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09BANGKOK2887 THAI-CAMBODIAN SPAT: EXTRADITION REQUEST REJECTED, THAI GOVT MULLS OPTIONS AS THAKSIN LECTURES IN CAMBODIA

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“234302”,”11/12/2009 10:39″,”09BANGKOK2887″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

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SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PBTS, TH, CB

SUBJECT: THAI-CAMBODIAN SPAT: EXTRADITION REQUEST REJECTED,

THAI GOVT MULLS OPTIONS AS THAKSIN LECTURES IN CAMBODIA

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2849

B. BANGKOK 1822

C. PHNOM PENH 832

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission James F. Entwistle, reasons 1.4

(b) and (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin

Shinawatra reportedly criticized the current Abhisit

administration for encouraging false patriotism during a

November 12 address in Phnom Penh to Cambodian business

leaders and government officials in his role economic advisor

to Hun Sen. Thaksin\’s address came one day after the Royal

Thai Government (RTG)\’s extradition request of Thaksin was

rebuffed by Cambodia. In response to Phnom Penh\’s actions,

the RTG began a review of bilateral cooperation that will

apparently put in jeopardy soft loans and financial

assistance to Cambodia. The Thai media continued its strong

support for the government\’s actions, with some criticism

directed at what has been termed selfish behavior on the part

of Thaksin. End Summary.

 

2. (C) Comment: It should come as no surprise that Thaksin

did more than deliver an economics lecture in Phnom Penh,

using the neighborly venue to attack the RTG just as many

Thai expected he would; his trip was never primarily about

providing economic advise to Cambodia, but was intended to

increase pressure on Abhisit\’s government and set a precedent

of open travel to a neighboring country. The Thai government

appears committed to trying to utilize diplomatic measures to

maintain pressure on Hun Sen and to leverage Thai public

backing for its actions so far into more solid support,

without escalating the spat further into the economic or

security spheres. We are encouraged that the strains between

Abhisit and Hun Sen have apparently not resulted in border

tensions, as it appears the two militaries are actively

finding avenues to promote coordination and understanding.

The next act to this drama likely will come on the ground in

Thailand in the coming weeks, as Thaksin has promised to ramp

up red-shirt protests against the Abhisit government. End

comment.

 

THAKSIN GIVES SPEECH AFTER EXTRADITION REQUEST REJECTED

——————————————— ———-

 

3. (U) As expected, the Cambodia government November 11

rejected a Thai request for the extradition of former Prime

Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as soon as it was delivered.

According to Thai media reports and a copy of Phnom Penh\’s

response which was printed in Thai-daily The Nation, Cambodia

rejected the request because Thaksin had been appointed as an

economic advisor to Hun Sen, since Cambodia considered the

prosecution of Thaksin to be politically motivated, and

because Thaksin had been the victim of the 2006 coup.

 

4. (U) As planned, Thaksin November 12 addressed members of

the Cambodian business community and government, according to

press reports. Thai media reported that at least one Puea

Thai member of parliament attended the speech. AFP reported

that Thaksin told the gathering that those in the Thai

government who did not share his vision were promoting false

patriotism; Thai media reported Thaksin suggesting that the

RTG should promote partnership between the two countries,

rather than misleading the Thai people to hate Cambodia.

 

RTG REVIEWS ASSISTANCE PROJECTS

——————————-

 

5. (U) The Thai government has initiated a review of

Thai-Cambodian projects in response to Cambodian rejection of

the extradition request. An executive session of the

National Security Council led by PM Abhisit met November 12

to review potential actions in regard to Cambodia. Speaking

publicly after the meeting, Abhisit said the government

sought peaceful measures in solving the conflict and asserted

that the conflict would not be brought to ASEAN\’s attention.

Deputy Finance Minister Pruttichai Damrongrat said Abhisit

had at the meeting ordered the Finance Ministry to review a

soft loan to Cambodia worth approximately $31 million for

constructing a road from Surin Province through Cambodia

(Note: Thailand recently completed a long road project in

 

BANGKOK 00002887 002 OF 003

 

Cambodia initiated by the Thaksin government but finished by

recent administrations. End note). In addition, Deputy

Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the Cabinet would not

consider a prior proposal to provide Cambodia with $1 million

in financial assistance.

