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

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

05BANGKOK774 THAILAND: EMBASSY/STATE DEPARTMENT HUMAN RIGHTS VETTING FOR: 1LT. SOTHON RUKSASUP

leave a comment »

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

UNCLAS BANGKOK 000774

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV, L/PM, PM/ISO, INR AND DRL

PACOM FOR FPA HUSO

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: MASS PREL PHUM TH HUMAN RIGHTS VETTING

SUBJECT: THAILAND: EMBASSY/STATE DEPARTMENT HUMAN RIGHTS

VETTING FOR: 1LT. SOTHON RUKSASUP

 

REF: JUSMAG/THAI MEMO OF 24 JANUARY 2005.

 

¶1. (U) This is an action request for human rights

verification required by the Leahy Amendment; see para. 2.

 

¶2. (SBU) JUSMAGTHAI has requested that the Embassy/State

Department complete human rights vetting for 1Lt. Sothon

RUKSASUP, Army Military Intelligence Command, WCN 1176 who

has been selected to attend the International Intelligence

Office Basic Course at Ft. Huachuca, AZ from 22 Feb 05 – 23

May 2005. Embassy Bangkok possesses no credible information

of gross violations of human rights by this individual.

Embassy Bangkok Political Counselor, Robert J. Clarke, is the

verifying officer for the Embassy/Department of State.

BOYCE

Advertisements

Written by thaicables

August 26, 2011 at 4:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

05BANGKOK685 NORTHEAST THAILAND: PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW

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 03 BANGKOK 000685

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV; US PACOM FOR FPA

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM TH

SUBJECT: NORTHEAST THAILAND: PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION

CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW

 

¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Poloffs recently (December 13-15, 2004)

traveled to the Northeastern Provinces of Nakhon Raatchasima

(Korat) and Chaiyaphum to visit with local politicians,

provincial election commission officials and NGO and academic

representatives. Pre-election campaigning and government

preparations for the first general election in four years

were already in full swing. The outcome in this region is

not in doubt: the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party will win a

majority of the votes and parliamentary seats; but the new

guy on the block, the Mahachon Party, may make some inroads

in the TRT Northeast stronghold. TRT promises of free

quality healthcare and education for all have created an

echoing chorus of populist campaign pledges from all the

political parties. This visit yielded insights into the

persistence of vote buying and intimidation as a campaign

techniques. Poloffs also found that interest in democratic

elections and reform persists. Worsening drought and

personal debt came high on the list of problems listed by

citizens. END SUMMARY.

 

NORTHEAST MPs IN CAMPAIGN MODE

 

¶2. (U) Driving three hours north of Bangkok on a cool, late

December afternoon, Poloffs and one Pol FSN arrived at the

provincial capital of Nakhon Ratchasima (known locally as

Korat) to find this city of over 200,000 replete with

campaign posters from the Thai Rak Thai (TRT), Democrat (DP),

Mahachon and Chart Thai (CT) parties prominently displayed

throughout the town and outlying areas. Particularly

noticeable was a series of four full color posters from all

the key parties promising free education through 12th grade

and free &quality8 healthcare for all. Others in the

series promised a social welfare system for all Thais over 60

years old and jobs for anyone with a college degree

(guaranteed!); all the posters feature color photographs of

smiling Thai citizens prospering under these benevolent

policies. TRT posters prominently displayed the picture of

PM Thaksin posing with local MP candidates and proclaiming,

(loosely translated) &In four years we fixed it, in four

more years we will build it up even more.8 Mahachon and

Chart Thai had populist themed posters similar to the

Democrats, but generally less prominently displayed.

 

MAHACHON MAKING THEIR MARK?

 

¶3. (SBU) MP Somsak Phankasem, the former Chart Pattana MP

from Korat, noted to poloffs that campaigning as a TRT party

member (Note: CP merged with TRT in August of this year) is a

challenge in that part of Northeast Thailand as the CP party

is more popular than TRT. He complained that TRT party

leaders have not provided him with enough of a budget to run

his campaign, but conceded that his election still won,t be

much of a race. He predicted that he will win handily on the

strength of his personal popularity with the people (he won

by over 50,000 votes in the last election).

 

¶4. (SBU) After Bangkok (37 seats), Korat, with 16 seats, has

more parliamentary constituencies at stake than any other

area in Thailand. Somsak stated that TRT has set a goal of

winning all of Korat,s 16 seats, but that it is likely that

four will go to the Mahachon party. Somsak noted that his

close political ally, Sanan Kajaornprasart, now a Mahachon

party adviser, had invited him to join Mahachon, but he

decided to stay with the mainstream CP and work with TRT.

Somsak predicted that Mahachon will become a sort of &spare

party8 for TRT once the election is over. If TRT finds it

useful to do so, they may let Mahachon into a coalition

government, depending on how many seats TRT wins nationally

(i.e. how comfortable Thaksin is with his coalition’s margin).

 

¶5. (SBU) Senator Boonton Dockthaisong proffered a more

pessimistic view of the on-going election process. Now 75

years old and one of 8 senators from Korat, the former local

political rival to ex-Prime Minister Chatchai Choonhavan

lamented the continuing increase in corruption among Thai

bureaucrats and politicians, many of whom are his former

graduate students at the nearby National Institute for

Development Administration (NIDA). He noted that many speak

about democracy on the outside, but inside all they think

about is money. Even worse, many who are now provincial or

district level officials get involved in mafia-type violence

over personal disputes turned political. Noting that

widespread vote buying has become commonplace, he claimed to

have said directly to fellow Korat Senator Kraisak

Choonhavan (a leading human rights champion and the son of

Boonton’s deceased political rival): &I,ve never seen you

on the campaign trail once, but you get elected so easily.

