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06BANGKOK6004 AMBASSADOR PRESSES CDR ON TRANSITION

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“80137”,”9/29/2006 10:28″,”06BANGKOK6004″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“06BANGKOK5973|06BANGKOK6003″,”VZCZCXRO4602

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #6004/01 2721028

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 291028Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1993

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 6103

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1534

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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1192

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RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC PRIORITY

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RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 006004

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

TREASURY PASS TO FRB SAN FRANCISCO/TERESA CURRAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KDEM, MOPS, ASEC, TH

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR PRESSES CDR ON TRANSITION

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 6003 (CONSTITUTION CONCERNS)

B. BANGKOK 5973 (MEETING WITH SURAYUD)

 

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

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) The Ambassador on September 29 pressed Council for

Democratic Reform (CDR) Secretary General Winai Phattiyakul

to address concerns that CDR members would retain substantial

influence after the promulgation of the interim constitution.

Winai explained that certain provisions of the interim

constitution would be more moderate than critics feared (ref

A). Detained members of Thaksin\’s cabinet would soon be

released, but there was no timetable for the restoration of

full civil liberties. Winai asked that the USG put faith in

Privy Councilor Surayud, who seems nearly certain to become

the next Prime Minister. Winai seemed unwilling to

contemplate accelerating elections, as he explained the

difficulty in creating a new democratic system that would not

be as easy to manipulate as that established by the 1997

constitution. End Summary.

 

TIME FRAME FOR DEVELOPMENTS

—————————

 

2. (C) The Ambassador called on CDR Secretary General Winai

on September 29, to discuss progress toward a transition to a

civilian government and to express concern about rumored

provisions of the interim constitution. (Ref A provides more

detail on those provisions.) Winai opened the conversation

by noting that the interim constitution would be finalized on

September 30; then, CDR leader General Sonthi would name the

next Prime Minister. The King\’s endorsement of the Prime

Minister could come as early as October 1, or as late as

October 4. The Ambassador noted that October 4 would be

later than the CDR\’s self-imposed two week deadline; however,

Winai believed Wednesday, October 4, represented the

conclusion of the second week after General Sonthi\’s

announcement on Wednesday, September 20, of the deadline.

 

FORMING THE NEXT CABINET

————————

 

3. (C) The Ambassador asked whether the next Prime Minister

would be able to select his own cabinet. Winai said that the

Prime Minister would have the freedom to do so, but the CDR

would recommend some names and set certain standards.

Cabinet members should have \”no political background\” (i.e.,

should not be tied to the Thaksin administration); they

should be well-respected, honest figures who appeal to the

Thai people. The cabinet members also should understand that

their mandate is to improve economic conditions, bring into

being a new constitution, and \”fix the path\” so that Thailand

has an improved democracy within one year.

 

COMMENTS ON SURAYUD

——————-

 

4. (C) The Ambassador remarked that, if Privy Councilor

Surayud Chulanont were to become Prime Minister, concerns

would inevitably arise because of the fact of Surayud\’s

military background. Winai urged the Ambassador not to judge

a book by its cover; it was important to understand that

Surayud had the right mentality to lead Thailand at this time.

 

PROVISIONS OF THE INTERIM CONSTITUTION

————————————–

 

5. (C) The Ambassador asked whether, as rumored (ref A), the

CDR, after transforming itself into the Council on National

Security (CNS), would select the 100 members of the

Constitutional Drafting Council (CDC). Winai said the CNS

would indeed select the members, but the members would select

 

BANGKOK 00006004 002 OF 003

 

from among themselves 35 members for the drafting committee.

 

6. (C) The Ambassador asked whether the interim civilian

government would be subordinate to the CNS. Winai replied:

\”No way at all it will be subordinate. It will be a

partnership.\” The Ambassador then asked whether the CNS

would have a seat in the cabinet. Winai relied, \”Not at all.\”

 

7. (C) When asked who would choose the members of the interim

parliament, Winai said that the government and the CNS would

cooperate in the selection process. The Ambassador asked if

the interim parliament would be able to hold a no-confidence

debate. Winai said the parliament could indeed have a

no-confidence debate, but it would not be able to hold a

no-confidence vote. Winai appeared to envision the threat of

a debate as an effective check on the Prime Minister and his

cabinet, but he said a public airing of views would suffice;

there would be no need for a vote, because the interim

government would be in place for \”less than one year.\”

 

POLITICAL RIGHTS TO REMAIN SUSPENDED

————————————

 

8. (C) The Ambassador asked whether the decrees issued by the

CDR would remain in effect after the promulgation of the

interim constitution. Winai asserted that those decrees

would no longer be in effect, except for prohibitions on

political activities, which would persist until the lifting

of martial law, or until determined otherwise by the

government. Winai declined to predict when the population

would be allowed to resume political activities, but he said

the CNS would try to restore them as quickly as possible. He

also asserted that the interim constitution would include the

bill of rights from the 1997 constitution.

 

DETAINEES TO BE RELEASED

————————

 

9. (C) The Ambassador asked about persons associated with the

Thaksin administration who had been detained without charges

by the security forces. Winai said that they would be

allowed to return to their families \”at the end of this week.\”

 

ACCELERATING TRANSITION

———————–

 

10. (C) The Ambassador noted the CNS would likely face

pressure to speed up the timetable for elections. Winai

urged the Ambassador to understand the political environment:

Thaksin had been able to manipulate all the supposedly

independent bodies created by the 1997 constitution,

destroying Thailand\’s system of checks and balances. Thaksin

had shown that \”anyone with a few billion U.S. dollars can

take over Thailand easily.\” It would not be easy for the

next administration to create independent mechanisms that

would work effectively \”for the next round of democracy.\”

This would require time.

