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06BANGKOK1889 THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: REFUGE AT THE MALLS

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“58551”,”3/29/2006 9:45″,”06BANGKOK1889″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO5342

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1889/01 0880945

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O 290945Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7543

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 001889

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: REFUGE AT THE MALLS

 

Classified By: Charge Alex A. Arvizu reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: More rumors from Thaksin\’s cabinet predicts

that the PM may be \”taking a break\” from politics.

Reflecting a change in tactics, the People\’s Alliance for

Democracy (PAD) stationed their demonstration today at Siam

Square, the heart of Bangkok\’s shopping district. Three

major shopping malls in the area announced closure for the

next two days. The total loss of business for these two days

are reportedly estimated to be as high as 600 million baht.

A heavy police presence is reported at Siam Square. The

police further announced the indefinite street closure of the

section of the roads affected by the protest. Meanwhile, up

to 5,000 farmers known as the \”Network of Farmers in Debt of

Thailand\” have set up camp in front of the Krungthai Bank

Headquarters further down the road. PM Thaksin held his

cabinet meeting via video-conference from his hometown of

Chiang Mai. Registration for the Senate election on April 19

closed yesterday with a total of 1,477 candidates

nation-wide. End summary.

 

ANOTHER VOTE FOR \”TAKING A BREAK\”

———————————

 

2. (C) On March 27, the Ambassador heard from another TRT

stalwart that Thaksin would likely take a \”short break\” from

politics following the election. The Health Minister, who

attended a dinner at the residence, volunteered this view.

However, the minister seemed to think that the PM would step

down for just a few months to allow consideration of

amendments to the constitution. The Health Minister

suggested that top TRT ministers Somkid (Commerce), Sudarat

(Agriculture), or Chaturon (Education) could serve as PM for

the interim. He raised the rather odd alternate suggestion

that Thaksin could serve as president of Parliament during

this interim period. Then, presumably, there would be new

elections with all parties participating, in which Thaksin

would again head the TRT list. The Ambassador noted that, in

his personal view, it seemed unlikely that the strong

feelings in Bangkok against the PM would cool down in just a

couple of months.

 

ON THE OTHER HAND…

——————–

 

3. (C) At the same dinner, the two Vice Ministers of Health

told DCM there was \”no way\” Thaksin would resign after April

2. They suggested the PAD had overplayed their hand by

taking their protests to the commercial districts of Bangkok

in recent days. Bangkok citizens were growing weary of the

commotion and growing more concerned about the impact on the

economy. \”Thaksin will outlast them (the protesters), you

watch.\”

 

DEMOCRACY A LA MALL

——————-

 

4. (U) The PAD proceeded to move their demonstration quarters

from a location near the Government House (where they have

been stationed since March 14) to the Siam Square area for

the next two days. They claim that by moving their protest

to the center of Bangkok, they could \”raise public awareness\”

of the political situation. In response, three major

shopping malls in the area (Siam Paragon, Siam Center and

Siam Discovery) announced that they will close their doors

for these two days due to traffic considerations. The

businesses reportedly pleaded unsuccessfully for the PAD to

move the demonstrations elsewhere, as the total loss of sales

is estimated to be as high as 600 million baht.

 

AS IF TRAFFIC ISN\’T BAD ENOUGH ALREADY…

—————————————–

 

5. (C) The Royal Thai Police have a heavy presence in the

area, with a reported 450 officers stationed at each of the

three temporary command posts. The police stated that the

PAD did not apply to use the traffic space in the area. They

further warned that they will be imposing a 500 baht fine on

PAD protesters violating traffic regulations, only to later

announce an indefinite closure of the streets affected by the

protest. (Comment: This section of the road is already

heavily congested. The street closings would undoubtedly add

to the traffic congestion and perhaps cause popular annoyance

at the PAD if their activity in Siam Square is prolonged.

Also, by 3:00pm, the PAD crowd was only about 2,000 people,

 

BANGKOK 00001889 002 OF 002

 

but it is expected to grow tonight as people get out of work

to join the protest. End comment.)

 

…AND NOW ANOTHER GROUP IS ON THE STREET??

——————————————-

 

6. (C) A group of farmers from sixteen provinces called the

\”Network of Farmers in Debt of Thailand\” gathered in the Nana

section of Sukhumvit Road (two sky train stops away from

Siam) early this morning. Poloff estimated the crowd to be

around 1,000 people, but numbers as high as 5,000 were

reported by the Thai press. This group claimed that they are

not affiliated with either the PAD or the pro-Thaksin

\”Caravan of the Poor,\” but are independently protesting in

front of the Krungthai Bank Headquarters for lower interest

rates and reduced loan repayments. The group claims that

they will remain in front of Krungthai Bank and will not join

the PAD rally further up the street. (Comment: The two

protest groups actually on the same road with two different

names — the protesters at the Nana district are yet another

group adding to the traffic woes. End comment.)

 

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER RACE?

————————–

 

7. (C) Unlike the MP race, the registration for senate

candidates closed without a hitch yesterday. A total of

1,477 candidates registered nation-wide for the April 19

election. At the last minute, twenty-seven more candidates

registered their names to contest in Bangkok, bringing a

total of 260 candidates to run in the capital. According to

the Election Commission, this is a decrease of only five

candidates from the senate race in 2000.

 

READING BROADENS THE MIND

————————-

 

8. (U) Several papers have published a suggested reading list

for Thaksin when he goes on his \”post-election break,\”

including \”1984,\” \”The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus,\” and, of

course, \”Macbeth,\” an obvious dig at the PM\’s famously

ambitious wife.

ARVIZU

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:42 am

Posted in Confidential, PAD, Thaksin

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