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10BANGKOK344 “LET THE MAGIC AMULET BREAK YOUR NECK” – THAILAND ABUZZ OVER HUN SEN’S LATEST HARSH RHETORIC

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“247938”,”2/9/2010 11:44″,”10BANGKOK344″,

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STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR WALTON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/09/2020

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PREF, PHUM, SMIG, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: \”LET THE MAGIC AMULET BREAK YOUR NECK\” –

THAILAND ABUZZ OVER HUN SEN\’S LATEST HARSH RHETORIC

 

BANGKOK 00000344 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: Political Counselor George Kent, reason 1.4 (b,d)

 

1. (C) Summary. Thai refusal to allow Cambodia\’s Prime

Minister Hun Sen to bring armed soldiers to visit Ta Muen

Thom, border temple ruins long under Thai control, February 8

apparently led to Hun Sen\’s most recent scathing denunciation

of Thai PM Abhisit, with the colorful insults dominating Thai

media headlines February 9. Thai officials sought to avoid

escalating the rhetoric publicly. However, with Thai

attention increasingly on the potential for street unrest in

the lead-up to an expected February 26 Supreme Court decision

on fugitive former PM Thaksin\’s frozen assets, some contacts

told us that they suspected Hun Sen may have picked the

timing of the visit as a favor to Thaksin, whom he has

appointed as adviser to his government, to put additional

pressure on Abhisit. End summary.

 

Thai scramble in advance of Hun Sen\’s border traverse

——————————————— ——

 

2. (SBU) Thai officials went into crisis planning mode

starting February 4, in advance of Cambodian Prime Minister

Hun Sen\’s planned toured of hot spots along the Thai-Cambodia

border on February 6-8. PM Abhisit convened a rare night

executive session of the Thai National Security Council to

consider two issues: domestic security arrangements in

advance of expected red-shirt protests, and how to handle Hun

Sen\’s border traverse, in particular his request to visit

contested temple ruins at Ta Muen Thom, long under Thai

control accompanied by up to 20 armed military escorts.

Abhisit and the NSC directed an interagency team of military

commanders, local governors, and MFA officials to meet Hun

Sen February 6 and 7 near Preah Vihear temple and in the

so-called \”Emerald Triangle\” between Thailand, Laos, and

Cambodia. Royal Thai Armed Forces Border Division Commander

LTG Nipat Thonglek told us February 5 that Thailand would

reinforce the expected border visits locations with

additional troops to prevent any potential mischief-making.

 

3. (C) In the aftermath of the Preah Vihear visit, Si Sa Ket

Governor Rapi Phongbuphakit told us February 8 that he had

talked with Hun Sen for five minutes as a member of the Thai

delegation led by Second Area army Commander LTG Veerawit

Jornsumrit. Rapi said that Hun Sen had expressed his desire

to see the border situation return to normal and that he had

showed no interest in visiting the 4.6 square kilometers of

disputed territory adjacent to the temple. (Note: The

International Court of Justice ruled that Preah Vihear is

located in Cambodian territory in 1962; the decision did not

address the contested area adjacent to the temple, which is

claimed by both countries. End Note.)

 

Final leg canceled, Hun Sen blasts Abhisit, Thai media

——————————————— ———-

 

4. (SBU) Thai officials announced publicly that Hun Sen would

be welcome to visit the Ta Muen Thom ruins February 8, but

only as a tourist; he would not be allowed to bring 20 armed

military escorts. Colonel Thanet Wongcha-um, Chief of Staff

for the Suranaree Task Force that oversees the Thai side of

the disputed border, told us February 9 that Thai officials

had also advised Hun Sen not to visit the ruins due to the

presence of approximately 150 protesters from the People\’s

Alliance for Democracy, who were opposing Hun Sen\’s visit.

Hun Sen chose not to visit on those terms, Thai FM Kasit\’s

Secretary Chavanond Intarakomalyasut told the Thai media,

which reported that Hun Sen instead went to a village four

kilometers away to rename it after Ta Muen Thom. (note: Ta

Muen Thom temple is claimed by both nations but, unlike Preah

Vihear, the Thai military has maintained control over the

area around the temple for decades.)

 

5. (SBU) Thai headlines February 9 focused on Hun Sen\’s

subsequent harsh denunciation of the Abhisit government, with

DPM Suthep, also a target of Hun Sen\’s rhetoric, suggesting

to the Thai media that the outburst came as a result of Hun

Sen\’s aborted attempt to visit the runs. The speech as

reported in the media included a variety of insults and

curses directed towards Abhisit, with Hun Sen calling on

 

BANGKOK 00000344 002.2 OF 002

 

Abhisit to tell the truth about Thai troops in the area

around Preah Vihear or risk letting \”magic amulets break your

neck; may you be shot, be hit by a car, may you be shocked by

electricity, or shot by misfired guns.\”

 

6. (SBU) According to reports, Hun Sen also referred to

Abhisit as a \”power thief,\” \”crazy,\” and without \”family

honor\” for denying the Cambodian accusation that Thai troops

had invaded Cambodian territory in July 2008. Hun Sen also

lashed out at Thailand\’s two English language newspapers

distributed throughout mainland Southeast Asia, the Bangkok

Post and the Nation, for presenting what he claimed was false

information about his visit to the border areas and for

describing his visit as inappropriate.

 

Thai reaction cautious, with some private suspicions

——————————————— ——-

 

7. (SBU) RTG officials were quick to respond to Hun Sen\’s

reported statements, though they sought to calm the waters

February 9. FM Secretary Chavanond initially condemned Hun

Sen\’s comments, suggesting they would make it difficult for

Thailand to restore normal diplomatic relations with

Cambodia. However, Chavanond insisted that Thailand would

make every effort to avoid a conflict between the two

nations. Government Acting Spokesman Panitan told the media

February 9 that Thailand would not respond in kind to Hun

Sen\’s rhetoric, and that the international community could

draw its own conclusions. For his part, DPM Suthep said

Thailand would decline to respond to Hun Sen\’s allegation of

a Thai \”invasion\” of Cambodian territory, and told the media

he would not speculate about links between Hun Sen and

red-shirts calling for the downfall of the Abhisit government.

 

8. (C) Private commentary to us also downplayed the

possibility for an escalation of border tensions, though some

suspicions remained about potential links between Hun Sen,

Thaksin, and the upcoming red-shirt protests. XXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXX, a retired professor at Thammasat University, told

us that he believed that Thailand would not allow the dispute

to lead to a military conflict. Both XXXXXXXXXXX and

Senator Prasong shared their suspicion with us, however, that

former PM Thaksin had pushed Hun Sen to make this border

traverse with the hopes of further instigating the

Thai-Cambodian conflict, open another front in Thaksin\’s

effort to bring down the Abhisit government, and thus open

the door for Thaksin\’s return. DPM Suthep publicly tried to

put a more positive spin on the matter, voicing hope to the

media that Thai-Cambodian relations would improve once

problems related to Thaksin were resolved.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

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