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06BANGKOK1546 DELPHIC ORACLES AND BLACK MAGIC – THAILAND UPDATE MARCH 13

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“56359”,”3/14/2006 0:01″,”06BANGKOK1546″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK1445|06BANGKOK1475|06BANGKOK1537|06BANGKOK959″,

“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 03 BANGKOK 001546

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2016

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

Thai Political Updates, Protest/Demonstration

SUBJECT: DELPHIC ORACLES AND BLACK MAGIC – THAILAND UPDATE

MARCH 13

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 01537 (OPPOSITION SELLS)

B. BANGKOK 01445 (MORE CALLS FOR THAKSIN\’S

RESIGNATION)

C. BANGKOK 01475 (THAI SNAP REGISTRATION ENDS)

D. BANGKOK 00959 (CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS

SENATORS\’ BID TO DISQUALIFY THAKSIN)

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Alex A. Arvizu, reason 1.4 (b) (

d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: All TV stations, at the request of the

Palace, ran film of the King\’s May 1992 meeting with General

Suchinda and protest leader Chamlong, in which the King

called on them to avoid confrontation and find a peaceful

solution. In the wake of the Sunday evening broadcast, there

have been renewed calls for resolution of the current

conflict through negotiations, perhaps mediated by Privy

Councillor Prem. Last Friday, Thaksin made his case to the

public in a TV interview, meeting with only moderate success.

Meanwhile, the exposure of fraudulent candidates and a

technical problem with the TRT party list demonstrate that

there may be problems seating all 500 members of the new

Parliament if elections take place. A Constitutional Court

judge told us that his court was wrong not to have taken the

Shin Corp case and reviewed the PM\’s involvement in the sale.

Pro-Thaksin farmers on tractors are heading for Government

House for a possible confrontation with anti-Thaksin

demonstrators; the demonstrators may head them off at the

pass by holding their protest march earlier. End summary.

 

THE KING SPEAKS – SORT OF

————————-

 

2. (C) By far the biggest recent development was the

unannounced broadcast on all TV stations Sunday evening at

8pm showing film of the iconic intervention of the King

following the 1992 pro-democracy demonstrations. A

broadcaster announced that, \”As the current situation has led

to the existence of a large diversity of different

conflicting opinions, several groups in the society are

worried that this may lead to unrest in the country. The TV

Pool of Thailand deems it appropriate to present His Majesty

the King\’s advice given on 20 May 1992 to serve as a reminder

for consideration for all parties and individuals.\” There

follows the King\’s advice to both General Suchinda and the

protesters (led then, as they are today, by Chamlong

Srimuang) to avoid confrontation and violence. In 1992, the

King offered the Privy Council and particularly General Prem

Tinsulanonda as \”senior figures ready to give advice with

neutrality.\” The clip was replayed on the Monday morning

news on several channels as well.

 

3. (C) The King\’s principal private secretary, Asa Sarasin,

told the Ambassador that the King himself ordered the film to

be shown in order to encourage a peaceful resolution to the

current political conflict. Although Asa says the intent of

the broadcast was not to favor either side, the initial

analysis is that it works against the Prime Minister, since

everyone knows that part of the solution in 1992 was for the

PM under siege to step down. This was the view expressed to

DCM by a military aide of Privy Councillor General Suryayud

Chulanont.

 

4. (C) In the wake of this broadcast, there have been

renewed calls for both sides to agree to meet and talk, as

well as calls for General Prem to act as mediator. The

latest idea circulating follows the outlines of the plan

advocated by the National Police spokesman last week.

Speaking in his personal capacity, the spokesman said that

each side should take \”one step back.\” Under this scenario,

Thaksin would agree not to be PM in the next Parliament, no

matter how the voting went, and the opposition parties would

agree to participate in elections, which would be rescheduled

to allow them to choose candidates and register. So far,

however, there has been no sign of real progress in settling

up a meeting.

 

THAKSIN SPEAKS — I AM NOT A CROOK

———————————-

 

5. (C) Before the Palace\’s unexpected flashback, Thaksin\’s

campaign was dominating the press. On Friday, March 10, he

gave an interview in which he justified the sale of Shin Corp

and his decision to dissolve the Parliament, among other

difficult questions. The ABAC poll (considered to be as

reliable a poll as Thailand has) reported an even split among

viewers in response to several of the issues. 46 percent

thought Thaksin\’s explanation of the share of Shin Corp was

\”very clear\” as opposed to 42 percent who thought it wasn\’t.

