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

Archive for the ‘Thai Rak Thai’ Category

05BANGKOK3471 THAILAND: TRT FACTIONAL TENSIONS FLARE OVER AUDITOR-GENERAL CONTROVERSY

leave a comment »

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003471

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

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

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV TH TRT

SUBJECT: THAILAND: TRT FACTIONAL TENSIONS FLARE OVER

AUDITOR-GENERAL CONTROVERSY

 

REF: (A) BANGKOK 3381 (B) BANGKOK 2347

 

¶1. (SBU) Summary: Opposition to Thai Senate efforts to

replace popular Auditor-General Charuvan — up to now led by

the Democrat Party (DP) — has been taken up by one of the

ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party’s key factions. Powerful

TRT faction leader Sanoh Thienthong has drawn Prime Minister

Thaksin’s ire by spearheading a petition by some 60 TRT MPs

to the Senate against submitting to the King the nomination

of former Finance Ministry Deputy Permanent Secretary Wisut

Montriwat as Charuvan’s replacement. Prime Minister Thaksin,

whose administration may be vulnerable to Charuvan’s drive to

root out government malfeasance, has reportedly retorted that

MPs should not meddle in actions by the Senate. The bold

move by Sanoh in an atmosphere of heightened attention to

allegations of bribe-taking by politicians in the awarding of

new airport construction contracts cracks the facade of unity

that the TRT had hoped to present to its critics in academia,

the press, political opposition and the general public. End

Summary.

 

MOVE TO REPLACE CRUSADING AUDITOR-GENERAL SPARKS CRITICISM

 

¶2. (U) As noted in ref. A, a decision in 2003 by the

Constitutional Court that Khunying Charuvan Methanaka’s

appointment as Auditor-General was unconstitutional led the

Senate on May 12 to name a successor, former Finance Ministry

Deputy Permanent Secretary Wisut Montriwat. This decision

sparked accusations — largely from opposition DP officials

— that the Thaksin administration influenced the nominally

non-political Senate to get rid of a troublesomely efficient

corruption investigator. Critics of efforts to replace

Charuvan say that the upper body has no constitutional

grounds on which to remove her and appoint a new successor.

Wisut’s supporters disagree.

 

THAI RAK THAI FACTION LEADER GETS INVOLVED IN CASE

 

¶3. (U) On May 26, reportedly up to 60 TRT MPs (of 377 total

TRT congresspersons in the 500 seat lower house of

Parliament), headed by disgruntled TRT Wang Nam Yen faction

leader Sanoh Thienthong, appealed for Senate Speaker Suchon

Chaleekrua not to submit Wisut’s name to the King as

replacement for Charuvan. In their letter to the Deputy

Speaker’s office, the MPs reasoned that the Constitutional

Court,s ruling, which declared the unconstitutionality of

the Senate’s earlier selection of Charuwan as the

Auditor-General, did not stipulate that she be removed from

the office. Therefore, they argued, the royal appointment of

Charuvan as the Auditor-General was still in effect, and that

presenting Wisut to the King as new Auditor-General would be

both unconstitutional and disrespectful to the King by

involving him in the controversy.

 

¶4. (U) Thaksin has reportedly scathingly rebuked some of

the MPs, telling a group on May 26 that the Senate’s actions

are not the business of the lower house and that they have to

follow the rules. Thaksin has had tense relations with Sanoh

Thienthong from the period of his first administration

(2001-5), when Sanoh regularly complained that he and his

faction were being eclipsed by a rival faction headed by

Thaksin’s sister Yaowapha Wongsawasdi and not receiving

sufficient senior appointments in the Thaksin government.

The complaints of ill-treatment became louder following onset

of Thaksin’s second term earlier this year and selection of

Thaksin’s new cabinet.

 

POLITICS IN THE BACKGROUND

 

¶5. (U) Sanoh has not attempted to conceal his unhappiness

over what he considers the slighting treatment that he and

his faction members and allies have received from Thaksin in

the awarding of offices following February’s election (ref.

B). Sanoh’s Wang Nam Yen, and allied Wang Nam Yom and the

Suchart factions, feel that they were

“awarded” a relatively small number of cabinet posts compared

to Yaowapha Wongsawasdi’s Wang Buam Ban faction and the

Bangkok faction headed by Agriculture Minister Sudarat

Keyuraphun. Sanoh’s public show of support for Charuvan, a

bureaucrat considered potentially embarrassing to Thaksin’s

government, strongly reflects factional fissures and

jockeying for position and leverage within TRT.

 

POTENTIAL PROBLEM FOR THAKSIN

 

¶6. (SBU) Comment. No one is predicting the collapse of

Thaksin’s coalition. However, the bold move by Sanoh amidst

the furor over the allegations of bribe-taking by politicians

in the awarding of new airport construction contracts damages

any show of unity the TRT hoped to present to its critics in

academia, the press, its political opposition and the general

public. Sanoh is hardly the ideal champion for

anti-corruption. He has never enjoyed an untainted

reputation and his public support for Charuvan, and by

extension her campaign to uncover government malfeasance, is

a clear shot by Sanoh across Thaksin’s bows for his own

political reasons. It is a strong signal to the Prime

Minister that Sanoh and his allies can cause trouble if they

do not receive more generous treatment in the next Thaksin

cabinet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

August 28, 2011 at 6:13 am

09BANGKOK2902 REDS AND YELLOWS SET TO CONGREGATE (SEPARATELY) THIS WEEKEND

leave a comment »

“234558”,”11/13/2009 11:06″,”09BANGKOK2902″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“09BANGKOK2405|09BANGKOK2746|09BANGKOK2855|

09BANGKOK2875|09BANGKOK2887”,

“VZCZCXRO7091

PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #2902/01 3171106

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 131106Z NOV 09

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8939

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2101

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7691

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 5970

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0171

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 7287

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002902

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR WALTON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: REDS AND YELLOWS SET TO CONGREGATE

(SEPARATELY) THIS WEEKEND

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2887 (THAKSIN EXTRADTION REJECTED)

B. BANGKOK 2855 (COLOR ME GREEN)

C. BANGKOK 2875 (THAKSIN PUTS HIS FOOT IN HIS MOUTH)

D. BANGKOK 2746 (THAKSIN MOVES PROMISE TURBULENT

NOVEMBER)

E. BANGKOK 2405 (BRAWL NEAR BORDER)

 

BANGKOK 00002902 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: POL Counselor George Kent, REASON 1.4 (B) AND (D)

 

1. (U) SUMMARY: The upcoming weekend will see red and yellow

political rallies, though on different days and different

parts of the country. On Saturday, November 14, the United

Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), aka

\”red-shirts,\” will hold a fundraising concert in Khao Yai

National Park, two hours outside of Bangkok. On Sunday,

November 15 the yellow-shirted People\’s Alliance for

Democracy (PAD) plans to hold a demonstration in downtown

Bangkok protesting recent moves by fugitive former Prime

Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (REFS A and C). The rally will

be PAD\’s first major public event since its Bangkok airport

sieges ended December 2, 2008; over 10,000 \”yellow-shirt\”

supporters are expected to attend. The PAD shifted the date

of its rally from Saturday to Sunday so that it would not run

concurrently with the red-shirt gathering; the PAD also

shifted locations in Bangkok because the military is running

a practice session for the December 2 King\’s birthday parade.

The RTG announced that it would not invoke the Internal

Security Act (ISA) for either gathering; all indications are

that both rallies will be peaceful affairs.

 

2. (C) COMMENT: This weekend,s twin red and yellow events

both seem poised to unfold without incident, which is welcome

news after a turbulent week; we have used meetings with

national red and yellow leaders in the past two weeks to

underscore the need to stick to peaceful measures as they

express their political views. With the diplomatic spat with

Cambodia over fugitive former PM Thaksin\’s visit dominating

headlines and PM Abhisit in Singapore for the APEC and

US-ASEAN Leaders\’ Meetings, the rallies have not attracted as

much attention as they otherwise might have. End Summary and

Comment

 

REDS HEAD TO THE HILLS, FOR ONE DAY, EYE ON LATE NOV.