How does this happen?8

ELECTION COMMISSION OFFICIALS PREPARED BUT VOTE BUYING BEGINS

 

¶6. (SBU) In discussions with Provincial Election Committees

(EC) in both Korat and Chaiyaphum, local officials expressed

confidence that they could ensure a safe and well organized

election. Each province has a four-member committee composed

of mostly of retired RTG officials and usually one member of

the local business community. Members are appointed for

four-year terms and in turn appoint local election committees

for each constituency. The election officials did express

concerns about how they will have to handle complaints of

fraud or violations of the election commission rules. They

also admitted that pre-election vote buying is rampant, but

noted that under the rules this phenomena technically is not

illegal until the official campaign has been announced.

Candidates were allowed during the pre-election period to put

up posters and campaign door to door to solicit votes.

(Note: The official campaign began on January 6, 2005. End

Note.)

 

¶6. (U) Both election committees also complained generally

of unclear direction from the main EC office in Bangkok.

They explained that once complaints on electoral violations

are submitted to the Provincial offices, and after being

verified by the local committee, they are forwarded to

Bangkok EC officials who conduct an investigation. On a

positive note, the commissioners thought that the &quality8

of candidates has improved from four years ago and that

egregious election violations will be minimal as the

political parties are afraid of receiving a &red card8 or

&yellow card8 for violations. (Note: A “red card” given to

a winning or leading candidate eliminates them from the race

and rerun elections. A “yellow card” against a winning or

leading candidate paves the way for a rerun, but allows that

candidate to participate as the evidence of wrongdoing is not

sufficiently strong. End Note.)

 

HOW ABOUT A FREE TRIP TO CHIANG MAI?

 

¶7. (U) NGO monitors were already in force monitoring

candidates and voters until Election Day. Poloffs met with

Somkiat Phongphaibun, a teacher at Korat Teacher,s College

(Nakon Ratchasima Rajabhat Institute), who works with Forum

of the Poor, a Northeastern farmers group. He stated that

over 50 NGOs had met in early December to organize citizen

groups and inform them about the election process and to

organize opposition to TRT,s effort to win 400 seats in

Parliament. Somkiat said that, in the previous week alone,

over 160 cases of pre-election vote buying had been reported

to some of the groups in his NGO network. The worst areas

for vote buying, they reported, typically have been in

Buriram, Khon Kaen, Nongkhai, and Korat provinces. (Note: The

Northeast has been the area with most notorious reputation in

Thailand for vote buying in past elections. End Note.)

 

¶8. (U) Somkiat explained some of the techniques parties used

to gain votes. Generally, the parties select 3 canvassers

per village. Each canvasser receives 1,000 baht and a mobile

phone. A list with the registered voters is then divided

among the three canvassers, who try to line up voters. Some

use outright cash payments to buy votes. Others strong-arm

voters by confiscating their Thai ID card, making photocopies

of the cards and tell them intimidatingly that their names

are being kept on a list. Some canvassers or party

operatives also organize free trips by bus to Chiang Mai or

to a popular theme park near Bangkok called Safari World. In

exchange, voters support the candidate who pays for the trip.

As noted by the EC, Somkiat reiterated that this activity in

the pre-election period technically is not illegal.

 

SOCIAL ISSUES: DROUGHT, HEALTH CARE, DEBT AND LOSING THE

YOUTH

 

¶9. (U) Harvest time in Northeast Thailand usually is a time

when laborers can be seen working hard in the fields and

trucks loaded with rice, corn, sugarcane and cassava fill the

highways. This year, over 2.5 million rai (1 million acres)

of mostly rain-fed rice have been affected by a shortened

rainy season and persistent drought conditions for the last

four to five years. In Chaiyaphum, only about 100,000 rai

(40,000 acres) have been affected. The government has

responded with emergency drought relief. But Poloffs were

told that the government was only recently distributed relief

from last year’s drought. An even larger budget for this

year has been proposed but not yet received by provincial

authorities. (Note: Somkiat of Forum of the Poor noted that

often these drought relief funds are used by candidates for

vote buying, with either straightforward cash payments or

in-kind goods inducements such as rice, clothes or household

items. End Note.) The drought issue appears to be more of a

concern to voters and officials in Korat than Chaiyaphum,

where it has become more of a fact of life.

 

¶10. (U) Poloffs asked about the 30-baht healthcare insurance

program, a pillar in the TRT election platform four years

ago, which still appears to be popular with people in general

in the Northeast. However some observers said that the

30-baht appeared to be having serious consequences for the

public health sector while providing only limited real

benefits to the health of Thai citizens. One contact related

how two surgeons at the Provincial hospital in Korat recently

resigned their government positions due to the increased

workload at the hospital. Centrally located provincial

hospitals seem to be the worst effected by increased

workload. Patients have learned to go directly to them.

Smaller district hospitals have fewer and fewer patients

because they tend to refrain from referring patients to the

larger provincial hospitals under the new system, which bills

them back for costs of treatment of referred cases.

Meanwhile, however, local private clinics are doing well as

they charge only 60 to 100 baht for simple procedures and

don’t require a long wait or lots of paperwork.

 

¶11. (U) Poloffs learned from interviews that personal debt

from an increasing ability of individuals to purchase

consumer items such as motorcycles and small household

electric appliances on credit is a major concern for

villagers. The Government Agricultural Bank is the main

source of “easy” credit for Thai villagers, but they often

are forced to rely on local loan sharks to make payments and

consequently sink deeper into debt. Many of the political

slogans Poloffs observed calling for a debt moratorium are

aimed at this concern.

 

¶12. (U) The 2003 war on drugs remains fresh in the memories

of all who poloffs spoke with. The MPs opined that popular

support for the crackdown, which the Embassy estimates may

have led to approximately 1,300 extra-judicial killings

nationwide, remains high. This support stems from reaction

against the social ills created by increased drug use and

dealing by Thai youth and their being drawn into subsequent

crimes. One interlocutor claimed that villages had

understood in 2003 that the loss in each village of two youth

in the government’s campaign against drugs might be necessary

to wipe out the problem. Somkiat of Forum of the Poor,

offering a sobering view from the other side, related a story

about the son of a Thai language daily newspaper reporter in

Korat who reportedly was kidnapped by plain-clothes police

and was being held on drug charges. He also told of how a

well-known principal of a Korat school posted bail for a

young cousin of his and went into hiding for fear of being

arrested himself on drug charges and cooperation with drug

gangs.

