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08BANGKOK2837 DAS MARCIEL DISCUSSES ASEAN, BURMA AND BORDER ISSUES IN MEETINGS WITH THAI MFA AND SURIN

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“170341″,”9/18/2008 7:34″,”08BANGKOK2837″,

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SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, PINR, KDEM, PREF, TH

SUBJECT: DAS MARCIEL DISCUSSES ASEAN, BURMA AND BORDER

ISSUES IN MEETINGS WITH THAI MFA AND SURIN

 

REF: BANGKOK 2487

 

BANGKOK 00002837 001.2 OF 003

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

1. (C) Summary. Thai MFA Permanent Secretary Virasakdi

Futrakul told visiting EAP DAS Scot Marciel and the

Ambassador September 9 that the RTG viewed recent Cambodian

border actions as contradictory to progress achieved during

recent discussions by the two nations\’ Foreign Ministers.

Virasakdi said that the RTG was actively planning for the

December ASEAN Summit and hoped that the ASEAN Charter would

be ratified by all member nations by the end of 2008. In a

separate meeting, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan laid

out goals for further ASEAN economic integration and

improvements in the effectiveness of the ASEAN Secretariat.

DAS Marciel pressed Virasakdi for international monitoring of

the Hmong resettlement process in order that legitimate

safety concerns of the refugees could be addressed. End

Summary.

 

THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER REMAINS CONTENTIOUS

—————————————–

 

2. (C) MFA Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul told EAP

DAS Scot Marciel and the Ambassador September 9 that

significant progress had been made in resolving the

Thai-Cambodian border conflict. Virasakdi expressed optimism

that the Joint Border Committee would assist in furthering

progress on disputed areas at Preah Vihear and Ta Muen

temples (reftel). Thai Parliament approval was needed before

proceeding, however. Virasakdi expressed frustration that,

despite progress, the Cambodian government had recently sent

seventy troops to occupy the Ta Krabey temple (Ta Kwai in

Thai), which is approximately fifteen kilometers from Ta

Moan. Cambodian actions were an attempt to take advantage of

the political conflict in Bangkok, Virasakdi asserted. The

RTG would resist a Cambodian attempt to take the border

dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) based on

the precedent of using colonial maps drawn by the French.

Taking the case to the ICJ would poison the Thai-Cambodian

relationship; if this occurred, no Thai government would be

able to agree with Cambodia regarding overlapping oil claims

in the Gulf of Thailand. Virasakdi said the RTG would look

to the U.S. for support if the Cambodian government took the

issue to the UN Security Council. DAS Marciel explained that

the USG hoped that Thailand and Cambodia would resolve the

issue peacefully and bilaterally.

 

THAI GOALS FOR ASEAN

——————–

 

3. (C) Virasakdi said that the RTG was busy preparing for the

December ASEAN Summit; the Summit would be followed by the

ASEAN plus 3 meeting and the East Asia Summit. Virasakdi

said the RTG hoped to organize an ASEAN-United Nations Summit

and had invited World Bank President Robert Zoellick to

attend as well. Virasakdi hoped that the leaders of the

seven ASEAN countries that are APEC members (Brunei,

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand,

and Vietnam) would be able to meet with President Bush at the

APEC meeting in Peru this November. Virasakdi also expressed

hope that a U.S.-ASEAN Science and Technology Agreement could

be signed at APEC.

 

4. (C) Virasakdi told DAS Marciel that while Indonesia and

the Philippines had yet to ratify the ASEAN Charter, he was

optimistic that the Indonesian government would ratify the

Charter soon. (Note. The Thai Parliament on September 16

passed the final implementing legislation necessary to

deposit its ratification of the Charter with the Secretariat.

End note.) Virasakdi acknowledged doubts that the

Philippines would ratify the Charter before the end of the

year, but said ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan was

actively lobbying the Philippine Senate Foreign Relations

Committee. Virasakdi joked that his workload would be easier

if the Charter were not ratified, because Vietnam would then

take over as chair for ASEAN from Thailand in July 2009

rather than at the end of 2009.

 

BANGKOK 00002837 002.2 OF 003

 

5. (C) DAS Marciel asked Virasakdi about RTG goals as ASEAN

chair. The RTG\’s primary hopes were to finalize ASEAN

blueprints for political-security and social issues,

Virasakdi said. Forging consensus on a ASEAN human rights

body was also a goal, Virasakdi said, but there currently was

disagreement on the terms of reference for the organization.

(Note: In a separate meeting, Kavi Chongkittavorn, Assistant

Group Editor of the Nation Multimedia Group, told DAS Marciel

that the Vietnamese government had resisted granting power to

the ASEAN human rights body. End note.)

 

6. (C) Virasakdi said that Sec-Gen Surin would soon propose a

restructured ASEAN Secretariat, one that Surin hoped would be

more effective and proactive. The proposed restructured

organization would require an increased budget, and ASEAN

member countries would meet soon in Hanoi to discuss member

contributions. After the APEC meeting in November, ASEAN

foreign ministers would meet with MERCOSUR counterparts to

explore cooperation between the two bodies. ASEAN could also

cooperate with ASEAN Regional Forum nations to develop a

Standard Operating Plan for disaster management.

 

RESETTLEMENT OF HMONG UNRESOLVED

——————————–

 

7. (C) DAS Marciel pressed Virasakdi for international

monitoring of the resettlement process for Hmong refugees

from Thailand. Virasakdi said the RTG was trying to convince

the Lao government to accept a role for the International

Organization of Migration in resettling the Hmong, but the

Lao government had refused to agree to third party

involvement. Laos may consider third country resettlement

but had set conditions that had halted progress. Foreign

governments would have to negotiate agreements directly with

the Lao government, and the Hmong would have to return to

Laos to be issued Lao passports in advance of departing to a

third country. DAS Marciel stressed the importance of

transparency in the resettlement process in order to address

safety concerns of the Hmong. Virasakdi suggested that the

USG engage the Lao Permanent Representative in Geneva, as he

had previously been the official primarily responsible for

the Hmong issue.

 

BURMESE POLITICAL SITUATION

—————————

 

8. (C) DAS Marciel stressed to Virasakdi that the

international community must continue to pressure the Burmese

regime for real political progress in advance of the 2010

elections. Considering the Burmese regime\’s actions during

the constitutional referendum, the USG considered prospects

for fair elections negligible. Virasakdi said there were two

viewpoints on the coming elections: one side believed that an

election would be better than nothing, while others agreed

that the elections would not be fair. DAS Marciel told

Virasakdi that the USG would continue to press the Burmese

regime to allow all Burmese a voice in determining their

government.

 

SURIN PRESSING FOR CHANGE IN ASEAN

———————————-

 

9. (C) In a separate meeting, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin

told DAS Marciel that his priority for ASEAN was furthering

economic integration. Surin said he was working with ASEAN

Foreign Ministers to try to provide for more flexibility for

the ASEAN Secretariat. This would allow the Secretariat to

interact more effectively with the public, civil society, and

the business sector in ASEAN nations. Surin would continue

to press ASEAN leaders to expand dialogue at the East Asian

Summit in December to include discussions on food and energy

security and climate change.

 

10. (C) DAS Marciel suggested that ASEAN better incorporate

the business community into ASEAN affairs. Surin agreed that

this was an area that needed attention and cited the

U.S.-ASEAN Business Council as a good example. Surin said

the Japanese were trying to organize a ASEAN Chamber of

Commerce; the ASEAN Secretariat would promote intra-ASEAN

 

BANGKOK 00002837 003.2 OF 003

 

investment and trade registration.

 

11. (C) Surin said ASEAN would continue efforts to help

Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma bridge the development gap

with richer ASEAN nations. DAS Marciel cited U.S. assistance

to prepare Laos for possible WTO accession as an example of

sound economic development policy. Surin agreed that ASEAN\’s

less-developed nations must follow good economic policies, as

ASEAN would not be able to rely on richer member countries

such as Singapore and Brunei for assistance. Surin said that

rational development strategy must work with existing

regional architectures, such as the Mekong River Commission,

the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, and other

organizations. Considering the global food situation, Surin

said that developing the Irrawaddy Delta region into a new

\”rice bowl\” would benefit the Burmese people and possibly

assist political change. DAS Marciel suggested that Vietnam

could possibly be utilized by ASEAN as a model for

implementing agricultural reforms.

 

12. (C) DAS Marciel stressed to Surin that continued

engagement with the Burmese regime would need to be

predicated on the regime taking positive political steps.

Surin said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon may try to

visit Burma in conjunction with the December ASEAN Summit and

that UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe was

trying to lay the groundwork for a positive visit.

 

13. (U) DAS Marciel has cleared this cable.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 5:49 am

06BANGKOK5058 SCENESETTER FOR THE AUGUST 26 – SEPTEMBER 2 VISIT OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAUERBREY

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“75314″,”8/18/2006 7:27″,”06BANGKOK5058″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

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SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

GENEVA FOR RMA

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2016

TAGS: PREF, PREL, ASEC, OTRA, TH

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE AUGUST 26 – SEPTEMBER 2 VISIT

OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAUERBREY

 

REF: STATE 129885

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RALPH BOYCE, REASON 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) Ellen, we look forward to your visit to Thailand.