———————————— —————-

 

3. (C) The UDD have directed supporters to converge on Khao

Yai National Park on November 14. Located two hours from

Bangkok in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Khao Yai is the

gateway to Thaksin\’s traditional stronghold in the northeast.

Red-shirt leader Vira Musikapong told us the gathering would

be a concert and fund-raiser with an eye on bringing in

funding for the next big UDD protest (note: in early November

call-ins to red rallies, Thaksin urged supporters to hold

more sustained rallies in greater numbers. See ref D).

 

4. (C) When Vira suggested to us that next full fledged

red-shirt rally was likely to begin November 28 or 29 and

span three-five days, we asked how such a prolonged rally

would affect the King\’s birthday celebration, which begins

December 2 with the annual parade in which the military

renews its oath of allegiance to King Bhumibol, in the same

public space that red-shirts usually use for Bangkok rallies.

Vira conceded the UDD was aware of the potential conflict,

impishly acknowledged some red-shirts would relish the

opportunity to \”bash\” the military, but said leaders would

hold a meeting on November 20 to determine the best strategy

to reconcile UDD plans with the King,s birthday. We urged

Vira to ensure that the red-shirts stick to peaceful means to

express their opposition to the government and avoid the

escalation of street action which culminated in the red riots

of April in Pattaya and Bangkok.

 

PAD TO GATHER FOR FIRST TIME IN ALMOST A YEAR

———————————————

 

5. (C) The PAD on November 10 announced it would gather

supporters on Sunday, November 15 for the group\’s first

national rally since December 2008; the national PAD

leadership did not sanction the Preah Vihear border adventure

 

BANGKOK 00002902 002.2 OF 002

 

on September 19 (REF A). PAD coordinator and Secretary

General of the New Politics Party Suriyasai Katasila publicly

stated the purpose of the rally to be held at Sanam Luang

would be to protest Thaksin and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun

Sen (REFS B, C). The Manager newspaper quoted Suriyasai

saying that 100,000 people would attend the gathering;

privately, however, he told us November 11 that he expected

between 30,000 and 50,000 people would show up. (note: the

police are predicting 10,000).

 

6. (C) The PAD movement is in transition to forming a new

political party to promote its core ideas within the formal

parliamentary system, as Suriyasai detailed to us November 4

(ref B). At the time, Suriyasai delineated the focus of the

two vehicles in this way: the PAD would retain a focus on

countering Thaksin\’s influence, while the New Politics Party

would focus on reforming the political system and increasing

transparency from within (note: there is currently complete

overlap between the leadership of the PAD and the NPP).

 

ISA: DOUBLE STANDARDS, OR DIFFERING INTENT?

——————————————-

 

7. (U) Deputy Prime Minister for security Suthep Thuagsuban

on November 12 announced that the ISA would not be invoked

for the PAD rally, which is not directed against the Thai

government but against Thaksin and Hun Sen. Likewise there

were no indications that the government planned to have

security forces in any state of visible readiness for the PAD

demonstration. Red-shirt netizens lit up the Internet in

both Thai and English after hearing the news, accusing the

RTG of employing a double-standard, given the seemingly

automatic imposition of ISA for UDD rallies in the post

Songkhran riot period.

 

8. (C) RTG contacts, including Deputy Secretary General Isra

Sunthornvut, readily admitted in private conversations that

the RTG employed double standards for crowd control. That

said, rally intent is a key factor; at this point, red-shirts

are calling for the current government to fall, yellow shirts

not. Isra told us that while the PAD and the RTG did not see

eye to eye on everything–as evidenced by the fact that the

PAD felt compelled to create its own political vehicle–in

general they shared similar perspectives on many core issues.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

06BANGKOK5565 THAKSIN LOYALIST SEES LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

leave a comment »

“77853”,”9/11/2006 9:32″,”06BANGKOK5565″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO6549

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5565/01 2540932

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 110932Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1529

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 6052

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1511

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005565

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/11/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PINR, PHUM, MOPS, ASEC, TH

SUBJECT: THAKSIN LOYALIST SEES LIGHT AT THE END OF THE

TUNNEL

 

Classified By: DCM Alex Arvizu, reason: 1.4 (d).

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Former House of Representatives Speaker Bhokin

Bhalakula claimed the upcoming legislative election would

reaffirm majority support for Thai Rak Thai (TRT), although

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra likely would not seek to

remain as Prime Minister. In a September 8 lunch with the

Ambassador, Bhokin — a Deputy Leader of TRT rumored as a

potential successor to Thaksin — claimed the King also

wanted elections as soon as possible and would refrain from

undemocratic political intervention. Upcoming elections

would further deflate the challenge from Thaksin\’s opponents,

and an upcoming reshuffle of top military, police, and civil

service positions would ensure the complete loyalty to the

administration of state bureaucracies and the security

forces. End Summary.

 

OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ELECTIONS

————————–

 

2. (C) In a September 8 lunch at the Ambassador\’s residence,

former House of Representatives Speaker Bhokin Bhalakula

expressed optimism about upcoming legislative elections. The

northern and northeastern regions of Thailand — which

together accounted for a majority of the constituency-based

seats in the House — remained solidly pro-TRT, he asserted.

Reviewing the background behind TRT\’s populist policies,

Bhokin noted TRT would continue the programs that had

generated enthusiasm among the lower and middle class; future

government grants under the small, medium, and large-scale

(SML) village fund program would increase by at least 50

percent. Other political parties could not compete with

TRT\’s proven approach of delivering benefits. Rival Democrat

Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was too young to challenge TRT

effectively; Abhisit knew only how to criticize, and he did

so in a long-winded manner that most Thai found unappealing,

according to Bhokin.

 

THE KING\’S POSITION

——————-

 

3. (C) Bhokin said the King wanted elections as soon as

possible, highlighting that the King had quickly signed the

Royal Decree (issued on September 6) calling for an

extraordinary session of the Senate (September 8-10) to

select Election Commission members. Prior to receiving the

decree for approval, Bhokin related, the King had signaled

his eagerness by asking unspecified persons about the

decree\’s disposition. The King respected democracy and

viewed elections as a source of legitimacy; he would continue

to refuse to take drastic steps affecting political

processes. However, the King did not want to speak out

publicly on this matter, according to Bhokin, because his

words often created controversy as various sides offered

rival interpretations.

 

SONDHI WENT TOO FAR, PEOPLE ARE WEARY

————————————-

 

4. (C) Thaksin was a victim of his own success, Bhokin

lamented. Democrat Party leaders had come to realize that it

would take at least 15 years before they could hope to regain

power through elections. Meanwhile, the armed forces had

become split, partly because soldiers benefiting from illegal

activities, such as the drug trade, had suffered under TRT\’s

policies. And academics found their status diminished under

Thaksin, as TRT had sufficient human resources that the party

did not need to rely on ivory tower experts. It became easy

for those upset with Thaksin to generate negative publicity,

as they could easily pay off journalists to write negative

stories.

 

5. (C) Media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul proved able to unite

disgruntled members of the elite. Bhokin noted Sondhi had

successfully installed various associates in key government

positions, but his influence began to wane; the final blow

pushing Sondhi into opposition was the dismissal of crony

Viroj Nualkhair from his position as CEO of state-owned Krung

Thai Bank. However, although Sondhi benefited from the

support of royalist oligarchs, he had gone too far in

projecting himself as a representative of the King\’s

interests. The public did not appreciate Sondhi\’s approach,

and it led to diminished participation in the rallies of

 

BANGKOK 00005565 002 OF 002

 

Sondhi\’s People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). In a recent

survey (NFI), 60 percent of respondents blamed the PAD for

the current turmoil, Bhokin claimed, and he predicted further

tapering off of PAD support after the upcoming election\’s

reaffirmation of TRT\’s majority support.

 

RESHUFFLE

———

 

6. (C) Bhokin predicted an upcoming reshuffle of top

military, police, and civil service positions would ensure

that government and security forces officials would \”totally

obey\” the administration. Comparing the government to a

ship, Bhokin said there currently were some holes in the

hull, but after the election, it would be smooth sailing.

