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06BANGKOK5949 THAILAND UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 27

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“79849″,”9/27/2006 11:18″,

 

“06BANGKOK5949″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

“CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO1752

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5949/01 2701118

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 271118Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1929

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 6093

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2145

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005949

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

TREASURY PASS TO FRB SAN FRANCISCO/TERESA CURRAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 27

 

Classified By: DCM Alexander A. Arvizu, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Council on Democratic Reform (CDR) says

it will announce the interim prime minister on Sunday. Privy

Councillor and retired General Surayud Chulanond appears to

be the lead candidate again, and many contacts anticipate he

will be chosen. The CDR announced the establishment of four

advisory councils composed of many respected civil society

leaders, perhaps in an effort to co-opt potential critics. If

so, the effort did not work; \”members\” were not consulted in

advance and several declined to participate. Several noted

jurists who helped draft the interim Constitution have

withdrawn from any further role assisting the CDR — at

least, officially — in response to public criticism of their

previous service in the Thaksin government. Former Defense

Minister Thamarak appears to \”under the control\” of the CDR,

although staying in his own home. END SUMMARY.

 

INTERIM PRIME MINISTER – GENERAL SURAYUD?

—————————————–

 

2. (C) Speculation has turned back to Privy Councillor and

retired General Surayud Chulanont as the leading candidate to

be the interim Prime Minister. Surayud\’s name has come up

repeatedly during the prolonged political crisis of the past

year as a possible replacement for Thaksin, particularly when

the opposition was pushing for the King to name a prime

minister by invoking Article 7 of the Constitution. On the

positive side, Surayud is very widely respected across the

economic and geographic lines dividing the country. He is

unlikely to be viewed as seeking power for himself. The

negatives are just as obvious: as a retired General, he is

technically civilian, but choosing a retired military officer

will not be well-received by the international community.

Also, Surayud, as a privy councillor, is also identified with

the King, which could complicate efforts by the CDR and other

Thai officials to dispel the rumors that the King was behind

the coup. Nonetheless, for today, at least, Surayud seems to

be the front-runner. The CDR says that they will announce

the new PM on Sunday.

 

3. (C) According to a local academic, the CDR tried, and

failed, to get Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to

give advice on the PM candidates. According to the

professor, Prem would not indicate a preference, but only

said that the interim PM should be \”brave, honest, and

loyal.\” The professor also opined that Surayud was the most

likely candidate, dismissing UNCTAD deputy head Supachai and

other candidates as lacking the stature needed to do the job.

 

CDR FORMS ADVISORY BODIES, FAILS TO CONSULT ADVISORS

——————————————— ——-

 

4. (C) The media reported that the CDR on September 26 formed

four advisory committees, covering economic affairs; foreign

affairs; reconciliation and social justice; and ethics,

governance, and the prevention of corruption and abuse of

power. It appears from both press reports and private

conversations with contacts that the CDR did not consult most

members before including them on these committees. Academics

have substantial representation on the committees, as no less

than 32 of the 66 members are professors, assistant

professors, or associate professors. Bank of Thailand

Governor Pridiyathorn Devakula, rumored as a potential Prime

Minister, heads the advisory committee on economic affairs,

while MFA Permanent Secretary Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn sits on

the advisory committee on foreign affairs. (Comment: Given

the plan for a transition in coming days to a new regime

under an interim constitution, with the formation of a new

cabinet reportedly imminent, it is unclear why the CDR needs

to establish these bodies, particularly as some cover

subjects reportedly outside of the realm of the CDR,s

planned successor body, the Security Council. One possible

explanation: the formation of these committees may be

intended to co-opt potential critics of the military coup —

or to publicly signal short-listed candidates for the next

cabinet. If so, it hasn\’t worked very well, since several

have indignantly refused to serve on the committees. End

Comment.)

 

BANGKOK 00005949 002 OF 002

 

MFA RUMORS

———-

 

5. (C) A regular MFA contact said that Senator Kraisak

Choonhavan, rumored as a longshop candidate for Foreign

Minister, is not well regarded among the MFA rank and file.

He suggested that most of his colleagues are hoping that

either Vitthaya Vejjajiva or Tej Bunnag will be named interim

Foreign Minister. Tej, former Thai Ambassador to Washington,

Beijing and Paris is regarded by many Thai diplomats as being

a serious bureaucrat capable of managing relations with both

the United States and China. Both Tej and Vitthaya were

placed on the foreign affairs advisory committee (see para

5); Kraisak was not.

 

6. (C) Our source also speculated that several senior

diplomats will be hurt by Thaksin\’s departure. Four who may

be affected include AMB Jullapong Nonsrichai, presently the

Thai AMB in Beijing, who was supposed to go to London as

Ambassador where he was expected to keep an eye on Thaksin\’s

interests; London DCM Bansarn Bunnag, former chief of staff

to Surakiart, who was slated to be the next AMB to Burma

(Note: He\’s in trouble for links to Thaksin and for picking

Thaksin up in London last week at the airport in a Thai

Embassy limo flying the Thai flag); Information Section DDG

Maris Sangiampol who had been seconded to Thaksin\’s staff for

some time and who was slated to become an Ambassador without

portfolio, and; Piraya Khempol who is former deputy Prime

Minister Surakiart Sathirathai\’s Chief of Staff and who was

also supposed to become a Minister without portfolio.

 

THANKS, AND HERE\’S YOUR HAT

—————————

 

7. (U) Several well-known jurists who worked on the draft

interim constitution have officially withdrawn from any

advisory role for the CDR. Borwornsak Uwanno and his cousin

Wissanu Krea-Ngam are both highly respected for their legal

acumen, but have been strongly criticized for serving in the

Thaksin government. Both resigned in recent months, but

apparently not soon enough to salvage their reputations

completely. We understand that they will continue to assist

with legal advice, behind the scenes. Meechai Ruchuphan, who

helped draft previous post-coup constitutions, has also

withdrawn from any formal role, in response to public

criticism. The draft constitution is already being reviewed

by other leading academics, in any case.

 

THREE SCHOOLS BURNED

——————–

 

8. (U) Three schools were burned in Kamphengphet province

(northwest of Bangkok) on the night of September 26.

Although the press speculates that this was some kind of

protest against the coup, our police contacts in the province

say they are still investigating the causes. (Comment:

Kamphengphet is not a hotbed of pro-Thaksin feeling, and

burning schools does not seem like the most obvious way to

show displeasure with the coup. The press reaction does

demonstrate, again, that fear of some kind of counter-coup is

quite widespread, despite the complete lack of opposition to

the coup so far. End comment.)

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

——————-

 

9. (C) Several sources confirm that former Defense Minister

Thamarak is \”under the control of the CDR.\” According to an

MOD source, Thamarak is at his own home, and has been asked

to stay there.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:12 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

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