 

11. (C) Winai urged the Ambassador to convey to Washington

that the CDR members did not aspire for power. Using

military force to bring about political change had damaged

the country, Winai acknowledged — but the Generals had

assessed that if they had not acted, the damage would be even

greater. If you see that a train is heading for a wreck, it

is justifiable to take a detour in order to avoid a

collision. Winai urged that the USG not push the Generals

into a corner, but rather help them to create a democratic

government featuring effective checks and balances.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

12. (C) It appears some provisions of the interim

constitution have been softened since the circulation of an

initial draft (ref A). We are encouraged by Winai\’s

 

BANGKOK 00006004 003 OF 003

 

assurance that detained former cabinet ministers will be

released very soon; however, we are dismayed that he could

offer no similar assurance about the full restoration of

civil liberties. Winai clearly feels Surayud is the right

man to steer Thailand through this difficult period, and we

also note that, as one who enjoys the trust of the CDR,

Surayud will likely have more authority vis-a-vis the

Generals than someone lacking a military background would.

Winai made it clear that the new administration intends to

stick to its timeframe for the process of drafting a new

constitution and holding elections.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:18 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

06BANGKOK6002 CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR EMERGES AS TOP ECONOMIC ADVISER TO CDR, PUSHES ACTIVIST AGENDA FOR SOON TO BE APPOINTED GOVERNMENT

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“80128”,”9/29/2006 10:03″,”06BANGKOK6002″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO4557

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #6002/01 2721003

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 291003Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1988

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 006002

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT PASS USTR FOR BWEISEL AND JJENSEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2016

TAGS: ECON, PGOV, PINS, PHUM, MOPS, ASEC, TH

SUBJECT: CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR EMERGES AS TOP ECONOMIC

ADVISER TO CDR, PUSHES ACTIVIST AGENDA FOR SOON TO BE

APPOINTED GOVERNMENT

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph Boyce, Reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: In a September 28 meeting with the

Ambassador, Bank of Thailand Governor Pridiyathorn Devakula

stated his intention to be the prime economic adviser to the

soon to be appointed interim Prime Minister (reportedly,

General Surayud Chulanond). He confirmed the CDR\’s

commitment to stick to the announced timetable for a return

to a democratically elected government. The BOT Governor

affirmed the military\’s plans to remain politically active

during the interim governing period, arguing that the

situation in the Muslim south and the possibility of a

Thaksin-inspired countercoup warrant this. In contrast to

some, he advocates an activist agenda for the interim

government, with the priorities being reform of the

government\’s rice export program; mass transit; an

anti-corruption drive; and energy efficiency.

 

2. Pridiyathorn is joined at the hip with the CDR; in

speaking of the coup leaders, he repeatedly used the word

\”we.\” For the next year or so, Pridiyathorn looks to be

Thailand\’s economic supremo and effective Number Two in the

government. The BOT Governor\’s activist agenda is markedly

different from the views of others who have been appointed to

the CDR\’s economic advisory council, who counsel a minimalist

approach that would allow a future democratically elected

government maximum flexibility in choosing its priorities.

End Summary.

 

3. (C) On September 28 the Ambassador (accompanied by

Embassy Economic Counselor) met with Pridiyathorn Devakula,

Governor of the Bank of Thailand. Pridiyathorn has emerged

as the principal economic adviser to the military government

(CDR) and has been named as the chair of an economic advisory

panel appointed by the CDR. Thai media earlier had tipped

the BOT Governor as a leading candidate for appointment by

the CDR as Prime Minister.

 

\”I Expected A Coup\”

 

3. (C) Pridiyathorn said that he had expected a coup: \”The

situation had developed to an advanced stage, and I along

with everyone else was relieved when it (the coup) happened.\”

Even his U.S.-educated son, he said, was relieved (\”after we

had a talk\”) that the military had stepped in.

 

4. (C) The Ambassador said that it was important that a

Prime Minister be appointed as soon as possible (\”preferably

now\”), and certainly no later than the within two weeks

timeframe pledged by the CDR. Pridiyathorn replied that the

drafting of the new interim constitution, primarily by

prominent legal expert Meechai Ruchupan, is just about

complete. This document will be sent to the King for

signature \”maybe on Saturday (September 30), and then we will

appoint a PM.\”

 

\”I Won\’t Be PM\”, (But Surayud Will Be)

 

5. (C) Pridiyathorn told the Ambassador, \”I won\’t be the

PM.\” He added, however, \”I\’ll be part of the interim

government.\” Pridiyathorn admitted that he had spoken with

the military leaders before the coup: \”They came to me and

said, \’You\’re neutral, we want your help.\’ I don\’t belong to

any political party; I am working for the country.\” He

predicted that Privy Councilor Surayut Chulanond (a retired

Army General) would be appointed PM on Sunday (October 1).

The Ambassador noted the likely perception and skepticism of

the international community in reaction to the appointment by

the coup leaders of a retired army general as the new

civilian PM. He also stressed the importance of adhering to

the 180-day deadline for the drafting of a new constitution

and early elections. Pridiyathorn agreed, and stated that

the CDR was committed to this timetable.

 

\”A Fighter, Not a Thinker\”

 

6. (C) The Ambassador noted that everyone he had spoken

with regards (coup leader) General Sonthi as a good, honest,

straightforward person. Pridiyathorn replied, \”Sonthi is a

fighter, not a thinker. He sees this as a mission to be

accomplished, and then he returns to the barracks.\” The

Ambassador said that he had spoken with former Thai Prime

 

BANGKOK 00006002 002 OF 003

 

Minister Anand Panyarachun about his experiences when he was

appointed as a civilian PM by a military government in the

early 1990\’s: Anand told the Ambassador that the two biggest

mistakes that were made during that period were 1) the

military appointed Anand but remained in place, and 2) the

military, and not Anand, appointed the national assembly.