The King would endorse the reshuffle plan as received from

the government, Bhokin said, noting parenthetically that, if

the King did not, \”the whole country will blow up.\”

 

THAKSIN TO STEP DOWN

——————–

 

7. (C) The Ambassador asked whether Thaksin might try to

return as Prime Minister after the next election. Bhokin

believed Thaksin had already made a decision not to do so,

irrespective of the election results. Citing Thaksin\’s early

April audience with the King, Bhokin said Thaksin would

likely opt not to be Prime Minister, in order to lessen the

degree of tension in the country. Bhokin observed that

Thaksin nevertheless wanted to remain TRT Party Leader,

claiming Thaksin was motivated not by a desire to protect

himself and his assets, but rather by patriotism and his

longstanding interest in politics.

 

MORE ON PALACE INFLUENCE

————————

 

8. (C) When the Ambassador asked about the wisdom of

Thaksin\’s decision to dissolve the parliament in February,

Bhokin replied that Thaksin had received advice to do so from

Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda as well as

then-Cabinet Secretary Borwornsak Uwanno. Bhokin then

confided that Thaksin had discussed the matter directly with

the King; when Thaksin had presented various alternatives to

resolve growing political tension, the King had said it would

be better to dissolve the parliament.

 

9. (C) The Ambassador also asked about the June resignations

of Borwornsak and then-Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu

Krea-ngam. Bhokin claimed that the two came under pressure

from an individual named Meechai, who was close to Prem and

presumably reflected Palace views. (We presume the reference

was to law professor Meechai Ruchupan, a former cabinet

minister in Prem\’s administration.)

 

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) Bhokin made a persuasive but hardly unbiased case

that TRT has reason for optimism as elections approach. His

claim that Thaksin is inclined not to remain as Prime

Minister tracks with a relatively common perception among the

political class, although we noted Bhokin stopped short of

offering categorical assurance on this point. We believe

Thaksin has not yet made a firm decision on this matter.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:43 am

06BANGKOK5500 THAKSIN DEPUTY REVEALS LITTLE OF TRT PLANS

leave a comment »

“77454”,”9/7/2006 9:59″,”06BANGKOK5500″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“06BANGKOK1091|06BANGKOK4610|06BANGKOK5335|06BANGKOK5463″,”VZCZCXRO3536

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5500/01 2500959

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 070959Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1462

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005500

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/05/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAKSIN DEPUTY REVEALS LITTLE OF TRT PLANS

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 5463 [EX-CABINET SECRETARY ASSESSES

THAKSIN\’S POSITION]

B. BANGKOK 5335 [ALLEGED BOMB PLOT]

C. BANGKOK 4610 [MORE ON MILITARY RESHUFFLE]

D. BANGKOK 1091 [CHALLENGE TO THAKSIN]

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a September 5 meeting with the

Ambassador, Thai Rak Thai\’s Pongthep Thepkanchana gave a

fairly standard version of the TRT view of the political

situation. He insisted that the car bomb was real, that PM\’s

conflict was with the Privy Council, and not with the King,

and that Thaksin would decide whether to step aside based on

the good of the country. Pongthep was unimpressive, but he

is, according to many contacts, one of Thaksin\’s leading

choices for PM if Thaksin has to step down. The PM

reportedly doesn\’t want anyone too good, who might eclipse

him. Pongthep should fit the bill. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Ambassador met September 5 with Pongthep

Thepkanchana, Deputy Thai Rak Thai (TRT) leader and potential

replacement Prime Minister if Thaksin steps aside. The

Ambassador sought Pongthep\’s views on the origins and

possible cures of the Thai political crisis, which has

dragged on for the better part of a year. Pongthep predicted

that things would settle down and get back to normal after

the election. He did not foresee any problems with putting

in place the new election commission soon, and setting a new

election date. probably in November.

 

STANDARD TRT SPIEL

——————

 

3. (C) Turning to the origins of the conflict, Pongthep gave

a fairly standard TRT-style review of the issues. He pointed

to TRT\’s landslide victory in February 2005 as a problem.

People looked at the PM and saw someone who \”had it all:\”

money, education, connections and political power. He is a

visionary and, especially after the landslide, extremely

self-confident. \”Higher echelons\” of Thai society did not

like this type of elected leader. Academics turned against

him. There followed a series of accusations against the PM.

Some, perhaps, had some foundation, but others were baseless.

Pongthep singled out opposition firebrand Sondhi

Limthongkul, motivated by a personal grudge against Thaksin,

as a key opponent. He said that Sondhi used his \”illegal

community radio station\” and his \”illegal, illegitimate cable

TV station\” to spread untrue accusations. (Note: Sondhi\’s

small cable station, ASTV, is repeatedly cited by contacts of

all persuasions as one of the most important tools the

opposition has. They claim that ASTV makes a huge impact as

it moves into new markets, even though it is not available in

most homes. Like most independent media, its legal status is

somewhat unclear due to the government\’s failure to establish

clear procedures for the licensing of independent outlets.

End note.)

 

4. (C) Ponthep gave a similarly familiar explanation of the

April 2006 election and the opposition party boycott,

although with a twist. He dismissed all other

considerations, saying that the opposition parties only

boycotted because they knew they\’d lose. He then launched

into a cryptic and, in the end, incomprehensible response to

the Ambassador\’s question about why Thaksin decided to

dissolve the Parliament in February. He agreed with the

Ambassador that it was a strange move for the PM to give up

his 375 seat dominance of the House and plunge into new

elections. Pressed to give a reason, he alluded to some

unspecified pressure that forced the PM to that action.

Pongthep said that even he had not known beforehand that the

PM would dissolve the House. The Ambassador noted that

Thaksin had talked to him about it several days before he

announced his decision (ref C), indicating that he was ready

to dissolve Parliament. Pongthep expressed surprise, but

still would not clarify what dark force he thought has forced

Thaksin\’s hand. Pongthep admitted that the decisions Thaksin

made at that time — such as the way the Shin Corp sale was

handled, and the dissolution — could have been better.

 

5. (C) The Ambassador asked about the ever-more-public

conflict between Thaksin and the Privy Council, particularly

Prem Tinsulanond. Pongthep emphasized that \”there is no

misunderstanding\” between the royal family and Thaksin. The

issues are with the Privy Council, which is used to having a

lot of authority. In the past, for example, Prem could have

influence over the military promotions of his proteges. He

 

BANGKOK 00005500 002 OF 002

 

doesn\’t want to lose that. Similarly, the Army Commander in

Chief wants to promote his own aides (ref C). However,

Pongthep added that he did not anticipate military

intervention. Even if the military launched a coup, they

would not be able to form a military government — those days

were past. So, they would be taking a significant risk for no

real benefit. Pongthep said he did not fear \”big violence\”

as there were no large groups facing each other in this

conflict. He was concerned about smaller incidents of

violence, as tensions remained high.

 

IT WAS BOMB. REALLY.

———————

 

6. (C) Pongthep stood by the government story that the August

24 car bomb was for real (ref B). He said that the plotters

were in the military, but it was not a plot by the military.

(Comment: we take this to mean that he is exculpating the

military leadership. end comment.) His version of the

events surrounding the bomb differs from other accounts in

one respect: he claims that the assassin had sent the signal

for the bomb to explode, but he was standing behind a pillar,

which blocked the signal, so the bomb didn\’t go off.

(Comment: this story gets more dramatic with each retelling.

End comment.) The Ambassador noted his concern, as a friend

of Thailand, over the political tensions. He asked what the

Prime Minister\’s plans were about remaining prime minister.

Pongthep said that Thaksin would decide what to do based on

the \”best interests of the country.\”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Pongthep did not impress. He replayed familiar themes

of persecution by the old guard, jealous of the PM\’s success.

