thaicables – It's Your Right to know the Truth!

05BANGKOK2322 THAILAND: THAKSIN SIGNALS SHIFT IN SOUTH POLICY

leave a comment »

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BANGKOK 002322

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: THAKSIN SIGNALS SHIFT IN SOUTH POLICY

 

REF: BANGKOK 2255

 

¶1. (SBU) Summary: On March 30, Prime Minister Thaksin,

speaking to a joint session of parliament, surprised the

political establishment by suggesting that the RTG would take

a less security focused approach towards Thailand’s troubled

far south. Thaksin’s conciliatory tone, with statements such

as “violence only begets violence,” is a dramatic shift away

from past tough talk about the south. On March 31, Thaksin

indicated that troops would have a less visible presence in

the South, but would not, as some reports had indicated, be

withdrawn. Thaksin’s conciliatory speech, and the recent

formation of a National Reconciliation Commission, or NRC

(reftel), are positive developments for a region that has

received or produced only bad news of late. However,

Thaksin’s promise to use a less security focused approach

might meet with some internal resistance from Thai security

forces. End Summary.

 

¶2. (SBU) On March 30, Prime Minister Thaksin addressed a

rare joint session of parliament. He had convoked the

special session to debate the violence-plagued far south of

Thailand. Thaksin, showing uncharacteristic humility,

admitted to policy missteps in the region, “I am now

determined to undo what I have done wrong in the past.” The

Prime Minister also backed down from his usual tough

rhetoric, agreeing with critics that a less security focused

approach was called for, “violence only breeds violence” he

said.

 

¶3. (SBU) Thaksin was also surprisingly conciliatory towards

opposition leader Aphisit Vejjajiva, saying the Democrat

Party leader’s views on the South “are mostly consistent with

my thinking.” Continuing his praise for his main political

rival Thaksin said, “I admire your presentation and accept

all your 9-point proposed approach to the southern unrest for

further implementation.” (Note: The 9-point Democrat plan

calls for the government to: 1) cancel plans to withhold

government development funding from “red zone” villages

blamed for harboring militants; 2) increase development

projects; 3) name a civilian official, vice military, to

coordinate regional government programs; 4) compensate

victims of the violence; 5) improve the southern economy; 6)

improve education in the South; 7) encourage local officials

to learn about Islamic culture; 8) allow international

organizations to access the South to help; 9) follow the

advice of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC). End

Note.)

 

¶4. (SBU) Thaksin also reiterated his public endorsement of

the 48-member National Reconciliation Commission which, under

the leadership of Anand Panyarachun, a highly respected and

politically independent former Prime Minister, is tasked with

developing policy recommendations for the troubled south.

Thaksin said, “I would like to see it use its independent

role, offer diverse views and dimensions, and I confirm full

governmental support and readiness to respond to its

requests.”

 

¶5. (SBU) Speaking to reporters on March 31, Thaksin seemed

to indicate that troops would be “withdrawn” from the far

south as part of the government’s new strategy. He said

“adjustments are imminent.” However, the military was quick

to clarify that “adjustments” did not mean that actual troop

levels would be reduced in the south; instead troops would

have a less visible presence, or would work on civil-military

projects instead of security missions only. General Sirichai

Tunyasiri, who heads the Southern Border Provinces

Peace-building Command (SBPPC) and acts as the coordinator

for all Thai security forces in the region, said that troops

would be repositioned in the South, but “absolutely will not

be pulled out of the region.”

 

¶7. (SBU) Comment: Thaksin’s assuaging remarks in front of

both houses of Parliament are a welcome change from past

rhetoric or inflammatory off-the-cuff remarks about the

south. The Prime Minister’s apparent new policy flexibility

on the south, coupled with the appointment of the politically

independent NRC, are positive signs that the administration

may be learning from the policy failures of the last two

years. However, if he tries to move too far away from a

security-based strategy for the South, Thaksin could face

internal resistance from hard-liners within the RTG security

forces. This seems to be the implication of the rapid

clarification by the SBPPC that no troops would actually be

withdrawn from the troubled far south. End Comment.

ARVIZU

Advertisements

Written by thaicables

August 28, 2011 at 5:56 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: