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06BANGKOK2990 THAKSIN SEES SELF AS THAILAND’S AUNG SAN SUU KYY

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“64495”,”5/18/2006 9:34″,”06BANGKOK2990″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,

“CONFIDENTIAL”,”05BANGKOK7197|06BANGKOK2082|06BANGKOK2425″,

“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 03 BANGKOK 002990

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/16/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: THAKSIN SEES SELF AS THAILAND\’S AUNG SAN SUU KYY

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2425 THE KING SAYS: IT\’S A MESS

B. BANGKOK 2082 THAKSIN TELLS ALL (ALMOST)

C. 05 BANGKOK 07197 THE KING AND HIM: THE

OPPOSITION PLAYS THEIR KING AGAINST THE

PRIME MINISTER

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Thaksin sees himself as the victim of a

\”palace coup\” and unironically compares himself to Aung San

Suu Kyy – the winner of democratic elections blocked from his

rightful office. In a discussion with a visiting Asia

expert, Thaksin said that he could not return as Prime

Minister \”as long as this King is alive\” but he confidently

predicted that his Thai Rak Thai party would continue to

dominate Thai politics. Thaksin accepted no responsibility

for the current political crisis, blaming everything on the

jealousy of a \”provincial\” royal family who feared that

Thaksin would supplant them in the hearts of the peasantry,

and on the machinations of \”courtiers\” who manipulated the

King. While Thaksin\’s self-serving analysis is suspect on

several counts, we believe that there is an underlying truth

to it. The Palace has aligned itself against Thaksin, and

the momentum now is all on the side of those forces trying to

push Thaksin as far out of politics as possible, and keep him

out for as long as possible. Thaksin is on the defensive,

fighting for his political life. End summary.

 

2. (C) In a lengthy discussion with former NSC official

Karen Brooks, Thaksin portrayed himself the victim of a

\”palace coup.\” He dropped several bombshells which, if true,

recast the history of the past six weeks. Thaksin\’s story

now is that the King explicitly told him to step aside during

the fateful audience on April 4. He told Brooks that he had

planned to step aside after the election, but he wanted to

stay on through the King\’s 60th anniversary celebrations, and

then resign. At the audience with the King, however, his

hand was forced. After the audience, he gave his emotional

speech announcing that he would not be PM in the next

Parliament.

 

3. (C) Thaksin claims that even this was not enough for the

Palace. A few hours after the speech, he said, the King\’s

principal private secretary, Asa Sarasin, called him and said

that he needed to \”go completely.\” Thaksin agreed to do so

in three stages: he would leave as PM, then leave as MP, and

finally leave as party leader. This was the reason he

suddenly took \”vacation\” immediately after his announcement

that he would step down.

 

NO RETURN WHILE THIS KING LIVES

——————————-

 

4. (C) Thaksin spun an elaborate tale of palace intrigue,

accusing privy councilors Prem and Surayud of conspiring

against him, including blaming Surayud for bringing Gen.

Chamlong out of retirement to head the opposition \”People\’s

Alliance for Democracy.\” He claimed that courtiers in the

palace are manipulating the infirm and isolated King,

Thaksin repeated his theory that the King sees Thaksin as

rival for the loyalty of the people in the countryside.

Thaksin denied trying to rival the King, saying that he was a

just a \”simple peasant\” who wanted to be among the people and

eat in noodle shops. He described the King, with

barely-concealed disdain, as \”provincial,\” unaware of the

changes that had taken place in the world (\”never been on a

Boeing 747\”), and accused him of \”thinking he owns the

country.\” Thaksin advisor Pansak Vinyaratn said that recent

events were a return to \”absolute monarchy.\” Thaksin told

Brooks that he \”cannot come back as prime minister as long as

this King is alive.\” He unironically compared himself to

Aung San Suu Kyy — the winner of a democratic election who

is not allowed to take office. He dismissed the courts\’

annulment of the elections as a sham. He claimed that, if it

were not for his financial power and grassroots support, he\’d

be chased into exile.

 

5. (C) Although Thaksin had pledged to withdraw from

politics in three stages, he hoped to draw out the stages.