Bilateral relations with Thailand have been generally

excellent. Thailand is a security treaty ally and has been

firmly supportive of the Global War on Terror. American

businesses have over $20 billion in direct investment in

Thailand, and are the second largest investor after Japan.

Thailand and the U.S. have long enjoyed a close security

relationship, which is reflected in the fact that Thailand is

a Major Non-Nato Ally (MNNA) of the United States. We have

strong relations with Thai law enforcement officials and have

had great success in fighting narcotics trafficking. In

2004-5, thanks to years of working with the Thai military,

the United States was able to quickly deploy over one

thousand American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen to

Utapao Naval Air Base in Thailand and set up a regional

tsunami relief operation.

 

SIPDIS

 

2. (C) We hope your visit to Thailand will contribute to

progress on the following objectives:

 

– Explain and win greater understanding from the Thai on

the material support issue and sketch out, as much as

possible, a timeline for moving U.S. resettlement processing

to other Burma border camps.

 

– Express support for and encourage greater movement by the

Thai on their new policies of improving conditions for

Burmese refugees, including screening of individual Burmese

asylum seekers, issuance of exit permits for U.S. family

reunification cases, camp refugee identity cards, and passes

that would allow refugees to find work outside the camps.

 

– Urge the Thai not to deport the Petchaboon Hmong and seek

an explanation of Thai plans to resolve this issue, including

a looming problem of inadequate food supplies.

 

– Press the Thai on allowing us to process pending North

Korean refugee cases and reassure them that we will do so

discreetly.

 

Political Situation

—————–

 

3. (SBU) In 2001, telecommunications multimillionaire Thaksin

Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party won a decisive

victory on a populist platform of economic growth and

development. Thaksin was reelected in February 2005, winning

377 out of 500 seats in the Parliament. Subsequent

allegations of corruption led to a move by the opposition to

demand a parliamentary no confidence vote. Rather than face

parliamentary debate, Thaksin dissolved the Parliament in

February 2006 and declared snap elections in April. Peaceful

anti-government demonstrations grew as thousands marched in

the streets of Bangkok to demand Thaksin\’s resignation. The

opposition boycotted the April elections, leading to a

political stalemate. Following Royal intervention, the

judiciary annulled the April election and new elections are

expected to take place in October. Protesters have not

returned to the streets and the Thai military has not

intervened. The government remains in caretaker status.

 

The South and Terrorism

————————-

 

4. (C) The most pressing security concern for the Thai

remains the unrest in Thailand\’s deep south provinces

bordering Malaysia. Violence continues to occur almost daily

with over one thousand persons reported killed over the past

two years either by militants or government actions. The

ongoing violence has historic roots going back a century and

is based on local grievances from poor treatment by the

government and a desire to separate the region from the Thai

state. There still is no direct evidence of operational

links between Thai separatists and outside terrorists. The

Thai government has not formulated an effective strategy

against the insurgents. Border security issues have strained

relations with neighboring Malaysia.

 

5. (C) The Thai government does not seek a U.S. presence in

the south and is sensitive to rumors of U.S. involvement in

the violence. Nonetheless, we have worked closely to find

areas where we can help. We have stepped up our human rights

training of Thai troops rotating into the south to improve

 

BANGKOK 00005058 002 OF 004

 

their ability to control crowds and conduct other operations

in a way that complies with international norms. We are also

working with the Thai to improve their intelligence sharing

and gathering capabilities.

 

Burma and Human Rights

————————-

 

6. (C) For most of the Thaksin administration, we have been

at odds over our respective approaches to Burma –

essentially agreeing to disagree. The Royal Thai Government

(RTG) under Thaksin has claimed that though it agrees the

regime must show progress in bringing about national

reconciliation, Bangkok must stay engaged with the ruling

junta in order to sustain a dialogue on issues that directly

affect Thailand, such as illegal immigration from Burma and

narcotics smuggling. Thailand has, however, appeared to go

well beyond this, being perceived by some as justifying some

of the regime\’s excesses. Lately, at our urging, the Thai

have begun to move closer to regional and international

opinion, by publicly criticizing Rangoon on its continued

detention of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and resistance

to genuine national reconciliation. Nonetheless, we were not

consulted prior to Thaksin\’s August 2 sudden and secretive

trip to Burma to meet with Than Shwe, during which he claims

he pressed for reform in Burma.

 

7. (C) We have also criticized the RTG for some of its human

rights practices. A bloody crackdown on alleged drug vendors

during a \”war on drugs campaign\” in 2003 and actions by

security forces in the south, have been publicly raised by

the United States in our annual human rights reports and in

public fora, as well as in our private conversations with

Thai officials.

 

Burma Refugee Resettlement and Material Support

——————————————— –

 

8. (C) The primary issue affecting the Embassy\’s refugee work

over the past year has been material support. It has

seriously complicated resettlement of Burmese camp refugees,

just as our program for this group was getting off the

ground. It has also created hard-to-explain anomalies in our

overall policy toward Burmese displaced persons. We have

defined the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Karen National

Liberation Army (KNLA) as terrorist groups for refugee

resettlement purposes at the same time that USAID is starting

a cross-border program that will involve small payments to

KNLA soldiers. We have refused refugee resettlment to former

KNLA combatants even though USG-funded programs provide food,

medical care, and housing supplies to such persons.

 

9. (C) The material support waiver for Karen in Tham Hin camp

produced a DHS resettlement approval rate of about 75

percent, higher than expected. At the same time, less that

one-half of the camp population applied for resettlement.

There seem to be a combination of reasons for this lack of

enthusiasm: confusion about material support and concern

that cases would be denied for material support reasons; a

hope of returning to Burma; and worry about being able to

start a new life in the United States. The upshot is that

only about 2,700 persons have been approved so far out of a

total camp population of about 9,000. This result is

disappointing to us, and while they have not said so,

certainly also to the Thai. We have some hope that ongoing

departures will kindle resettlement interest among those Tham

Hin refugees who have so far declined the resettlement

option. The first departures from the Tham Hin program

started on August 16.

 

10. (C) We agreed with the Thai over one year ago, before

material support, that Tham Hin would be a test case and that

we would consider resettlement processing in other camps

after joint evaluation of the Tham Hin program results. We

need RTG approval before we can move to other camps. It

would be very useful to use your visit to explain and win

greater understanding from the Thai on the material support

issue and sketch out, as much as possible, a timeline for

moving U.S. resettlement processing to other Burma border

camps.

 

RTG Policy Changes on Burmese Camp Refugees

——————————————–

 

11. (C) RTG policies on Burmese camp refugee have shifted

significantly and in a positive way over the past year. The

Thai seem to recognize now that there is little hope of the

 

BANGKOK 00005058 003 OF 004

 

refugees returning to Burma. They also seem to see that a

continuation of the current camp situation where refugees

have limited legal opportunities for higher education and

employment is not acceptable from a humanitarian perspective

nor sensible if the refugees remain in Thailand over the

long-term or resettle to other countries. As a result, the

Thai have given the green light to the NGO community and

donor countries to put forward proposals for income

generation and expanded education and vocational training for

Burma camp refugees. They have also begun programs, so far

limited, to teach Thai to camp refugees.

 

12. (C) The Thai have put in place, with UNHCR assistance,

screening panels for Burmese refugees called Provincial

Admissions Boards (PAB). The PABs have approved en masse

registration and formal entry into the camps of about 27,000

refugees who had been living in the camps and receiving

assistance but had never been officially admitted. The PABs

are now supposed to begin screening of individual Burmese

asylum-seekers who live outside the camps. Your visit

provides a good opportunity to push the Thai on PAB screening

of individual cases and issuance of exit permits for Visas 93

and P3 family reunification cases for Burmese refugees.

 

13. (C) While the shift in overall Thai policy is good,

implementation has been fitful, not always transparent, and

subject to the interpretation and initiative of local

officials. UNHCR has not, for example, been able to obtain

final Thai approval for Burma camp refugee identification

cards, which would be an important step forward on

protection. We and UNHCR need to keep encouraging the Thai

to move forward on the cards. We should ask about the

possibility of the Thai permitting camp passes that would

allow refugees to leave the camps individually to work in

local labor markets. We should also show support for the

Thai policy of permitting refugee income generation by

boosting PRM funding of American Refugee Committee (ARC) and

International Rescue Committee (IRC) programs in this area.