He was disingenuous about a number of issues, including the

relationship between Thaksin and the King. His mysterious

allusions regarding the decision to dissolve Parliament were

just plain annoying. Contacts point out how TRT is being

weakened, as more respected figures are pushed to the margins

and the \”hawks\” keep Thaksin\’s ear. Pongthep took over as

the leading legal advisor to the PM after the resignation of

the widely respected jurist Bowornsak Uwanno (ref A), and

many sources say he is the leading contender for next Prime

Minister if Thaksin decides to take a break and is able to

chose his own successor. Part of the PM\’s calculation

appears to be that he doesn\’t want anyone too good, who might

eclipse him; Pongthep should fit the bill.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:42 am

06BANGKOK3673 THAI POLITICAL UPDATE JUNE 20: DUELING LAWSUITS

leave a comment »

“68692”,”6/20/2006 11:36″,”06BANGKOK3673″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO4678

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #3673/01 1711136

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 201136Z JUN 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9598

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003673

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/19/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE JUNE 20: DUELING LAWSUITS

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Attorney General returned the Thai Rak

Thai dissolution case to the Election Commission on June 16,

saying the EC was legally required to identify what section

of law TRT was charged under, and what the legal penalty

should be. Statements from the Atty-General office indicate

that they are determined to avoid any procedural flaws in the

case that could make the eventual Court decision vulnerable

to appeal. The EC has until June 27 to return the case to

the Atty-General with a recommendation. The Democrats have

also testified before the EC on the TRT case against them for

trying to \”overthrow democracy.\” The EC is defending itself

against charges of malfeasance and abuse of power, and will

have its first court date on July 3. Some observers suggest

that the threat of legal penalties against just about

everyone may eventually lead to compromises that will allow

the political system to go back to work as usual. However,

we see no advocates for compromise yet. End summary.

 

TRT DISSOLUTION CASE

——————–

 

2. (C) The Attorney-General announced on June 16 that it

would send the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) dissolution case back to

the Election Commission. The EC forwarded the case to the

Attorney-General without specifying what sections of law TRT

had violated, and without specifying whether the party should

be disbanded as a result of its actions. The EC was

requested to respond by June 27. The Attorney-General

reportedly is concerned that, if it sent the case forward to

the Constitutional Court without the EC recommendation, it

would weaken the case and leave any Court decision vulnerable

to appeal. The EC has not yet stated whether it would meet

the June 27 deadline.

 

3. (C) We spoke today to Dej-Udom Krairit, the president of

the Thai Lawyers\’ Council about some of the legal questions

surrounding this case. He fully supported the

Attorney-General\’s decision, saying that the law clearly

required the EC to make a recommendation. If the EC makes a

recommendation, and the Attorney General reaches a different

conclusion, the two would form a joint committee to resolve

their different views. Ordinarily, he would expect this to

take a month to six weeks, but it might be expedited in this

case. Provided they eventually reached agreement that the

case was serious enough to require court review, the

Atty-General would forward it to the Constitutional Court.

It would depend on the Court\’s schedule how quickly they

would hear the case. He expected that the Court would

expedite this case, in line with the King\’s instructions.

 

4. (C) The lawyer also commented on some other aspects of

the case. TRT has complained that the EC subcommission which

prepared the damning — and subsequently leaked — report was

biased, because it never called any TRT witness to get the

party\’s defense. Dej-Udom said that this is normal practice

for such a subcommission. Their job is to examine the case

and see if there is cause for further investigation. TRT

gets its chance to defend itself when the case goes to court,

not in this initial investigation. Dej-Udom also said that

he had some knowledge of the TRT dissolution case, and his

impression was that it was very solid.

 

DEMOCRAT DISSOLUTION CASE

————————-

 

5. (C) The EC heard testimony late last week from senior

Democrats, defending their party against the charge that they

paid the microparties to frame TRT, and that their election

boycott and call for an \”Article 7\” prime minister

constituted attempts to \”overthrow democracy.\” The EC has

not given any indication when it would conclude this

investigation. Since the EC testimony last week, there seems

to be more concern that the case could hurt the Democrats,

politically at least, if not legally.

 

EC MALFEASANCE CASE

——————-

 

6. (C) On June 15, the Constitutional Court also granted

bail to the three remaining EC Commissioners, in connection

with a lawsuit brought by the Democrat Party. They are

charged with malfeasance and abuse of authority for allowing

\”constituency-hopping\” by failed candidates in the later

rounds of the April elections, and with failing to

investigate the charges of TRT election fraud in the hiring

of the microparties. The court set the date for the first

hearing on July 3.

 

BANGKOK 00003673 002 OF 002

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Several interlocutors have raised the possibility of

some kind of compromise solution to the political crisis.

Dej-Udom, asked whether the fate of Thaksin, TRT, etc. would

be decided in the courts or by other means pointed out the

\”in our Thai history, we tend to decide things by

compromise.\” Although the case against the Democrat party

appears quite weak compared to the case against TRT, it may

be a piece of the puzzle that eventually leads to a

compromise solution, sparing both parties punishment in

exchange for some other concessions that would get the

political process back on track. However, no one yet appears

to be in a compromising mood. End comment.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:54 am

06BANGKOK3481 ATTORNEY GENERAL CONSIDERS POSSIBLE DISBANDING OF THAI RAK THAI

leave a comment »

“67224”,”6/8/2006 11:28″,”06BANGKOK3481″,

 

“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 02 BANGKOK 003481

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/07/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Political Parties, Thai Political Updates, TRT – Thai Rak Thai

SUBJECT: ATTORNEY GENERAL CONSIDERS POSSIBLE DISBANDING OF

THAI RAK THAI

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Susan M. Sutton, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Election Commission has forwarded the

Thai Rak Thai (TRT) election fraud case to the Office of the

Attorney General (OAG). The EC did not include a

recommendation, advising whether the party should be

disbanded under the terms of the Political Parties Act, as it

was supposed to. The OAG will meet on June 16 to consider

whether to return the case to the EC and require it to give a

recommendation, or investigate the case itself and then

forward its findings to the Constitutional Court for

decision. Meanwhile, the draft schedule for the new round of

elections, approved by the government but not yet by the

King, would have the vote on October 15, with candidate

registration ending by September 12. Since candidates must

be members of their party for 90 days before registering,

time is getting short indeed for TRT members considering

jumping ship. If the Court decides to disband the party, we

anticipate that efforts will be made to find an accommodation

to permit TRT members not implicated in the electoral fraud

to get back into the race. The longer it takes to reach a

decision, however, the more complicated it will be to find a

way to do that. End summary.

 

FRAUD WILL OUT

————–

 

2. (SBU) According to the deputy spokesman at the Office of

the Attorney General (OAG), the Election Commission (EC) has

forwarded to them a case concerning the possible disbanding

of the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. The petition is

based on the report of an EC subcommittee, which found merit

in the accusations against TRT brought by the Democrat Party.

The DP alleged that TRT paid off several small parties to

get them to run candidates in the April election, and

assisted them in falsifying documents to qualify their

candidates. (This enabled TRT to avoid the mandatory 20

percent minimum vote requirement for candidates running

unopposed.) The EC subcommittee report had been completed on

May 8 and details were leaked and widely reported in the

press shortly thereafter, making it difficult for the EC to

sit on the case any longer. According to the leaked

accounts, the report, prepared by a respected Supreme Court

judge, recommended that TRT be dissolved. It reportedly

found that the extent of the electoral fraud and the amounts

of money involved meant that the actions were not the

initiative of a single party member (the evidence fingers

Defense Minister Thammarak), but were the responsibility of

the party itself. The subcommission reportedly recommended

that the party leadership, including PM Thaksin, be held

accountable. (The law envisions banning from political office

for up to five years as the penalty in such cases.)

 

PASSING THE BUCK

—————-

 

3. (C) The EC has also forwarded petitions on two of the

microparties involved in the scandal. In the case of these

two, the EC recommended that they be disbanded due to their

involvement in the election fraud. In the case of TRT,

however, the EC (considered a bulwark of support for TRT)

forwarded the case to the Attorney General without including

a recommendation.

 

4. (SBU) The Attorney General has two choices. It can

return the case to the EC, and request that the EC give its

recommendation. The spokesman told us that this option could

involve a joint OAG/EC committee to consider the case, or the

EC could be required to reconsider the case itself and then

return the case to the OAG with a recommendation. The

current groundswell of popular opposition to the Election

Commissioners, who have been directly attacked by the courts

and repeatedly pressured to resign, argues against seeking

their opinion. Alternatively, the OAG could decide to the

accept the case as received, and conduct its own assessment.