Both of these mistakes, said the Ambassador, now are being

repeated by the CDR. Pridiyathorn replied that the

appointment of the national assembly will be a joint effort

between the CDR and the new PM. As for the military

remaining in place, Pridiyathorn said that the CDR \”doesn\’t

trust the situation; we are still worried about a

countercoup.\” The Ambassador suggested that the new PM could

improve Thailand\’s image by lifting martial law; Pridiyathorn

replied that \”Our intelligence shows that the TRT is trying

to organize resistance.\”

 

7. (C) In response to a question from the Ambassador,

Pridiyathorn said that the best way to portray the new PM to

Washington is that his background and relationship with the

CDR will hasten the military\’s return to the barracks. \”This

departure from politics,\” he said, \”is everyone\’s intention.\”

 

Priorities of the Interim Government

 

8. (C) Pridiyathorn said that he had discussed the

possibility of being appointed as PM, but priorities argued

against this action: \”The economy is easy — we can grow GDP

at 4-5 percent without too much trouble. The main challenges

to the interim government will be 1) the risk of a

pro-Thaksin countercoup; and 2) the security situation in the

Muslim south. I spoke with someone higher than the CDR

(Embassy Comment: Privy Councilor Prem?) and told him that

it is not right to put an economist at the top. I can be

Number Two.\” Pridiyathorn added that his exact title in the

interim government has not been finalized. He will not

remain as BOT Governor, but will be replaced by BOT Deputy

Governor Tarisa Watanagase. After serving with the interim

government for one year, Pridiyathorn said that he planned to

retire.

 

9. (C) The BOT Governor outlined a fairly activist agenda

for the incoming interim government. He rated four issues as

priorities: reform of the rice export program; mass transit;

corruption; and energy efficiency.

 

Reform of the Rice Export Program

 

10. (C) Pridiyathorn charged that the previous government\’s

rice export program was rife with corruption, and had been

used to buy rural votes. The pre-TRT government had a policy

of taking delivery of farmers\’ rice and paying them 80

percent of the anticipated market value immediately, with the

remainder paid when the rice was sold. Under Thaksin\’s TRT

government, the initial payment price was increased, first to

90 percent in 2002, then to 100 percent in 2003, then to 120

percent in 2004, and 130 percent in 2005. According to

Pridiyathorn, the payments above 100 percent were used to pay

off TRT campaign workers. The BOT Governor said that the

highly lucrative terms offered by the government had diverted

rice away from export-oriented private buyers, causing Thai

rice exports to fall by 25 percent in 2005. Vietnam, he

said, now exports almost as much rice as Thailand. The

policy had also created a huge (nine million tons) stockpile

of rice in government storage facilities. \”Now,\” said

Pridiyathorn, \”we have to get rid of it before the quality

deteriorates, by selling it at a loss.\” (Comment: While we

cannot vouch for the accuracy of Pridiyathorn\’s specific

charges, farm credit experts here acknowledge serious

problems and lack of transparency in the government\’s rice

credit payments program. End Comment.)

 

Mass Transit

 

11. (C) Pridiyathorn thinks the interim government must

commit to large scale mass transit projects. He acknowledged

that the Democrat Party (which controls the Bangkok city

government) is opposed, but maintained that \”we must convince

the public of the need to do this.\”

 

Corruption

 

BANGKOK 00006002 003 OF 003

 

12. (C) The BOT Governor said that the interim government

will vigorously investigate and prosecute corruption in

government dealings, particularly procurements.

 

Energy Efficiency

 

13. (C) Pridiyathorn said that although he had not had a

chance to talk with PM-to-be Surayut about the subject, he

thinks \”he (Sirayud) will agree with me that we have to

address energy efficiency.\” Noting that Thailand ranks by

some measures as the most energy inefficient country in the

world, Pridiyathorn vowed to reduce Thailand\’s excessive

dependence on trucks and move to multi-modal transport

involving trains and containers. While admitting that

conversion to a less truck-intensive transport system is a

long term project, Pridiyathorn said that a good start could

be made in the next 12 months by building container yards

next to railroads: \”By starting this and other big projects

now, we can dictate the future course of Thailand\’s

development.\”

 

Comment

 

14. (C) Pridiyathorn obviously is joined at the hip with the

CDR; in speaking of the coup leaders and their plans, he

repeatedly used the word \”we.\” For the next year or so,

Pridiyathorn looks to be Thailand\’s economic supremo. The

BOT Governor\’s activist agenda for the interim government is

markedly different from the views of other economic advisory

council appointees, who counsel a minimalist approach that

would allow a future democratically elected government

maximum flexibility in choosing its priorities.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:16 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

06BANGKOK5973 THAILAND COUP: SONTHI ASKS SURAYUD TO BE INTERIM PRIME MINISTER

with one comment

“79989”,”9/28/2006 11:03″,

 

“06BANGKOK5973”,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO2963

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5973/01 2711103

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 281103Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1952

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 6098

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2150

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005973

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR P, EAP, EAP/MLS

NSC FOR WILDER, MORROW

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND COUP: SONTHI ASKS SURAYUD TO BE INTERIM

PRIME MINISTER

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) I called on retired General and Privy Councilor

Surayud Chulanont at the Privy Council Chambers on September

28. Surayud began by apologizing for telling me on the night

of the coup that he did not know of anything going on that

night. He maintains that when we spoke, he was on his way

home from a palace religious ceremony–attended by Privy

Council head Prem–for the Queen\’s late mother. After

returning home, he had turned on the TV and saw Thaksin\’s

attempt to declare emergency rule and fire Army Chief Sonthi.

At that point, Prem called and instructed him to \”come to

the palace.\”

 

2. (C) Turning to the current state of affairs, Surayud

explained that on the evening of September 27, General Sonthi

Boonyaratklin had come to his residence and asked him to be

the interim Prime Minister. Surayud responded that he didn\’t

really want the post, but if the King approved it, he

obviously would take the position. I responded to this by

saying that \”you and I both know what will happen;\” Surayud

will take the job. We shared a laugh over the frustrating

nature of the position: a difficult job for 8-10 months that

angers many people and then you get kicked out.

 

3. (C) Surayud reiterated the common assertion by many Thai

that the coup was \”the only way out.\” Thai politics were at

\”a total stalemate.\” Surayud hopes that the coup, in

hindsight, will be seen as one step back, but two steps

forward for Thai democracy. I told Surayud that he is the

right person for the job in this difficult situation. As PM,

he will make it possible for the Council for National

Security (CNS, the CDRM\’s new name under the pending interim

constitution) to step back and permit the interim civilian

government to have more authority and leeway to pave the way

towards the restoration of an elected government. If a

civilian technocrat such as banker Pridyathorn or UNCTAD

Chief Supachai had been selected, that may have sent a better

initial signal to foreign observers, but would not have

inspired the CNS to take a more hands-off role.