 

¶13. (U) COMMENT: Politicians, activists, teachers and the

public all seem to summarize their conclusions in the

pre-election environment in the same way. They say Thaksin

and TRT will win the election, hedging their bets (in some

cases literally) only on by how many seats. A frequent

refrain heard also surmises that vote buying is ever-present,

the novelty found only in how it’s done in order to sneak by

the Election Commission. Yet in the midst of this, there is

a spirit of volunteerism and genuine interest in the

democratic process found in weary local officials, in

students gearing up to help count votes, and in the

persistent calls for reform from NGOs and opposition

candidates. END COMMENT.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

August 26, 2011 at 4:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

04BANGKOK7216 THAILAND: PM THAKSIN KICKS OFF HIS RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN WITH PROMISES APLENTY

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 007216

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/BCLTV

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV ECON TH TRT

SUBJECT: THAILAND: PM THAKSIN KICKS OFF HIS RE-ELECTION

CAMPAIGN WITH PROMISES APLENTY

 

REF: (A) BANGKOK 7186 (B) BANGKOK 6995

 

¶1. (U) Summary. In a live nationally-televised Bangkok

rally on October 17, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

officially opened his run for re-election with a flurry of

“populist” promises to the Thai voters. From job training

programs and new housing projects to expanded transportation

systems and river basin development, Thaksin promised to

eradicate poverty in Thailand within his next term if his

government is given another four year lease in office.

Thaksin was in rare form, alternately boasting of his ability

to deliver while lambasting the main opposition Democrat

Party (DP) for its inability to do so. In a calculated ploy

to humanize his image, Thaksin admitted to a tendency to lose

his temper with critics and bemoaned the effect of being

Prime Minister on his sex life. DP Leader Banyat Bantadtan,

not surprisingly, criticized Thaksin for holding a gaudy

campaign inauguration while providing no answers to the

issues of Avian Flu and southern violence. Despite — or

perhaps because of — recent polls showing a softening in

voter support, the Prime Minister is mounting a pronouncedly

populist political campaign that offers something for

everyone in Thai society. End Summary.

 

GRAND OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THAKSIN’S SECOND BID

 

¶2. (U) PM Thaksin formally launched his bid for a second

four year term before thousands of loyalists from his Thai

Rak Thai (TRT) party in a nationally televised extravaganza

on October 17. The Hua Mark indoor Stadium venue in Bangkok

was connected through a teleconferencing link to thousands

more TRT supporters at eight locations throughout Thailand,

including Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Nakhon

Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Phanom, Saraburi and

Phattalung. The Prime Minister came with a full bag of

trademark “populist” promises for his next term, designed to

appeal especially to voters in the nation’s 74,000 villages.

Vowing to the national audience that he will eradicate

poverty in Thailand over the next four years, Thaksin

promised his crucial rural constituency that his earlier

rotating village fund scheme will evolve into a system of

village “banks” offering easy access to loans for farmers.

Thaksin also announced that his government will form a

organization to take out loans for poor farmers that the

recipients will be able to repay with produce and livestock.

 

¶3. (U) Thaksin declared that his second administration will

also dispatch “poverty eradication caravans” throughout

Thailand to provide job training for the unemployed, who

would also be given a 100 baht daily allowance (approx. 41

baht equals 1 US dollar) for participating. Thaksin also

promised that land right papers will be issued to squatting

farmers who are now occupying and using public land. In

another nod to the nation’s lower income group, Thaksin

announced that he will expand his 30 baht medical care

program through increased levies on tobacco, alcohol and

other “vices.” The poor will also be given more low cost

housing and slums will be eradicated (though no one will be

forced to leave them, he reassuringly added).

 

¶4. (U) Thaksin also provided for Thailand’s middle class in

his package of promises. Addressing a subject dear to the

heart of every Bangkok commuter — the city’s massive traffic

jams — Thaksin vowed to spend 1.1 trillion baht to improve

traffic flow in and around the capital. He promised to build

more “sky train” (elevated tracked transport) and subway

routes — while keeping fares low for the ridership. Tax

deductions up to 60,000 baht will be offered to those caring

for elderly parents. Small business will be granted a higher

tax deductible income base on their revenue. Thaksin told

his supporters and the nationwide audience that that his

second administration also will develop the country’s river

basins and construct more reservoirs to combat drought.

Bureaucratic performance will be improved and corruption

addressed.

 

“I CAN DELIVER”

 

¶5. (U) Thaksin, casually dressed in his TRT party jacket

and clearly dominating his enthusiastic, flag-waving crowd,

repeatedly pumped on the theme of TRT’s ability to deliver on

its promises. He outlined his own successes and also made

repeated references to the opposition Democrat Party’s

“failures.” Referring to the question of how he will fund

all of his promised programs, Thaksin — the country’s most

successful businessman — declared that “we have the money

because I know how to make money. And when I promise to do

something, you can be sure I can deliver, unlike the other

party that failed because they promised but couldn’t

deliver.” Thaksin referred proudly to his record as prime

minister over the past four years, pointing out that during

this period Thailand came out of the economic crisis that had

plagued it since 1997. (Note: Thaksin emphasized how his

government has performed for the nation’s economy. For

example, he pointedly noted to his audience in the DP

stronghold southern city of Phattalung that under his

administration rubber and palm oil prices are good, as are

tourist numbers)

 

THAKSIN MAKES SOME INTERESTING ADMISSIONS

 

¶6. (U) Thaksin told the assembled faithful that, though

weary from his four years in office, he believed he had

successfully addressed many of the country’s problems. In a

moment of introspection, Thaksin admitted that he had been

“rash and hot headed at times” with his critics, but vowed to

“keep cool.” (Note: This is not the first time the Prime

Minister has vowed to curb his famous temper.) Oddly, after

ruing that his duties as Prime Minister has given him little

time to spend with his family, he volunteered that “my sex

life also suffers.” The two-hour show concluded with

displays of cheering crowds, balloons and fireworks.