This would leave the OAG holding the bag for a potentially

fatal attack on TRT, which may be a little much for their

nerves. Neither option is very attractive for the OAG; the

deputy spokesman said that the OAG would meet on June 16 to

consider its decision. In either case, the OAG is tasked

with investigating the case and forwarding the result to the

Constitutional Court for a ruling. The spokesman could not

provide any useful estimate on how long this whole process

could take.

 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

——————–

 

5. (C) The issue of timing is very important for TRT

members. The Cabinet has approved a draft royal decree,

which would set the election date for October 15. Candidate

registration for party list candidates would be September

5-7, and for constituency candidates September 8-12, as the

decree is currently written. Candidates must be members of

their party for 90 days before they register, which means the

very last deadline for switching parties. according to this

timetable, would be early next week; it is already too late

to qualify for the party list of a new party. According to

the current plan, the decree will be forwarded to the King

for his signature in August. (Once the decree is issued, the

election must be held within 60 days, so it cannot be issued

sooner).

 

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) The EC\’s decision to forward the TRT case to the

Attorney General is more bad news for TRT, but we can\’t start

planning the funeral yet. It is technically possible that

the OAG and the Court could take weeks to decide the TRT

case, then dissolve the party, and leave TRT members with

insufficient time to re-register with another party and

qualify to run in October. However, we think that this is

not a very likely outcome. If TRT is dissolved, we would

anticipate there would be an effort to shift the date of

candidate registration, if not the election date, to allow

TRT members to get back in the game. However, the longer the

EC, the OAG and the Courts shuffle the case around, the

harder it will be to accommodate all these considerations —

the need to have a new government soon, the need to have a

credible process, and the need to provide an avenue for many

of TRT\’s leading political figures, who are not implicated in

the election fraud, to contest in the new elections. End

comment.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:50 am

06BANGKOK3277 THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: CHECKS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE

leave a comment »

“65979”,”5/31/2006 8:50″,”06BANGKOK3277″,

 

“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 02 BANGKOK 003277

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

PACOM FOR FPS (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/31/2016

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: CHECKS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE

 

Classified By: ACTING POLITICAL COUNSELOR JAMES F. COLE. REASON 1.4 (B,

D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Thailand\’s bipolar political disorder

remained stable Wednesday as caretaker Prime Minister

Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party pushed to move on to a

new election while the political opposition remained focused

on using alleged irregularities in the April 2 vote to

destroy TRT. Thaksin\’s caretaker cabinet agreed on May 30 to

hold the next election on October 15, which would mean

that–for the first time since 2001–candidates would have a

short window to switch parties before the vote. Meanwhile,

the Criminal Court has agreed to accept an opposition

Democrat Party (DP) case accusing the Election Commission of

malfeasance. Newspaper headlines, however, focused on new,

leaked videotape footage that seems to support DP claims that

senior TRT officials colluded with \”micro-party\” candidates

in the April 2 election. The tapes have sent the TRT into

heavy spin mode, with at least one opposition newspaper

reporting that Thaksin vented his fury over the leaks in

yesterday\’s cabinet meeting. True to form, TRT is now

preparing a lawsuit charging the DP with hiring the micro

parties to \”frame\” TRT. This will likely be the last

bombshell before the King\’s anniversary celebration next

month forces a political time-out. End Summary.

 

ELECTION SET FOR OCTOBER 15

—————————

 

2. (SBU) The caretaker cabinet on Tuesday approved the

Election Commission\’s (EC) proposal to hold new House

elections on October 15. Given the long lead time until the

next vote, and the requirement that candidates be members of

their political party for at least 90 days prior to

registering for the race, this would be the first \”open

window\” for party switching since the new 90-day rule came

into effect in the 2001 vote. That window, however, would

close in the next two-three weeks. In the \”for what it\’s

worth\” category, Deputy TRT leader and caretaker Agriculture

Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan told reporters on Tuesday that no

TRT members had expressed a desire to leave the party, yet.

 

CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST EC MOVES AHEAD

————————————

 

3. (SBU) In a boost to opposition efforts to force the

controversial EC to resign before any new elections, the

Criminal Court announced on May 30 that it will proceed with

a court case charging EC members with malfeasance. The case,

filed by the Democrat Party, contends that the four EC

members broke the law in allowing candidates in the April 2

vote to switch constituencies in the second round of voting

on April 23. (Note, a move that was widely seen as beneficial

to TRT. End Note.) The trial date has been set for June 19.

 

SMILE! YOU\’RE ON MOD CAMERA

—————————

 

4. (SBU) The cabinet and court\’s decisions were soon

overtaken by the release of photos allegedly showing Defense

Minister Thammarak Issarangkul Na Ayyuthaya–who managed the

TRT campaign–meeting with leaders of the micro-parties at

the Ministry of Defense in March. DP Secretary-General

Suthep Thuagsuban provided the images to the Criminal Court

as evidence of his claim that TRT paid the smaller parties to

run in the April 2, in order to help TRT avoid having to get

20 percent of the votes in single-candidate constituencies.

 

5. (C) The initial TRT response to these charges was poorly

coordinated. MOD Permsec General Sirichai Thunyasiri told

reporters on Tuesday that the photos were indeed from MOD

cameras and that he was investigating how they were leaked.

Following a meeting with Thammarak, Sirichai added that

Thammarak denied any knowledge of the footage. Another

senior aide to Thammarak told reporters that the micro-party

leaders had sought a meeting with the Defense Minister, but

were turned down. According to this account, the man

resembling Thammarak in the photos is actually his

photographer. Deputy TRT spokesman Chatuporn Prompan

attempted a separate tack, suggesting that the micro-party

leaders had been paid by DP officials to \”set-up\” Thammarak;

indeed, TRT lawyers have prepared a lawsuit charging the DP

with just that. The Nation newspaper–often at the forefront

of anti-Thaksin reporting–reported Wednesday that the

kerfluffle had prompted the PM to demand Thammarak explain

himself in yesterday\’s cabinet meeting, saying \”why is it so

obvious? It is damning evidence…how can you come up with a

defense?\”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) For the minority of Thai who still have the

energy/desire to follow politics, this new \”evidence\” merely

confirms the conventional wisdom that TRT worked with the

micro-parties in the April 2 vote. That said, it could form

the basis of a stronger case calling for the dissolution of

TRT or, at the least, force Thammarak to fall on his sword.

Either way, this episode is likely to be the last bombshell

before preparations for the King\’s 60th anniversary in June

force politics into a short, but fitful slumber.

BOYCE

“65979”,”5/31/2006 8:50″,”06BANGKOK3277″,”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 02 BANGKOK 003277

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

PACOM FOR FPS (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/31/2016

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, Thai Political Updates

SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE: CHECKS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE

 

Classified By: ACTING POLITICAL COUNSELOR JAMES F. COLE. REASON 1.4 (B,

D)

 

1. (C) Summary. Thailand\’s bipolar political disorder

remained stable Wednesday as caretaker Prime Minister

Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party pushed to move on to a

new election while the political opposition remained focused

on using alleged irregularities in the April 2 vote to

destroy TRT. Thaksin\’s caretaker cabinet agreed on May 30 to

hold the next election on October 15, which would mean

that–for the first time since 2001–candidates would have a

short window to switch parties before the vote. Meanwhile,

the Criminal Court has agreed to accept an opposition

Democrat Party (DP) case accusing the Election Commission of

malfeasance. Newspaper headlines, however, focused on new,

leaked videotape footage that seems to support DP claims that

senior TRT officials colluded with \”micro-party\” candidates

in the April 2 election. The tapes have sent the TRT into

heavy spin mode, with at least one opposition newspaper

reporting that Thaksin vented his fury over the leaks in

yesterday\’s cabinet meeting. True to form, TRT is now

preparing a lawsuit charging the DP with hiring the micro

parties to \”frame\” TRT. This will likely be the last

bombshell before the King\’s anniversary celebration next

month forces a political time-out. End Summary.

 

ELECTION SET FOR OCTOBER 15

—————————

 

2. (SBU) The caretaker cabinet on Tuesday approved the

Election Commission\’s (EC) proposal to hold new House

elections on October 15. Given the long lead time until the

next vote, and the requirement that candidates be members of

their political party for at least 90 days prior to

registering for the race, this would be the first \”open

window\” for party switching since the new 90-day rule came

into effect in the 2001 vote. That window, however, would

close in the next two-three weeks. In the \”for what it\’s

worth\” category, Deputy TRT leader and caretaker Agriculture

Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan told reporters on Tuesday that no

TRT members had expressed a desire to leave the party, yet.

 

CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST EC MOVES AHEAD

————————————

 

3. (SBU) In a boost to opposition efforts to force the

controversial EC to resign before any new elections, the

Criminal Court announced on May 30 that it will proceed with

a court case charging EC members with malfeasance. The case,

filed by the Democrat Party, contends that the four EC

members broke the law in allowing candidates in the April 2

vote to switch constituencies in the second round of voting

on April 23. (Note, a move that was widely seen as beneficial

to TRT. End Note.) The trial date has been set for June 19.

 

SMILE! YOU\’RE ON MOD CAMERA

—————————

 

4. (SBU) The cabinet and court\’s decisions were soon

overtaken by the release of photos allegedly showing Defense

Minister Thammarak Issarangkul Na Ayyuthaya–who managed the

TRT campaign–meeting with leaders of the micro-parties at

the Ministry of Defense in March. DP Secretary-General

Suthep Thuagsuban provided the images to the Criminal Court

as evidence of his claim that TRT paid the smaller parties to

run in the April 2, in order to help TRT avoid having to get

20 percent of the votes in single-candidate constituencies.

 

5. (C) The initial TRT response to these charges was poorly

coordinated. MOD Permsec General Sirichai Thunyasiri told

reporters on Tuesday that the photos were indeed from MOD

cameras and that he was investigating how they were leaked.

Following a meeting with Thammarak, Sirichai added that

Thammarak denied any knowledge of the footage. Another

senior aide to Thammarak told reporters that the micro-party

leaders had sought a meeting with the Defense Minister, but

were turned down. According to this account, the man

resembling Thammarak in the photos is actually his

photographer. Deputy TRT spokesman Chatuporn Prompan

attempted a separate tack, suggesting that the micro-party

leaders had been paid by DP officials to \”set-up\” Thammarak;

indeed, TRT lawyers have prepared a lawsuit charging the DP

with just that. The Nation newspaper–often at the forefront

of anti-Thaksin reporting–reported Wednesday that the

kerfluffle had prompted the PM to demand Thammarak explain

himself in yesterday\’s cabinet meeting, saying \”why is it so

obvious? It is damning evidence…how can you come up with a

defense?\”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) For the minority of Thai who still have the

energy/desire to follow politics, this new \”evidence\” merely

confirms the conventional wisdom that TRT worked with the

micro-parties in the April 2 vote. That said, it could form

the basis of a stronger case calling for the dissolution of

TRT or, at the least, force Thammarak to fall on his sword.

Either way, this episode is likely to be the last bombshell

before preparations for the King\’s 60th anniversary in June

force politics into a short, but fitful slumber.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

06BANGKOK2567 COURTS LEAN TOWARD NULLIFICATION; TRT FIGHTS BACK

leave a comment »

“62459”,”5/2/2006 9:34″,”06BANGKOK2567″,

 

“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 02 BANGKOK 002567

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Thai Political Updates, Elections – Thai

SUBJECT: COURTS LEAN TOWARD NULLIFICATION; TRT FIGHTS BACK

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On May 1, a justice of the Central

Administrative Court indicated that the April MP elections

would likely be annulled. He expected a ruling on the key

cases within a week to ten days. However, the ruling Thai

Rak Thai party is marshaling its forces to oppose

nullification. Even if they successfully beat the current

odds and salvage this election, they may do themselves

lasting damage with the voters — defying the King, whose

strong criticism of the elections started the courts on the

path to nullification. TRT also foreshadowed a come-back for

Thaksin, saying if the elections are nullified, Thaksin\’s

promise to sit out a round is also off. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Polcouns met May 1 with Vishnu Varunyou, Deputy Chief

Justice of the Central Administrative Court. Vishnu

discussed the status of about 10 lawsuits brought before the

Administrative court concerning the conduct of the April MP

elections. (The Central Administrative Court issued the

injunction on April 28 forestalling the last round of the

elections, and it has jurisdiction over several other cases.

There are also several other cases filed in the Supreme Court

and the Constitutional Court.) Although Vishnu stopped just

short of stating openly that the elections would be annulled,

he made clear that it was his expectation. \”It\’s in the

air,\” he said; everyone expects that the courts will annul

the elections. Now, the courts just have to decide what

reasoning they can use to support the decision once they

formally reach it. Vishnu thought that the rulings on key

cases would be issued within about a week to 10 days.

 

NO SHORTAGE OF CASES

——————–

 

3. (C) According to Vishnu, only three of the court cases

before the Administrative court at this time could lead to

the nullification of the elections. These were brought by

the opposition Democrat Party, by the Law Society, and by

NGOs. They each concern the original decree which dissolved

the Parliament and set the date for the elections 37 days

later. The law says that snap elections must be held within

60 days, but gives no minimum period. At the time the

elections were called, there were many complaints that the 37

day deadline was too short to permit opposition parties to

organize and campaign. The government countered that the

elections had to be held quickly to permit the new government

to be installed before the very important celebrations in

June for the King\’s highly auspicious sixtieth anniversary on

the throne. Once the opposition boycotted, this issue

appeared to become moot, but it is back now with a vengeance.

 

4. (C) The other issues before the courts, including cases

about permitting new candidates to register for the second

and third rounds, and the re-positioning of the voting booths

(which led to a lack of ballot secrecy) could not be grounds

for annulling the elections. According to Vishnu, these could

only be grounds for holding a re-vote with the same

candidates, after correcting the problems the court would

identify.

 

DISSOLVE TRT?

————-

 

5. (C) The other hot case has been brought by the Democrat

Party to the Constitutional Court. In that case, the

Democrats repeat their allegation that high-ranking members

of the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party paid microparties to

register candidates so the TRT would not be the only

candidate in many constituencies. Sole candidates had to win

20 percent of the total eligible vote, a bar too high in many

districts in which TRT is unpopular. With an opponent, a

simple majority of votes cast wins. The Democrats claim to

have good evidence, including eye-witness testimony,

implicating the Minister of Defense and other senior TRT

officials. The Election Commission has already announced

that at least one of the microparties that admitted

falsifying documents to register candidates should be

dissolved. The Democrats want the courts to find that TRT

should also be dissolved. This seems a highly unlikely

outcome, especially from the Constitutional Court, believed

to lean toward TRT. However, it is difficult to rule

anything out at this point.

 

JURISDICTION QUESTIONS

———————-

 

6. (C) Vishnu explained that it had been difficult for the

courts to grapple with the problems of these elections in

part because the Election Commission has very strong

authority to conduct the voting as it sees fit. Both the

1997 Constitution and a 2003 Constitutional Court ruling give

the EC a broad mandate that appears to preclude most

juridical review of its decisions. Vishnu said that this was

due to past experience, in which the courts had been

ill-equipped to handle legal challenges to EC decisions, and

had been unable to resolve issues in a timely fashion (a

general problem for the courts here.) Therefore, the new

constitution limited the courts\’ authority over the EC.