 

4. (C) I added that most people felt that it would be

defensible for the CNS to retain certain, circumscribed

powers, allowing them to guard against a counter-coup or to

improve security in the troubled South. However, several

articles in the draft interim constitution that we have seen

allow the CNS to have final say in the selection of ministers

and drafters for the new constitution. Moreover, the clause

preventing members of the interim parliament and

constitutional commission from running for office in the next

two years had reportedly been dropped. These problematic

elements, frankly, run counter to otherwise positive signs

that GEN Sonthi intends to make good on his pledge to \”get

out\” of politics. Surayud agreed, adding that he had argued

that the CNS should step back as much as possible. According

to Surayud, Sonthi does not want political power.

 

5. (C) Turning to the public reaction to Surayud\’s new role,

I explained that some are likely to criticize the selection

of a former Army Chief as Prime Minister. Others may

criticize the selection of a sitting Privy Councilor as an

indication that the King is calling the shots. Surayud

responded by noting that a retired military officer is a

civilian, adding, \”I challenge anyone to look at my military

record and find problems with it.\”

 

6. (C) I reviewed the USG response to the coup, including our

strong public criticism. Surayud said he understood

perfectly. I explained that Washington was examining a

suspension of assistance under Section 508. Surayud

acknowledged this, saying it was \”just like in 1991.\”

Surayud explained that the interim constitution is scheduled

for release by Royal Proclamation on September 29, with the

announcement of the new PM next Monday or Tuesday. I noted

that October 3 will be day 14 following the coup, and that it

is important that Sonthi and the CDRM hold to their

self-imposed two week target to appoint a civilian

government. Surayud agreed and believes that they are doing

just that. Finally, Surayud asked that if his new position

 

BANGKOK 00005973 002 OF 002

 

does come to pass, he would welcome an early call on him.

 

COMMENT

——-

7. (C) Surayud is a well-respected, non-partisan figure with

a sterling track record as a professional military officer.

After PM Chuan Leekpai selected him to lead the Army in 1998,

Surayud undertook a meaningful series of military reforms

that served to professionalize and de-politicize the

uniformed ranks. During his tenure as Army Chief, Surayud

also managed to push back against Burmese incursions into

Thai territory, while ending Thai efforts to push Karen

refugees over the border. The CDRM has obviously reached out

to Surayud because he is one of the few individuals with the

credentials and prestige to unite the country in this

troubled period. Under the current circumstances, Surayud is

arguably the best person to head the interim civilian

government. He is trusted by the palace and the military,

and enjoys widespread respect across a broad spectrum of Thai

citizens because of his integrity and previous service. His

appointment would be a very positive development for Thailand

internally, as well as for Thai-U.S. relations, and we should

welcome it if and when it is announced.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:15 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

06BANGKOK5972 DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER DISCUSSES COUP AFTERMATH

with 2 comments

“79986″,”9/28/2006 10:57″,”06BANGKOK5972″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK5949″,”VZCZCXRO2940

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5972/01 2711057

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 281057Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1949

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 6095

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1530

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RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 005972

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

TREASURY PASS TO FRB SAN FRANCISCO/TERESA CURRAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KDEM, MOPS, ASEC, TH

SUBJECT: DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER DISCUSSES COUP AFTERMATH

 

REF: BANGKOK 5949 (SEPT 27 UPDATE)

 

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

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Democrat Party (DP) leader Abhisit Vejjajiva expressed

confidence that Council for Democratic Reform (CDR) leader

General Sonthi would happily relinquish power, but Abhisit

thought the CDR would have difficulty restoring full civil

liberties until taking measures against key Thaksin

administration figures. In a September 28 discussion with

the Ambassador, Abhisit said the prospective selection of

Privy Councilor Surayud Chulanont would best enable the

withdrawal of the military from political life. Abhisit

expressed confidence that his party\’s image had improved in

recent months, but he did not foresee the disintegration of

Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. Nevertheless, Abhisit

felt that any significant realignment of politicians would

await the promulgation of the interim constitution and the

formation of the interim civilian administration. Abhisit

also pressed on USG interest in restarting negotiation of a

free trade agreement with the interim civilian

administration, and he noted former Foreign Minister Surin

Pitsuwan\’s availability for the position of UN Secretary

General. End Summary.

 

CONCERNED ABOUT THAKSIN\’S SIDE, NOT SONTHI

——————————————

 

2. (C) Receiving the Ambassador at Democrat Party

headquarters, Abhisit opened the meeting characterizing

himself as \”concerned\” about the current political situation.

Abhisit said that, based on his knowledge of General

Sonthi\’s character, he was confident Sonthi had not carried

out the September 19 coup in order to put himself in a

position of power. However, Abhisit worried that Thaksin

loyalists would try reasserting themselves in political life,

and this possibility would make it difficult for the CDR to

restore full civil liberties. Thaksin\’s wife, Potjaman, had

recently withdrawn 20 million Baht (approximately 540,000

USD) in cash, and some of this money would surely be used to

gain influence with members of the interim government, if not

members of the CDR itself. Abhisit surmised that Thaksin

loyalists likely had instigated the September 26 burning of

schools in Kamphengphet (reftel).

 

3. (C) Abhisit said that it probably would be necessary for

the government to prosecute corrupt Thaksin administration

figures, in order to calm the situation sufficiently to allow

full restoration of civil liberties. Toward that end,

Abhisit requested that the Ambassador provide the CDR with

further information about potential irregularities involved

in the RTG\’s purchase from General Electric of CTX explosives

detection equipment. If the USG could provide the names of

corrupt politicians connected to that purchase, this could

provide a basis for further RTG investigation, with a

salutary effect on the political environment.

