thaicables – It's Your Right to know the Truth!

06BANGKOK5423 AMBASSADOR\’S SEPTEMBER 1 MEETING WITH PRIVY COUNCILOR SURAYUD CHULANONT

leave a comment »

“77096”,”9/5/2006 5:52″,”06BANGKOK5423″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“06BANGKOK4610|06BANGKOK5204|06BANGKOK5335|06BANGKOK5349|06BANGKOK5411”,

“VZCZCXRO0646

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5423/01 2480552

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 050552Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1379

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 6022

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1504

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005423

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/01/2016

TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, MOPS, TH

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR\’S SEPTEMBER 1 MEETING WITH PRIVY

COUNCILOR SURAYUD CHULANONT

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 5411 (ARMY CINC)

B. BANGKOK 5349 (BOMBS IN YALA)

C. BANGKOK 5335 (MILITARY ON DEFENSIVE)

D. BANGKOK 5204 (CAR BOMB DISCOVERED)

E. BANGKOK 4610 (MORE ON RESHUFFLE)

 

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

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Privy Council member Surayud Chulanont envisions Prime

Minister Thaksin Shinawatra might be forced to withdraw from

political life through a relatively poor performance by his

Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party in elections likely to take place

in coming months. In a September 1 four-eyes meeting with

the Ambassador, Surayud observed that TRT had serious

factional problems and seemed to have less money available

than in prior elections. Nevertheless, if TRT were to win a

solid majority, Thaksin might intend to return as Prime

Minister when forming the next government, Surayud said.

Often named as a potential successor to Thaksin, Surayud said

he was trying to maintain a low profile. Surayud dismissed

the possibility of a coup; he did not mention the most recent

bombings in southern Thailand. He expressed ambivalence

about whether the recent car bomb incident presented as an

attempt to kill Thaksin was genuine or a hoax. End Summary.

 

A SCENARIO FOR THAKSIN\’S EXIT FROM POLITICS

——————————————-

 

2. (C) The Ambassador called on Privy Councilor Surayud

Chulanont at his residence on September 1. Surayud appeared

confident that the King would be able to appoint a new

Election Commission (EC) in the coming weeks, upon conclusion

of Senate processes, and the legislative election could take

place in a few months — if not in October then soon after

the King\’s birthday, in December. Surayud indicated no

serious concern about the EC\’s ability to run a credible and

legitimate election.

 

3. (C) Surayud noted several indications that TRT might not

perform as well in the coming election as previously:

 

– TRT appeared to be \”hollowing out\”; in addition to the

discontent on the part of dovish figures within the party,

Surayud cited deteriorating support from Deputy Prime

Minister Suwat Liptapanlop, whom Surayut claimed could

influence ten million votes, principally in the northeast,

which is seen as a TRT stronghold.

 

– TRT appeared to have less money available to deploy for the

coming election. While Thaksin remains extraordinarily

wealthy, Surayud observed that Thaksin was \”stingy\” and

preferred to spend others\’ money in elections — but now,

there were fewer eager donors for TRT.

 

– Rival parties would do better than in previous elections.

The Democrat Party, although facing a funding crunch, would

perform well in Bangkok and southern Thailand, while the

Chart Thai party of former Prime Minister Banharn

Silapa-Archa would improve its showing in central Thailand,

Surayud believed.

 

4. (C) The Ambassador noted that Thaksin might find his

opponents\’ attacks against him would diminish if he were to

withdraw from politics. Surayud agreed but characterized

Thaksin as paranoid and unwilling to believe he would face

less pressure and less of a threat to his assets. Surayud

believed Thaksin\’s intention was to win as many votes as

possible in the coming election, claim a mandate, and return

as Prime Minister. However, Surayud believed TRT might

underperform its prior showing (the party won around 60

percent of the vote in April\’s annulled election), raising

doubt about Thaksin\’s ability to claim a mandate.

 

PALACE DISCOURAGES COUP, CONSIDERS IT UNLIKELY

——————————————— –

 

5. (C) The Ambassador noted Privy Council President Prem

Tinsulanonda\’s July 14 speech to cadets at the Chulachomklao

Royal Military Academy, in which Prem had made remarks widely

interpreted as critical of Thaksin. Surayud said Prem

intended to boost the morale of the military and send a

signal to Thaksin; he added that Prem, despite rumors to the

contrary, opposed the idea of a coup and had made this clear

 

BANGKOK 00005423 002 OF 002

 

to Surayud and also to Army Commander General Sonthi

Boonyaratglin. Surayud told the Ambassador he considered

Sonthi as a solid professional and an unemotional person —

not the type to carry out a coup. When the Ambassador

remarked that, given Thai history, it might be unwise to

think a coup would be impossible, Surayud simply laughed in

response. The Ambassador observed that conventional wisdom

held that Prem, Surayud, and Privy Councilor Palakorn

Suwanrath represented Thaksin\’s key foes, Surayud simply

replied, \”That\’s how he (Thaksin) sees it.\”

 

6. (C) The Ambassador raised the upcoming reshuffle of top

military officers. Surayud believed that ongoing

machinations within the military (ref C) reflected the

efforts of Thaksin loyalists from the Prime Minister\’s class

in the pre-cadet Academy (Class 10) to secure maximum

advantage before Thaksin might be further weakened. These

officers were eager to move into key positions, but Surayud

believed they were not yet capable of holding them. He

specifically cited the case of General Pornchai Kranlert,

Thaksin\’s likely choice to replace Sonthi in 2007 — Surayud

described him as unintelligent. (Note: We hear Pornchai

hoped for promotion to the position of Deputy Army Commander.

End Note.)

 

7. (C) Recalling a prior conversation with Thaksin, the

Ambassador asked Surayud\’s opinion of the Prime Minister\’s

claim that he had sought to place Class 10 loyalists in key

military positions not so that they could keep him in power

through extra-constitutional efforts, but simply so they

could block such efforts by others. Surayud noted this

strategy would be consistent with Thaksin\’s style.

 

CAR BOMB

——–

 

8. (C) When the Ambassador raised the recent discovery of an

alleged car bomb near Thaksin\’s residence (ref D), Surayud

remarked that he was unsure whether this represented a

genuine plot against Thaksin, rating the odds as \”50-50\” but

noting that a majority of people seemed to consider it a hoax.

 

KEEPING A LOW PROFILE

———————

 

9. (C) Surayud mentioned at the close of the meeting that he

was maintaining a low profile, given the common perception of

animosity between himself and Thaksin, and speculation he

might replace Thaksin if the political crisis were to require

that the King appoint a new Prime Minister not from the

parliament. Surayud mentioned that, after Prem\’s July 14

speech, he (Surayud) had deferred an invitation to speak to

military cadets.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) We were struck by Surayud\’s seeming optimism that

Thaksin might be gently forced from office in the event of a

below-expectations performance by TRT in upcoming elections,

caused by factionalism within TRT, a stronger showing by

rival parties, and reduced funding for campaign activities.

We also noted that, despite the August 31 bombings in Yala

(ref B), Surayud had nothing to say about the South. Like

Army Commander Sonthi (ref A) — and everyone else in town —

he is focused on the political drama in Bangkok, not the

threats far away in the South.

BOYCE

Advertisements

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:34 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: