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

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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

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Written by thaicables

August 28, 2011 at 6:13 am

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

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“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

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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

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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

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“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

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“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