 

Petchaboon Hmong

—————-

 

14. (C) The Petchaboon Hmong situation is complex and we do

not see a near-term solution despite extensive discussions

with UNHCR and the RTG. There are approximately 6,000

persons at the Petchaboon site, which is essentially a

primitive encampment along two sides of a mountain road. MSF

provides medical care and sanitation and a U.S. faith-based

organization has been distributing rice. There is a concern

that serious food shortages could develop over time. The RTG

has recently sent soldiers to the site and they have

tightened access as part of an effort to discourage others

from going to Petchaboon. The Thai also say that they

reserve the right to deport the Petchaboon Hmong for illegal

entry, and this week they took 31 Hmong who had been detained

in a Petchaboon police station to the Lao border. While it

does not appear that these 31 persons were handed over to Lao

officials, we have received conflicting reports as to whether

they are now in Thailand or Laos.

 

15. (C) The origins and motives of the Petchaboon Hmong are

not completely clear. They can be divided into three groups.

The first are persons who had been living in Thailand for

many years and went to Petchaboon in the hope of getting into

any future Tham Krabok-like U.S. resettlement program. The

second, who may comprise the largest share of the population,

appear to have been well-settled in Laos and crossed over

into Thailand with a similar motive. Certain Hmong-Americans

organizations have stated falsely that the USG will open

another resettlement program at Petchaboon and have

encouraged members of these two groups to go there to be

first in line. The third are persons who fled Laos because

of political or religious persecution.

 

16. (C) We have stated that there will not be another Tham

Krabok program and that the Thai should refrain from

deporting the Hmong and permit UNHCR to interview those with

legitimate refugee claims. The RTG is worried about a pull

factor, which is a legitimate concern, and has denied, and

will likely continue to deny UNHCR access to the population.

While the Thai say they reserve the right to deport the Hmong

for illegal entry, as a practical matter this is difficult

because the Lao government refuses to take the Hmong back.

Even if UNHCR were to gain access and refer individual cases

to us, our ability to resettle the Hmong would be restricted

by material support. Of 46 Hmong refugees recently referred

 

BANGKOK 00005058 004 OF 004

 

to us by UNHCR, 33 are on material support hold. Other

countries have limited interest in resettling Hmong and the

Thai have ruled out formal local integration. While the

international community and the Thai seek a solution to this

impasse, we need to continue to urge the Thai not to deport

the Hmong. We also need to ensure that there is no problem

with malnutrition and food at the Petchaboon site.

 

North Korean Refugees

———————

 

17. (C) Fifteen North Koreans in Bangkok have indicated

interest in U.S. resettlement. After allowing us to resettle

the first group of six North Koreans in April, the RTG has

declined permission thus far for further North Korean refugee

case processing. The Thai are concerned about a pull factor

and the possible involvment of traffickers. While they

recognize the requirements of U.S. law, they note that U.S.

law is effectively encouraging North Koreans to break Thai

law by entering Thailand illegally. Three of the fifteen

North Koreans have been waiting for almost three months. We

should continue to press the Thai to allow us to process the

pending North Korean cases, and reassure them that we will do

so discreetly. It is probably unlikely at this point that

the Thai will agree to go beyond their current approach of

considering U.S. processing on a case-by-case basis.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:22 am

06BANGKOK4725 SURAKIART ON THAKSIN’S SUDDEN VISIT TO BURMA

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“73591″,”8/3/2006 11:11″,”06BANGKOK4725″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

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SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR P, EAP, EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH, BM

SUBJECT: SURAKIART ON THAKSIN’S SUDDEN VISIT TO BURMA

 

BANGKOK 00004725 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph Boyce for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: On August 3, Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart

discussed with Ambassador Prime Minister Thaksin\’s \”sudden

and puzzling\” trip to Burma the previous day. Surakiart said

that he was \”personally appalled\” by the trip and confirmed

that there was no advance planning. He claimed to have only

learned of the trip on the morning of Tuesday, August 1. He

said that Thaksin met privately with Than Shwe and Maung Aye

while the rest of the Thai delegation met with their

respective counterparts. According to Surakiart, the main

message that Thaksin hoped to deliver was that Thailand and

ASEAN want to draw Burma out of its self-imposed isolation,

and that in order to do so, Burma needs to keep ASEAN

informed of what it is doing and be willing to open up more

to the international community. End Summary.

 

Road Trip!

———-

 

2.(C) Surakiart told Ambassador that Thaksin proposed the

visit in a private discussion with the Burmese representative

at a meeting of ASEAN intelligence agencies in Pattaya on

July 28. On July 31, Than Shwe reportedly sent word that he

would agree to meet Thaksin in the new capital. The

following morning (August 1) Thaksin called Surakiart and

Foreign Minister Kantathi to inform them about the plan.

Surakiart said that Kantathi then asked if one of them should

attend as well. Thaksin replied to Kantathi, \”Sure, if you

want to come along.\” At this point, Surakiart said that he

was \”relieved\” that Kantathi would go and that he was not

specifically asked to attend. The rest of the Thai delegation

included MFA Permanent Secretary Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn,

Army Commander Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, National

Intelligence Director Pol. Gen. Chumpol Manmai, Agriculture

Minister Sudarat Keyuarphan and Natural Resources Minister

Yongyut Tiyapairat.

 

Thaksin and the Generals

————————

 

3. (C) Surakiart said that Thaksin had a private meeting with

Than Shwe, Maung Aye and one notetaker. Surakiart got a

readout on the meeting from MFA Permanent Secretary Krit.

(Note: Surakiart said that he tried to get a readout on the

trip while in the car with Thaksin this morning, but Thaksin

got out of the car before he could had time. End note.)

According to Surakiart, Thaksin\’s purpose in going to Burma

was to try to draw Burma out of its self-imposed isolation by

\”bringing the feeling of the international community and

ASEAN directly to Than Shwe.\” The main message that Thaksin

hoped to deliver was that Thailand and ASEAN want to be

supportive of Burma, but that Burma needed to take certain

steps. Specifically, Thaksin suggested that the regime

should clearly explain the process and time frame for the

drafting of Burma\’s new constitution. He also suggested that

the regime explain its plan for sharing power with \”others\”.

Thaksin reportedly told Than Shwe that he should consider

attending more international meetings. Lastly, Burma needed

to do a better job at keeping ASEAN informed of its plans.

 

4. (C) Surakiart said that Thaksin attempted to bring up the

topic of Aung San Suu Kyi. However, as soon as he did Than

Shwe \”cut him off\” with the usual litany of complaints, i.e.

ASSK is uncooperative, causes trouble whenever she is

released, etc.

 

5. (C) While Thaksin met with Than Shwe and Maung Aye, the

other ministers met with their respective counterparts, i.e.

Kantathi met with FM Soe Win, General Sonthi met with General

Thura Shwe Mann, etc. Surakiart did not have readouts of

these meetings. (We have seen some press reports quoting

Kantathi as stating that the Thai urged the Burmese to

release ASSK.) When Ambassador asked Surakiart about this,

he replied: \”If Soe Win agreed to that, he\’s gone.\”

 

6. (C) Ambassador underscored our disappointment about not

being consulted prior to the trip. Ambassador added that

even if Thaksin was well intentioned, the trip is not playing

well, particularly given its sudden and secretive nature.

Surakiart fully agreed and noted that the political

opposition in Thailand will \”have a field day with this.\” He

noted, however, that he was relieved that there was

 

BANGKOK 00004725 002.2 OF 002

 

apparently no conversation between Thaksin and Than Shwe

about Thaksin\’s personal business interests in Burma.

 

Comment

——-

 

7. (C) This trip caught everyone off-guard, including by most

accounts the Thai Army Commander (who had to cancel plans to

travel to Southern Thailand) and members of Thaksin\’s

cabinet. Part of the reason cam be ascribed to Thaksin\’s

impulsive, unpredictable nature. Presumably, Thaksin made

some calculation that this was a propitious moment to

approach Than Shwe and Maung Aye on behalf of ASEAN (we have

unconfirmed reports that Thaksin called President Arroyo

shortly before embarking on his visit). Still, it is unclear

what led Thaksin to believe that he had something to be

gained by making such a trip, shrouded in secrecy. It would

be interesting to know other ASEAN capital\’s views.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:05 am

Posted in Burma, Confidential, Thaksin

06BANGKOK2826 SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF EAP A/S HILL

leave a comment »

“63638″,”5/11/2006 9:45″,”06BANGKOK2826″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO0942

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHBK #2826/01 1310945

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 110945Z MAY 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8557

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

RUEKJCS/JCS WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BANGKOK 002826

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR A/S CHRIS HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2016

TAGS: OVIP, MARR, MASS, PREL, PGOV, TH

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF EAP A/S HILL

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (a and d)

 

1. (C) INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY.

