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06BANGKOK1667 DPM SURAKIART SEES “WINDOW CLOSING” ON THAKSIN’S POLITICAL FUTURE

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“56969”,”3/17/2006 10:46″,”06BANGKOK1667″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK1627″,”VZCZCXRO4510

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1667/01 0761046

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7266

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

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RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

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RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001667

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: DPM SURAKIART SEES \”WINDOW CLOSING\” ON THAKSIN\’S

POLITICAL FUTURE

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 1627

 

B. BANGKOK 1602

C. BANGKOK 1209

D. 05 BANGKOK 7732

 

BANGKOK 00001667 001.3 OF 002

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Thaksin has \”only a few days\” left to decide

to step down and preserve his political future, according to

DPM Surakiart. If the PM steps down, Surakiart sees several

possible ways to manage the transition to new elections and

political reform. If Thaksin does not step down voluntarily

soon, Surakiart hopes that either the Army or the Privy

Council will advise him to do so. End summary.

 

2. (C) Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai told the

Ambassador on March 17 that time was running out for Prime

Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. If he finds a way to step down

soon, he might be able to preserve his political future and

return to office some day. If not, it would mean the end of

his political life. Surakiart said that the PM was

surrounded by \”hawks\” giving him bad advice. Among his chief

advisors: TRT MP Newin Chidchob, Natural Resources Minister

Yongyuth, and Parliament speaker Bhokin, along with DPM

Wisanu and the PM\’s Secretary-General Prommin. They are all

telling him to keep fighting until the April 2 election.

Surakiart sees this as a bad strategy, because the country

cannot stand the continued stress, and because the

essentially one-party election will not be able to produce a

legal Parliament, due to the requirement for unopposed

candidates to win 20 percent of the eligible voters.

 

3. (C) In Surakiart\’s view, Thaksin needs to step down now.

If he does, he may be able to preserve his ability to return

after a decent interval. Surakiart saw several possible

alternatives.

 

— Thaksin announces he will step down within the next few

days. The elections are pushed back to April 24, and the

boycotting parties agree to run. In the interval, a

committee of \’wise men\’ is set up to review the constitution

and make recommendations for amendments. The new Parliament

is elected and seated by May 24, then chooses ministers who

will play their role in the King\’s celebration in early June.

The new cabinet considers the reform recommendations the

wise men have prepared. Under this scenario, there would be

a new election, probably within the year, and Thaksin could

run again. This latter factor makes this option less

attractive to the opposition.

 

— Thaksin announces he will step down within the next few

days. Article 7 is used to put in place an interim prime

minister and cabinet; a committee of \’wise men\’ is formed to

propose amendments to the constitution. This interim cabinet

is in place for the celebrations in June. The election is

held later in the summer, once the \’wise men\’ have completed

their recommendations. Thaksin agrees he will not run in

this election; the opposition agrees to participate.

 

4. (C) In Surakiart\’s view, if Thaksin did not agree to step

down \”within days,\” then either Privy Councilor Prem

Tinsulanonda or Army Commander Sonthi should tell him he had

to step down. According to Surakiart, both the King and the

Queen want Thaksin to step aside. (Surakiart\’s wife is the

daughter of the King\’s former principal private secretary and

current Privy Councillor, giving him good insights into the

Palace views.)

 

5. (C) Surakiart gave examples to show that Thaksin is

getting bad advice. Parliament speaker Bhokin had pushed

Thaksin to call the opposition\’s boycott bluff, and refuse

their offer to participate in the elections under certain

conditions (ref D). That had been Thaksin\’s missed

opportunity to make the elections work for him. Newin had

organized Thaksin\’s campaign swing this week through

provinces along the Cambodian border. There, Thaksin managed

to offend the sensibilities of many Thai with his elephant

ride (ref B). His pose on the elephant\’s neck, with Newin at

the elephant\’s leg, had mimicked iconic poses of legendary

king Naresuan, and once again reminded people of the

accusations that Thaksin sought to arrogate to himself

attributes and authorities of the King. Surakiart criticized

the PM\’s appearance last week on a popular talk show, saying

that Thaksin was ill-prepared, badly dressed, and had not

made good use of the opportunity. He added that Thaksin has

never satisfactorily answered the questions about the Shin

Corp sale, and TRT members have never gotten the guidance

they needed from the PM\’s office to allow them to defend the

 

BANGKOK 00001667 002.3 OF 002

 

PM effectively.

 

6. (C) Throughout Thaksin\’s tenure, his only really close

advisor has been his wife. The people advising him now are

not of true confidants. Surakiart said that Thaksin was a

real visionary, who introduced important reforms to the Thai

economy, but his arrogant and egocentric behavior alienated

everyone he needed to work with to run the country. The

Ambassador asked about the view that the current crisis

represented the struggle of the \’old Bangkok elite\’ against

the new political forces represented by Thaksin. Surakiart

said that these forces had indeed faced off in 2001, but that

was no longer the situation. It is not the \’old Bangkok

elite\’ who oppose Thaksin, it is a \”true mobilization of all

those who matter in Bangkok\” including both the old elite and

new leaders. Surakiart pointed out that the protest

coalition PAD is not a ragtag, fringe group; it is the new

generation, many of whom were beneficiaries of TRT policies.

 

7. (C) Surakiart said that he was considering resigning,

\”to send a message\” and to \”save Thaksin from himself.\” He

said that this had nothing to do with his candidacy for the

UN SecGen job, but he was concerned about his country.

 

8. (C) Comment: Surakiart\’s assessment tracks closely with

that of Minister of Education Chaturon (ref A) and some

others who are part of Thaksin\’s administration. But like

Chaturon, Surakiart is not in the PM\’s inner circle. It is

difficult to assess how they are reading the PM\’s mood and

prospects. The powers that be — particularly the Palace

and the Army — continue to insist that both sides work

together to arrive at some form of compromise. Under the

current circumstances, this mean at the very least Thaksin

stepping aside to \”take a break\” from politics, and possibly

preserving the option to state a comeback some day. The key

time frame becomes the next two weeks, between now and April

2, the scheduled election date. May Thais are openly

questioning the wisdom of proceding with an expensive

election that is incapable of producing a government with

political legitimacy. We expect the pressure to grow

considerably on Thaksin — increasingly from his supporters

— to find a face-saving way to \”take a break\” before April

2. But at this point, no one knows what Thaksin will do —

and that probably includes Thaksin himself. end comment.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:30 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

One Response

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  1. […] Continuing PPT’s series based on Wikileaks cables the focus of this post is a cable discussing a conversation between Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and U.S. Ambas…. […]


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