 

TRT TARNISHED IN RECENT MONTHS

 

¶7. (SBU) Comment: Thaksin has come out with a strong

populist platform that will undoubtedly excite his rural vote

base, if not the more skeptical Bangkok electorate. He is

anxious to shore up a widely perceived sag in his party’s

popularity since last summer’s win of the Bangkok

governorship by the Democrat Party. Troubled by an inability

thus far to stem chronic violence in the south and a recent

revival of the Avian Flu scare, Thaksin is talking more

defensively. His public comments scale back his earlier

predictions of a massive Thai Rak Thai win in the next

general election. In recent remarks, Thaksin appeared to

back away from his earlier call for 400 out of 500

parliamentary seats. On October 12, Thaksin told the

“Nation” newspaper that the TRT is “certain” to win 200 seats

and to take a proportionate number of the 100 party list

seats given automatic appointments in ratio to their parties’

total vote. Apart from the latest reshuffle (ref b), Thaksin

has been rolling out a number of public initiatives recently

to buttress his popularity. These include the recent

inauguration of a campaign against corruption, salary hikes

for low-level government employees and minimum wage

increases.

 

CAMPAIGNING TO ACCELERATE

 

¶8. (SBU) Comment continued: Election campaign-related

activities will continue to pick up. So will the exchange

between the opponents. DP Leader Banyat Bantadtan criticized

Thaksin for holding a gaudy campaign inauguration while

providing no answers to the issues of reemergence of Avian

Flu and southern violence. Thaksin, for his part, will

likely repeat his characterization of the DP as weak, out of

touch and unable to deliver on campaign promises. Thaksin

appears confident that his hold is secure on the vote-rich

north and northeast regions of the country. He is preparing,

however, for a battle with the DP for the much less certain

south and central regions. His campaign kickoff suggests

that Thaksin will rely on a re-election strategy of direct

appeal to voters over the head of local power brokers,

something similar to the method that served him so well in

2000-01. He is again prepared to offer the electorate as

many blandishments as it takes to win, whether they are

financially sound and fully realizable or not. End

Comment.

 

Written by thaicables

August 26, 2011 at 4:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

06BANGKOK3955 VITAL VOICES CONFERENCE ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

leave a comment »

“70254”,”7/5/2006 10:07″,”06BANGKOK3955″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED”,””,

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

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

051007Z Jul 06

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 BANGKOK 003955

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR G/TIP, EAP/MLS, DRL/IL, PRM/PRP

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KWMN, KCRM, ELAB, PREL, SMIG, PHUM, KJUS, EAID, TH

SUBJECT: VITAL VOICES CONFERENCE ON TRAFFICKING IN

PERSONS

 

1. Summary. The Vital Voices Conference, entitled

Civil Society and Government Collaboration to Combat

Trafficking in Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-

Region, was held in Bangkok from May 22-24. The

conference promoted greater collaboration among NGOs

and government agencies on anti-trafficking activities

in the region, but also highlighted the need to

coordinate funding and strategic planning with other

actors – such as corporations and labor unions – that

were making important strides against TIP

independently. Representatives from the government

and NGO sectors of each Mekong Basin country

(excluding the Burmese government), as well as U.N.

and Thai government co-hosts of the conference,

praised the USG for providing a regional forum for

NGOs to express their view directly with

representatives of their own governments. In some

cases, members of the two sectors were meeting in this

capacity for the very first time. Following the

conference, PAS Bangkok organized a speaking tour in

northern Thailand for Melanne Verveer, Chair of Vital

Voices, and her staff. Recently-named UNODC Goodwill

Ambassador Julia Ormond also praised the conference\’s

unique format for encouraging countries to share best

practices on a problem that by nature transcends

borders in a region subject to huge migrant flows.

End Summary.

 

2. The Vital Voices anti-trafficking conference, held

in Bangkok from May 22-24, brought together NGO and

government leaders from around the world to focus on

improving collaboration in the fight against

trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Participants agreed that the conference succeeded in

fostering dialogue between NGO and government

representatives that has often been missing in

international fora on trafficking-in-persons. Chinese

and Vietnamese NGO delegates in particular praised the

USG for proving a forum for NGO-government dialogue

that was not often available in their own countries.

The discussions generated by other conference

invitees, however, also made clear that other players

in the fight against TIP – such as the business

community and labor unions – were playing important

roles that needed encouragement through linkages with

NGO and government efforts.

 

3. Among the important informal recommendations

generated by the conference discussions:

 

— Reduce \”capital city policymaking\” that ignored

realities on the ground in poorer, outlying provinces

that supplied most TIP victims.

 

— Ensure that training initiatives assisting police

and government officials at capital headquarters get

extended to provincial officials who deal directly

with TIP.

 

— Improve dialogue with labor unions, which can play

an important role in organizing workers (especially in

tourism, hotels) vulnerable to TIP. (Cambodian hotel

unions were cited as a positive example.)

 

— Support G/TIP\’s enhanced focus on labor trafficking

and debt bondage.

 

— Increase the role of the business community,

following the lead of Microsoft and the Gates

Foundation in addressing TIP and providing vocational

training for alternative sources of income.

 

— Get law enforcement agencies and NGOs to \”speak the

same language\” when addressing TIP; law enforcement

needs to better respect victim privacy and security,

while NGOs need to understand the need to secure

testimony for successful prosecutions.

 

— Improve the \”quality\” of TIP prosecutions as well

as the \”quantity\”; emphasize to governments that

exorbitant sentences for \”small fry\” traffickers does

not excuse lack of prosecution of corrupt officials or

trafficking \”kingpins\”.

 

— Ensure that competition for funds does not inhibit

donor coordination; NGOs seeking funds from same

sources tend to withhold information and keep projects

\”proprietary\”.