 

Chris, we\’re looking forward to your upcoming visit to

participate in the ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue. I am also planning

to host a dinner in your honor with former Prime Minister

Anand Panyarachun. Anand is thoughtful and I think you\’ll

enjoy hearing his views on southern Thailand, the ongoing

political situation, and regional issues. We\’re also

arranging for you to meet with MFA Permanent Secretary Krit

Garnjana-Goonchorn immediately after you arrive from

Singapore and are working with the U.S.-ASEAN Business

Council on a breakfast meeting. You may wish to thank Krit

for the RTG\’s help in facilitating the movement of the six

North Koreans to the U.S. There\’s a decent chance the Thai

will help again in the future, so long as their involvement

is kept out of the press. In addition to hearing your views

about regional economic issues, the USABC will want to hear

about prospects for FTA talks resuming after a new government

is in place. The political situation here remains fluid –

any specifics we provide in this cable could very well be

overcome by events by the time you are here. Nonetheless,

demonstrations have stopped for now and we have moved out of

crisis mode. We are working closely with Washington agencies

and PACOM on a series of initiatives designed to improve our

ability to promote counter-terrorism cooperation and regional

maritime security. Thai policy towards Burma remains a

friction point, although the Thai are coming around to the

view that ASEAN\’s \”constructive engagement\” policy is not

working. The problem is what to do next. It\’s unrealistic

to expect much progress as long as the government is in

caretaker status. END SUMMARY.

 

THE POLITICAL SITUATION

 

2. (C) The Thai political system continues to work through

its biggest domestic political crisis since 1992. We can

expect relative calm to prevail through the end of June as

the Thai turn their attention to the 60th anniversary of the

King\’s ascension to the throne. Once the pageantry is over,

however, the uncertainty begins. One encouraging sign: the

three main opposition parties give early indication they will

contest the next round of parliamentary elections. With

that, much speculation now is turning to Thaksin\’s plans.

Though he vowed on April 4 not to return as Prime Minister in

the next Parliament, his supporters say the subsequent

annulment of the April 2 polls has changed the situation.

They reason that Thaksin is now freed from his earlier pledge

not to run and that there is no reason why he could not head

the government if TRT wins a majority. The prospect of

Thaksin\’s return risks reigniting street protests and

attendant uncertainty.

 

THE SITUATION IN THE SOUTH

 

3. (C) Although the domestic political crisis has dominated

the news headlines (both national and international) in

recent months, the violence in the South has continued

unabated. It remains the RTG\’s most pressing security issue

and a potential threat to our interests. Approximately 1,200

persons have been killed either by militants or by security

forces since January 2004 when the decades-old insurgency

flared up again. There is no current evidence of direct

transnational terrorist involvement in the South, but we know

some linkages with suspected regional terrorists (JI) exist.

Southern separatists direct their anger at the government in

Bangkok, not at the U.S., and continue to define their

struggle mainly along ethnic rather than religious lines.

However, rumors that the U.S. is somehow fomenting the

violence as part of our war on terror continue to be widely

believed in the South. To avoid feeding these rumors, we

meticulously avoid military training exercises and the like

in the South, and do not label our security assistance as

related to the conflict.

 

4. (C) The RTG response to violence in the far South remains

undercut by poor security force capabilities, rampant

stove-piping, and the lack of an effective

prosecutorial-police partnership. In the last two years we

have shifted a significant portion of our wide ranging

training and assistance programs to help improve Thailand\’s

capabilities. We have determined that our excellent

military-to-military assistance program is generally on the

right track. The Thai police, however, remain the weak link

in the southern security apparatus. We have proposed to

Washington a bold, new inter-agency plan to refocus our

assistance, combat Thai shortcomings, and help the government

 

BANGKOK 00002826 002 OF 004

 

reverse some of its losses in the South. The key elements of

this plan are:

 

–Setting up a central, single coordinator at the Embassy to

ensure that our wide range of law enforcement training

fosters institutional change in the Thai security forces and

improves their capabilities in the South. We are in

discussion with DOJ about establishing an ICITAP presence in

Bangkok to meet this need.

 

–Identifying an appropriately experienced individual to

foster a true police-prosecutor partnership, particularly in

the South, that leads to arrests and convictions. We aim to

adjust the work requirements of our current DOJ Resident

Legal Advisor to reflect this new priority.

 

–Setting up new comprehensive training that provides Thai

security officials in the South with both basic and advanced

investigative and counterterrorism skills, while encouraging

them to work with their counterparts in other agencies.

 

MILITARY COOPERATION

 

5. (C) The U.S.-Thai security relationship is based on over

50 years of close cooperation. Thailand is the fourth

largest participant in the U.S. International Military

Education and Training (IMET) program. Thailand\’s

willingness to allow the United States to use Utapao Naval

Air Station as the hub for our regional tsunami assistance

program was key to making Operation Unified Assistance a

success and was only possible because of decades of combined

experience. PACOM recently named Utapao as the most

important Cooperative Security Location (CSL) we have in all

of the Asia-Pacific region — it remains vital to our efforts

to supply operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

6. (C) A key U.S. objective in the region is to improve

Maritime Security. As part of Section 1206 of the National

Defense Authorization Act of 2006, we recently proposed to

the Royal Thai Supreme Command and the Royal Thai Navy the

Andaman Sea Maritime Security Initiative. This project is a

layered approached to assist the Thai military to secure

territorial waters while also providing coverage of the

northern shipping lanes feeding into the Strait of Malacca.

It would combine a High Frequency Radar in the vicinity of

Phuket capable of reaching Sumatra — 200 miles away — with

a constellation of overlapping x-band radars to provide radar

coverage of the waters off the west coast of Thailand. The

USD 20 million initiative would also improve the Royal Thai

Navy\’s interdiction capabilities. If we can create similar

arrays in neighboring countries, this system could be part of

a regional network — perhaps providing a clear view of all

ocean traffic in SE Asia.

 

7. (C) While you are here, our largest annual exercise, Cobra

Gold, will be underway. Perhaps due to their lack of a

colonial heritage, Thai leaders are far more willing to host

multilateral exercises than are others countries in Asia.

Unlike Japan, which only hosts annual bilateral exercises due

to legal prohibitions over collective security, or Australia,

which avoids multilateral exercises so as not to \”dumb down\”

its own training opportunities, the Royal Thai Government

supports multilateral exercises as a way to show regional

leadership. So long as our concepts are properly sold to

Thai military and political leaders, we should be able to

continue to modify exercises to meet our regional security

objectives — including an ability to establish a

near-continuous presence in the region. Cobra Gold 2006 will

include almost 7,000 U.S. troops working together with Thai

counterparts in field training exercises ranging from

Military Operations in Urban Terrain and Air Assault

Operations to Naval Special Forces protecting offshore

natural gas platforms. The Command Post Exercise at Cobra

Gold will include participation by U.S., Thai, Japanese,

Singaporean and Indonesian forces and will focus on peace

keeping operations. Cobra Gold in the coming years will be a

centerpiece of our Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI),

which is designed to train 15,000 regional peacekeepers by

2010.

 

THE ROLE OF CHINA

 

8. (C) While emphasizing the vital role of the U.S. in the

region and Thailand\’s desire to intensify U.S. engagement,

Thai leaders also focus on developing stronger relations with

China. Bangkok views both India and China as sources of

unlimited consumer demand and hope to conclude FTAs with both

nations. China\’s growing influence in Thailand is evident in

 

BANGKOK 00002826 003 OF 004

 

business, the arts, the media and the military. Chinese TV

– in Mandarin and English — is widely available. Every

visit by a senior American official is countered by multiple

visits by Chinese. The Thai military has a growing number of

Chinese weapons systems in its arsenal. The PLA Navy has

close links with the RTN and recently conducted a major ship

visit to Phuket. The Chinese Ambassador here speaks good

Thai and previously served as their DG for East Asian

Affairs. Their Defense Attach is sophisticated, experienced

and polished.

 

GENERAL ECONOMIC PICTURE

 

9. (SBU) U.S.-Thai economic relations remain strong, with

the U.S. being the largest market for Thai goods. U.S.

direct investment in Thailand is second only to Japan\’s. The

Thai economy has largely recovered from the 1997 economic

crisis, although growth rates remain at levels much lower

than the economy\’s pre-1997 performance. Buoyed mostly by

exports, GDP looks set to grow at around 4-4.5 percent this

year. Major economic challenges include adapting to the

onslaught of China; infrastructure development; and

addressing persistent widespread poverty in the countryside.

The bilateral FTA is in limbo due to the current political

crisis. The FTA had encountered growing opposition within

Thailand before the onset of the current crisis, and its

unpopularity will hinder any future Thai government efforts

to re-start talks. Given hesitancy in Thailand and a short

time frame in the U.S. before Trade Promotion Authority

expires, Thai officials have hinted at negotiating a less

ambitious trade deal that would address immediate problems

such as possible changes in U.S. GSP policy, and trade

diversion caused by Thailand\’s other FTAs.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS IN THAILAND

 

10. (C) Thailand lost in its bid to gain a seat in the new

UN Human Rights Council despite receiving 120 votes and U.S.

support. G/TIP has decided against placing Thailand on the

Tier 2 Watch List this year. The decision is largely due to

significant progress from the RTG to return seven TIP victims

from Malaysia. The seven are hill tribe members and are not

technically considered Thai citizens by the RTG. They have

been in Malaysian immigration detention for over a year after

being rescued from a brothel. One bright spot in the ongoing

political drama is in the area of press freedom. The print

media has been particularly bold in its criticism of the

government, and even the government controlled broadcast

media has taken tentative steps away from self-censorship.

