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06BANGKOK1692 ELECTION UNCERTAINTIES LOOM OVER TRT IN EASTERN THAILAND

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“57233”,”3/20/2006 10:06″,”06BANGKOK1692″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO4796

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DE RUEHBK #1692/01 0791006

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P 201006Z MAR 06

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7295

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 001692

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/19/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: ELECTION UNCERTAINTIES LOOM OVER TRT IN EASTERN

THAILAND

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: During a March 16-17 survey through Chonburi

and Rayong provinces, POLOFFS noted a great deal of political

confusion and uncertainty in these once Thai Rak Thai (TRT)

strongholds in Eastern Thailand. The election boards in both

cities have disqualified a total 15 out of 16 small-party

opposition candidates against the TRT for the April 2, 2006

elections. TRT candidates from both provinces worry about

being able to gain over twenty percent of all eligible votes

in order to secure the MP seat and are unhappy with Thaksin\’s

decision to dissolve the Parliament. The \”no vote\” campaign

of the People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is also taking

effect in Rayong. Local journalists in Chonburi agreed that

even farmers and small street vendors there are beginning to

feel the pinch of the economy and are becoming increasingly

anti-Thaksin. Meanwhile, local businessmen in Rayong are

wary of the continuing political instability as fear that a

prolonged stalemate between the demonstrators and PM Thaksin

may lead to adverse economic implications in the future. No

one is certain whether the April 2 election will take place.

End summary.

 

THE EC CRIES FOUL! — BUT ARE READY FOR ANYTHING

——————————————— —

 

2. (C) Both the Election Commissions (EC) of Chonburi and

Rayong reported that they were disqualifying most or all of

the candidates running against TRT candidates registered

under small, little heard-of parties. In Chonburi, the EC

were preparing to boot out all eight candidates from the Siam

Party, resulting in TRT single candidate races in all of the

city\’s eight constituencies. In Rayong, seven out of eight

opposition party candidates were disqualified, leaving the

TRT candidate to run alone in three of its four

constituencies, with only its last constituency in a two-man

race. Mr. Sombun Samdapchan, the Chairman of the Rayong EC,

also disclosed that as with much of the rest of Thailand,

most of the candidates in Rayong were disqualified under the

\”90-Day Rule,\” where a candidate must be registered under a

party for over 90 days before he or she can qualify as a

candidate for that party. He then explained that these

applicants can face criminal charges against them for fraud

if found guilty by the Supreme Court.

 

3. (C) Though neither provincial EC offices could predict

whether the April 2 election will be held, their offices were

bustling with election-preparation activities. Sombun

doubted that the 500 MP seats could be filled and even

speculated of the possibility of a postponement. But in any

case, he assured POLOFFS that his office will be ready come

April 2.

 

GLOOM…

——–

 

4. (C) POLOFFS met with TRT party candidates Mr. Sanga

Tanasanguanwong and Mr. Yongyost Aroonvessases from

Constituency One of Chonburi and Rayong, respectively. While

both the candidates were elected MP in the last election and

believe the April 2 election must take place, both appeared

outwardly worried that they could fall short of the required

twenty percent of all eligible votes in their respective

districts. Yongyost also commented that the Democrat Party\’s

vote \”no vote\” campaign was starting to take its effect.

(Note: The opposition Democrat Party (DP) is boycotting the

poll and calling on its supporters to check the box for \”no

vote\” to show their rejection of the TRT and its \”opponents.\”

Although still claiming confidence, the candidates revealed

that they have to campaign \”much harder\” than before.

 

5. (C) Both of the candidates also disagreed with PM

Thaksin\’s decision to dissolve Parliament. While Sanga was

outwardly critical of (and frankly, annoyed at) Thaksin\’s

decision to dissolve the House due to \”personal problems,\”

Yongyost was more reserved. Though he, too, commented on the

\”untimeliness\” of Thaksin\’s decision to dissolve the House.

 

6. (C) Comment: Both of the candidates appeared glum during

their interviews. Sanga\’s voice became agitated when he

spoke of the upcoming election and made the distinction

between the TRT party and Thaksin several times during course

of the conversation. Yongyost\’s tone was somber when he

talked of the DP\’s \”no vote\” campaign. Yongyost also

complained that while the Democrat leaders had visited Rayong

to further their cause, the TRT leaders have not. He

 

BANGKOK 00001692 002 OF 002

 

explained that though the \”villagers\” in his constituency can

be expected to support him, the \”towners\” — who will be the

one to make or break him in this election — are waiting to

see what comes about in Bangkok before making their final

decision. End comment.

 

…AND DOOM?

————

 

7. (C) The Chonburi EC did not comment on whether the one-man

race TRT candidates would likely be able to gain twenty

percent of the total eligible votes. At the Rayong EC, we

heard that the seat would have been an easy victory for the

TRT, but things would be \”much more difficult\” under present

circumstances. Agreeing with this view is Mr. Sathit

Pitutecha, deputy spokesperson and former Democratic Party

candidate in Rayong. Sathit went on to further predict that

the April 2 election will not be held, but should it be, Mr.

Yongyost of the TRT would fail to win the MP seat in his

district. (Comment: Sathit and Yongyost are political

adversaries, but we believe Sathit has a point. End comment.)

 

8. (SBU) XXXXXXXXXXXXX Advisor to the XXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXX, claimed that in Chonburi, more and more

farmers and small street merchants are beginning to feel the

economic effects of the demonstrations in Bangkok and are

becoming increasingly anti-Thaksin. They also noted that

many of these farmer and merchants even went to join the

protest against Thaksin.

 

WHAT THE MONEY-MEN THINK

————————

 

9. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXX, Chairperson of the XXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXX also expressed doubts that the April 2

elections would take place. He further speculated that

should the election occur, the TRT candidates may not get

over twenty percent in some of the constituencies in Rayong.

 

10. (C) XXXXXX believed that the current economic condition

is still quite stable, but feared that continued political

stalemate would begin to wear on the economy. He also voiced

concerns regarding the future negotiations of the FTA. He

noted that the demonstrators\’ objection to the FTA is not

truly an objection to an agreement, but an objection to

Thaksin. He believes that should there be a new Prime

Minister, the FTA talks would resume. However, he felt that

the prolonged demonstration against the agreement would cause

future politicians to be hesitant in negotiating the more

controversial provisions of the agreement.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

11. (C) Virtually all of POLOFFS\’ interlocutors in Rayong and

Chonburi appear to view Thaksin as increasingly vulnerable.

For self-preservation, TRT party members are more inclined to

make a distinction between the party andthe Prime Minister.

There is also consensus on the speculation that Thaksin means

to step down, and should step down, but he is currently

looking to find a way to exit gracefully, with guarantees

that he would be able to exit the political arena unscathed.

End comment.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:32 am

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