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06BANGKOK1693 THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: FATIGUE SETTING IN

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“57242”,”3/20/2006 11:01″,”06BANGKOK1693″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO4919

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1693/01 0791101

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 201101Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7297

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 1507

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 001693

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: FATIGUE SETTING IN

 

BANGKOK 00001693 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION ALEX A. ARVIZU. REASON 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Negotiations for a public debate between

the PM and opposition broke down late Friday, with both sides

demanding that the other capitulate before their scheduled

debate. Thousands of peaceful pro-Thaksin farmers have

arrived in Bangkok from the provinces and are camped

out–tractors and all–by the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market.

A hard-core thousand or so anti-Thaksin protesters remain

broiling in the heat in front of Government House, with their

ranks increasing in the evening. The opposition is publicly

touting testimony from minor party candidates who say they

were paid by Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party to run in

the April 2 election. People in Bangkok are split over

whether to vote in the coming election, according to the

latest poll. Sources close to the palace continue to grumble

over Thaksin\’s \”unethical\” populism. Finally, Thaksin\’s

self-proclaimed astrologer has jumped the fence, calling for

the PM to resign before he uses up all of his good karma.

While the status of Thaksin\’s karma reserves may be in doubt,

the energy level in the capital isn\’t. Fatigue is setting

in, although the lull is probably only temporary, until we

draw closer to the scheduled April 2 election. End Summary.

 

DEBATE OVER THE DEBATE ENDS

—————————

 

2. (SBU) Attempts to break the political deadlock fizzled

last Friday. Negotiations to organize a public debate

between the PM and his opponents ended after Thaksin\’s aides

demanded that the People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) end

its protest outside government house before any debate takes

place. PAD leaders refused, countering that they will not

stop demonstrating until Thaksin resigns. This was expected

public posturing as neither side realistically expected a

debate to get off the ground.

 

THE FARMERS IN THE DELL

———————–

 

3. (SBU) A group of pro-Thaksin farmers from north and

northeastern Thailand has set up camp in the lush park near

Chatuchak Weekend Market. The group, which is calling itself

the Caravan of the Poor, traveled to Bangkok over the course

of last week in a convoy of colorful tractors known locally

as E-tans.

 

4. (C) On the morning of March 20, Poloff visited the park

and spoke with one of the organizers, Mr. Khamta

Khaenboonchan. Khamta stated that about 18,000 persons are

registered as part of the Caravan. Today, they were divided

into three sub-groups: one group stayed in the park

listening to pro-Thaksin speakers on stage; another group

went to Thammasat University to meet with student groups, and

a third group headed down to the central business district of

Silom. Poloff estimates that about 2,000 people were spread

throughout the park during his visit. The majority were

lounging under tents or beneath trees in the sprawling park.

Only about 200-300 were actually sitting near the stage

listening (somewhat disinterestedly) to the speakers on

stage.

 

5. (C) Khamta said that the Caravan,s main messages are to

call for peace in the country, to support the April 2

elections and to call for unity in the period leading up to

the 60th anniversary of the King,s coronation. (Note.

Absent from this platform is any overt mention of Thaksin.

However, all of the banners, placards, headbands and other

paraphernalia available voiced the group,s support of the

Prime Minister. End note.) Khamta emphasized repeatedly that

the Caravan was peaceful in nature and would avoid any

confrontation with anti-Thaksin groups. They are, however,

seeking to invite small farmer organizations from the

anti-Thaksin camp to engage in a public debate.

 

6. (C) The Caravan appears to be settling in for the

long-haul. The Bangkok Municipal authority is providing

electricity, toilets, garbage removal, police and a health

post. The Caravan has a donations tent set up and is

receiving donations of food and water from a variety of

sources. They have also collected over 80,000 Baht (roughly

$2,000) in cash to help the farmers pay for gas for the

return trip home. They plan to vote in the April 2 election

in two shifts. Half of the group will leave early to do

advanced voting, then return to Bangkok. Once that group

returns, the second group will go home to vote on April 2.

 

BANGKOK 00001693 002.2 OF 002

 

MEANWHILE, BACK AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE

———————————–

 

7. (C) The \”original\” protestors–the anti-Thaksin Dharma

Army of retired general Chamlong Srimuang–remain camped out,

albeit with dwindling numbers in the vicious heat, in front

of Government House. Poloff went from Chatuchak Park to

Government House shortly before noon on Monday to check on

their status. While the major cross streets surrounding the

PM\’s office remain closed off to vehicular traffic, the crowd

has been pared down to the truly hard-core. Perhaps

1,000-2,000 members of the Dharma Army remain sweltering

under tents on the street, none of whom were paying any

attention to the two men speaking on stage. Over the

weekend, the evening crowd swelled to approximately 25,000.

 

DEMS-TRT TRADE SHOTS ON ELECTION FRAUD

—————————————

 

8. (SBU) Following up on his allegations last week that TRT

had paid members of minor parties to run in the April 2 vote,

Democrat party Secretary General Suthep Thuaksuban presented

three \”witnesses\” to the collusion. Three officials from the

Pattana Chat party told reporters that they had worked with

TRT to select candidates and received money to pay for those

campaigns. They specifically cited TRT Deputy-Secretary

Generals Pongsak Ruktapongpisal and Prommin Lertsuridej, as

well as TRT deputy leader and Defense Minister Thammarak

Issarangkul Na Ayutthaya, as being involved. All three TRT

leaders have publicly denied the charges and threatened to

sue Suthep. Election Commission head Vasana Puemlarp told

reporters that his office was looking into Suthep\’s

allegations. Meanwhile, the head of the Pattana Chat party

told reporters that an opposition politician had offered to

pay him millions of baht not to run in the April 2 election.

 

BANGKOK SPLIT ON VOTE

———————

 

9. (U) The latest poll by the generally reliable ABAC

organization reveals that Bangkokians remain split on the

coming vote. Almost 48 percent plan to cast ballots, with 37

percent uncertain and 15 percent committing to not voting.

About 40 percent want to delay the election. Nearly 47

percent of those polled disagree with the opposition\’s

boycott of the election, but 21 percent support the boycott.

Confidence in the election was more evenly split. About 44

percent of people are confident that the election will be

fair, with 42 percent saying the opposite.

 

MORE PALACE GRUMBLING

———————

 

10. (C) In a dinner over the weekend, the Ambassador

discussed the current turmoil with Privy Councillor and West

Point grad GEN Pichit Kullavanijaya and his well-connected

wife. That both were quite vocal in their criticism of

Thaksin was not surprising; the vehemence of their comments

was unexpected, however. Pichit\’s wife alleged that the King

is thoroughly displeased because Thaksin\’s efforts over time

to curry favor with the controversial Crown Prince have

\”divided\” the Royal Household.

 

ASTROLOGER TURNS AGAINST THAKSIN

——————————–

 

11. (SBU) Adding to the list of erstwhile supporters turning

against him, Thaksin\’s former family astrologer publicly

called for the PM to step down on Friday. Samrit Klaokliang,

who claims to have read the stars for the Shinawatra family

over the last 35 years, told reporters that the PM\’s good

karma–accumulated in a previous life–is running out, and

that the stars are not in Thaksin\’s favor. According to

Samrit, some lucky stars may shield the PM from misfortune,

but the losses involved in him holding on to his seat far

outweigh any benefit to staying on.

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:33 am

One Response

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  1. […] a Wikileaks cable dated 20 March 2006, there is more evidence of palace unhappiness with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra – or at […]


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