He mentioned his strong relationship with the Crown Prince

(implying that, once the present King was dead, he would have

an ally on the throne.) He planned to lead TRT into the next

elections — whenever they are — and run as an MP. He

expressed complete confidence that TRT would emerge with a

commanding majority again. Thaksin would only announce that

he would not serve as Prime Minister after the election, so

as not to affect the enthusiasm of TRT\’s base or hamper their

ability to set out the vote. He suggested several TRT

members as PM prospects: DPM Chidchai, Prommin Lertsuridej

(SecGen to the PM), and government spokesman Surapong

Suebwonglee. At present, he was leaning toward TRT Deputy

leader Pongthip Thepkanchana. Commerce Minister Somkid, who

has figured in press reports as a leading contender, was now

off Thaksin\’s short list. Thaksin told Brooks that he was

disappointed in Somkid: Thaksin had brought him up \”from

nothing\”, and had just given him 5 million baht for his

recent surgery. But Somkid apparently showed a lack of

loyalty by betraying an expectation that he would be the next

PM; he had even approached someone to be \”his\” finance

minister. Another prospect, Parliament speaker Bhokin, was

controversial even within TRT.

 

6. (C) Thaksin and advisor Pansak expressed disappointment

with the US position. They had expected a clearer public and

private line that the US wanted all parties to abide by the

rule of law, which they believe was subverted by the course

of events. They hoped that the US would recognize that what

was happening was a setback for democracy in Thailand.

 

REALITY CHECK

————-

 

7. (C) While other Thai we have spoken to do not see

Thaksin as the poor, downtrodden victim of the power hungry

King, they also cast the current struggle to a certain degree

as a contest between the King and the prime minister.

Journalist XXXXXXXXXX also predicted that Thaksin

would not be able to return as PM in the short term. He

anticipated that the courts, empowered by the King\’s

instructions to them, would take whatever steps were

necessary to ensure that Thaksin would not re-emerge after

the elections. He expected that TRT would be dissolved as a

result of the investigation of their role in paying

microparties to contest the April elections, and that Thaksin

and other party leaders would be banned from politics for at

least five years. Thaksin had one advantage — while the

Thai people were very influenced by the King, they tended to

have short memories. It would be several months until

elections, and the effects of the King\’s statement may \”wear

off,\” leaving it harder for the courts to carry through on

controversial decisions.

 

8. (C) XXXX said that the King had not been influenced by his

councilors — quite the opposite, in fact. A close friend of

the King\’s had recounted how the King himself had been poring

over law books and quietly preparing his response to the

problematic elections. The Privy Councilors had been unaware

of his plans and were taken by surprise when he made his

speech criticizing the elections. XXXXX a rabid opponent of

TRT, reflected the view of much of educated Bangkok:

although he wished that the King had intervened earlier, he

believed that the King had taken an important step to

preserve democracy. At the same time, he recognized that the

King, by intervening in politics, had taken a risk. He was

concerned that Thaksin, knowing his political future was in

serious trouble, would try to \”take the King down with him.\”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) Thaksin\’s diatribe and revisionist history are highly

suspect; we are not convinced that the King and his minions

pushed Thaksin out of office. Thaksin\’s enormous ego has

taken a tremendous battering this year, and it may be hard

for him to grasp how a rag-tag bunch of demonstrators somehow

started a process that led to this deadly challenge to his

political future. He would rather see the King as his

nemesis. As the elections proceeded, Thaksin appeared to

have a reasonable plan: take a strategic break until things

cooled down, and return to power after a decent interval.

The King\’s condemnation of the elections, and the courts\’

aggressive response, laid waste to that plan. His story of

the palace\’s machinations against him, and his accusations of

a palace coup, may be part of his effort to \”bring the King

down with him,\” as XXXX suggested he would. That said, we

agree with the underlying theme of Thaksin\’s complaint — the

palace has aligned against him and will (carefully) seek ways

to support the effort to drive him from politics

definitively.

 

10. (C) Thaksin\’s account of his troubles also edits out a

lot. He makes no mention of the possibility that TRT will be

dissolved, even though this is an increasingly real threat.

He ignores evidence that high-ranking members of his party

committed serious abuses in hiring microparties to run in the

elections, and assisting them to fake documents so they would

qualify. In Thaksin\’s mind, nothing is ever his fault. He

accepts no responsibility for the current situation, and the

problems it presents for the country. He sees no irony in

comparing himself to Aung San Suu Kyy. Given this almost

delusional view of his own role, he is unlikely to concede

defeat gracefully in order to spare the country the damage of

a prolonged political crisis.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:19 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

One Response

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  1. […] posting of Wikileaks cables continues with a cable from U.S. Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce dated 18 May 2006 that discusses then Prime Minister-on-a-short-break Thaksin Shinawatra’s view of politics and […]


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