 

4. Co-sponsors were the RTG\’s Ministry of Social

Development and Human Security, UNODC, USAID, and

Embassy Bangkok. Ambassador Boyce delivered opening

remarks, as did the RTG\’s Minister for Social

Development and Human Security (SDHS), actress and UN

Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond, UN Resident Country

Coordinator Joana Merlin-Scholtes, and Vital Voices

Chair Melanne Verveer.

 

5. RTG Minister Watana Muangsook opened the conference

by identifying poverty alleviation as a means to

combat trafficking. He described the RTG\’s dual track

economic development scheme, which focuses on both

domestic projects (e.g. the 30 baht health care

program and village funds) and regional cooperation

(e.g. Economic Cooperation Strategy.) Ambassador

Boyce encouraged greater government and NGO

cooperation, and called for the Thai Parliament to

pass a comprehensive anti-trafficking law this year.

Julia Ormond relayed stories gathered from her

meetings with trafficking victims around the world.

 

6. USAID\’s Regional Mission in Thailand designed

break-out sessions throughout the conference to

encourage government and NGO sectors to jointly

identify priorities and implement activities. The

Ministry of SDHS hosted a reception the first evening,

followed the second evening by a reception at

Ambassador\’s residence. Various delegates

participated as panel speakers throughout the

conference, and paragraph 6 summarizes these

presentations. The powerpoint slides can be accessed

at

 

http://www.vitalvoices.org/desktopdefault.asp x?page_id=346.

 

7. As a follow-on to the conference, PAS Bangkok

programmed Verveer and Wenchi Yu Perkins, also of

Vital Voices, on a three-day target-of-opportunity

speaking tour in northern Thailand. They met with

provincial anti-trafficking teams, consisting of local

government officials, police officers, public

prosecutors, psychologists, NGO representatives,

attorneys, and journalists in the provinces of Chiang

Mai, Chiang Rai and Phayao. The program ended with a

visit to the Development and Education Program for

Daughters and Community (DEPDC) in Mae Sai, located on

the border with Burma. DEPDC, a community-based

organization, is recognized internationally for its

success in educating rural, impoverished children and

adults, many of whom are from local hill tribes

without Thai citizenship, who are particularly

vulnerable to trafficking. Ms. Verveer and Ms.

Perkins used the opportunity to take lessons learned

from regional partners working to combat trafficking

and shared the knowledge and ext steps ith

numerous Thai officials working in some of Thailand

most notorious areas

for trafficking activities.

 

——————————————— ———

CROSS-BORDER COLLABORATION; CROSS-CULTURE LESSONS

LEARNED

——————————————— ———

 

8. A member of the Royal Thai Police and a

representative of the UN Inter-agency Project on

Trafficking (UNIAP) described a trafficking case that

successfully prosecuted the trafficker through

effective international collaboration. In 2003, a

trafficker known as Khun Thea smuggled 11 Cambodian

women and girls through Thailand into Malaysia. The

subsequent investigation by the Thai and Cambodian

governments was aided by a Thai-Cambodian MOU against

trafficking, as well as the efforts of a host of

government offices, NGOs, and organizations from

Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia. In March 2005, the

trafficker was sentenced to 50 years in a Thai prison.

 

9. Thai-Burmese cooperation was illustrated by Save

the Children representatives, who discussed their work

in repatriating Burmese victims who were trafficked to

Thailand. They raised the possibility of a Thai-Burma

MOU to facilitate repatriation, and lauded the Thai

government\’s commitment to protect all children within

its territory, including trafficked Burmese. Save the

Children has repatriated 158 victims; of those, 12 are

male, and 44 have re-migrated to Thailand. Many who

reintegrated into their communities have become anti-

trafficking educators at home.

 

10. The director of the Nexus Institute presented

cases from Eastern Europe\’s experience in combating

trafficking, including multi-disciplinary national

working groups, some including NGO representatives,

and a regional multi-year anti-trafficking action

plan. The need for effective training for police,

investigators, and prosecutors was emphasized, as were

the responsibilities of law enforcement, such as

immediately providing victims with social services and

protection, ensuring confidentiality, and conducting

risk assessments.

 

———————————

OBSTACLES AND PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS

———————————

 

11. The Southeast Asia Regional Cooperation in Human

Development (SEARCH) presented its plan for an

upcoming 5-year project, which will promote mechanisms

to uphold human rights. Three regional partners —

COMMIT, Asean Working Group, and Forum Asia — will be

involved, and SEARCH shared its plans for avoiding

duplication and leveraging investments. In the same

panel, USAID described its review of a program in

seven countries, which allowed them to map their areas

of vulnerability, identify needs and gaps, and provide

recommendations. They stressed the need to

standardize field work such as data collection,

research techniques, and monitoring and evaluation,

and for increasing the use of mapping to prevent

redundancies. Finally, the Australian Agency for

International Development (AUSAID) shared what it has

identified as the four main challenges to anti-

trafficking efforts. They are:

 

— Widespread refusal to accept that victim protection

and aggressive prosecution can be compatible

strategies.

 

— Failure to treat trafficking and related

exploitation as criminal offenses.

 

— Unrealistic expectations on underdeveloped systems

to deliver justice.

 

As indicators of progress, AUSAID is looking for

trafficking to be treated as a criminal offense, not

just a social problem; for destination countries to

take a greater role in prosecution; and for

prosecutions to be measured as \”better,\” not just

\”more.\”

 

——————

EMPOWERING VICTIMS

——————

 

12. The International Labor Organization\’s (ILO\’s)

presentation focused on the need for civil society to

empower the marginalized to take action, as opposed to

simply protecting their welfare and speaking on their

behalf. They also shared the example of Laos PDR\’s

successful use of steering committees from local to

national levels, which meet regularly and share

information effectively.

 

——————————-

FINAL DOCUMENT: RECOMMENDATIONS

——————————-

 

13. Delegates concluded the conference by creating a

document of recommendations, intended as a guideline

for increased cooperation among a variety of sectors

and organizations. Below is a slightly abridged

version of the document.