 

6. (C) Ambassador Surapong Jayanama, Advisor to the Foreign

Minister and an influential actor in the formulation of

policy on Cambodia, told us November 12 that the most

immediate objective for the RTG would be to mitigate threats

brought about by actions of Thaksin and Hun Sen. Surapong

characterized the recall of the Thai Ambassador to Phnom Penh

and other Thai actions so far as normal diplomatic reactions.

Going forward, Thailand would need to take a firm stand

towards Cambodia and further Thai measures would depend upon

Hun Sen\’s actions, Surapong said. That said, all options

remained at the discretion of the government, Surapong said,

but the RTG would implement actions incrementally and

proportionately to show the international community that

Thailand was not the instigator of the current tensions and

that Thailand would pursue foreign policy, especially towards

neighboring countries, with prudence and reason.

 

WORKING TO BUILD MORE DURABLE PUBLIC SUPPORT

——————————————–

 

7. (C) Admitting that the current conflict was an opportunity

for the Abhisit administration, Surapong said the task for

the government would be to transform positive public opinion

over the incident as quickly as possible into more permanent

public support for the Abhisit government. Surapong said

that Thaksin\’s planned departure from Cambodia November 13

would not bring about a rapid improvement in relations.

Rather, ties would stabilize at their present state pending

Cambodian actions.

 

OPPOSITION MPS AND RED SHIRTS TO CAMBODIA

—————————————–

 

8. (C) While the Thai press reported November 12 that one

hundred Puea Thai MPs would travel to Cambodia to meet with

Thaksin, Puea Thai MP Pracha Prasopdi, a coordinator of the

visit, told us that only ten or so MPs would travel to

Cambodia November 13 after the close of the current

Senate-House joint session. According to Pracha, the trip

was still being planned, and it was unclear when or where the

MPs would be able to meet with Thaksin, since he was being

provided tight security by the Cambodian government. A Thai

official at the Aranyaprathet border crossing told us

November 12 that approximately thirty or so red-shirt

supporters had crossed into Cambodia this morning.

 

MEDIA CRITICAL OF THAKSIN

————————-

 

9. (U) Continuing the generally solid media support for

Abhisit\’s actions so far, editorials in a range of Thai

dailies November 12 strongly criticized Thaksin and Hun Sen.

An editorial in the Thai Rath, the most read Thai-language

newspaper, called on Thaksin to not collude with foreign

countries for his own benefit, but also cautioned Abhisit to

not use the conflict to gain popular support at the expense

Thai interest. The Daily News, the second most read Thai

daily, asserted that Thaksin\’s moves reflected selfish

behavior, as the former Prime Minister appeared to want to

raise tensions because the Thai Supreme Court was likely to

rule in December on whether to permanently seize 76 billion

baht from Thaksin.

 

NEW GROUP STAGES PROTESTS AT CAMBODIAN EMBASSY

——————————————— –

 

10. (U) Underscoring the fluid nature of Thai domestic

politics and the affect the conflict appears to have on Thai

public opinion, approximately one hundred members of a

previously unknown group by the name of Rak Chart (Love the

Nation) conducted a peaceful demonstration November 12 at the

Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok. The group called for Cambodia

to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Thailand; it

peacefully dispersed by mid-morning.

 

BANGKOK 00002887 003 OF 003

 

THAI-CAMBODIAN SPORTS DAY AT THE BORDER

—————————————

 

11. (U) In an attempt to promote coordination and prevent a

border conflict, Thai Army Commander General Anupong Paojinda

made use of the Thai military\’s traditional sports day on

Thursdays by ordering the Thai 2nd Army to sponsor a

Thai-Cambodian sports day for troops on both sides of the

border stationed near the Preah Vihear temple, according to

the Bangkok Post. Thai and Cambodian troops reportedly would

engage in a range of activities including volleyball and

tug-of-war in order to ease tensions.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

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