 

BULLISH ON SURAYUD

——————

 

4. (C) Privy Councilor Surayud Chulanont probably represented

the best candidate for interim Prime Minister, Abhisit

averred, even though one of the other potential candidates,

UN Conference on Trade and Development Secretary General

Supachai Panitchpakdi, had longstanding ties to the Democrat

Party. Contrasting Supachai\’s training in economics with

Surayud\’s Army career, Abhisit said that the military

probably could not soon \”return to the barracks\” under an

interim Prime Minister with a purely civilian background,

like Supachai.

 

5. (C) Abhisit observed that there was substantial wrangling

 

BANGKOK 00005972 002 OF 003

 

over key elements of the interim constitution. Early drafts

had included provisions that would bar members of the CDR,

the interim legislature, and the constitutional drafting

assembly from seeking political positions for a two-year

period. Abhisit thought such provisions would send the right

signal. However, lead interim constitution drafter Meechai

Ruchuphan had altered those provisions so as to remove any

restriction on members of the CDR and most others in the

interim government. The Ambassador expressed the importance

of the CDR transitioning to a civilian-led government as soon

as possible, and doing so in a way that would reassure the

international community that the CDR members were not intent

on remaining in power.

 

TRT LIKELY TO REMAIN, BUT DP LOOKING GOOD

—————————————–

 

6. (C) The Ambassador asked Abhisit\’s view of the future of

TRT. Abhisit believed Thaksin\’s party would remain part of

the political landscape. Pending lawsuits that might have

resulted in the dissolution of TRT and the Democrat Party

(for improprieties in the April 2006 election) would likely

become moot now that the CDR had scrapped the 1997

Constitution and the associated legal framework. Some in TRT

would be tempted to use the referendum on the next

constitution to try to demonstrate popular opposition to the

September 19 coup, thereby regaining some political momentum,

Abhisit commented.

 

7. (C) When asked whether he expected an influx of TRT

figures into the Democrat Party, Abhisit said most

politicians were waiting to see how the constitution and

other aspects of the political system would look before

making a move. He had been in contact with some TRT figures

prior to the coup, and there were some people (NFI) he would

like to bring over to the DP if the CDR did not include them

in the interim cabinet. But Abhisit was reluctant to sully

the DP\’s image by recruiting TRT figures with tainted

reputations, and those who were clean lacked the influence to

boost the DP\’s prospects in a meaningful way.

 

8. (C) Even before the coup, DP research had shown the

party\’s image was improving, and not simply because the DP

was the principal alternative to TRT. Polling showed the gap

between the DP and TRT narrowing from 32 percent to 13

percent. Abhisit claimed a \”massive shift\” in public

perception of the Democrats, who were increasingly seen as

having meaningful policies and ideas, caring for the poor,

and being responsive to the people\’s needs. However, Abhisit

acknowledged the DP had trailed TRT in terms of projecting

strong leadership and an ability to achieve its goals.

 

9. (C) Abhisit lamented the success of the Chavalit

administration (in the mid 1990\’s) in painting the DP as a

party of the South and the wealthy. This image persisted to

the present day in the Northeast, Thailand\’s most populous

region. Abhisit was more optimistic about gaining strength

in central and northern Thailand, noting that, had elections

been held in late 2006, he would have anticipated winning

four of ten seats in Chiang Mai, Thaksin\’s home province

(where the DP won 18 percent of the vote in 2005). In the

northern province of Mae Hong Son, the DP could have won a

majority of the seats at stake, Abhisit projected.

 

10. (C) Even assuming TRT\’s continued existence, it would not

be impossible for the DP to win a plurality in the next

national election, Abhisit said. The key would be for the

vote in the Northeast to be split. Abhisit noted that the

Chart Thai party, or even the newly-formed Pracharat Party of

former Interior Minister Sanoh Thienthong, might pull a

meaningful number of votes from TRT in the Northeast.

 

FTA

 

BANGKOK 00005972 003 OF 003

 

11. (C) Abhisit pressed the Ambassador on whether the USG

would be able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the

interim government. When the Ambassador noted that

negotiations had effectively ended once Thaksin dissolved

parliament and became caretaker Prime Minister, Abhisit

indicated his focus was not on political optics but on legal

restrictions. The DP was watching closely the prospects of a

U.S.-Thai FTA, Abhisit said, implying that the party might

reconsider its previous opposition now that Thaksin\’s

administration would no longer be positioned to profit from

the agreement.

 

SURIN PITSUWAN\’S OPTIONS

————————

 

12. (C) Abhisit noted that former Foreign Minister Surin

Pitsuwan had been rumored as a potential candidate for

Foreign Minister in the soon-to-be-formed interim government.

One possible scenario involved the inclusion of both Surin

Pitsuwan and former TRT Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce

Minister Somkid Jatusripitak in the interim cabinet; this

scenario included Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda

becoming interim Prime Minister, Abhisit relayed, since Prem

had extensive experience dealing with political party

figures. Other scenarios even included Surin heading the

interim government, Abhisit said, while Surin also had made

it clear that he was available for the position of UN

Secretary General. Abhisit joked that, while ASEAN candidate

 

SIPDIS

Surakiart Sathirathai might appear opportunistic in having

jumped from Thaksin\’s camp to the CDR\’s, this quick shift

might demonstrate Surakiart\’s suitability to become UNSYG,

because it showed he could work with all sides in a dispute.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

13. (C) Abhisit appears to be among the many in Bangkok who

see the September 19 coup as a necessary step to rid the

country of Thaksin. He did not appear particularly troubled

by the current limitations on civil liberties and political

party activities, but he clearly anticipated that these would

be relaxed in the near future, especially if the CDR were to

install an interim Prime Minister capable of controlling the

security environment and containing the lingering influence

of Thaksin\’s loyalists.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:13 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

06BANGKOK5949 THAILAND UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 27

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“79849″,”9/27/2006 11:18″,

 

“06BANGKOK5949″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

“CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO1752

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5949/01 2701118

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 271118Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1929

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 6093

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2145

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005949

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

TREASURY PASS TO FRB SAN FRANCISCO/TERESA CURRAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 27

 

Classified By: DCM Alexander A. Arvizu, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Council on Democratic Reform (CDR) says

it will announce the interim prime minister on Sunday. Privy

Councillor and retired General Surayud Chulanond appears to

be the lead candidate again, and many contacts anticipate he

will be chosen. The CDR announced the establishment of four

advisory councils composed of many respected civil society

leaders, perhaps in an effort to co-opt potential critics. If

so, the effort did not work; \”members\” were not consulted in

advance and several declined to participate. Several noted

jurists who helped draft the interim Constitution have

withdrawn from any further role assisting the CDR — at

least, officially — in response to public criticism of their

previous service in the Thaksin government. Former Defense

Minister Thamarak appears to \”under the control\” of the CDR,

although staying in his own home. END SUMMARY.

