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06BANGKOK3538 THAILAND CELEBRATES ITS KING

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“67948″,”6/14/2006 10:41″,”06BANGKOK3538″,”Embassy

 

Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK3349″,”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 003538

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/14/2016

 

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH

 

SUBJECT: THAILAND CELEBRATES ITS KING

 

REF: BANGKOK 003349 NOODLES WITH THAKSIN

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RALPH L. BOYCE. REASON 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) Summary. The Thai people took time off from their

 

political crisis on June 9 to celebrate the 60th year of King

 

Bhumipol Adulyadej\’s reign. The multi-day gala offered

 

dramatic and often times moving evidence of the nation\’s

 

respect and adoration for its monarch. In his public

 

audience on Friday, which attracted a crowd estimated at one

 

million people, the King called for national unity in working

 

to ensure prosperity for the nation. Caretaker-Prime

 

Minister Thaksin played a prominent, if subdued role

 

throughout the festivities, but there is no question who

 

really rules in the hearts of the Thai people. End Summary.

 

A DIAMOND JUBILEE

 

—————–

 

2. (SBU) From June 9-13, Thailand celebrated the 60th year

 

of King Bhumipol Adulyadej\’s reign. Twenty-five

 

representatives of royal families from around the world

 

joined with a who\’s who of Thai politics and high society in

 

commemorating the occasion in a series of Buddhist

 

ceremonies, a public address by the King, fireworks, a royal

 

barge procession on the river, and finally, a gala dinner at

 

the palace.

 

3. (SBU) While the Thai people\’s respect and reverence for

 

the 78 year old monarch is often cited, the weekend\’s

 

celebration was a rare occasion to see–and feel–the depths

 

of this sentiment in person. In contrast to the tens of

 

thousands who have rallied against and in support of the

 

Thaksin government, the King\’s public address on Friday at

 

throne hall inspired an estimated one million Thai to brave

 

the mid-day sun to listen to their \”father\” speak. (Note,

 

only the third such public address in the King\’s reign. End

 

Note.) Much of the audience had camped out since the evening

 

before.

 

4. (SBU) Bangkok\’s sidewalks and public transportation became

 

a sea of yellow, as citizens donned the color of the King\’s

 

birthday (a Monday, thus a yellow day.) The rush to conform

 

even found expression on the local markets, where the price

 

of yellow \”we love the King\” shirts skyrocketed. In

 

response, the government announced that it would produce

 

extra shipments of such clothing, to force down the price.

 

Bangkok\’s normally snarled traffic reached new heights of

 

obstruction, with motorcades and security details turning

 

local roads into parking lots. While government offices and

 

schools were closed, the malls and markets remained open; the

 

sound of radio and television broadcasts of the gala filling

 

the air.

 

5. (SBU) The local press focused exclusively on the

 

celebration. Newspapers carried full-page sections on the

 

King\’s life and works. Interviews with Thai of all ages and

 

backgrounds conveyed the same joyous appreciation for the

 

monarch, with individual stories of how royal assistance had

 

improved their lives. All local television stations carried

 

the same live feed of each event, which featured crowd shots

 

of attendees alternately crying and smiling. Late night

 

television shifted to cover the opening of the World Cup, but

 

even this event was colored by the King\’s celebration: a

 

newspaper cartoon explained that most Thai people were

 

cheering for Brazil because the Brazilians wear yellow

 

uniforms.

 

THE KING SPEAKS

 

—————

 

6. (SBU) In his public remarks on Friday, the King thanked

 

the assembled dignitaries and crowd for their congratulations

 

and called upon the Thai people to show compassion, cooperate

 

with each other, display integrity, and be reasonable. In a

 

not-so-veiled reference to the ongoing political crisis, the

 

King stated, \”unity is the basis for all Thai to help

 

preserve and bring prosperity to the country.\”

 

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY PICNIC

 

——————————-

 

7. (C) The event was also an opportunity for all 131

 

branches of the royal family to reunite, though the sheer

 

size of the clan reportedly made protocol preparations a

 

nightmare. The more immediate royal family was on full

 

display as well, with the Crown Prince and Princesses

 

greeting foreign royalty upon arrival at the airport and

 

traveling to local temples to perform ceremonies in honor of

 

the King. In a shot heavy with unintentional meaning on

 

Friday, the television broadcast showed the unpopular Crown

 

Prince reading a message of congratulations to the King, who

 

was seated on the royal balcony above the Prince. Just

 

visible behind the King, however, was the smiling face of

 

Princess Sirindorn–the widely respected \”intellectual heir\”

 

of the monarch–chatting with her sisters and trying to take

 

a picture of the adoring crowd below. The physical distance

 

between the King and his legal heir far below, and his

 

beloved daughter just behind him, captured the internal

 

family dynamic–and the future of the monarchy–quite nicely.

 

DON\’T FORGET THE PM

 

——————-

 

8. (C) Prime Minister Thaksin was front and center for much

 

of the festivities: greeting foreign guests, and reading a

 

congratulatory message for the King on behalf of the

 

caretaker government. In an unfortunate bit of timing, the

 

television camera covering the opening ceremony on Friday

 

panned on the PM just as he was checking his watch. Aside

 

from this minor gaffe–not mentioned in the newspapers,

 

yet–the PM\’s personal perspective on the celebration remains

 

unclear. As reported in ref, Thaksin recently told the

 

Ambassador that his own popularity in the countryside is seen

 

by the palace as threatening to the King\’s popular standing.

 

After this weekend\’s massive, unprecedented display of public

 

adoration for the monarch, however, one hopes that Thaksin

 

has a firm enough grasp of reality to reconsider this idea.

 

BOYCE

 

Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:51 am

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