Thus, the courts had ducked several cases brought earlier in

the elections claiming they had no jurisdiction. This is the

background to the King\’s repeated admonitions to the court in

his speech last week: \”I appeal to you to look into this

issue carefully to see whether it involves the country\’s

administration. Do your best. If you cannot discharge your

duties, you have to resign…\”

 

TRT FIGHTS BACK

—————

 

7. (C) Illustrating the problem, the EC is filing a

countersuit against the Administrative Court, claiming that

the court has no jurisdiction to interfere with the EC\’s

conduct of the elections. And it is just beginning to dawn on

the ruling Thai Rak Thai party (TRT) that their 480 or so

parliamentary seats may be in jeopardy. Several party

members have been quoted in the press this week warning

against nullification. A senior official reportedly said

that if this happens, elected MPs should have the right to

sue for compensation. \”A candidate carries the 1.5 million

baht (about USD40,000) per person campaign costs, so we

should ask lawyers who we can sue and who takes

responsibility for the damage.\” (Comment: Since most of the

TRT candidates ran unopposed, one could ask why the campaign

cost so much. End comment.) Another TRT MP threatened a TRT

boycott of new elections. (Comment: unlikely. End comment.)

 

8. (SBU) TRT members have also raised questions about

caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin\’s \”political break.\” Deputy

PM Chidchai told the press that, if the elections are

annulled, it\’s a whole new ballgame, and Thaksin\’s promise to

sit out one round could be reconsidered. Chidchai

subsequently walked back these remarks, but other TRT

officials have also raised this possibility. Caretaker Prime

Minister Thaksin, who returned quietly from his international

travel over the weekend, has so far been silent about all

these questions.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) After the King\’s April 25 speech, the momentum was

all behind the move to annul the elections, and the courts

moved with surprising swiftness. TRT and its supporters are

now gathering up their forces for a counterattack. They may

still be able to salvage the elections, but this could be a

losing strategy in the long run The King\’s comments were

balanced and avoided pointing the finger directly at any one

player in the election drama. However, they made it clear

that the King had grave concerns about the elections. TRT

could suffer serious political damage if it openly defies the

King and champions these elections, especially as the

opposition has been quick to accept the King\’s

recommendations and has said they will run in the replacement

elections without any preconditions.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:04 am

06BANGKOK1946 ELECTION ON APRIL 2. THEN WHAT?

leave a comment »

58883″,”3/31/2006 11:02″,”06BANGKOK1946″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO8574

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1946/01 0901102

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 311102Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7597

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 001946

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2016

TAGS: PGOV, ASEC, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: ELECTION ON APRIL 2. THEN WHAT?

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The elections on Sunday will not end the

political crisis. Given the lack of monitors or meaningful

opposition parties, it seems likely that Thaksin\’s Thai Rak

Thai (TRT) will be able to rack up a substantial vote.

However, it faces serious problems in the South, and

potentially in Bangkok, getting the required 2 percent of the

eligible vote for single candidate seats. If Thaksin steps

down, as some people have predicted, there will still be many

unresolved Constitutional problems to deal with resulting

from this essentially one-party election. If he does not

step down, the long period of peaceful and generally amusing

demonstrations may be over, and the risk of miscalculations

and provocations resulting in violence becomes much more

pronounced. The EAC has reviewed our security posture, and

our Consular Information Sheets give appropriate warnings.

Septel provides suggested press guidance. We will use

contacts with security officials and protesters to urge that

all sides exercise maximum restraint and avoid violence

during this volatile time. End summary.

 

2. (C) The elections on Sunday will not end the political

crisis gripping Thailand; they are just the next pivot point

for this long-running drama. Many of the possible scenarios

for the next few weeks are not very appealing. For the past

several months, through waves of huge demonstrations, the

Thai — both demonstrators and police — have shown admirable

restraint and commitment to peaceful protest. We should be

prepared for the possibility that this will change as both

the Prime Minister and his opponents become more desperate to

end the uncertainty, and win.

 

3. (C) First, a quick look at what the election will and

will not tell us. We will probably see preliminary election

results Monday, but the Election Commission (EC) will likely

require weeks or even months to investigate and resolve fraud

charges. Each side will try to spin the results to its

advantage, but opposition to Thaksin will not be dampened

even in the face of a large vote in his favor.

 

COUNTING THE BALLOTS

———————

 

4. (C) Many analysts are speculating about what it will

\’mean\’ if TRT gets a million more votes than the 19 million

it got in 2005, or a million less. In reality, TRT should be

able to rack up hefty totals in the countryside. There are

about 45 million total registered voters. About 15 million of

them live in the northeast, and about another 8 million in

the north, both areas where local officials, at least, seem

to be solidly behind Thaksin. There will be no independent

observers (the local poll monitoring organization is also

boycotting), and no genuine opposition parties to monitor the

vote. We have already seen the lengths to which some Thaksin

supporters will go in this election — about a third of the

candidates who registered were disqualified, many for blatant

fraud in which TRT members are likely to be implicated. The

northeast and north are prone to voter fraud already (the

Northeast is known as the area where \”the voters stay

bought\”). With no monitoring, the sky is really the limit.

Under such circumstances, almost everyone expects TRT to do

extremely well in these areas.

 

4. (C) Greater Bangkok (7 million voters) and the South (6

million voters) will pose stiffer challenges for TRT, as

polling place personnel and local officials are more likely

to be Thaksin opponents. But there will still be no official

monitoring, and the integrity of the process will depend on

the commitment of the election officials. The Bangkok vote

is difficult to predict, as many people here are recently

from the northeast or other rural areas, and their sympathies

may lie with their rural roots. There may also be lurking

resentment at the middle class and student-oriented protests

that have rocked Bangkok for weeks. TRT ran well in Bangkok

just a year ago, capturing most of the seats. In the far

South, TRT does not seem to be even trying to turn out the

vote, and it made an even worse showing in the mid-South in

2005, getting less than 20 percent of the vote in most

districts. Greater Bangkok and the South have over 120 seats,

for many of which there is only one candidate. These are the

areas most likely to provoke a constitutional dilemma: what

to do if the voting does not produce all 500 MPs required?

 

WILL THAKSIN STEP DOWN?

———————–

 

5. (C) The first question on everyone\’s mind Monday morning

will be: is Thaksin going to step down? The media has been

 

BANGKOK 00001946 002 OF 003

 

full of hints that he is considering \’taking a break\’ and

some TRT members and officials predict he will follow

through. At this point, Thaksin himself probably doesn\’t

know what he\’ll do after the vote. Unfortunately, even if he

steps down, there are still many problems in store. He may

be planning a very short break indeed — just a few months to

permit constitutional reform, and then new elections. This

offer is unlikely to satisfy the demonstrators. Even if

Thaksin is ready to step down for a longer period, the

question will arise, what about these April 2 elections? No

one discussing post-election scenarios has really dealt with

that question. One logical solution if Thaksin steps down

would be to toss out the results of the April 2 vote and

start over, giving the opposition parties time to regroup and

participate. However, the expense and effort make this a

tough option to choose. Declare the elections void and

reconstitute the old Parliament? Also a difficult choice.

 

OR WILL HE TOUGH IT OUT?

————————

 

6. (C) If Thaksin decides to fight on, then there will be a

wrenching process with seating the newly-elected Parliament.

If, as expected, the election does not produce 500 winners,

the EC has said that the question will have to go to the

Constitutional Court, to see if the Parliament can be seated

without the full quota of 500. In a similar situation five

years ago, the Court ruled that the Senate had to have all

200 members before it could convene. Nonetheless, this Court

has a reputation for falling in line with the PM\’s interests,

Thus, it is possible that, after several re-votes fail to

produce a legitimate winner, Thailand will have a House of

Representatives composed almost exclusively of TRT members.

 

IS THE PARTY OVER?

——————

 

7. (C) The opposition to Thaksin is tired, but they are not

running out of steam. The demonstrations are getting bigger,

and our contacts in the countryside indicate that they are

making some headway even in the cities and towns of the TRT

strongholds. If the PM tries to dig in after the elections,

the anti-Thaksin demonstrators will assuredly be back on the

streets again.

 

8. (C) Until now, the anti-Thaksin PAD (People\’s Alliance for

Democracy) has been impressively disciplined and organized;

their demonstrations have generally been cheerful, family

affairs with a festive atmosphere. They have cultivated good

contacts with the police. They have also had almost a

complete monopoly on demonstrating — there has been

remarkably little protest activity outside the framework of

the PAD. But this could change if Thaksin does not step

down. Particularly in Bangkok, tensions are high and nerves

are frayed. There will be at least a few who will be inclined

to employ more confrontational methods.