 

Final Statement – Conference on ivil Society and

Government Collaboration to Combat Trafficking in

Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-region May 22-24,

2006 Bangkok, Thailand

 

We, the participants of the conference on ivil

Society and Government Collaboration to Combat

Trafficking in Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-

region (GMS) athered in Bangkok, Thailand from May

22-24, 2006, reaffirmed the critical importance of

systematic collaboration between NGOs, civil society,

and Governments in developing and implementing

successful anti-trafficking strategies and programs.

This collaboration must cover all aspects of anti-

trafficking response overing prosecution,

protection, and prevention of human trafficking.

 

Specifically, the conference:

 

Recognizes that civil society encompasses NGOs and

many other actors;

 

Recognizes the critical importance of a comprehensive

approach to combat human trafficking, focusing on

protection, prevention and prosecution, and

importantly complemented by coordination of both

policies and programs;

 

Takes note of the commitments for close collaboration

between Governments and NGOs made by the GMS

Governments through the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial

Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) process, such

as the provision in the COMMIT Memorandum of

Understanding (MOU) which explicitly acknowledges he

important role played by victim support agencies in

the areas of prevention, protection, rescue,

repatriation, recovery and reintegration, as well as

in supporting a strengthened criminal justice

response;

 

Takes note of the important efforts by the Governments

to conclude and implement a broad range of bilateral

MOUs to increase and formalize cooperation between

States in their efforts against human trafficking;

 

Recognizing the relevant UN conventions and

international legal instruments related to human

trafficking which also provide for the involvement of

NGOs in implementation and monitoring processes;

 

Acknowledges the key roles that NGOs and civil society

organizations are already playing in all aspects of

work to eradicate human trafficking in the GMS, and

commend the cases of close cooperation between

Governments and NGOs which are taking place;

 

In light of the above-mentioned findings, the

participants of the conference make the following

recommendations, which recognize the critical

importance of continuous and intensive collaboration

between NGOs and other representative organizations of

civil society and Governments. These recommendations

shall be communicated to the Governments of the

Greater Mekong Sub-region, NGO networks engaged in

anti-trafficking working in the sub-region,

international NGOs, UN agencies, other inter-

governmental organizations, and bilateral and

multilateral donor organizations:

 

(1) Governments and NGOs should more systematically

partner with each other in order to ensure that civil

society is actively involved in all aspects of the

determination and implementation of anti-trafficking

policies, including national action plans,

regulations, and laws. As part of this partnership,

the volume and quality of information shared between

the Government agencies, ranging from central to

grass-roots/local levels, international organizations

and NGOs should increase.

 

(2) Governments and NGOs recognize that consistent,

high-quality data collection, mapping of gap areas,

and quality research are the essential basis for

effective policies and responsive programs. Donors,

international organizations, research organizations,

governments, and NGOs should undertake and support on-

going research activities oth quantitative and

qualitative.

 

(3) Both the Governments and NGOs should broaden their

anti-trafficking partnership to include other civil

society organizations, such as those from organized

labor, faith-based organizations, migrant communities,

and the international and national business community.

Work on anti-trafficking initiatives with these new

allies should occur in a systematic manner to bring

forward new knowledge and resources from these

partners, and seek support from them for policies and

programs to combat human trafficking.

 

(4) Governments and NGOs recognize that significant

gaps in anti-trafficking response still exist in the

sub-region, both in terms of geographical coverage and

sectors of anti-human trafficking response. It is

recommended that these gaps be systematically

addressed by joint initiatives of Government and NGOs.

 

(5) Information on the positive role of NGOs in

cooperating with Governments on anti-trafficking

efforts, and the need to have NGOs involved in order

to ensure comprehensive anti-trafficking response,

should be reflected in all training curriculums at all

levels.

 

(6) Both bilateral and multilateral donor agencies

should take decisions on funding of technical

assistance and capacity building with particular

attention to the need to further strengthen government

and civil society cooperation, and to do so in a more

coordinated manner.

 

(7) Greater donor coordination, including prioritizing

both at the national and regional levels, would

enhance and facilitate the process of preventing and

combating human trafficking.

 

(8) Government and NGOs recognize the importance of

monitoring anti-trafficking projects to ensure

accountability, and continuously evaluating impact of

those activities, but also recognize that donor

agencies should provide longer term commitments to

anti-trafficking work being done. Possible approaches

could include the development of innovative monitoring

modalities, such as regional peer review mechanisms,

between and among Governments, NGOs, civil society,

international NGOs, and inter-governmental

organizations with an emphasis on long-term

commitment, and should stress the positive role that

NGOs can play in monitoring process and progress.

 

(9) Governments and NGOs recommend that the success of

criminal justice actions against human trafficking

offenders should be measured according to both the

quality of investigations and prosecutions and their

quantity.

 

(10) Donors should encourage and support public-

private partnerships as a new approach to generate new

ideas and additional resources for anti-human

trafficking work.

 

(11) Civil society organizations, including NGOs, and

law enforcement authorities should exchange experience

and information, as appropriate, build deeper mutual

understanding, and reach shared objectives to

prosecute traffickers and support the recovery of

victims of trafficking; and bilateral and multilateral

donors should support such opportunities.

 

(12) Stronger cross-border collaboration in all

aspects of anti-trafficking response, and technical,

financial and personnel support for those initiatives,

should be built among governments and NGOs.

 

(13) Where cross-border collaboration and coordination

does occur, it is critical that this be broadened to

embrace the concept of multi-disciplinary teams that

include NGOs, and encourage governments to initiate

pilot projects in identified trafficking hot spots on

borders.

 

(14) Governments and civil society actors should

consider to either extend existing cross-border

mechanisms, or to create similar mechanisms, to

address human trafficking.

 

(15) Regional agreements on procedures for cooperation

in human trafficking should be developed, taking into

account agreements already available at the bilateral

level.

