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06BANGKOK4277 THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: JOCKEYING INTENSIFIES

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“71679”,”7/18/2006 9:25″,”06BANGKOK4277″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO1802

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RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

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RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 004277

 

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DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2026

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: JOCKEYING INTENSIFIES

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 03916 (WHAT\’S THAKSIN UP TO?)

 

B. BANGKOK 004041 (STEAK WITH THAKSIN)

C. BANGKOK 04181 (\”UNCLE SAM I\’M BEING BULLIED!\”)

D. BANGKOK 004211 (SCENESETTER AND POLITICAL UPDATE

FOR ADMIRAL FALLON)

E. BANGKOK 004212 (AND THE PAD MARCHED ON)

 

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR SUSAN M. SUTTON. REASON 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Privy Council chairman Prem Tinsulanonda

struck back at PM Thaksin on July 14 in a speech to military

cadets. The PM appeared to step back from his normally

strident self over the weekend, with an appeal to

reconciliation, even as he moves to set the stage for a new

election October 15. The opposition parties remain opposed

to a new election under the current, controversial Election

Commission. Speculation that members of the PM\’s party may

be preparing to jump ship–or toss Thaksin over the side–is

making its way into the press. The opposition People\’s

Alliance for Democracy (PAD) continues to tear into the PM

over his letter to President Bush and is preparing for a

final push to unseat Thaksin starting July 19. PAD leader

Sonthi Limthongkul may be running out of money. Finally, the

palace announced that the King will be undergoing surgery to

alleviate a long-standing spinal problem. End Summary.

 

MILITARY JOCKEYING CONTINUES

—————————-

 

2. (C) In a bold response to the most recent coup rumors,

speculation over preparations for the October military

reshuffle (ref D) and Thaksin\’s thinly veiled attack on him

earlier this month (refs A,B), Privy Council chairman (and

former Army Chief) Prem Tinsulanonda paid a high-profile

visit to the Chulachomklao Military Academy on July 14.

Prem–who arrived in uniform with former Army Chiefs Chawalit

Yongchaiyudh, Surayud Chulanont, Oud Buengbon and Pongthem

Thespratheep alongside him–told the cadets, \”in horse

racing, horse owners hire jockeys to ride the horses. The

jockeys do not own the horses. They just ride them. A

government is like a jockey. It supervises soldiers, but the

real owners are the country and the King…the government

comes and goes.\”

 

3. (C) Prem\’s comments–which landed on the front page of

most papers Saturday–are only the first in a series of

lectures he plans to give to cadets and soldiers over the

next few weeks, to \”raise awareness.\” Indeed, the press

coverage of Prem\’s speech prompted the PM to publicly deny on

July 15 that he specifically intends to sideline the current

Army Chief–Sonthi Boonyaratglin–in favor of one of his

former classmates from his military academy days.

 

THAKSIN OPENS HIS ARMS

———————-

 

4. (SBU) In his weekly radio address on July 15, Thaksin

announced that his caretaker government plans to submit the

decree calling for a new election October 15 to the palace

for approval by mid-August. The PM pleaded for \”national

reconciliation\” and explained that he was not trying to cling

to power, but to fulfill his constitutionally required

duties. Thaksin urged all sides to come together. Officials

from the opposition Democrat party did not publicly reject

the new election date, but reiterated their demand that the

controversial Election Commission (EC) be replaced before a

new vote.

 

DISSENT IN TRT RANKS

——————–

 

5. (C) While the Democrats rejected the PM\’s call for a

meeting to discuss reconciliation, speculation is mounting

that members of Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party have met

without the PM to discuss a way out of the current morass.

Thai-language press reported on July 18 that several

cabinet-level TRT figures, including Minister of Commerce

Somkid, Deputy PM Surakiat and Education Minister Chaturon,

held a \”secret\” meeting on July 17 to discuss the political

situation

 

THE OTHER SONTHI-RUNNING ON FUMES

———————————

 

6. (C) Following the high profile march of the People\’s

Alliance for Democracy (PAD) late last week to deliver

 

BANGKOK 00004277 002 OF 002

 

letters of apology and protest to foreign embassies (refs

C,E), the PAD convened at Lumpini park for their weekly

broadcast on July 14. Although the crowd of hard-core PAD

supporters barely topped an estimated 1,000 people, PAD

leader Sonthi Limthongkul and his cohorts spent several hours

dissecting Thaksin\’s letter to President Bush and attacking

the PM. In a new twist, Sonthi also discussed the

controversial book \”The King Never Smiles\” by an American

journalist, which is very critical of the monarch. According

to Sonthi, one of Thaksin\’s closest advisers played a key

role in the development of the book. Details about the book

have now been posted on Sonthi\’s \”Manager\” newspaper website

and PAD elements may march on U.S. Embassy Bangkok to protest

the book. Sonthi also said that the PAD plans to announce

details about their \”final effort\” against Thaksin on July

19.

 

7. (C) According to several journalists who work for Sonthi,

this new \”final effort\” against the PM may be a desperation

move. The media magnate has apparently failed to pay both

his local and foreign staff for nearly six weeks, citing the

financial drain of ongoing lawsuits against him and his

funding support for PAD activities. Some senior members of

Sonthi\’s staff have even speculated that if Thaksin is not

out of office by September, Sonthi will have to fold his tent

and declare bankruptcy.

 

SURGERY FOR THE KING

——————–

 

8. (SBU) Local press reported on July 17 that the King will

soon undergo surgery to alleviate a long-standing

condition–lumbar spinal stenosis. According to newspaper

accounts, the monarch has suffered from this problem–a

pinching of the nerves running to his right leg–since 1995.

The date of the surgery has not been released.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 5:06 am

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