 

9. (C) During the past week, we saw several previews of

demonstrations that could have provoked a violent response.

In Bangkok, a group of students dumped trash in front of the

TRT party headquarters in the middle of the night. Farmers

seeking debt relief blockaded a bank and the PAD blockaded

the Electoral Commission headquarters. In Chiang Mai,

violence actually broke out on Thursday, when pro-Thaksin

supporters blocked the roads to prevent a Democrat Party

rally, and then disrupted the meeting with jeers, throwing

rotten eggs, and eventually driving the Democrat leader off

the stage and back to the airport. A small bomb was also

found at Democrat Party headquarters in Bangkok earlier this

week.

 

10. (C) The police and military have so far refrained from

intervening to arrest peaceful protesters, despite some

threats from the government that it would like to do so.

After the election, the pressure on police to arrest

demonstrators is likely to increase greatly, as Thaksin

struggles to reassert control over the capital. The

government has also announced that it has videotaped protest

speeches and will prepare to bring criminal defamation

charges against the speakers. Efforts to arrest the

charismatic demonstration leaders or peaceful demonstrators,

or a heavy-handed police response to rowdy students — any of

these options could provoke a violent response. Without

wanting to sound alarmist, there is a very real risk in the

next few weeks that the situation could deteriorate fairly

quickly.

 

ACTION ITEMS

————

 

BANGKOK 00001946 003 OF 003

 

11. (C) We plan to convene the EAC after the elections, and

as often as necessary, to review our security posture.

However, there are no signs of any anti-American element to

the demonstrations. In addition:

 

— We have reviewed the Consular Information Sheet and warden

messages, which advise travelers to avoid crowds and

demonstrations. We believe that this advice is still

appropriate.

 

— We have prepared press guidance (septel) for use

immediately after the election, if we are called upon to

comment.

 

— Post will continue to use contacts with security forces,

opposition groups and government officials to underscore the

need for restraint and the use of only peaceful means in

resolving the conflict.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

12: (C) It is generally believed here (rightly or not) that

if violence breaks out and people are injured or killed,

Thaksin will have to step down. Since Thaksin and his

stalwarts understand this, they have a compelling reason to

avoid violence. Even so, Thaksin himself may not be able to

control the forces supporting him. The incident at the

Democrat rally in Chiang Mai could easily have resulted in

serious injuries or worse. The anti-Thaksin forces have also

whipped up strong feelings they may be unable to contain.

There are still optimists who believe that Thaksin will find

a way to make a graceful exit after April 2, or that the

Palace will intervene in the event that he stubbornly refuses

to go. Two things appear certain: 1) the election, which

many saw as a 50/50 proposition only a couple of weeks ago,

will almost certainly proceed as scheduled on April 2; and 2)

the period after the election will be tense. The protests to

date have been remarkably peaceful, given the stakes. But

it\’s unlikely to remain that way indefinitely.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:45 am

06BANGKOK1945 THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: THAKSIN LOYALISTS FIGHT BACK

leave a comment »

“58873”,”3/31/2006 10:35″,”06BANGKOK1945″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO8520

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1945/01 0901035

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 311035Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7595

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001945

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND POLITICAL UPDATE: THAKSIN LOYALISTS FIGHT

BACK

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Alexander Arvizu reason 1.4 (b)

(d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In Chiang Mai, around one thousand agitated

Thaksin supporters disrupted the Democrat\’s planned rally

last night, forcing the Democrats to cancel the rally amidst

flying rotten eggs and cries to \”get out.\” Meanwhile, in

Bangkok, heavy rain poured on People\’s Alliance for Democracy

(PAD) supporters camped in front of the Election Commission

(EC), dispersing many but prompting others to dance in the

rain. The Central Administrative Courts ruled yesterday that

pens should also be used in addition to the new, EC-required

rubber stamps, addressing some of the concerns about fraud

during the April 2 elections. End summary.

 

SIGNS OF THINGS TO COME?

————————

 

2. (C) Democratic Party leaders were greeted by 1,000 to

2,000 pro-Thaksin loyalists blocking the entrance of their

planned outdoor rally last night in Chiang Mai. Democratic

leader Abhisit\’s speech was drowned out and cut short by loud

jeers and angry shouts for him and other party leaders to

\”get out\”; protesters burned Abhisit and key PAD leaders in

effigy. Abhisit was finally forced to cancel the rally when

the event turned violent and protesters began to pelt the

speakers with rotten eggs and plastic chairs. (Comment:

Chiang Mai (septel) notes that suspicions have fallen on the

brother of a TRT MP and former mayor as the organizer of the

mob. End Comment.)

 

MONSOON ON PAD\’S PARADE

———————–

 

3. (C) In Bangkok, the PAD crowd marched from the business

district of Siam Square to besiege the EC headquarters

yesterday, demanding that the EC to cancel the April 2

election and calling for the resignation of the EC panel in

general. The EC did not receive their letter of demand and

shut their doors to the protesters. The PAD was preparing to

camp out in front of the EC last night when the first of

Bangkok\’s monsoon season rainstorms began. The rain sent

many demonstrations scrambling for shelter while the PAD

leaders attempted to keep the movement going by turning to

open songs on stage and prompting the crowd to dance in the

rain. But as the rain subsided, only the hard-core Dharma

Army demonstrators remained on site. In the meantime, the

PAD announced today that they will regroup for another mass

demonstration to Government House on April 7, following the

election on Sunday.

 

YOU GOTTA VOTE, YOU GOTTA EAT

—————————–

 

4. (C) At a dinner for invited foreign election observers

(including the US, Japan, India and the ASEAN members) on

March 30, a subdued EC Commissioner Virachai described his

\”escape\” from the PAD barricade earlier in the day by riding

in disguise on a motorcycle. Virachai acknowledged to the

assembled officials the uncertainty lying ahead after the

April 2 polls. Virachai stated to Poloff that the EC will

hold follow-up polls in constituencies where only one

candidate runs and receives less than twenty percent of the

eligible vote. As of the evening of March 30, there were an

astounding 278 constituencies of 400 where only one candidate

was running due to disqualifications. If the reruns are

inconclusive, then additional polls could be held.

 

5. (C) Citing the earlier resignation of a TRT party list

candidate, Virachai noted that the EC was looking at the

Constitution to determine if seating less than 100 party list

MPs would be allowable. He also said that EC is

investigating allegations that the TRT provided money and

other assistance to support fraudulent applications by

candidates from smaller parties. Virachai said that it was

impossible for the investigation to conclude before the

elections as demanded by Thaksin\’s opponents. He predicted

that preliminary vote results should be available on Monday,

April 3.

 

PENS ARE ALLOWED

—————-

 

6. (U) The Central Administrative Court yesterday endorsed

 

BANGKOK 00001945 002 OF 002

 

the use of pens for ballot-marking in response to the

Consumer Foundation Network\’s lawsuit against the EC. The

group cited concerns that the EC\’s requirement to use a

rubber stamp on the ballots may prompt a higher chance for

election fraud. The court, however, ruled that limiting

ballot-marking to only rubber stamps would be in violation to

a citizen\’s \”right to choose how to cast his or her vote,\”

and thus required that the EC make both pens and stamps

available to voters this Sunday.

 

STOP THE HARASSMENT!

———————

 

7. (C) The Thai Journalists Association and the Thai

Broadcast Journalist Association issued a joint statement

yesterday calling for an end to media harassment. This was

in response to some 2,000 pro-Thaksin \”Caravan of the Poor\”

demonstrators that swarmed the Kom Chad Luek newspaper office

yesterday, reportedly upset over an alleged slight to the

monarchy. The Kom Chad Luek newspaper announced yesterday

that it will suspend publications for five days and its

editor will resign. In their statement, the Thai media

condemned the protest as intimidation of the media, claiming

that the newspaper had already taken full responsibility for

the mistake. The statement denounced the protesters for

involving the monarchy in the conflict and urged their media

colleagues to take precautions against exploitation.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 5:44 am