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06BANGKOK1601 PALACE SUPPORTS MEDIATION, DOES NOT COMPLETELY RULE OUT INTERVENTION

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“56595”,”3/15/2006 11:09″,”06BANGKOK1601″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK1546″,”VZCZCXRO9243

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1601/01 0741109

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 151109Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7201

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 001601

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: PALACE SUPPORTS MEDIATION, DOES NOT COMPLETELY

RULE OUT INTERVENTION

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 1546

 

B. BANGKOK 1475

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Palace is trying to undo the furor

caused by the broadcast Sunday night of the King\’s

intervention following the violence that resulted from the

1992 democracy protests. Although the Palace meant only to

encourage peace and negotiation, they are dismayed to find

that both sides have seized on the broadcast to buttress

their own intractable positions. The King\’s Principal

Private Secretary told the Ambassador during a meeting on

Wednesday that the King was not yet ready to intervene in the

political confrontation. We are left with the impression

that the Palace still strongly supports a negotiated

solution. However, if the elections were unsuccessful, the

King might be prepared to use his constitutional authority to

resolve the deadlock. End summary.

 

2. (C) The Ambassador met today with Arsa Sarasin, the

King\’s Principal Private Secretary. Yesterday, we had

requested a meeting to discuss the upcoming celebrations for

the King\’s birthday in June, expecting to be put off in light

of the tense political situation. To our surprise, Arsa

proposed a meeting today. Arsa admitted that the Sunday

evening broadcast of the iconic film of the King\’s

intervention following the 1992 pro-democracy demonstrations

had provoked a wave of conspiracy theorizing (ref A). Arsa

claimed that the King himself had wanted the film broadcast

to emphasize the need for peace and reconciliation.

Following the broadcast, however, both sides seized on the

film to justify their positions. The confusion was compounded

because no one knew who had authorized or encouraged the TV

stations to show the footage. The PM and the government

denied any role.

 

THE KING IS NOT READY … YET

—————————–

 

3. (C) Arsa expressed his concern that both sides were

exploiting the broadcast. On Tuesday, he had scrambled to

issue a press statement to distance the Palace from all of

this. First, they issued a statement saying that the Palace

had had nothing to do with the Sunday evening broadcast.

However, they quickly realized that this could provoke yet

another unintended reaction, since it would cause people to

believe that the government had done it and was now covering

it up. Arsa further assessed that the broadcast had been

beneficial overall, having a \’cooling effect\’ on the

protesters and on the situation in general. Therefore, his

office followed up with a second statement almost

immediately. That statement noted that as film was \”public

information\” the media could re-broadcast it on their own,

providing they did so responsibly. Thus Arsa had tried to

extricate the Palace from the political storm.

 

4. (C) From this, Arsa went on to discuss the situation

overall. He agreed with our assessment that both sides still

thought they were winning. Arsa described both sides as

\”implacable.\” Both were trying to force the King to come

down into the political arena. Arsa said that the King was

just not ready to do this — yet. He emphasized that the

King had to respect the Constitution. Arsa said that if the

PM and his cabinet cannot conduct the business of government,

then there might be an argument for the King to \”intervene\”

under Constitution Article 7 to resolve a deadlock. He also

raised the prospect of bringing in some neutral mediator to

attempt a resolution. Arsa suggested a team of distinguished

university rectors (an idea that has been circulating in some

circles.) Arsa expressed his personal unhappiness at being

dragged in to the middle of the contretemps. He indignantly

denied a rumor circulating that he was secretly a Thaksin

supporter, and that he owned shares in Shin Corp.

 

THE KING AND HIM

—————-

 

5. (C) The Ambassador asked about the relationship between

PM Thaksin and the King. There has been much speculation

about this question. In general, it is presumed that the

King does not like Thaksin, but the Palace has been very

discreet about its views. Arsa answered that the

relationship between the King and Thaksin is \”correct.\” The

PM gets an audience with the King whenever he wants one.

Lately, however, the King \”only listens,\” he doesn\’t say

anything because \”he\’s afraid that Thaksin will quote him.\”

The Ambassador asked about the allegation that Thaksin has

 

BANGKOK 00001601 002 OF 002

 

been less respectful of the King than previous prime

ministers. Arsa said that the PM behaves in a respectful

way, and that it seems the PM wants to be sincere. However,

Thaksin is disrespectful generally to anyone else who

disagrees with him.

 

6. (C) As the Ambassador left, he spoke to Tej Bunnag,

Arsa\’s assistant (and, like Arsa, former Ambassador to the

U.S.). Tej pointed out that the press was also carrying

reports of yesterday\’s Privy Council meeting. \”One of them\”

had leaked the news that the Privy Council had discussed the

current situation, leading to more speculation that the

Palace was considering intervening. Tej emphasized that this

had been a regularly-scheduled meeting and did not signify

any change in the Palace\’s position. The Ambassador raised

the question of how an intervention by the King would

actually be perceived by the public. Tej agreed that,

despite Thaksin\’s popularity in the countryside, if the King

did somehow remove him, this would be accepted by the

population.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) The brouhaha around the broadcast on Sunday night

exemplifies the King\’s dilemma. Anything he says or does is

intensely scrutinized and subject to manipulation by the

antagonists in the debate. We were struck by the relative

ease with which these two people close to the King

entertained the idea of a royal intervention under Article 7,

something the Palace has been most reticent about discussing

previously. We came away with the impression that, if the

elections were unsuccessful due to the inability of enough

candidates to meet the 20 percent threshold (ref B) or some

other reason, then this might be an acceptable opening for

the King to use his constitutional authority to resolve the

crisis. However, the King and those around him vastly prefer

a mediated settlement between the opposing parties, and they

will likely continue to use their influence as far as

possible to bring that about. Exactly what kind of mediated

settlement is possible between two such \”implacably\” opposed

sides, however, is still not apparent. A royal intervention

could happen, but not at this time.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:18 am

3 Responses

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  1. […] commenting on Wikileaks cables, Ambassador Ralph “Skip” Boyce reports in one cable on his discussions with palace officials – the king’s Principal Private Secretary Arsa Sarasin and his assistant Tej Bunnag – on […]

  2. […] cable. He was well aware that the palace was highly politicized. In an earlier cable he noted that the palace did not rule out intervention. Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda had already declared that Thaksin should go. […]


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