 

REFUGEES

 

11. (C) The RTG gave excellent cooperation on the six North

Korean refugees. This was a positive in the bilateral

relationship. At this point, we do not have a good sense of

how many other North Koreans will ask for U.S. resettlement.

The RTG position remains that they will work with us on a

discreet, case-by-case basis. On Burmese refugee

resettlement, the material support waiver recently signed by

Secretary Rice will allow us to proceed with DHS interviews

 

SIPDIS

for some Karen refugees. We expect a DHS team to arrive and

begin interviews in early June. Persons who provided support

to the Karen National Union (KNU) can now be approved for

U.S. resettlement if otherwise qualified. The material

support waiver does not cover former combatants and Karen

National Union members. These two groups will remain

ineligible. The net result will likely be an approval

percentage well below what we had initially hoped for. This

will be a disappointing result for us, the RTG, and the

refugees.

 

BURMA

 

12. (C) Like several other ASEAN countries, Thailand is

coming to grips with the fact that the policy of constructive

engagement with the regime in Burma is not working. The

dilemma is what to do next. The caretaker status of the

current government means that no new Burma policy directions

can be expected until the domestic political turmoil is

resolved. We are concerned by Thai plans to collaborate with

Burma on the construction of several hydro-electric dams

along the Salween river in Burma. The construction of these

dams will likely result in increased forced labor and bring

new waves of population displacement. The dams promise to

bring a new source of energy to Thailand, but many of the

displaced persons will undoubtedly add to the population

already in camps along the border. The \”reorganization\” of

population around the new capital and a recent military

 

BANGKOK 00002826 004 OF 004

 

offensive in Karen State are other sources of renewed

population displacement. Thai officials have downplayed

reports of a major Burmese army offensive in the border

provinces, but note that close to 2,000 new refugees have

arrived in one camp and are awaiting in-processing.

 

WE WELCOME YOUR VISIT

 

13. (U) I\’m looking forward to catching up and to hosting

you for dinner.

 

Skip

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:14 am

06BANGKOK2418 STATELESS TIP VICTIMS TO BE REPATRIATED TO THAILAND AFTER 14 MONTH DETENTION

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“61784″,”4/26/2006 8:12″,”06BANGKOK2418″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS BANGKOK 002418

 

SIPDIS

 

UNCLASSIFIED

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP, EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KWMN, KCRM, ELAB, PHUM, PREL, TH, HUMAN RIGHTS, Hill Tribes

SUBJECT: STATELESS TIP VICTIMS TO BE REPATRIATED TO THAILAND AFTER

14 MONTH DETENTION

 

REF: Bangkok 2291

 

1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General of American and

Pacific Affairs, Nongnuth Phetcharatana called Charg this morning,

April 26, to report that the Minister of Interior signed an order

yesterday evening to repatriate the remaining six Shan hill tribe

TIP victims detained in Malaysia. The MFA also issued an

instruction to the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to start

repatriation immediately. Remaining tasks are to secure approval

from the Malaysian government to release the detainees and to

purchase flight tickets.

 

2. DPM Surakiart Sathirathai intervened several times on this case,

most recently during the last two weeks by raising the issue with

Interior Minister Kongsak Wanthana. Prior concerns in the Interior

Ministry about the legal validity of repatriating non-citizens to

Thailand posed a stumbling block, resulting in the detention of

these stateless hill tribe women since their February 2005 rescue

from a Malaysian brothel.

 

3. As expected, the MFA is curious as to how this repatriation will

affect Thailand\’s tier rating on the upcoming TIP report. LabOff

was noncommittal on the issue, but thanked them for their work,

which he assured them has resolved a longstanding concern about

Thailand\’s perceived commitment to combat trafficking. Post will

follow up as soon as the women have returned, and hopefully

interview them personally on their experiences.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 7:59 am

06BANGKOK2291 DPM SURAKIART PLEDGES TO RESOLVE SHAN TRAFFICKING CASE

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“61119″,”4/20/2006 10:12″,”06BANGKOK2291″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS BANGKOK 002291

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP, EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KWMN, KCRM, ELAB, PHUM, PREL, TH, TIP – Trafficking in Persons, KTIP

SUBJECT: DPM SURAKIART PLEDGES TO RESOLVE SHAN TRAFFICKING CASE

 

1. (SBU) Summary. Ambassador called DPM Surakiart on April 20 to

urge him to press for resolution of the long-standing detention of

six stateless Shan hill tribe trafficking victims in Malaysia.

Ambassador told Surakiart that this case has been an issue of

concern to us since early last year and is likely to be highlighted

in the upcoming TIP report. Surakiart said he fully agreed that the

victims should be repatriated as soon as possible and had instructed

the responsible Thai ministries to do so as soon as the minimum

criteria had been fulfilled. He said he had spoken to the Interior

Minister about the case two days ago, and would do so again late

today to urge resolution. End Summary.

 

2. (SBU) Ambassador called Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart on April

20 to urge him to press for resolution of the long-standing

detention of six stateless Shan hill tribe trafficking victims in

Malaysia. The Shan victims have been held since a Malaysian police

raid in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, in February 2005. A Thai Cabinet

resolution in June 2005 called for the victims to be repatriated to

Thailand if they could prove their prior residency in this country.

Despite such evidence being provided for most (if not all) of the

women, and despite numerous entreaties by national TIP authority Dr.

Saisuree Chutikul, the MFA and the Ministry of Social Development

and Human Security (MSDHS), the case has been held up by Ministry of

Interior officials who claim that Thai law does not provide for the

repatriation of stateless citizens. Lower-level Ministry officials

are also said to be concerned about the legal precedent that would

be established by following the Cabinet resolution\’s provisions.

 

3. (SBU) Ambassador told Surakiart that this case has been an issue

of great concern to us for some time now, and is likely to be

highlighted in the Thailand chapter of our upcoming global

trafficking-in-persons report. Ambassador said the USG was well

aware of the important strides Thailand has made in combating

trafficking-in-persons in recent years, and that we did not want

these efforts to be overshadowed by the failure to resolve this

particular matter.

 

4. (SBU) Surakiart replied that he was following the case as the

former chairman of the National TIP Committee who had pushed the

June 2005 resolution through the Cabinet. He said he agreed fully

that the victims should be repatriated as soon as possible, and that

he had instructed the Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of

Interior to do so as soon as the minimum criteria of the Cabinet

resolution had been fulfilled. He said he had not been certain of

the number of victims involved, having been told by his staff they

could amount to 13 women. (Note: Embassy has been told by

International Justice Mission, the lead NGO investigating this case

since its inception, that the number is now six, after several women

arranged their release informally and returned to Thailand.)

 

5. (SBU) Surakiart said he further spoke to Minister of Interior

Kongsak Wanthana two days ago (April 18) to urge his intervention,

claiming that it was the first time Kongsak had heard of the matter.

Surakiart said Kongsak committed to look into the matter as soon as

possible, noting that yesterday (April 19) was a Thai holiday due to

senatorial elections. Surakiart told Ambassador he would call

Kongsak again today to check up on the status.

 

6. (SBU) Comment: This is not Surakiart\’s first intervention in

this case. Laboff previously spoke to PermSec Wanlop Phloytabtim in

the Ministry of Social Development on April 12 and was told that

Surakiart had sent an instruction to the Thai Embassy in Kuala

Lumpur to speed up the repatriation process and that \”he would pick

up the victims himself.\” The Thai Embassy had responded that the

Ministry of Interior still had jurisdiction over the case, echoing

the contents of an April 7 letter sent by MFA Director General

Nongnuth to G/TIP Ambassador Miller confirming that \”a special

commission\” had been set up at Interior. After several false

promises, we hope that the RTG finally cuts through the red tape and

repatriates these long-suffering victims in a timely manner.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 7:49 am

06BANGKOK1215 SENATOR FEINGOLD’S MEETING WITH FOREIGN MINISTER KANTATHI

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“54698″,”2/28/2006 23:43″,”06BANGKOK1215″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 001215

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MLS, PRM, H

PACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2015

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH, Southern Thailand, Refugee, Hmong, BURMA, LAOS, US-Thai FTA, ASEAN, China, Iran, IRAQ

SUBJECT: SENATOR FEINGOLD\’S MEETING WITH FOREIGN MINISTER

KANTATHI

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (b)

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a February 20 meeting with Senator

Russell Feingold (D-WI), Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi

Suphamongkhon discussed the ongoing violence in southern

Thailand; ASEAN; the U.S.-Thai FTA; China; and perceptions of

the U.S. Senator Feingold emphasized the strong nature of

the U.S.-Thai relationship and thanked the Thai government

for cooperation following the 2004 tsunami and for Thai

assistance in relocating Hmong refugees to the U.S. However,

he expressed concern over the case of 27 Hmong children and

Thailand\’s Burma policy. END SUMMARY

 

VISIT HIGHLIGHTS STRONG BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

——————————————— -

 

2. (SBU) On February 20, Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI)

and Ambassador Boyce called on Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi

Suphamongkhon. Senator Feingold praised the deep

relationship between the U.S. and Thailand, and thanked the

Foreign Minister for past Thai contributions to Afghanistan

and Iraq. He noted that the large ethnic Hmong population in

Wisconsin gave him a special connection to the region.

