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06BANGKOK3745 PRIME MINISTER THAKSIN’S BAD DAY AND OTHER UPDATES

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“69180”,”6/23/2006 12:33″,”06BANGKOK3745″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO8740

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: PRIME MINISTER THAKSIN\’S BAD DAY AND OTHER UPDATES

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: According to leaks in the press, on June 22

the EC recommended the dissolution of Thai Rak Thai (TRT).

The Office of the Attorney General now has the case, and will

vote on June 27 whether to forward it to the Constitutional

Court for a ruling. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu announced

his resignation on June 22 as well, making it a bad day for

PM Thaksin. Former TRT members and others say that many party

members are sticking with TRT largely for the money; we hear

that the party members are discouraged. The Democrats insist

that there is no real threat from the dissolution case

against them, but many contacts suspect it will be both or

nothing in the dissolution cases. In any case, dissolution

turns out not to be such an enormous penalty. If a party is

dissolved, its leaders cannot found another party or serve an

executive board, but they can be MPs or even ministers,

(provided they\’re not subsequently convicted on a any

criminal charges.) The events of this week probably shook up

TRT, but many are still loudly proclaiming that the party

will weather the attacks. END SUMMARY.

 

THAI RAK THAI DISSOLUTION CASE

——————————

 

2. (U) The embattled Election Commission caved in to the

Office of the Attorney General on Thursday, June 22. It

returned the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) dissolution case to the

Office of the AG, along with its assessment of the section of

law TRT violated, and the recommended penalty. It asked the

Office of the AG to keep the EC recommendation confidential.

It leaked within hours, and it is now generally reported that

the EC recommended that TRT be dissolved for violating

provisions of the Organic Act on Political Parties. The

provisions cited are Article 66 (1) and (3):

\”The Constitutional Court may issue an order dissolving a

political party which has carried out any one of the

following:

(1) an act which shall overthrow the democratic regime of

government with the King as the Head of the State or shall

gain the power in administration of the State by

unconstitutional means;

(2) an act which may be adverse to the democratic regime of

government with the King as the head of the State under the

Constitution

(3) an act which may endanger the security of the State, or

may be contrary to law or public order or good morals.

 

3. (U) The AG met today (June 23) to review the case. If

the AG agrees with the EC recommendation, it will forward the

case to the Constitutional Court for decision. If not, the

AG and EC will form a joint committee to review the case.

The Office of the AG reported that they will need several

days to review the 2000 pages of the file, and they intend to

vote on the case on Tuesday, June 27. It seems unlikely that

the AG will reach a different conclusion than the EC, but we

do not know what pressure may be brought to bear.

 

ABANDON SHIP?

————-

 

4. (U) Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam announced on

Thursday that he would resign from his government position

and return to work as an academic. Wissanu was not a TRT MP

or even, as far we can ascertain, a member. He was a talented

bureaucrat who served, by his own account, \”10 governments

and seven prime ministers.\” He was an important defender of

TRT policies while in the government, and helped to put the

best face on controversial decisions. He follows his cousin

Borwornsak Uwanno, the Cabinet secretary-general who resigned

on June 6 (although he will not become a monk, as Borwornsak

did.) He refuses to comment on why he resigned.

 

5. (C) There is much speculation on who might be next,

Commerce Minister Somkid and Education Minister Chaturon are

mentioned, possibly because both still enjoy some respect

among the educated citizens, and also because both seem to be

clearly out of the running as potential replacement Prime

Ministers if Thaksin does not return to office. We heard

that Somkid may use his upcoming travel to the US and Europe

to lobby for a WTO position.

 

6. (C) We keep asking why more TRT members aren\’t heading for

the exit. One member who did bolt, Dr. Likhit Thirawekhin,

is already promoting his own new party. He was a political

science professor at Thammasat and former deputy interior

minister; he was a TRT MP from the party list in the last

parliament. He told us, \”My wife said that the honor of our

family had increased significantly\” after his resignation

 

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from TRT. His former students had written to him asking him

to leave the party. He had gotten tired of the indignity of

being in a party that permitted members no real freedom to

contribute to party policy. He says he is not concerned if

his new party (Force of the Thai Land) does not win many

seats in parliament; he wants \”to be a force\” for clean and

responsible government. The party will focus on educating

voters and supporting political reform. Several other

lesser-known TRT members have joined him. Others stay in

TRT, he claimed, largely because of the financial benefits

that TRT pays adherents.

 

7. (C) The son of former PM Banharn Silapa-Archa had an

interesting, if unconfirmable, rumor, he heard from friends

in TRT. He said that, after Thaksin\’s May 19 audience with

the King, Thaksin gave TRT members an encouraging readout or

the meeting. Thaksin told them the King had said that the

Electoral Commission could stay in their positions, that it

was fine that Thaksin had returned to work, and that the

Courts had misunderstood the King\’s April 25 speech. The

King allegedly said that he would set the record straight

with the Courts. According to Silapa-Archa, this greatly

encouraged the TRT members, who are now disappointed that

nothing of the kind occurred. He described his TRT friends

as disheartened; unable to speak candidly within the party

and constantly afraid that other party members will stab them

in the back.

 

A POX ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES

—————————

 

8. (C) The EC has not yet finalized their position on the

Democrat party dissolution case. A prominent Democrat told

us that the case was not serious, and was mainly a nuisance;

she said that she was not concerned about it. Others are not

so sure. If a bookie were taking bets, a lot of punters and

pundits would put money on either both parties facing

dissolution, or neither of them. (Comment: This being

Thailand, there probably is somewhere you can gamble on this

question. End comment.) We asked a prominent jurist on the

Supreme Court secretariat to assess the likely outcome of the

case. He anticipated that TRT could successfully defend

itself against dissolution by arguing that it was only the

action of an individual, Gen. Thammarak, to pay off the

microparties, not the action of the whole party. We asked

whether the public would really believe that Thammarak had

undertaken this project on his own, without Thaksin knowing

anything about it. The judge laughed uncomfortably, and

conceded, \”if the Court wants the truth, it will have to

dissolve TRT.\”

 

AND SO WHAT?

————

 

9. (C) As it turns out, party dissolution is not a serious a

penalty as most people here thought. It was the general view

(and ours, until we double-checked the law) that party

dissolution carried a five-year ban on political activity by

the party\’s executive board (several dozen party leaders).

In fact, the law specifies that executives of dissolved party

may not found a new party or serve on the executive board of

another party. There does not appear to be any restriction

on them becoming MPs or even ministers. There is a provision

for the party assets to be given to charity (which would hurt

the poor Democrat party more than the wealthy and

financially-astute TRT.) The main penalty would appear to be

the moral impact and loss of face. Depending on the grounds

for dissolution, criminal charges might also follow, which

would result in a real political ban.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) We have speculated that TRT members must be feeling

enormous pressure from family and people they respect to

separate themselves from the party. The account of ex-TRT

member Dr. Likhit supports that theory, This week\’s EC

decision will probably shake the members up still further,

but the party has shown remarkable resilience, and a

readiness to fight every step of the way.

 

ARVIZU

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Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:55 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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