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06BANGKOK3231 ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL’S MEETING WITH FORMER PM ANAND: SOUTH, POLITICS

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“65768”,”5/30/2006 2:13″,”06BANGKOK3231″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“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 003231

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MLS

PACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

NSC FOR MORROW

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/22/2026

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PTER, TH, NRC – National Reconciliation Committee, Thai Political Updates, Southern Thailand

SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL\’S MEETING WITH FORMER PM

ANAND: SOUTH, POLITICS

 

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

 

1. (C) Summary: On May 22, EAP Assistant Secretary

Christopher Hill, EAP DAS Eric John and the Ambassador met

with former PM Anand Panyarachun to discuss his work on

southern Thailand and the current political situation. Anand

said the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) would

release its final report by June 9. He requested a U.S.

statement in support of the report. However, he strongly

urged the U.S. to continue to distance itself from this Thai

domestic issue in order to avoid \”internationalizing\” the

problem. Anand was highly critical of acting Prime Minister

Thaksin, characterizing him as someone who would do anything

to save himself politically. Anand praised the King\’s

limited role in the current crisis. End Summary

 

2. (C) Over dinner on May 22, Anand Panyarachun — the

highly respected former Prime Minister and current head of

the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) — discussed the

violence in southern Thailand and the current political

situation with EAP Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill, EAP

DAS Eric John and the Ambassador. Anand\’s NRC is working to

address root causes of the southern violence and has recently

completed its final report which is being translated into

English, Arabic, and the local southern \”Yawi\” Malay dialect.

 

NRC TO RELEASE REPORT IN EARLY JUNE

 

3. (C) Anand said he would release the NRC report by June

9. The commission\’s report wouldn\’t mention specific

separatist groups because there was no discernible unified

separatist movement. He cautioned against looking at the

situation in the South as strictly a \”Muslim\” or \”separatist\”

issue. Separatism and religion are sometimes used as

pretexts for violence. However, local Malays have

long-standing, deeply felt, grievances which are driving much

of the violence. \”The problem is more about being ethnically

Malay in Thailand than it is about being Muslim,\” he said.

Anand also said we should be careful to differentiate between

the Muslim population of the far South and Muslims in central

and northern Thailand as they have little in common.

 

4. (C) The NRC report will seek to address stovepiping

among Thai government agencies, Anand said. Legislation will

be proposed to create a new unified command which will

replicate the joint commands dismantled by Prime Minister

Thaksin in 2002. The head of this agency would be royally

appointed in order to avoid political conflicts of interest.

Anand complained that Thaksin had shown absolutely no

interest in the NRC\’s work over the past year and had little

interest in the South in general because the region was

politically unimportant to him. (Note: The South is the

traditional stronghold of the opposition Democrat Party. End

Note) As long as Thaksin remains in power the situation in

the South would not improve, he added. Thaksin has

completely lost the trust of Southern Malays and his image is

\”irreparable.\”

 

WHAT SHOULD THE U.S. DO?…SUPPORT THE NRC, BUT STAY AWAY

 

5. (C) Anand requested that the U.S. issue a statement in

support of the NRC\’s work soon after the report is released.

He noted that the European Union and Australia have already

privately pledged to issue such a statement. However, he

cautioned that the U.S. must word its statement carefully,

offering general support for the NRC, while emphasizing that

this was a \”Thai domestic issue.\” An impression of U.S.

involvement or direct interest in the South would be \”the

kiss of death\” for the commission\’s work. \”The most

important thing is that the U.S. cannot be perceived to be

involved in the South,\” he said. The perception of — or

actual — U.S. intervention would attract international

terrorists, he said.

 

A DESPERATE POLITICAL FIGHT FOR THAKSIN

 

6. (C) Turning to the domestic political scene, Anand was

highly critical of acting Prime Minister Thaksin, calling him

\”amoral\” and someone \”without a shred of integrity.\” Thaksin

is more interested in self promotion and financial gain than

serving the Thai people, Anand believes. He opined that

Thaksin has been fighting so hard politically because he

believes the opposition is trying to destroy him not only

politically, but also personally and financially. Anand said

it was highly unlikely that Thaksin would be able to return

to power after the October election and that there was a

strong possibility that Thaksin, and his Thai Rak Thai party,

could be banned from Thai politics.

 

7. (C) Anand acknowledged that Thaksin remains a formidable

political force who understands the psychology of rural

voters. Some of Thaksin\’s populist programs — like the 30

baht health care scheme — were good ideas, Anand admitted.

However, they were not properly funded and are now

collapsing. When the political protests started last year,

most people in Bangkok had been reluctant to join because the

opposition was run by \”disreputable\” characters. However,

the sale of Shin Corporation to Singapore\’s Temasek

galvanized the Bangkok middle class against the Prime

Minister.

 

THE KING REMAINS OBJECTIVE, BUT WATCH THE COURTS

 

8. (C) Anand — who had been appointed Prime Minister by

the King during the 1991-92 political crisis — heaped praise

on the monarch\’s restraint during the current political

crisis. \”The King knows Thai politics better than anyone and

is also the best constitutional lawyer in the country,\” he

said. Anand said the King is a committed democrat who

remains objective and impartial and would never allow himself

to be politically manipulated. Anand dismissed reported

complaints by Thaksin — that he had supposedly made

privately to British PM Tony Blair and others — that he had

been ousted by \”a palace coup.\” Anand said the Privy Council

does not have as much power as is commonly believed and that

the courts were not acting as proxies for the King.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:24 am

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