 

(16) Governments and NGOs understand the urgent need

to deepen anti-trafficking response, and ensure that

policies and implementation reach to the provincial

and local level.

 

(17) Governments and NGOs should collaborate to build

capacity of concerned governments officials and NGO

staff working to provide protection and recovery

services to victims, and improve the standards of the

shelters and the services they provide.

 

(18) Workshops should be convened to clarify the roles

and responsibilities of the different stakeholders in

anti-trafficking actions. Possible results could

include the establishment of a multi-disciplinary

operations team at the national level to oversee

actions on cases of trafficked persons. This team can

direct the process of assistance and protection to the

victim, and the victim participation in the criminal

justice investigation and prosecution process. As part

of this process, the roles and scope of NGOs could be

more clearly defined, which would in turn help

facilitate their operations, and monitoring and

evaluation systems be established.

 

(19) Governments and NGOs in places of migrant

origin, transit and

destination should promote safe

migration as a strategy to reduce vulnerability to

human trafficking.

 

The participants will seek opportunities to

incorporate these recommendations into the anti-human

trafficking work that they do upon return to their

home countries. Finally, the participants wish to

thank the organizers and co-sponsors who made this

conference possible, specifically the Ministry of

Social Development and Human Security of the Royal

Thai Government, the Vital Voices Global Partnership,

the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the

United States Agency for International Development,

the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in

Persons in the United States Department of State, and

the Embassy of the United States in Bangkok, Thailand.

The participants believe that the results of this

conference directly reflect the leadership and

commitment of themselves, as well as these

organizations, in addressing the global phenomenon of

human trafficking.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

06BANGKOK2644 SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF USARPAC LTG JOHN M. BROWN III

leave a comment »

“62784”,”5/4/2006 10:05″,”06BANGKOK2644″,

“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 04 BANGKOK 002644

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

USARPAC FOR LTG BROWN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/03/2016

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

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF USARPAC LTG JOHN M.

BROWN III

 

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

 

1. (C) Summary. John, we are looking forward to your visit

and appreciate USARPAC\’s support of Cobra Gold. We are

pleased that Cobra Gold this year includes the active

participation of Japan, Singapore and Indonesia. We are

working closely with your staff to make Cobra Gold a capstone

event for the Global Peace Operations Initiative in 2007.

While things have settled down for the moment on the domestic

political front, a great deal of uncertainty remains over who

the next Prime Minister will be and the makeup of the new

Parliament. Addressing the separatist unrest in southern

Thailand remains the primary focus of the Royal Thai Army

(RTA). Under the leadership of the RTA CINC, GEN Sonthi

Boonyaratklin, the RTA appears to be improving its ability to

address the unrest. Your visit is also a superb opportunity

to review key security programs with Senior Thai Military

officials. END SUMMARY.

 

THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

 

2. (C) Bilateral relations with Thailand remain very good

despite the uncertainty over domestic politics. Thailand is

a Treaty Ally and has been firmly supportive of the

International War on Terror and has participated in Operation

Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

American businesses have over $20 billion in direct

investment in Thailand. The United States is Thailand\’s

largest export market and its second-largest foreign investor.

 

3. (C) Nonetheless, there are points of friction. Human

rights remains a key concern. On October 25, 2004, poorly

trained Thai military and civilian security forces forced

nearly 1,300 Thai Muslim protesters into trucks to be

transported to a military base nearly three hours away. 78

protesters died en route. Our protests over Thai Police

involvement in approximately 1,300 extrajudicial killings

during the 2003 Thai \”war on drugs,\” rankles the Thai

Government. Likewise, Thailand\’s policy of \”constructive

engagement\” with the military junta in Burma and provision of

economic assistance to Rangoon is a source of continuing

frustration for us. The Thai government supports democracy in

Burma but maintains, not altogether convincingly, that

engagement with the SPDC is the only realistic approach it

has to make progress on the major cross-border flows of

refugees, illegal economic migrants, and methamphetamines it

faces from Burma.

 

THE OVERALL SECURITY RELATIONSHIP

 

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

50 years of close cooperation. Thai soldiers, sailors and

airmen participated in the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts

and Thai peacekeepers served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thailand is the fourth largest participant in the U.S.

International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.

Thailand\’s willingness to allow the United States to use

Utapao Naval Air Station as the hub for our regional tsunami

assistance program was key to making Operation Unified

Assistance a success. In fact, PACOM recently designated

Utapao as the most important Cooperative Security Location

(CSL) in the Asia Pacific Region. While we avoid using the

term \”CSL\” with the Thai due to their sensitivities about

bases, Utapao remains vital to our interests in the region.

In your meetings with Thai officials, you will want to note

the overall strength of the relationship — highlighting our

history and underscoring the importance of our tsunami

cooperation, exercise program, increased tempo of USN ship

visits (most recently, the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike

Group), and cooperation in the War on Terrorism.

 

THE POLITICAL SITUATION

 

5. (SBU) The Thai political system is presently working

through its biggest crisis since 1992. After tens of

thousands of Thais participated in peaceful rallies

protesting government corruption and PM Thaksin Shinawatra\’s

(Prime Minister TOCK-SIN) recent tax-free sale of Shin Corp

to Singapore. Thaksin dissolved parliament and called snap

elections. The opposition boycotted the poll, and called on

the voters to abstain. Many small parties, dredged up by the

government to run \”opposition\” candidates were disqualified

for fraud and though Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) political

party won a majority of votes nationwide on April 2, the

massive number of protest abstentions tainted his \”victory.\”

Thaksin, who is currently caretaker Prime Minister, may not

seek to head the next government, although his plans are not

clear.

 

6. (C) On April 25, the King made public statements highly

critical of undemocratic aspects of the elections, and

instructed the relevant judicial bodies to propose a solution

to the impasse caused by the boycott of opposition parties

and the large number of abstentions. The courts\’

recommendations are expected soon, and could include

annulling the vote and scheduling new elections later this

year. Despite being out of the PM\’s office, most observers

expect that Thaksin will still be the \”puppetmaster\”

directing his party from the background. The situation

remains fluid.

