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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








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










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.






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




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








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.\”






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.






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.





Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:51 am

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