06BANGKOK2596 LIMBO, LAWSUITS, AND LUMPINI PARK – HOW MUCH LONGER??
“62608”,”5/3/2006 9:21″,”06BANGKOK2596″,”Embassy Bangkok”,
“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002596
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2016
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Thai Political Updates
SUBJECT: LIMBO, LAWSUITS, AND LUMPINI PARK – HOW MUCH
REF: A. BANGKOK 2567
B. BANGKOK 2370
Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton for reason 1.4 (d)
1. (U) SUMMARY. On May 2, The People,s Alliance for
Democracy (PAD) returned to Bangkok,s Lumpini Park to hold
another demonstration. The rally was peaceful but turnout
was much smaller in comparison to previous PAD-led events.
PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul announced the return of his
weekly political talk show which he plans to stage from
various cities around the country in the coming weeks. For
the past several weeks, the PAD has been reaching out to the
provinces to spread its anti-Thaksin message. Meanwhile, a
plethora of lawsuits have been filed against the core
leadership of the PAD who all remain free on bail. End
PAD GATHERS IN LUMPINI PARK
2. (U) Last night,s PAD rally attracted only a core group of
the movement,s following. Estimates of crowd size vary from
4,000 – 5,000. As usual, the demonstration was spirited, but
peaceful. Speakers warned that if Thaksin reverses his
decision to \”take a break from politics\” (as some TRT members
have hinted he might) the political crisis would worsen and
PAD would have to return to the streets in force. PAD vowed
to continue its efforts until the \”Thaksin regime\” is fully
dismantled. At the same time, the PAD made it clear that it
respects the wishes of the King to have the matter of
April,s snap election resolved by the Thai court system.
3. (U) PAD-leader and media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul
announced the return of his weekly political talk show to be
held every Saturday starting on May 20. The break between
now and May 20 would presumably provide enough time for the
courts to rule on the various key cases regarding the snap
election (see Reftel A). Prior to the formation of the PAD,
Sondhi,s staged his weekly anti-Thaksin talk show before a
live audience at Lumpini Park to crowds ranging from 4,000 up
to 30,000. The May 20 program will be held at Lumpini Park
and broadcast live via Sondhi,s ASTV television channel.
After that, Sondhi plans to take the show on the road,
broadcasting from different cities around the country.
4. (U) For the past several weeks, the PAD leadership has
been traveling the country in an attempt to promote its
anti-Thaksin message in the provinces. Most of these visits
have gone smoothly, with the exception of Udon Thani where
PAD members were met by an angry crowd of rock throwing
Thaksin supporters (see Reftel B). In addition to Udon
Thani, the PAD has held gatherings recently in Nakhon
Ratchasima, Trang, Phuket, and Nakon Sri Thammarat.
THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW…
5. (U) The list of lawsuits and countersuits continues to
grow. On May 1, the Royal Thai Police (RTP) filed charges
against the five core leaders of the PAD for a wide variety
of offenses. The charges run the gamut from attempting to
overthrow the democratic government and inciting unrest to
violating traffic laws and illegal use of loudspeakers.
6. (U) Naturally, the five PAD leaders (Sondhi Limthongkul,
Chamlong Srimuang, Somsak Kosaisuk, Somkiat Pongpaiboon and
Pipop Thongchai) denied all of the charges insisting that
they are politically motivated. The accused leaders went
together to the RTP,s Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok
to surrender themselves on May 1. They were all released
after about two hours of questioning and were told to report
again to the RTP on May 8.
7. (C) These latest charges come on top of the lese majeste
charges filed against Sondhi Limthgnkul. Sondhi initially
refused to adhere to two police summons related to the
charge. Only after an arrest warrant was issued did he agree
to turn himself in to police on April 28. He was released
the same day on bail of roughly USD 7,500. (COMMENT: The
charge of lese majeste, which essentially means insulting the
King, is often used as a political tool to intimidate
opponents and influence pubic opinion against the target of
the charge. Few of these cases ever actually reach court and
even fewer actually result in a guilty verdict. End comment.)
8. (C) COMMENT: The temperature of the political crisis is
decidedly cooler in the wake of the King,s speech.
Nevertheless, in the lingering limbo of awaiting court
rulings drags on, it appears that the only thing the
protagonists in this drama have to do is file more and more
lawsuits against each other. So far, the Supreme Court alone
has received a record number of cases (414 to date) of
alleged electoral violations related to the April 2 election.
While we doubt that any of the charges filed against the PAD
leaders (or other key individuals involved in this crisis)
will result in any serious punitive actions, we will continue
to monitor developments closely. End Comment.