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06BANGKOK5866 SNAPSHOTS OF YOUTH REACTION TO COUP

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“79345″,”9/22/2006 9:27″,”06BANGKOK5866″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED”,””,”null

Debra P Tous 09/27/2006 10:30:47 AM

From DB/Inbox: Debra P Tous

 

Cable

Text:

 

UNCLAS BANGKOK 05866

 

SIPDIS

CXBKKSVR:

ACTION: PA

INFO: POL CHRON DCM CONS

 

DISSEMINATION: PA1

CHARGE: PROG

 

APPROVED: PAO: ACASPER

DRAFTED: POL: SSUTTON

CLEARED: CONS: BCAMP, DCM: AARVIZU

 

VZCZCBKI906

RR RUEHC RUEHCHI RUEHZS

DE RUEHBK #5866/01 2650927

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 220927Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1850

INFO RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 2474

RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS”,

“UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005866

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EAP/PD JESSICA DAVIES, EAP/P KEN BAILES, EAP/MLS MELANIE

HIGGINS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, KPAO, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: SNAPSHOTS OF YOUTH REACTION TO COUP

 

1. SUMMARY: Public Affairs officers and PA local staff spoke with 22

Thai high school and university students throughout the country to

gage their reaction to recent events; the majority expressed support

for the military coup. All were grateful that no blood was shed.

While most reasoned that it was the only way forward from the

current political impasse, others were dismayed that democracy was

circumvented. Some expressed appreciation for certain Thaksin

initiatives and most expected Thaksin to return to Thailand

eventually. Students are still sharing information about the coup

with friends despite censorship of media sources (see septel) by

leaders of the Council for Democratic Reform under the

Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM). What follows are snapshots from

telephone interviews with students from pro-Thaksin and anti-Thaksin

districts around Thailand. END SUMMARY

 

BANGKOK PERSPECTIVES

——————–

2. Ms. XXXXXX, a 20 year-old political science major at

Thammasat University – one of Bangkok\’s best public universities –

beamed that the coup was the \”nicest in world history.\” She argued

that Thailand is in trouble and that Thaksin could not solve any of

its problems. XXXXXXX echoed the views of other students

interviewed when she said that what is important for Thailand is

what comes after the coup – not the coup itself. She got much of her

information about developments from TV and emails from her friends

and was not particularly upset by censorship of websites by the coup

supporters.

 

3. Another Thammasat University political science major held the

opposite viewpoint: Ms. XXXXXXX, 20, saw no justification for the

coup and argued that the next round of elections scheduled for

November 2006 should have been allowed to proceed. \”Now we\’ll have

to wait for one year,\” she lamented. XXXXXX admitted that while

she was in the distinct minority on the issue of support for the

coup, she did not feel inhibited to express her views freely in the

classroom. Outside the classroom, she said she would not feel

comfortable doing so.

 

4. Mr. XXXX, a 17 year-old Muslim student at an Islamic school in

Bangkok, had mixed feelings. He believed that the coup was

necessary and suggested that it was time for Thaksin to \”take a

rest.\” Yet he praised Thaksin\’s projects, one of which landed

Anucha a scholarship to study at a university in Spain. \”I wonder

what will happen to my scholarship under the new government,\” he

said. He\’s not betting that the new government will be any better

than Thaksin\’s but believed it was not good for the country to be

divided any longer.

 

5. Ms. XXXXX, a 25 year-old student at Assumption University in

Bangkok, supported the coup and disagreed with international media

coverage of it. Asked what she thought would happen to U.S. – Thai

relations, she stated that the U.S. might look at this as a step

backwards, but eventually \”the U.S. will understand why this had to

happen.\” XXXXXX noted that she is at odds with her family in the

north of Thailand, where her uncle is a prominent Thai Rak Thai

politician opposed to the coup. She said that her parents and

sister, who are farmers, have been beneficiaries of agricultural

subsidies provided by Thai Rak Thai party members. In her view,

those handouts \”have made so many farmers lazy.\”

 

VIEWS FROM SOUTHERN THAILAND

—————————-

6. PAS interviewed students at Prince of Songhkla University (PSU)

in Pattani and at Islamic schools in Nakorn Si Thammarat, both in

the predominantly anti-Thaksin South of Thailand. Few surprises

here; most students signaled that it was time for Thaksin to go

because he couldn\’t resolve the political stalemate. They also

expressed reservations about what the new government will bring. One

21 yr-old English major at PSU said that she didn\’t know if Gen.

Sonthi had a hidden agenda, but that she has to believe that the

coup will help solve Thailand\’s problems. Two PSU students

interviewed at the Embassy\’s American Corner in Pattani expressed

similar views about the need for Thaksin to go. Neither believed,

however, that Thaksin\’s absence from the scene would quell the

Islamic insurgency in southern Thailand.

 

7. A 17 yr old high school senior at an Islamic school in Nakhon Si

Thammarat expressed hope that since General Sonthi is a Muslim, he

might be able to find a solution to the problems in the South.

Another student, Mr. XXXX, 17, from the same school disagreed with

the coup, because \”the people do not have a voice now.\” He said

that the scheduled elections for November 2006 were so close and

should have been allowed to happen. XXXX expressed admiration for

Thaksin\’s handling of the country\’s drug problem. However, he

thought that having a new government now might turn out to unite the

Thai people.

 

THE NORTHERN TAKE

—————–

8. PAS spoke with students at the American Corner at Chiang Mai

University (CMU) in northern Thailand and at Ubon Ratchatani

University (UMU) in northeastern Thailand. Both areas have been

bastions of support for Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai party. Opinions

about the coup were mixed. One 22 yr-old female CMU student said

that the political situation had reached the crisis point and she

did not feel very good about the state of democracy in Thailand. She

said that the coup would not solve the problem but that in her

circle of friends no one wanted to speak publicly against it. A 28

yr-old Masters degree student at CMU expressed a similar view,

noting that a new government might get rid of corruption but that a

coup is not a democratic way to solve the country\’s problems.

 

9. Two 20 yr-old law students at Ubon Ratchatani University held

opposing views of the coup. Mr. XXXXX argued that the coup was

not good for Thailand because the economy will worsen and people

would have to wait one year to have a chance to vote for a new

government when the November 2006 elections were just 2 months away.

XXXXX added that many other students at his school shared his

viewpoint but they did not feel they could speak freely in public.

The second law student, Mr. XXXX, supported the coup, calling it

\”acceptable\” because no one was hurt and because the coup leaders

promised to hold power for only two weeks. XXXX added that he and

his parents had long been Thaksin supporters up through the March

2006 elections but the political problems dragged on far too long.

Both XXXX and XXXXXX did not like the current decree prohibiting

them from talking politics in groups of five or more people.

 

COMMENT

——-

10. Despite attempts by CDRM agents to block websites and email

transmission, Thai youth are certainly tuned in to political

developments and quite willing to express their opinions when asked.

In most cases, their views were not black and white and their

thoughts about the coup and Thailand\’s fragile democracy are

exercises in cognitive dissonance. Even though they may come from

areas known for either supporting or opposing Thaksin, these

students have formed their own opinions to the point of disagreeing

with their families and friends. What unites them across

geographical distances is a genuine concern with how this suspension

of democracy will shake out.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:56 am

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