 

INTERIM PRIME MINISTER – GENERAL SURAYUD?

—————————————–

 

2. (C) Speculation has turned back to Privy Councillor and

retired General Surayud Chulanont as the leading candidate to

be the interim Prime Minister. Surayud\’s name has come up

repeatedly during the prolonged political crisis of the past

year as a possible replacement for Thaksin, particularly when

the opposition was pushing for the King to name a prime

minister by invoking Article 7 of the Constitution. On the

positive side, Surayud is very widely respected across the

economic and geographic lines dividing the country. He is

unlikely to be viewed as seeking power for himself. The

negatives are just as obvious: as a retired General, he is

technically civilian, but choosing a retired military officer

will not be well-received by the international community.

Also, Surayud, as a privy councillor, is also identified with

the King, which could complicate efforts by the CDR and other

Thai officials to dispel the rumors that the King was behind

the coup. Nonetheless, for today, at least, Surayud seems to

be the front-runner. The CDR says that they will announce

the new PM on Sunday.

 

3. (C) According to a local academic, the CDR tried, and

failed, to get Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to

give advice on the PM candidates. According to the

professor, Prem would not indicate a preference, but only

said that the interim PM should be \”brave, honest, and

loyal.\” The professor also opined that Surayud was the most

likely candidate, dismissing UNCTAD deputy head Supachai and

other candidates as lacking the stature needed to do the job.

 

CDR FORMS ADVISORY BODIES, FAILS TO CONSULT ADVISORS

——————————————— ——-

 

4. (C) The media reported that the CDR on September 26 formed

four advisory committees, covering economic affairs; foreign

affairs; reconciliation and social justice; and ethics,

governance, and the prevention of corruption and abuse of

power. It appears from both press reports and private

conversations with contacts that the CDR did not consult most

members before including them on these committees. Academics

have substantial representation on the committees, as no less

than 32 of the 66 members are professors, assistant

professors, or associate professors. Bank of Thailand

Governor Pridiyathorn Devakula, rumored as a potential Prime

Minister, heads the advisory committee on economic affairs,

while MFA Permanent Secretary Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn sits on

the advisory committee on foreign affairs. (Comment: Given

the plan for a transition in coming days to a new regime

under an interim constitution, with the formation of a new

cabinet reportedly imminent, it is unclear why the CDR needs

to establish these bodies, particularly as some cover

subjects reportedly outside of the realm of the CDR,s

planned successor body, the Security Council. One possible

explanation: the formation of these committees may be

intended to co-opt potential critics of the military coup —

or to publicly signal short-listed candidates for the next

cabinet. If so, it hasn\’t worked very well, since several

have indignantly refused to serve on the committees. End

Comment.)

 

BANGKOK 00005949 002 OF 002

 

MFA RUMORS

———-

 

5. (C) A regular MFA contact said that Senator Kraisak

Choonhavan, rumored as a longshop candidate for Foreign

Minister, is not well regarded among the MFA rank and file.

He suggested that most of his colleagues are hoping that

either Vitthaya Vejjajiva or Tej Bunnag will be named interim

Foreign Minister. Tej, former Thai Ambassador to Washington,

Beijing and Paris is regarded by many Thai diplomats as being

a serious bureaucrat capable of managing relations with both

the United States and China. Both Tej and Vitthaya were

placed on the foreign affairs advisory committee (see para

5); Kraisak was not.

 

6. (C) Our source also speculated that several senior

diplomats will be hurt by Thaksin\’s departure. Four who may

be affected include AMB Jullapong Nonsrichai, presently the

Thai AMB in Beijing, who was supposed to go to London as

Ambassador where he was expected to keep an eye on Thaksin\’s

interests; London DCM Bansarn Bunnag, former chief of staff

to Surakiart, who was slated to be the next AMB to Burma

(Note: He\’s in trouble for links to Thaksin and for picking

Thaksin up in London last week at the airport in a Thai

Embassy limo flying the Thai flag); Information Section DDG

Maris Sangiampol who had been seconded to Thaksin\’s staff for

some time and who was slated to become an Ambassador without

portfolio, and; Piraya Khempol who is former deputy Prime

Minister Surakiart Sathirathai\’s Chief of Staff and who was

also supposed to become a Minister without portfolio.

 

THANKS, AND HERE\’S YOUR HAT

—————————

 

7. (U) Several well-known jurists who worked on the draft

interim constitution have officially withdrawn from any

advisory role for the CDR. Borwornsak Uwanno and his cousin

Wissanu Krea-Ngam are both highly respected for their legal

acumen, but have been strongly criticized for serving in the

Thaksin government. Both resigned in recent months, but

apparently not soon enough to salvage their reputations

completely. We understand that they will continue to assist

with legal advice, behind the scenes. Meechai Ruchuphan, who

helped draft previous post-coup constitutions, has also

withdrawn from any formal role, in response to public

criticism. The draft constitution is already being reviewed

by other leading academics, in any case.

 

THREE SCHOOLS BURNED

——————–

 

8. (U) Three schools were burned in Kamphengphet province

(northwest of Bangkok) on the night of September 26.

Although the press speculates that this was some kind of

protest against the coup, our police contacts in the province

say they are still investigating the causes. (Comment:

Kamphengphet is not a hotbed of pro-Thaksin feeling, and

burning schools does not seem like the most obvious way to

show displeasure with the coup. The press reaction does

demonstrate, again, that fear of some kind of counter-coup is

quite widespread, despite the complete lack of opposition to

the coup so far. End comment.)