Kantathi agreed that joint Thai-U.S. assistance to the region

following the December 2004 tsunami demonstrated the

multi-dimensional nature of the U.S.-Thai relationship. That

relationship had been positively reaffirmed during Prime

Minister Thaksin\’s meeting with the President in September

2005.

 

SOUTHERN SITUATION REMAINS A DOMESTIC ISSUE

——————————————-

 

3. (SBU) Senator Feingold asked the Foreign Minister for his

assessment of the current situation in far southern Thailand.

Kantathi noted that five percent of the Thai population was

Muslim and — with the exception of the Muslims in the three

provinces along the Malaysian border — were well integrated

into Thai society. He repeatedly emphasized that the problem

in the South was a domestic issue and that there was no link

to international terrorists. While some of the violence was

being carried out by separatists insurgents, many attacks

were being carried out by narcotics traffickers or other

criminal gangs who were using the insurgency as cover.

 

4. (SBU) Kantathi said the RTG was trying to address the

violence by arresting and prosecuting identifiable insurgents

while simultaneously working to counter separatist

propaganda. He expressed concern that separatists were

cynically using religion to manipulate Muslim youth. To

counter this propaganda, the RTG was expanding programs that

emphasize moderate Islam and was focusing on educational

reforms that emphasize job skills. \”The goal is to make the

South a place where Buddhists and Muslims can live together

peacefully.\” Many ethnic Malays in the South \”feel more

Malaysian than Thai.\” Relations with Malaysia had been

strained due to the violence and the flight of 131 Thais to

Malaysian territory in 2005, but were improving. Thailand

was reaching out to Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Middle

Eastern countries, to bring moderate voices of Islam to the

region. The recent visit of Jordan\’s King Abdullah was part

of that effort.

 

5. (SBU) Responding to the Senator\’s inquiries as to the

progress of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC),

Kantathi said the government was working with the NRC, but

cautioned that they would \”wait to see if the commission\’s

goals matched up to the government\’s.\” The Senator expressed

concern over reports of extrajudicial killings. Kantathi

acknowledged that there had been instances where individual

local police and soldiers had used unnecessary violence –

citing the Krue Se Mosque incident of April 2004 as an

example. The government was working to rein in these rogue

elements while maintaining law and order in the region.

 

HMONG REFUGEES – CONCERN OVER 27 CHILDREN

—————————————–

 

6. (SBU) Senator Feingold thanked the RTG for previous

cooperation in the resettlement of Lao Hmong refugees from

Thailand to the U.S., but expressed concern over the 27 Hmong

children who had been separated from the families in Thailand

and returned to Laos. Kantathi said they were working

closely with Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavat on

the issue of the 27 children. The Lao were very sensitive

about the issue and Somsavat was personally \”upset\” over the

U.S. handling of the children. Kantathi insisted that the

children would be brought back to Thailand as \”a temporary

measure.\” He was concerned that the children and other

resettlement efforts were acting as a \”pull-factor\” that was

encouraging illegal immigration into Thailand. Senator

Feingold and the Foreign Minister agreed that continued

cooperation and a common message from the RTG and USG were

important to resolve this issue.

 

BURMA – CONCERN OVER LACK OF PROGRESS

————————————-

 

7. (SBU) Senator Feingold expressed concern over the

situation in Burma — particularly the continued detention of

Aung San Suu Kyi — noting it was an issue that united the

U.S. Congress. Kantathi said that Prime Minister Thaksin and

other ASEAN leaders had been critical of the Burmese regime\’s

lack of progress during the recent ASEAN summit and had

agreed that a Malaysian delegation would go to Burma to check

on national reconciliation efforts. Originally the visit had

been scheduled for January, however, the Burmese had

postponed the visit. Kantathi assured the Senator that he

was working hard to communicate the dissatisfaction of the

international community to the Burmese regime and would

continue to use their \”open channel\” to the Burmese senior

leadership.

 

ASEAN – MOVING FORWARD

———————-

 

8. (SBU) Turning to ASEAN, Kantathi said the Enhanced

Partnership with the U.S. was at the forefront of Thai ASEAN

policy. Kantathi said the ASEAN Foreign Minister\’s meeting

with Secretary Rice in New York had been very productive.

ASEAN had committed itself to the creation of an ASEAN

Community by 2015, instead of 2020, and were proceeding with

ASEAN Free Trade zone.

 

FTA – NO MOVEMENT

—————–

 

9. (SBU) Senator Feingold cautioned Kantathi over the lack

of forward progress on the FTA, noting that many Members of

congress had reservations about free trade agreements (and

will have more difficulty supporting an FTA in an election

season). Kantathi agreed that both sides were interested in

a \”fair\” agreement.

 

CHINA – A COMPETITOR AND PARTNER

——————————–

 

10. (SBU) Kantathi described China as both a potential

competitor as well as a partner. The Thais believe that

China was taking a peaceful approach to the region and that

the Thai-China relationship was \”healthy.\” Thailand

understood that China would continue to grow more

economically powerful, but believed a resurgent China was not

a security threat.

 

PERCEPTION OF THE U.S. – IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN

———————————————

 

11. (SBU) Feingold asked Kantathi how the U.S. was

perceived in the region. Kantathi said that overall the U.S.

had a positive image in Thailand, however, the Thai people

had mixed feelings about U.S. involvement in Iraq and

Afghanistan. Some supported decisive U.S. action, while

others were concerned that the actions are helping Al-Qaeda

recruitment efforts. The RTG was particularly concerned over

the situation in Iraq. \”We don\’t see a light at the end of

the tunnel.\” The Thai government would continue to work with

the U.S., but a future deployment of Thai troops to the Iraq

or Afghanistan was out of the question due to sensitivities

over the situation in southern Thailand.

 

12. (U) Senator Feingold\’s office cleared this message.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:16 am

06BANGKOK1176 SENATOR FEINGOLD’S MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER THAKSIN

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“54417″,”2/27/2006 9:34″,”06BANGKOK1176″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 001176

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MLS, H

PACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2015

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH, BURMA, Hmong, Refugee, Southern Thailand, HUMAN RIGHTS, China, POL/MIL, US-Thai FTA

SUBJECT: SENATOR FEINGOLD\’S MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER

THAKSIN

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On February 20, Senator Russell Feingold

(D-WI) accompanied by Ambassador Boyce called on Prime

Minister Thaksin. Thaksin said the relationship with the

U.S., as exemplified by our close cooperation following the

December 2004 tsunami, was excellent. The discussion focused

on violence in southern Thailand; the disappearance of human

rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphajit and other human rights

concerns; F-16s, Hmong refugees from Laos; and Thaksin\’s

domestic political challenges. Senator Feingold expressed

serious concern over the situation in Burma. END SUMMARY

 

SOUTHERN THAILAND – THAKSIN PLAYS COP

————————————-

 

2. (C) During a February 20 meeting with Prime Minister

Thaksin at Government House, Senator Feingold expressed

concern over the ongoing violence affecting far southern

Thailand and asked for the Prime Minister\’s assessment of the

situation as well as his plans to work with the National

Reconciliation Commission (NRC). Thaksin emphasized that

there was no evidence of intentional terrorist involvement in

the South and that Malay separatism was a primary factor

behind the violence. There was a committed group of armed

militants who used separatist propaganda about the unique

history of the region to manipulate youths to fight for an

independent homeland.

 

3. (C) Thaksin claimed the government and the NRC were now

\”heading in the same direction,\” after the NRC\’s initial

failure to understand the complexity of the situation. The

NRC believed the violence was rooted in the deep feeling of

\”injustice\” felt by southern Muslims who felt that they had

been mistreated historically by the Thai state. Both he and

the NRC understood that they needed to address the concerns

of ethnic Malay Thais. \”We need to look into their hearts.\”

 

4. (C) When asked about reports of heavy-handed tactics in

the South, Thaksin defended Thai security practices. He

described the Krue Se incident of April 2004 as an instance

of security forces being involved in \”hot pursuit\” of

militants. The Tak Bai incident of October 2005 was the

result of a lack of proper military transportation. The

deaths at Tak Bai resulted from suffocation, and not from the

actions of security forces. He blamed the militants for

deliberately manipulating the Tak Bai incident in order to

provoke a dramatic confrontation with security forces.

 

5. (SBU) Thaksin said economic underdevelopment was a

factor in the violence because of resentment among ethnic

Malays of the better economic conditions on the Malaysian

side of the border. The Islamic education system contributed

to the poor economic conditions in the region because Islamic

schools did not equip their graduates with job skills.

