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08BANGKOK1951 NO-CONFIDENCE DEBATE BEGINS IN THAI HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

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“159397”,”6/24/2008 10:08″,”08BANGKOK1951″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK1878|08BANGKOK1897″,”VZCZCXRO1832

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DE RUEHBK #1951/01 1761008

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INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

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RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 6094

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 8827

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1683

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 4726

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

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RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02

BANGKOK 001951

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR PHU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/24/2018

TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, TH

SUBJECT: NO-CONFIDENCE DEBATE BEGINS IN THAI HOUSE OF

REPRESENTATIVES

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 1897 (PRESSING FOR PM\’S RESIGNATION)

B. BANGKOK 1878 (PREAH VIHEAR TEMPLE MAP APPROVED)

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, reason: 1.4 (d).

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Democrat Party legislators on June 24 began the House

of Representatives\’ formal debate over Prime Minister Samak

Sundaravej\’s administration\’s performance. We expect voting

on the Democrats\’ no-confidence motion on Thursday, June 26.

We have no reason to believe the governing coalition will

break apart. The Senate had a separate debate over the

government\’s performance on June 23. These parliamentary

efforts may usefully lesson tension by showing that

grievances against the government can be aired in parliament.

End Summary.

 

DEBATE BEGINS

————-

 

2. (SBU) On the afternoon of June 24, House legislators began

a debate over the Samak administration\’s performance. House

officials scheduled the debate after the Democrats submitted

a no-confidence motion targeting Prime Minister Samak to the

House Speaker, in accordance with article 158 of the

Constitution, which provides that House members totaling no

less than one-fifth of the membership may submit such a

motion. The Democrats\’ motion designated Democrat Party

Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as the legislator to assume the

Premiership in the event that the no-confidence motion

passes. In accordance with article 159 of the Constitution,

the Democrats also submitted a separate motion that targets

seven other cabinet ministers for poor performance. (Ref A

provided the full list of targeted ministers.)

 

3. (SBU) The debate is expected to continue late into the

night of June 24 and then resume during the day on June 25.

Abhisit led off the debate with general remarks; various

Democrat legislators will seek to substantiate their

allegations against the targeted cabinet members, who will

respond after the Democrats\’ turn. We expect 50 Democrat

legislators to participate, with Abhisit delivering

concluding remarks for the Democrats on June 25, after which

Prime Minister Samak, as the final speaker, will offer his

defense. The House will vote on the no-confidence motions on

June 26. Legislators will vote using an electronic system,

and the record of legislators\’ votes will be available to the

public.

 

4. (SBU) Article 162 of the Constitution specifies that

legislators are not bound by their party policies when they

cast their votes for no-confidence motions, but we expect

legislators to vote along party lines. The Democrats

therefore appear highly unlikely to receive the required

majority support in the House for their motions to pass. Of

the House\’s 480 seats, 470 are currently filled; the

Democrats have only 164, while the governing coalition holds

306, with Samak\’s People\’s Power Party occupying 223.

Leading Democrats have recently told us privately they did

not expect their motion to pass, but they wanted to air their

grievances against the cabinet. Nonetheless, there is a

tremendous amount of speculation that there will be

significant defections, particularly in the voting on the

more embattled ministers, including Foreign Minister Noppadon

Pattama and Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Mingkwan

Sangsuwan.

 

5. (SBU) While the no-confidence motion against Samak raises

the opposition\’s fundamental grievance, claiming he is

functioning as a cutout for former Prime Minister Thaksin,

most public attention is currently focused on the controversy

over Preah Vihear temple, located along the Thai-Cambodian

border (ref B). Foreign Minister Noppadon has been included

in the Democrats\’ no-confidence motion for allegedly making

inappropriate concessions to Cambodia, which long ago

received international recognition of its sovereignty over

 

BANGKOK 00001951 002 OF 002

 

the temple. The dispute over Preah Vihear has come to

dominate not only anti-government protests, but also

television and radio news and talk shows, and has become the

premier issue for the demonstrators surrounding Government

House.

 

SENATE JOINS IN

—————

 

6. (SBU) The Senate, meanwhile, held its own debate over the

administration\’s performance on June 23, albeit without

passage of any associated resolution. The debate, which

covered some of the same complaints lodged by the Democrats,

was initiated at the request of 61 of the 150 Senators.

(Article 161 of the Constitution specifies that one-third of

the Senate may initiate such a debate.) Senators criticized

Samak on both personal and policy grounds, while Samak sought

to rebut Senators\’ accusations. In the current polarized

environment, the debate most likely reinforced preexisting

views, rather than swaying opinions.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Ironically, the Democrats\’ no-confidence debate may

help the government in some ways. Although the Democrats

have a platform to voice their criticisms, the debate

demonstrates that avenues exist for the airing of grievances;

one significant step in the protracted crisis that led to the

2006 coup d\’etat was Thaksin\’s decision to dissolve the House

instead of permitting a parliamentary debate over his sale of

his Shin Corp conglomerate. The ongoing debate may help to

take some wind out of the sails of the People\’s Alliance for

Democracy (PAD), which on June 20 surrounded Government House

to show its antipathy toward the government.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 16, 2011 at 6:17 am

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