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

——————-

 

9. (C) Several sources confirm that former Defense Minister

Thamarak is \”under the control of the CDR.\” According to an

MOD source, Thamarak is at his own home, and has been asked

to stay there.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:12 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

06BANGKOK5939 LIFE BEFORE THE COUP – EC COURT VERDICT

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“79791”,”9/27/2006 4:40″,”06BANGKOK5939″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO1322

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHBK #5939 2700440

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 270440Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1919

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

BANGKOK 005939

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: LIFE BEFORE THE COUP – EC COURT VERDICT

 

REF: BANGKOK 4490 (COURT CONVICTS ELECTION

 

COMMISSIONERS)

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, Reasons 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (U) Days before the coup, the Criminal Court found the

three former Election Commissioners (EC) guilty of electoral

law violations during their oversight of the annulled April 2

elections. Specifically, the court ruled on September 15

that the Commissioners purposefully stalled action on the

Democrat Party\’s allegation that Prime Minister Thaksin\’s

Thai-Rak-Thai Party (TRT) bankrolled small parties to

participate in that election. Each received two-year jail

sentences plus a ten-year revocation of voting rights, and

each was released on bail for 120,000 baht (USD 3250) pending

appeal within thirty days. This is the second guilty verdict

rendered against the former EC (reftel).

 

2. (C) While the first verdict has been appealed by all

three individuals, court officials could not confirm whether

appeals have been filed for the second verdict. They could

only confirm that both cases remain ongoing in the judiciary

and commented that the coup does not affect either of the

cases.

 

3. (C) Comment: The coup has put \”on hold\” various court

cases from both pro- and anti-Thaksin factions. This verdict

is worth noting now for two reasons: first, it provides

further corroboration for the argument that the April

election was seriously flawed, and that the Election

Commissioners were not acting impartially. Second, the

court\’s verdict also shows that there was some progress being

made, within the framework of the 1997 Constitution and Thai

law, in pushing back against Thaksin\’s control. End comment.

BOYCE

 

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:08 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006

06BANGKOK5929 THAI OFFICIALS PLEA FOR UNDERSTANDING

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“79700”,”9/26/2006 11:02″,”06BANGKOK5929″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK5894″,”null

Debra P Tous 09/27/2006 10:12:46 AM From DB/Inbox: Debra P Tous

 

Cable

Text:

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 05929

 

SIPDIS

CXBKKSVR:

ACTION: POL

INFO: TSA AMB CHRON CONS DAO DATTLO DCM ECON JTF

JUSMAG NAS PA RMA SA RSO

 

DISSEMINATION: POL1

CHARGE: PROG

 

APPROVED: AMB:BOYCERL

DRAFTED: POL:SUTTONSM

CLEARED: DCM: ARVIZUAA

 

VZCZCBKI062

OO RUEHC RUEHZS RUEHBY RUEHUL RHEFDIA RHHMUNA

RHHMUNA RHFJSCC RUCPDOC RUEATRS RUEAIIA

DE RUEHBK #5929/01 2691102

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 261102Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1909

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 6089

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2140

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 005929

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

TREASURY PASS TO FRB SAN FRANCISCO/TERESA CURRAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAI OFFICIALS PLEA FOR UNDERSTANDING

 

REF: BANGKOK 05894 (NEW CONSTITUTION DRAFTER BRIEFS

AMBASSADOR)

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The MFA permanent secretary and the ruling

military council\’s Secretary General reassured the diplomatic

corps that Thailand would return to democratic rule as soon

as possible. The Secretary General personally assured the

Ambassador during a pull-aside that a civilian prime minister

would be named by Sunday. The Thai side asked for

understanding from Thailand\’s \”friends\” for the special

circumstances here. They laid our a timetable for the return

to elected government:

 

— an interim constitution by Friday

— an interim PM within the promised two week window

— quick establishment of a constitution drafting committee

— \”eight months and 15 days\” for the drafting and review of

the constitution, and its submission in a referendum to the

public

— \”free and fair elections\” within a year from now.

 

2. (C) Summary continued: The ruling military council will

transform itself into a Council on National Security once it

has transfered power to the interim prime minister and will

retain only limited powers, largely in response to continued

concerns about the possibility of a counter-coup. The

interim civilian government will have an uphill battle to

keep to the timetable for the constitution and elections that

has been promised. End summary.

 

3. (C) MFA PermSec Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn and NSC Secretary

General Winai Phattiyakul (also SecGen of the Council for

Democratic Reform under the Constitutional Monarchy – CDRM)

called the diplomatic corps for a meeting on 9/25. Krit

admitted that the \”coups are wrong and undesirable\” and

recognized that many might see the situation as \”black and

white.\” But he hoped that diplomats would recognize that

there were gray areas. He pointed out that the \”people as a

whole seem to have welcomed the military intervention.\” He

also emphasized that the CDRM did not want to hold on to

power itself, but would turn over power to an interim

civilian government as soon as possible, hopefully within two

weeks. Many other governments had already passed judgment on

the military intervention; Krit asked that \”friends\” continue

to keep their judgments under review and reconsider them in

the light of new information. Because the transition was

peaceful, Thailand hopes to \”win back the trust of the

international community in our economy and in our deep

commitment to democracy.\”

 

4. (C) Krit pointed out that the CDRM was already restoring

some on the mechanisms of normal government. The Election

Commission would continue to function, and was \”already

making progress toward free and fair elections.\” The

National Counter-Corruption Commission was empowered to

investigate government corruption issues, along with the

Auditor-General. The CDRM had affirmed that the office of the

Ombudsman still functioned, and could receive complaints from

citizens. The National Human Rights Commission would

continue to carry out its mandate.