 

6. (C) Thaksin boasted several times that he had personally

interrogated some of the captured militants. Most had been

manipulated by separatist ideas or paid to commit violence.

There was absolutely no evidence of connections between the

captured militants and JI or Al-Qaeda. Thaksin claimed that

under questioning the captured militants readily confessed

their involvement in the insurgency and that harsh

interrogation techniques were not required to obtain

information from them.

 

SOMCHAI – \”A HEART ATTACK DURING QUESTIONING\”

———————————————

 

7. (C) Senator Feingold asked about the investigation into

the disappearance of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphajit.

Thaksin said the inquiry into the disappearance would finish

in mid-March and that additional arrest warrants of police

officers would be issued by the Department of Special

Investigation (DSI). The findings so far implicated some

mid-level police officers in the disappearance. The police

allegedly brought Somchai to the Criminal Suppression

Division for questioning. While under interrogation Somchai

had a heart attack and died. After the heart attack police

panicked and took Somchai\’s remains outside of Bangkok where

the body was incinerated. The police did not know Somchai

had a heart condition. Thaksin claimed that Somchai had not

been interrogated harshly, however, the police were unaware

he had a heart condition and Somchai was without his heart

medication. Thaksin emphasized that these actions were from

\”working level officers.\”

 

EJK

 

8. (C) Senator Feingold asked for an explanation of reports

that Thai security forces had been involved in other

extra-judicial killings, especially during the 2003 \”war on

drugs.\” Thaksin denied these reports, saying that Thai

forces respected the rule of law. The number of killings

during the \”war on drugs\” had been exaggerated and most

involved drug kingpins \”cutting-off\” underlings in order to

silence them. Thaksin complained that media reports,

especially the Thai English language press, were unfairly

critical and unreliable. \”The papers are readable, but not

quotable.\”

 

BURMA AND ASSK

————–

 

9. (C) Senator Feingold asked about current Thai policies

towards Burma and strongly urged additional Thai efforts to

press for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK). Thaksin

said that ASEAN leaders had used tough language with the

Burmese during the December 2005 ASEAN summit, a first for

ASEAN. He complained that the Burmese had failed to tell

even ASEAN members about their plans to move their capital.

Thaksin offered Bangkok as a possible venue for the Burmese

regime to engage with the international community. Senator

Feingold emphasized the importance of Thai engagement with

the Burmese to secure the release of ASSK. Thaksin said the

SPDC would not hold ASSK \”forever\” but would wait until after

the national reconciliation process was finished. After

being pressed, Thaksin he said he would try to talk to Than

Shwe personally about ASSK.

 

HMONG REFUGEES

————–

 

10. (C) Senator Feingold thanked the Prime Minister for

Thailand\’s cooperation on Hmong refugees, especially the

recent case involving 27 Hmong children. Thaksin said that

the Lao were difficult to work with and acted defensively.

The case of the 27 children was a good example of this. He

complained that illegal immigration from Laos was an ongoing

problem for Thailand.

 

REGIONAL SECURITY, CHINA

————————

 

11. (C) Thaksin said that Thailand was concerned about

piracy in the Strait of Malacca and would support collective

security efforts, although it remained primarily an issue for

the littoral states. He noted that pirates from Aceh were of

particular concern. Regarding China, Thaksin said bilateral

relations were very close, particularly under his

administration.

 

FTA

 

12. (SBU) Thaksin said he wanted a \”fair\” FTA with the

U.S., suggesting it would require sacrifices from both sides

in order to enjoy the overall benefits an FTA would bring.

He quipped, \”you Americans like won-ton soup, but you don\’t

like one-ton pickups.\” The negotiations with the U.S. are

very complicated, especially the areas regarding

pharmaceuticals and financial services. The Bank of Thailand

was particularly worried about some of the FTA\’s financial

services provisions.

 

F-16s

—–

 

13. (SBU) Senator Feingold made a strong push for the Thais

to purchase/upgrade U.S. F-16s rather than Swedish or Russian

aircraft. Thaksin said he had asked the Royal Thai Air Force

(RTAF) Commander Chalit for a final recommendation, which he

expected within a week. Thailand was seriously looking at

Russian planes was because the Russians were offering a

barter deal and because the sale would open up new markets to

Thai agricultural exports. Thaksin said there were two

components to the aircraft deal — mid-life upgrades for

existing F-16s and procurement of some new aircraft to

replace the RTAF\’s aging F-5s. The RTAF would purchase

mid-life upgrades for a number of F-16s, but Thailand would

not buy new U.S. aircraft unless a better deal was offered.

Thaksin believed the purchase of Russian aircraft should not

affect cooperation with the U.S. Ambassador Boyce reminded

Thaksin that a purchase of Russian aircraft could in fact

affect technology transfers and raise questions over

interoperability with U.S. forces. Thaksin said access to

technology was very important for Thailand and urged the U.S.

to offer better terms.

 

PERCEPTIONS OF THE U.S.

———————-

 

14. (SBU) Thaksin highlighted the overall positive image of

the U.S. in Thailand, noting that many Thais — including

both he and the Foreign Minister — were the products of the

U.S. educational system. Most Thais did not have strong

opinions about the U.S. war on terror; however, there was a

general negative feeling about the U.S. invasion of Iraq,

especially among Thai Muslims.

 

POLITICAL CHALLENGES IN THAILAND

——————————–

 

15. (SBU) Senator Feingold asked the Prime Minister about

recent challenges from opposition figures to his government.

Thaksin downplayed opposition efforts to oust him, calling

recent protests \”part of the normal democratic process.\”

Thai political elites got bored quickly because of the

history of short lived governments in the past. His rural

base remained strong, and even in Bangkok he still enjoyed

more support than the opposition. An extraordinary session

of parliament would be convened on March 6, followed by a

debate from March 8-10, in order to refute opposition charges.

 

16. (U) Senator Feingold\’s office cleared this message.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:09 am

06BANGKOK1117 BURMESE MIGRANT LABORER MURDER TRIAL IN THAILAND CONTINUES

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“54144″,”2/24/2006 8:28″,”06BANGKOK1117″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 001117

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR G/TIP, EAP/MLS, DRL/IL, DRL/PHD

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR FOR ILAB – MITTELHAUSER AND SASSER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KWMN, KCRM, ELAB, PHUM, KJUS, TH

SUBJECT: BURMESE MIGRANT LABORER MURDER TRIAL IN THAILAND CONTINUES

 

1. (SBU) Summary. The next trial hearing in the death of Ma Suu, a

17-year-old Burmese migrant worker who was allegedly murdered by her

employer, will be on March 8-9, 2006. Ma Suu left Burma to seek

work in Thailand, and found a job as a domestic servant for a

wealthy Thai military officer in 2001. While it remains unclear

whether Ma Suu was originally trafficked across the border, her

ensuing employment situation clearly amounts to a trafficking case.

Held against her will in an abusive employment situation, she

escaped and notified police, only to be returned to her employer and

eventually killed. She died on July 16, 2002 from extensive

beatings and acid burns. The public prosecutor, with help from the

Thai Law Society, is seeking cooperation from key witnesses, but

fear of retribution — and the defendant\’s high ranking military

status — has caused some to hesitate in cooperating. End Summary.

 

2. (U) Representatives from the Thai Law Society updated Emboffs on

February 10 about Ma Suu\’s murder trial. On March 8, 2006, the

trial will resume with the testimony of five witnesses and four

police officers. The defendants, Mr. Suchat Akapibul and his wife

Yawadee, are accused of murdering the 17-year-old Burmese domestic

employee who died of extensive acid burns and beatings on July 16,

2002. Suchat is a military officer, whose rank is equivalent to Air

Force colonel. Yuwadee was arrested and jailed from July 7-13,

2002, and released on the same day that Suchat presented himself to

the authorities. He was subsequently released on bail, and has not

yet entered a plea.

 

—————

CASE BACKGROUND

—————

 

3. (U) A Burmese citizen of Mon ethnicity, the then 17-year-old Ma

Suu lived in Burma with her grandmother and two younger siblings,

her parents being deceased. She crossed into Thailand in 2001 at

the Mae Sot border town searching for income, and found work,

through an employment agent, as a domestic worker for the Akapibul

family, who own a furniture manufacturing business in Suratthani,

Lopburi province.

 

4. (U) According to the Thai Law Society, Ma Suu\’s employers accused

her of stealing a gun, necklace, mobile phone, watch, ring, and more

than 30,000 baht (USD 750) at the end of June 2002. Ma Suu denied

the accusation and was then allegedly locked in a room and beaten

for the next five days by Suchat, his son, and some soldiers working

for Suchat. Another employee stated that a PVC pipe broke into two

pieces because of the beatings.

