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06BANGKOK2646 SENIOR THAKSIN ADVISOR: “HE’S COMING BACK”

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“62787”,”5/4/2006 10:29″,”06BANGKOK2646″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK2567″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

041029Z May 06

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002646

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/02/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: SENIOR THAKSIN ADVISOR: \”HE\’S COMING BACK\”

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2567

 

B. BANGKOK 2502

C. BANGKOK 1472

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a May 3 meeting with the Ambassador,

Pansak Vinyaratn — chief policy advisor to caretaker Prime

Minister Thaksin — said that Thaksin would seek office again

if the Constitutional Court nullified the results of the

April 2 election. Pansak blamed the \”Bangkok elite\” for

trying to force a royal intervention into the crisis, which

the King had deftly avoided. He was dismissive of the

opposition Democrat party and portrayed Thaksin as the

defender of democracy. Pansak asserted that Thaksin would be

able to return and govern effectively despite the

opposition\’s absolute opposition to him because he had

\”proven his legitimacy\” and because Thailand was becoming a

\”mature democracy.\” END SUMMARY.

 

THAKSIN WILL RETURN IF THERE IS AN ELECTION

 

2. (C) On May 3 the Ambassador met with Pansak Vinyaratn,

acting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra\’s principal

political advisor. Pansak — the source of much of Thai Rak

Thai (TRT) political strategy — offered his predictions

about Thaksin\’s political future. Pansak said flatly that if

the Constitutional Court annulled the April 2 election

(reftel B), then Thaksin would run in the next election. He

predicted a decisive win for Thaksin in that scenario. When

Thaksin stepped down on April 4, he promised not to return as

Prime Minister during the \”next parliament,\” but a new

election would free him to come back. According to Pansak,

the April 30 comments by acting Deputy Prime Minister DPM

Chidchai that Thaksin was preparing for a return to politics

were deliberate \”feelers\” to prepare the public.

 

3. (C) Pansak was confident of a Thaksin victory, pointing

to his still considerable base of support among poor and

rural voters. \”Thaksin has been \’working\’ the masses for

five years. They still support him, if anything they like

him more now because they are reacting against the

anti-Thaksin elite,\” said Pansak. According to Pansak,

Thaksin believed a new election would confirm his own

legitimacy.

 

WHAT WOULD THE COURT RULING MEAN?

 

4. (C) Pansak said that a new election would occur if the

Constitutional Court decides to nullify the April 2 election

for \”technical problems\” associated with the position of the

voting booths and the illegal candidacies of third parties.

(NOTE: An Administrative Court judge told Polcouns that the

April 2 election would likely be nullified on the grounds

that there had not been enough time between when Parliament

was dissolved and the election to permit opposition parties

to organize and campaign. END NOTE) Pansak speculated that

the court might rule that TRT had illegally funded small

parties in the April 2 election and order that the party be

dissolved. In such a scenario, TRT would go along with the

court\’s decision but would continue to function as an entity,

under a new name. \”We\’ll just reverse the letters,\” Pansak

quipped.

 

\”DEMOCRATS ARE WEAK AND UNORIGINAL\”

 

5. (C) Pansak said a ruling nullifying the April 2 election

would serve as a \”face saving\” measure that would allow the

opposition Democrats to participate in the next election. He

was dismissive of the Democrat Party\’s ability to effectively

run in a future election, and called Democrat Party leader

Aphisit\’s declaration that he was ready to be Prime Minister

\”laughable.\” The Democrats had not offered any new policies

and have failed to capitalize on the situation. \”Their one

unifying goal was to remove Thaksin, they don\’t offer voters

a real alternative.\”

 

\”OPPOSITION FROM BANGKOK ELITE IS UNDEMOCRATIC\”

 

6. (C) As is past conversations (reftel C) Pansak lashed

out at the \”Bangkok elite\” who had lined up against Thaksin,

saying they were \”out of touch, unrealistic and not serious

about democracy.\” The old elite cannot accept the new

political realties and could never accept Thaksin, who is an

outsider. Thaksin\’s refusal to disappear from political life

was incredibly irritating and they were deeply resentful of

the fact that he had changed politics in Thailand. \”They

want to rewrite the constitution to specifically exclude

Thaksin from politics. That is not constitutional reform.

That is not democracy,\” he said. Pansak blamed the

opposition for trying to force the King into having a

political role in the crisis. \”Would the U.S. accept a de

facto absolute monarchy? That is what they are trying to

achieve.\” The King, however, had correctly avoided

involvement and had deftly rejected an intervention in his

April 25 speech. The King wanted to avoid involvement,

however, a shadowy group close to him was backing the

opposition. According to Pansak, Thaksin was well aware that

\”The palace does not like him.\”

 

IF THAKSIN COMES BACK, HOW WILL HE GOVERN?

 

7. (C) Despite his lack of support in Bangkok, Thaksin is

apparently confident he can return to office and govern

effectively. According to Pansak, Thaksin believes the last

two elections have confirmed his legitimacy and popularity

with the Thai people. Pansak said that Thaksin had stepped

down on April 4 to demonstrate that he was interested in the

democratic process, while the opposition was not. By

resigning, Thaksin has cleverly created a situation where the

opposition were seen as \”destroying democracy,\” while Thaksin

is its champion.

8. (C) Pansak claimed that TRT was not worried about

protesters returning to the streets and that Thaksin was

prepared to live with a perpetual boycott from the

opposition. Pansak believed Thailand could emulate Italy —

a stable country that dealt with continuous political chaos.

\”Thailand is maturing as a country; we can have protests and

still govern.\” Pansak said Thaksin was willing to return to

power immediately, rather than waiting for a year or so,

because a break would not alter the elite\’s absolute

oppositions to him, so there was no reason to delay his

reentry into Thai politics.

 

COMMENT

 

9. (C) Pansak is undeniably close to Thaksin, and so his

views need to be taken into account, but in the end the

mercurial leader will make his own mind up about returning to

the center of the Thai political scene. Pansak\’s comments,

however, clearly indicate that Thaksin is seriously

considering a move, and sooner rather than later. That is

more than a little bit troubling. We are not so sanguine

about the ease of Thaksin\’s return to Government House. The

opposition has recently faded a bit into the background, but

would quickly, and confidently, return to the streets in

force if Thaksin were to suddenly announce his intention to

return to government. But there\’s still a lot more politics

to be played out under any scenario. END COMMENT

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:10 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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