About 44 percent agreed with his explanation on his

resignation, while 33 percent did not accept his arguments

and 23 percent had no view. 68 percent agreed with

Thaksin\’s explanation that he had set such a short term for

the new elections in order to allow time for the new

government to be set up before the King\’s celebration in

June. Several observers commented on how stressed the PM

appeared to be during the interview. The grilling he got from

the interviewer is further evidence of the increased openness

of the broadcast media. (Ref A)

 

6. (C) The PM also assembled civil servants on Friday,

apparently to remind them of their duty to be neutral and

implement the policies of the current administration until a

new government is formed. Several sources have confirmed

that Thaksin referred to reports that his enemies were using

voodoo and black magic against him, an interjection that one

attendee described as \”inappropriate.\”

 

THE MONK SPEAKS – I AM NOT A CANDIDATE

————————————–

 

7. (C) The Thai constitution and electoral law were meant

for genuine multi-party contests. The current election is

not quite a one horse race — more like one horse and seven

gerbils. Thai Rak Thai\’s goal is to avoid various landmines

in the law that might leave some seats unfilled and, for all

practical purposes, unfillable. It is generally assumed that

all 500 seats must be filled before the new Parliament can

sit and elect a new government. Various technical problems

now cropping up are introducing additional speculation and

intrigue (Ref C).

 

8. (C) Number 93 on the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party list of 100

has resigned from the party and entered the monastery. The

(former) candidate told the press that he had done this to

\”unlock the political gridlock and cause the April 2 election

to be canceled, so that everyone would negotiate.\” Dr.

Premsak, now Phra (Monk) Premsak, intends to achieve this by

leaving TRT with only 99 people on its \”party list.\” TRT is

widely expected to win all 100 seats awarded on the basis of

the party list vote; the other parties running cannot be

expected to get the required 5 percent of the vote

nationwide, even under the current circumstances, and thus

would not get any of the 100 party list seats. Therefore,

according to Monk Premsak and some other analysts, there will

be an unavoidable deadlock if elections take place, as TRT

will not have 100 bodies to fill its 100 seats.

 

9. (C) Comment: We\’re not certain that Monk Premsak\’s

analysis is correct. Since the Electoral Commission (EC)

does not finish its vetting of candidates until Wednesday, we

are not certain that TRT wouldn\’t get a last chance to

replace the disqualified candidate under these circumstances.

The Electoral Commission is also hinting that it might need

to find some way to resolve the various \”incomplete

Parliament\” scenarios. However, this very public defection

by yet another TRT member is more sobering news for PM

Thaksin. End Comment.

 

10. (SBU) There are also numerous press reports of

fraudulent candidates in the constituency races. Three of

these candidates came forward over the weekend and admitted

that they had been paid 30,000 baht each to claim to be

members of the Democratic Progressive Party and run in the

contest in the mid-South province of Trang. They said that

they did not know the party affiliation of the person who

paid them to run. They reportedly came forward when they

became concerned that they might be breaking the law.

 

THE JUDGE SPEAKS — COURT WHIFFED ON SHIN CORP

——————————————— –

 

11. (C) We spoke to one of the Constitutional Court judges

who voted against Thaksin in the case submitted by 28

senators requesting review the legality of the Shin Corp sale

(ref D). Judge Apai said that the six judges who voted to

accept the petition against the PM felt strongly that the

Court should have taken the case and used its authority to

investigate the allegations that Thaksin had maintained

improper control over Shin Corp and was involved in its sale.

The judge denied, however, that any of the justices on the

court had been bribed or otherwise subject to undue

influence. The judge said that this case came under the

jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court and no other court

would be able to accept this case. (Note: we believe that

this restriction applies primarily to the issue he mentioned

— whether Thaksin controlled the Shin Corp shares sold,

which would have violated Article 209 of the Constitution.

Other aspects of the sale could conceivably be examined by

other courts. However, the Constitutional Court\’s decision

to take a pass on the case was the final straw for many of

the protesters, who decided that there was no legal recourse

possible to hold the PM accountable to the law. End note.)

MEANWHILE, ON SANAM LUANG

————————-

 

12. (C) Press reports say that at least several hundred

farmers from TRT strongholds in northeast Thailand are riding

on their tractors to Bangkok, planning to surround Government

House and confront the anti-Thaksin demonstrators. The

protesters on Sanam Luang planned to march on Government

House at 7:00 Tuesday morning. The protesters are

considering moving up the time of their march and going this

evening, in order to complete the protest there before the

tractors arrive. Thaksin has already announced he won\’t be

at Government House Tuesday morning for the Cabinet meeting

— he\’ll be traveling in the northeast and will

teleconference with the cabinet.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

13. (C) The Palace\’s tentative intervention is being widely

viewed mainly as a call for negotiations and moderation.

Thaksin supporters can claim that the message is aimed

primarily at protest leader Chamlong, whereas others

interpret the broadcast as a call for Thaksin to step down

(i.e., the \”whisper in the ear.\”) The broadcast message is

very much the King\’s preferred style, vague enough to be

interpreted in different ways by different audiences. Many

observers see recent developments such as this ratcheting up

the pressure on Thaksin to be more forthcoming in trying to

negotiate a way out the impasse. He believes he\’s doing

plenty, but it doesn\’t seem to be enough. End comment.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:14 am

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