 

5. (SBU) Ma Suu escaped on the fifth day and fled to a nearby field,

where a woman found her, gave her refuge, and brought her to the

local police station two days later. The police contacted Suchat\’s

father to inform him of Ma Suu\’s whereabouts, and he then brought Ma

Suu back to Suchat\’s house. The police accompanied them to inspect

the home, and, after hearing more accusations of the theft, jailed

Ma Suu for one night. Suchat requested that Ma Suu return to the

house the following morning, on the assurance that he would deport

Ma Suu back to Mae Sot. The police agreed. (Note: The Law Society

blames Thai deference to authority for this decision, as the police

presumably felt obliged to return Ma Suu to her employer given his

military rank — despite indications that he was responsible for her

beatings. End note.)

 

6. (U) Instead of returning Ma Suu to Mae Sot, Suchat allegedly

proceeded to beat her again. Suchat and his wife then, according to

court papers, hired a self-professed \”medium\”, or soothsayer, to

interview Ma Suu and divine the truth about the alleged thefts.

When the medium proclaimed Ma Suu guilty, Suchat allegedly set her

on fire and poured acid over her. Ma Suu was later found near a

road and taken to Uthai Thani hospital with burns covering more than

50 percent of her body. She died on July 16, 2002 after five days

in a coma. Prior to her death, she gave a taped statement to a

journalist recounting her ordeal, and her injuries were

photographed.

 

7. (U) Jurisdiction for the case spans three provinces: Lopburi,

where Maa Suu worked; Uthai Thani, where Maa Suu was found

unconscious in the woods and where she eventually died; and Nakhon

Sawan, where Maa Suu spent part of her hospitalization.

 

————–

WHO WILL HELP?

————–

 

8. (U) Ma Suu\’s case was reported in The Nation, a Thai

English-languagee newspaper, on July 8, 2002, prompting a number of

NGO representatives to visit her in the hospital. A public attorney

is prosecuting the case, with help from The Thai Law Society, The

Asian Human Rights Commission based in Hong Kong, Amnesty

International, Human Rights Watch, and the American Center for

International Labor Solidarity (ACILS). The Law Society noted that

the public prosecutor in this case is being extremely proactive,

perhaps due to the international attention this case has attracted.

 

9. (SBU) The Law Society reports that neither the police, nor the

hospitals, nor the Burmese Embassy have been cooperative or

proactive in the investigation. Hospitals refuse to release any

records to anyone but family members, and lawyers have been unable

to reach Ma Suu\’s family. The police state that they have found no

evidence related to the murder, and that Suchat and Yuwadee deny

having employed Ma Suu. It is unclear whether Suchat has been

suspended by the military, or if he is still working. (The Thai Law

Society claims he is still employed and stationed at Don Muang

International Airport, but post has not been able to verify this.)

 

—————————————

COOCOO FOR KO KO — AND OTHER WITNESSES

—————————————

 

10. (SBU) The Law Society has been hoping for the testimony of a

Burmese radio journalist, Thin Ko Ko, who visited Ma Suu in the

hospital and recorded her statement the day before she died. Ko Ko,

who has worked as a stringer for the Voice of America (VOA),

recorded statements from Ma Suu that match the testimony of five

Burmese witnesses. Ko Ko recently returned to the US, but his

testimony has been requested by prosecutors to certify the

authenticity of the tape. According to the Law Society, Ko Ko had

been reluctant to testify out of concerns for his safety, despite

letters from the Uthai Thani Police offering security. In a

February 24 e-mail to Econoff, Ko Ko stated that he would not be

returning to Thailand for the March 8 trial hearing given the \”short

notice\” of the request. (Note: The Law Society told Emboffs that

they had been requesting his testimony since Summer 2004. End

Note.) Ko Ko has, however, agreed to a second option — less

desirable to prosecutors — to send a notarized statement to Post,

which would then deliver it to the prosecution.

 

11. (U) Prosecutors are counting on the testimony of a second

important witness, Kamron Parnikorn, who is believed to be the only

witness to Ma Suu\’s burning. He has admitted to participating in

the beating of Ma Suu, but claimed that it was on orders from

Suchat. He has cooperated with prosecutors in the case against

Suchat and has not been charged. The Law Society believes that he

will appear at the March 8-9 hearing. Other prominent witnesses

include the five Burmese witnesses whose testimony, given during a

pre-trial period in the summer of 2004, matches that of Ko Ko\’s

recording. They stated that they were employed in the defendants\’

household at the same time as Ma Suu. These witnesses were under

the care of the police until they gave their statements, and are now

under the care of new employers.

 

—————————————-

EXTREME EXAMPLE OF A MUCH LARGER PROBLEM

—————————————-

 

12. (U) Ma Suu\’s death is an extreme example of the helplessless

often faced by illegal Burmese migrant workers who are unable to

turn to authorities for assistance. Female domestic workers are

particularly vulnerable to abuse because they are isolated in

individual homes, and Thai labor regulations do not provide coverage

for domestic workers, regardless of nationality.

 

13. (U) The Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR)

conducted a survey in 2002-3 of 528 Burmese domestic workers in

northern Thailand, nearly all of them women, most young and

unmarried. Most of the workers found their employment through an

agent, with none of them knowing what the work conditions would be

until arriving at their employers\’ house. Thirty-two percent

received 1000 baht (USD 25) or less per month, and only 15 percent

received more than 3000 baht (75 USD) per month. Eighty percent

worked more than 12 hours per day, many of whom worked seven days a

week. Two-thirds cared for a child or elderly person, and were

expected to be available at all hours.

 

14. (U) As most workers were not registered with the government,

they were vulnerable to threats from the Thai police. Of the 43

percent who reported encountering the police, 49 percent said they

had been asked for money and 29 percent said they had been

threatened with deportation. Half of the workers reported being

threatened by their employer, and 1 in 10 physically abused. Eight

percent reported being subjected to sexual advances, with 1.3

percent being victims of rape. Only 43 percent were allowed to

leave the house, making access to health care (which 79 percent had

to pay for on their own) difficult.

 

15. (U) Comment: Ma Suu\’s death is an extreme and rare example, but

highlights the continuing vulnerability of migrant domestic workers

in Thailand. Her confinement, severe abuse at the hands of her

employer, and subsequent forced return to her employer after her

escape, qualifies her as a trafficking victim. There is so far no

indication that the police officers who returned Ma Suu to her

employer will face any charges or disciplinary action, but NGOs have

lauded the public prosecutors\’ office for their commitment to this

case. Post continues to follow this case closely and will send an

observer to the March 8-9 hearing. End Comment.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:07 am

Posted in Burma, Unclassified

05BANGKOK6101 AMBASSADOR RAISES KANTATHI’S COMMENTS TO PRESS ON FTA AND BURMA WITH MFA XXXXXX

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“41197″,”9/23/2005 10:46″,”05BANGKOK6101″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 006101

 

SIPDIS

 

EAP FOR A/S HILL AND EAP DAS JOHN NSC FOR MICHAEL GREEN AND

HOLLY MORROW

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2015

TAGS: PREL, BM, TH, BURMA, US-Thai FTA

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR RAISES KANTATHI\’S COMMENTS TO PRESS ON

FTA AND BURMA WITH MFA XXXXX

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RALPH BOYCE. REASON: 1.4 (D)

 

1. (C) During a September 23 call on MFA XXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXX, the Ambassador pointed out that Foreign

Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon\’s reported September 20 comments

to the press on FTA and Burma appeared to be at odds with what

was discussed on these issues between the President and Prime

Minister Thaksin in Washington. The Ambassador noted to XXXXX

that the subsequent MFA statement refuting the news report as

\”misrepresentation\” still left questions about Thailand\’s stance

on these issues.

 

2. (C) The Ambassador also told XXXX that he had been in

contact with NSC staff who were aware that Kantathi had called

the Secretary to reassure her that his comments were taken out

of context and represented nothing at variance with the Prime

Minister\’s September 19 meeting with the President.

Nevertheless, the Foreign Minister\’s comments and the subsequent

MFA statement had created concern that the RTG was adopting a

utilitarian approach to the September 19 White House meeting,

taking one position in Washington and saying something else for

domestic consumption in Thailand (and in Burma, for that

matter).

 

3. (C) XXXXX was aware of the AP article and the Ministry\’s

statement, but the Foreign Minister\’s call to the Secretary was

news to him. He noted that Prime Minister Thaksin had returned

from Washington delighted with his meeting with the President,

and wondered aloud why the Foreign Minister had even agreed to

do such an interview only a day after the White House meeting.

He agreed that the Joint Statement spoke for itself, and took

note of the need for there to be concrete positive actions on

both the FTA and Burma in the near future.

 

4. (C) Comment: Leaving aside the wisdom of granting an

exclusive interview to an untested journalist, we do not think

Kantathi was acting as anything other than the inexperienced

Foreign Minister that he is. The Ambassador also raised the

unfortunate interview with Thaksin\’s chief policy advisor,

Pansak Vinyaratu, who was appalled by the whole affair,

commenting \”why does the Foreign Minister have to keep opening

his mouth?\” Before last month\’s cabinet reshuffle, there were

rumors that Katathi might be dropped because Thaksin was

unimpressed with his performance. This latest incident won\’t

help.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 6:02 am

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