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06BANGKOK1473 EAP DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY JOHN’S MEETING WITH DEMOCRAT PARTY DEPUTY LEADER SURIN

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“55878”,”3/9/2006 10:16″,”06BANGKOK1473″,

 

“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 001473

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/03/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH, SNAP Elections, Thai Prime Minister

SUBJECT: EAP DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY JOHN\’S MEETING WITH

DEMOCRAT PARTY DEPUTY LEADER SURIN

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RALPH BOYCE. REASON 1.4(D)

 

1. (C) Summary: During a March 8 meeting with EAP Deputy

Assistant Secretary John and the Ambassador, Democrat Party

Deputy Leader and former Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan

voiced his hope that the Palace would convince Prime Minister

Thaksin to step down. He acknowledged, however, that the

King would likely be reluctant to oust a populist leader

elected by a large majority of the populace. Surin said that

the DP is mounting a series of rallies around Thailand to

encourage the electorate to check \”no vote\” on their ballots

in next month\’s elections. He claimed that Thaksin\’s TRT

party is busily paying individuals to oppose it under the

banner of small inconsequential parties in order to give the

appearance of a real electoral contest. End summary.

 

2. (C) Democrat Party Deputy Leader and former Foreign

Minister Surin Pitsuwan met with EAP DAS John on March 8,

just prior to his leaving for a series of rallies around

Thailand to encourage the electorate to check \”no vote\” on

their ballots in next month\’s elections. Surin said that DP

leaders are explaining to voters throughout Thailand their

party\’s rationale for refusing participation in the polls.

Surin claimed that the election would be rigged and that the

DP did not want to legitimize an essentially \”dirty process.\”

He added that in the absence of the DP running, the TRT is

paying individuals to oppose it under the banner of small

inconsequential parties and busily forging the paperwork to

allow the ersatz candidates to meet residential, educational

and time-in-party requirements. In his district in Nakhon Si

Thammarat, said Surin, the TRT had offered 1 million baht to

a local candidate to run against it, but the potential

recruit was holding out for three million. (Note:

registration of candidates concluded on March 8 afternoon.)

 

3. (C) DAS John noted that the Shin Corp sale appears to

have been a tipping point, but that Thaksin has not actually

been caught out committing a blatantly illegal action — so

why the boycott and clamor for his resignation? Surin

responded that Thaksin\’s \”sin\” has been a consistent evasion

of the law and misuse of authority. He and his regime have

undermined and manipulated all of the country\’s supervisory

mechanisms — the Security and Exchange Commission, the

Constitutional Court, the Election Commission, the Tax

Department, etc. Thaksin has been \”too good\” at manipulating

small weaknesses in a generally good — though in need of

some adjustment — constitution, Surin said. Even the

nominally independent courts are suborned by Thaksin through

bribery. In addition, Thaksin controlled the electronic

media and much of the print media, Surin complained. Why

participate when the system will be manipulated against you?

Surin concluded.

 

4. (C) Surin acknowledged international criticism of the

DP\’s decision to boycott the April polls. DAS John asked how

he would address critics who say that the DP is a

\”spoilsport\” that, cognizant that the Prime Minister would

win in a new election, will try to bring him down by other

means. Surin responded that the political and governmental

system itself has gone bad under Thaksin — constitutional

controls have been undermined by the Prime Minister and

electoral watchdog bodies compromised.

 

5. (C) The Ambassador raised the seeming divide between

Thaksin\’s political base in north and northeast Thailand on

the one hand and Bangkok on the other. Surin said that the

average low income worker or farmer in populous Isaan

(northeast) Thailand is \”not interested\” and does not want to

know about the crisis that Thaksin has created by his abuse

of power. \”It is the educated in Bangkok and the elite\” who

are carrying the struggle, he added.

 

6. (C) When DAS John asked where he thought the situation

was going, Surin said that he hoped that someone such as

Privy Council Chairman General Prem Tinsulanonda would be

able to weigh in with the Palace\’s authority to persuade

Thaksin to go for the sake of the country\’s stability. He

opined that otherwise Thaksin will not likely go without

being pushed. If Article 7 comes into play, Surin said, the

King could appoint a new Prime Minister and \”fair and

transparent\” elections be scheduled. (Note: Article 7

stipulates that \”Whenever no provision under this

Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided

in accordance with the constitutional practice in the

democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the

State.\”) The Ambassador asked if the DP had lines through to

the Palace towards this eventuality. Surin said he thought

not, but that the DP was \”hopeful\” that the Palace would

decide \”enough is enough\” and tell Thaksin to go. (Note: On

March 8 Privy Councillor and former Supreme Commander General

Surayut Chulanont issued a call for a dialogue between

Thaksin and his opposition.)

7. (C) Surin agreed with the Ambassador that the King would

be reluctant to oust a populist leader elected by a large

majority of the populace and still apparently enjoying great

popularity outside of Bangkok and the DP\’s traditional

stronghold in Thailand\’s south. The Palace would not want to

appear to take sides in this contest between Thaksin and his

enemies, he noted.

 

8. (C) Another variable in the ongoing situation is the

upcoming celebration of the King\’s 60th anniversary of his

accession to the throne, said Surin. He said that the

results of the flawed elections may not be resolved by then

and the Palace would be apprehensive over the celebrations

taking place amid an atmosphere of national political

uncertainty. The anti-Thaksin demonstrators under the

People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) umbrella would likely

call for a break during the celebrations. The situation is

\”messy\” with no \”happy\” options, Surin said. The Parliament

cannot even be re-seated because the decree dissolving it had

immediate effect. Thinking aloud, Surin added that Thaksin

could have saved himself and the country considerable trouble

if, rather than dissolve Parliament, he had resigned and

appointed a malleable successor.

 

9. (C) The Ambassador noted that the DP has some dubious

company on its side of the anti-Thaksin front — Sondhi has a

questionable business past and Chamlong is out of date and

heads a strange cult of followers. Surin agreed and noted

that the DP is avoiding the anti-Thaksin rallies sponsored by

Sondhi and the PAD. Rather, DP representatives are

participating in academic seminars on issues such as

Thaksin\’s alleged stock manipulation and tax evasion.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:37 am

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