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06BANGKOK5832 FORMER PREMIER ANAND: COUP FORESTALLED VIOLENCE

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79219″,”9/21/2006 11:04″,”06BANGKOK5832″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO5725

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SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KDEM, MOPS, ASEC, TH

SUBJECT: FORMER PREMIER ANAND: COUP FORESTALLED VIOLENCE

 

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

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) The September 19 coup d\’etat forestalled an imminent

violent confrontation between enemies and loyalists of former

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to former Prime

Minister Anand Panyarachun. In a September 21 meeting with

the Ambassador, Anand related that Thaksin had already

steered Thailand away from democratic governance and deprived

the people of mechanisms to remove him from office

peacefully. Anand regretted the manner in which the Council

for Democratic Reform under the Monarchy (CDRM) abolished the

1997 Constitution, but he observed that Thailand could

benefit from constitutional reforms, especially the creation

of a new type of Senate. He recommended the USG press for

the dissolution of the CDRM after the installation of a

civilian Prime Minister. Anand also expressed cautious

optimism that conditions in southern Thailand might improve.

End Summmary.

 

FACTORS LEADING UP TO THE COUP

——————————

 

2. (C) In a September 21 meeting with the Ambassador, Anand

Panyarachun, who twice served as appointed Prime Minister in

the early 1990\’s, claimed the September 19 coup d\’etat

forestalled imminent political violence between Thaksin\’s

enemies and loyalists. (Note: The People\’s Alliance for

Democracy, which earlier this year organized large

anti-Thaksin demonstrations, had called for a major rally on

September 20 to persuade Thaksin to resign. Thaksin\’s allies

publicly condemned the plan and rumors arose of an impending

crackdown on protesters by security forces. End Note.)

 

3. (C) Anand said he could not have advocated a coup, but it

was important to recognize that Thaksin\’s administration had

already become undemocratic. Thaksin had controlled the

media, suppressed the free flow of information, and

manipulated an uninformed electorate. He had corrupted the

judiciary, to the point that court cases against him could

not proceed. He had sabotaged the Constitution, manipulating

political institutions that were supposed to be independent,

destroying the system of checks and balances set up by the

1997 Constitution. Thaksin\’s administration lacked

accountability and transparency. In this environment,

elections by themselves hardly ensured democracy. Thaksin

blocked off all avenues for political change, leaving his

opponents no option other than a coup.

 

4. (C) Thaksin further aggravated the Thai people by

appearing to put himself on the same level as the King.

Anand stopped short of characterizing Thaksin as disloyal to

the King, but he said Thaksin failed to understand how many

people came to perceive him as hostile to the monarchy.

Thaksin had brought trouble upon himself by picking fights

with Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, Anand noted.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

———————

 

5. (C) The Ambassador asked Anand\’s views on constitutional

reform. (Note: Anand chaired the drafting committee for the

1997 Constitution. End Note.) Anand expressed regret that

the CDRM had abolished the Constitution rather than simply

suspending it, but he hoped the CDRM or its successor

civilian government would still use the 1997 document as a

starting point. Anand acknowledged problems in the 1997

Constitution, and he advocated abolishing the Senate as a

non-partisan elected body. (The current Senate, although

elected by the people, became highly partisan, contrary to

the intention embodied in the Constitution.) A better

alternative would be a House of Lords model, with the Senate

consisting perhaps at least in part of former high-ranking

officials, appointed in a transparent, systematic process.

Anand also noted one could not hope to abolish money politics

completely, but it would be important to ensure checks and

balances more effective than those provided by the 1997

Constitution.

 

6. (C) Citing his own experience as a Prime Minister

appointed by the National Peace Keeping Council (NPKC — the

junta which overthrew Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan in

1991), Anand lamented that the NPKC had continued to exercise

power behind the scenes during his first administration.

Now, he took note of CDRM leader General Sonthi

 

BANGKOK 00005832 002 OF 002

 

Boonyaratglin\’s pledge to appoint a civilian government

within two weeks. Anand urged the USG to press Sonthi to

follow through on this commitment.

 

CONDITIONS IN THE SOUTH

———————–

 

7. (C) The Ambassador asked whether Anand felt conditions in

southern Thailand might improve now that Thaksin was out of

the scene. (Note: Many contacts considered restoring order

to southern Thailand difficult if not impossible so long as

Thaksin remained as Prime Minister. End Note.) Anand, who

served as Chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission,

expressed cautious optimism, saying he liked how Sonthi

viewed situation in the South. A good first step would be

the release of some 59 people still detained in connection

with a clash between security forces and Muslim protesters at

Tak Bai in October 2004, Anand suggested.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (C) As one of Thailand\’s most distinguished elder

statesmen, Anand made waves in August when he publicly

denounced Thailand\’s course under Thaksin. Anand presented

himself as lacking foreknowledge of the September 19 coup but

feeling generally sympathetic to the CDRM and understanding

of its motives. Given Anand\’s experience as a Prime Minister

who was appointed by a coup-instigating junta and then worked

to restore democracy to Thailand, the ease with which he

accepts the CDRM\’s claim of noble intentions is noteworthy.

Interesting and not surprising was Anand\’s disparaging

reference to Thaksin\’s manipulation of the \”uninformed\”

electorate. This elitist point of view — shared by many

wealthy and educated Thais, especially in Bangkok — gets to

the heart of Thaksin\’s claim about revolutionizing Thai

politics, precisely by taking on these entrenched elites.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:53 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

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