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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