 

A ROSE IS A ROSE IS…

———————-

 

5. (C) Krit said that the CDRM had learned that the initial

rendering of its title (The Council for Democratic Reform

under the Constitutional Monarchy) had caused

misunderstandings and \”wrongly suggested some role for His

Majesty in the September 19 intervention.\” Therefore, the

official title would now be simply the Council for Democratic

Reform CDR) (reftel) During the Q\’s and A\’s, Krit returned to

the question of the King\’s role. He emphasized that the CDR

had their audience with the King \”after the process of the

takeover\” to report what had happened. \”The King had no

foreknowledge\” of the coup. \”He is above politics. Remember

the past year; he has been cautious not to intervene. He

turned down requests to appoint a prime minister under

Article 7 of the Constitution. That was a clear indication

of how the King applies his role as constitutional monarch.\”

He added, \”We don\’t want any misunderstanding about this —

hence, the name change.\”

TIMELINE FOR RETURN TO ELECTED GOVERNMENT

—————————————–

 

6. (C) General Winai then laid out the timeline for return to

democratic government. (Note: his presentation closely

mirrored the account we had already received from legal

expert Borwornsak Uwanno – reftel). He also emphasized that

the CDR did not want to hold on to power. They had a legal

advisory group working day and night, and it had completed

the draft interim Constitution. That draft was under

consideration now; deans of the preeminent law faculties of

the country were assisting in the review. The CDR expected

to announce an interim Constitution on September 29. Shortly

thereafter, it would name an interim civilian Prime Minister

and cabinet. (Note: In a pull-aside after the meeting, the

Ambassador emphasized to General Winai how important it was

for the CDR to hold to its announced timetable and transfer

power to a civilian government as soon as possible. Winai

assured the Ambassador that the CDR fully intended to do

this, and predicted that they would be able to name the new

PM by Sunday. end note.) Once the CDR had transfered

authority to the civilian PM, it would become the Council on

National Security, and it would have limited authority

primarily in matters of national security. During the Q\’s

and A\’s, they were questioned again about the role of this

Council. Winai emphasized that the new Council would have a

\”minimal\” mandate to look after national security issues and

ensure that there is a free and fair election. Krit added

that the Council on National Security was necessary to

prevent \”counter-coup efforts.\”

 

7. (U) The CDR would also name two other bodies. First

would be a legislative body. This would serve as a

Parliament to handle required legislation while the interim

government was in power. The CDR would also name

approximately 2000 people from all walks of life and all

parts of the country, and they would in turn choose 100-200

legal experts who would then draft the new constitution.

 

8. (U) The drafting process would take six months. The

government would then take one month to example the draft and

consult. It would give the drafting commission 15 days to

make corrections to the draft, and would then prepare to hold

a referendum. They anticipated this would take one month.

According to this timetable, the new constitution would be

ready in \”eight months and 15 days.\” After that, \”free and

fair elections\” would be organized, within one year from now.

 

ECONOMIC ISSUES

—————-

 

9. (U) Winai said that there would be minimal economic

impact. The new airport would open on schedule this week,

and the country\’s international trade policy would remain

unchanged, including regarding free-trade agreements.

 

CIVIL LIBERTIES ISSUES

———————-

 

10. (U) Winai referred to the many questions about the

restrictions on civil liberties, especially freedom of

assembly. \”Thai hold these freedoms dear,\” he said. He

promised that political activities could be resumed when the

situation returns to normal, and that press freedom would be

restored soon. (During the Q\’s and A\’s, Winai also

underscored that the CDR had not dissolved any political

parties; the parties would be able to participate in the

elections next year.) Winai concluded saying that the \”trust

and confidence of our international partners is necessary for

us to return to normalcy.\”

 

11. (U) During the Q\’s and A\’s, Winai took the opportunity to

highlight the coup\’s role in forestalling possible further

violence. He refered to a \”concrete intelligence report\”

that some pro-Thaksin forces planned to bring supporters to

Bangkok to confront the opposition rally scheduled for

September 20. Winai claimed that \”violence was imminent\” and

the decision for military intervention had to be made \”to

prevent loss of life.\” It was better to act before a clash

than after, he said.

12. (U) Most questions focused on civil liberties and the

transition to democracy. The Ambassador expressed concern

about the four former officials reportedly detained; he asked

whether they would charged with any offense, or released.

Winai said that the CDR had invited them under its

protection. They would not be charged with any offense, and

they would be allowed to go free \”at an appropriate time.\” He

said that they were not being mistreated, and that their

families were allowed to visit. \”We need to take measures to

keep the situation stable,\” he said. The Australian

ambassador pointed out that the members of the interim

legislature and the 2000-member \”electoral college\” that will

chose the constitution drafting committee were all appointed

by the CDR, through a process that was inherently not

democratic. The UK representative also asked whether these

bodies would have representatives from upcountry, or would

they have largely Bangkok-based participants? Krit responded

that \”everything is under discussion\” and that the CDR

planned to have the widest possible involvement. Another

democratic element would be introduced when the draft

constitution was submitted to a referendum. \”The points you

make are at the forefront of the minds of those deciding,\”

Krit said.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

13. (C) The CDR appears to on track for keeping its first big

commitment, setting up the interim constitution and

transferring power to the interim PM. We will continue to

emphasize the importance of keeping to this timetable. We

were struck by a couple of points in the presentation. One

is that some of the CDR decisions are clearly driven by

concerns of a possible counter-coup. This will make the

transition back to full respect for civil liberties more

difficult. Second is the angst over how to portray the

King\’s role. On the one hand, the CDR wants the legitimacy

that comes from the perception that the King has accepted, if

not approved, the coupmakers\’ actions. At the same time,

they do not want to be accused of causing damage to the

King\’s reputation by having exposed him to international

criticism. (The reference to the King as \”an idiot\” by a

reporter asking questions at the State Department briefing

has already excited great concern at the MFA. there is also

lingering concern about the book \”The King Never Smiles\”

which, though banned in Thailand, is on the minds of some.)

We were also struck by the military precision of the

timetable Gen. Winai laid out: precisely eight months and 15

days until the new constitution. The CDR is handing the

interim government a very tough timetable. Getting

Thailand\’s fractious civil society to go along with the CDR\’s

precise timetable, while allowing a return to normal civil

liberties, will be a difficult trick.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 6:04 am

Posted in Confidential, Coup 2006