 

COUNTERTERRORISM AND SOUTHERN THAILAND

 

7. (C) Until recently, Prime Minister Thaksin\’s biggest

domestic challenge was the unsettled security situation in

the far southern part of the country. Southern Thailand, in

particular the southernmost Muslim majority provinces of

Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, has experienced episodic

violence since it was incorporated into the Siamese Kingdom

in 1902. However, since January 2004, we have witnessed a

dramatic increase in the level of violence. Press reports

indicate that over 1,000 persons have been killed either by

militants or by security forces during this period. Local

Muslim separatist militants have attacked symbols of Thai and

Buddhist authority, civilians, and local citizens suspected

of collaborating with the Government. There continue to be

daily incidents of violence. In March 2005, Thaksin appointed

a National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) headed by highly

respected former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun to look for

alternative solutions to the long-running insurgency.

 

8. (C) Southern separatists direct their anger at the

government in Bangkok, not at the United States. Since a

U.S. presence or perception of U.S. involvement in the South

could redirect that anger towards us and link it to

the international jihadist movement — a link that is

currently absent — we ensure that any offers of assistance

or training pass the \”location and label\” test. Put simply,

we keep U.S. military personnel away from the far

South and we make sure that we do not label any assistance or

training as directly linked to the southern

situation. Likewise, we work to avoid feeding rampant,

outlandish speculation that we are somehow fomenting the

violence in the South in order to justify building permanent

bases — a very sensitive issue in Thailand. We do not want

to jeopardize our access to key military facilities in

Thailand like Utapao Naval Air Station.

 

9. (C) Working closely with Washington, the Embassy has a

three-pronged focus to improve our military cooperation in

order to address the violence in the South:

 

–1) Using our exercise and training program to improve the

professional and operational skills of the Royal Thai Armed

Forces, especially the Thai Army;

–2) Help the Thai break down stovepipes between the Thai

military, police forces, and civilian agencies;

–3) Do everything we can to ensure the Thai respect

international human rights norms as they counter the violence.

 

Key military programs assisting the Thai include:

 

–JCETs programs focused on enhancing general CT

capabilities, counter-insurgency operations, civil affairs

and psychological operations, and information warfare. Since

FY04 over 2500 Thai soldiers from 50 different units have

been trained in counter-insurgency by U.S. Special Forces.

 

–Building a National Training Facility (NTF). We have

worked with the Thai for over a year to develop an NTF that

can serve as a world-class training facility. Such a site

could not only help hone CT skills and provide human rights

training, but be a key tool to improve peace keeping skills

for soldiers in the region under the Global Peace Operations

Initiative (GPOI). We have been cobbling funds together to

make the NTF a Center of Excellence and could use more.

 

–PSYOPS. We presently support a U.S. Military Information

Support Team (MIST) unit from Ft. Bragg attached to

JUSMAGTHAI. This team will likely be augmented by an

experienced Civil Affairs planner within the next month who

will assist with campaign planning and product support to

counter ideological support to terrorism.

 

At the same time, we are working with Thai and U.S. law

enforcement agencies to improve the professionalization of

various Thai police entitites.

MILITARY COOPERATION

 

10. (C) Perhaps due to their lack of a colonial heritage,

Thai leaders are far more willing to host multilateral

exercises than are others countries in Asia. Unlike Japan,

which only hosts annual bilateral exercises due to legal

prohibitions over collective security, or Australia, which

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

own training opportunities, the Royal Thai Government

supports multilateral exercises as a way to show regional

leadership. So long as our concepts are properly sold to Thai

military and political leaders, we should be able to continue

to modify exercises to meet our regional security objectives

— including an ability to establish a near-continuous

presence in the region.

 

11. (C) We conduct a wide range of major exercises and

training programs with Thailand each year, including Cobra

Gold. Cobra Gold 2006 will include almost 7,000 U.S. troops

working together with Thai counterparts in field training

exercises ranging from Military Operations in Urban Terrain

and Air Assault Operations to Naval Special Forces protecting

offshore natural gas platforms. The Command Post Exercise at

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

Japanese, Singaporean and Indonesian forces and will focus on

peace keeping operations. Cobra Gold in the coming years

will be a centerpiece of GPOI, designed to train 15,000

regional peacekeepers by 2010. Utapao, the Thai Navy Air

Base used as the primary staging area for U.S. disaster

relief efforts in the region following the December 2004

tsunami, has long been a critical support hub for U.S.

 

SIPDIS

aircraft transiting the region. Over 420 DOD aircraft use it

each year. Our largest air exercise, Cope Tiger, involves

Thailand, the United States and Singapore. We have also been

working closely with PACFLT to give our major naval exercise,

CARAT, a more regional flavor in the coming years.

 

THE ROLE OF CHINA AND INDIA IN THE REGION

 

12. (C) Southeast Asia continues to feel the rising influence

of China and India. While emphasizing the vital role of the

U.S. in the region — and Thailand\’s desire to intensify U.S.

engagement — Thai leaders also focus on developing stronger

relations with the two regional powers. Bangkok views both

countries as sources of unlimited consumer demand and hope to

conclude Free Trade Agreements with both nations. It

surprises many visitors from Washington to learn that the

Thai military has a number of Chinese weapons systems in its

arsenal. While Thai military links with the United States are

deeper and far more apparent than Sino-Thai links, China\’s

growing influence in Thailand and Southeast Asia is evident

in business, the arts, the media and the military. The PLA

Navy has close links with the RTN and recently conducted a

major ship visit to Phuket. After jointly holding a limited

naval exercise in the Andaman Sea last fall, Thailand and

China are exploring conducting joint SAR exercises. The RTN

has acquired several ships from China over the past decade.

China is refurbishing tanks and air defense equipment

provided to Thailand in the late 1980\’s. Thailand is also

trying to negotiate a barter deal trading Chinese armored

vehicles for Thai fruit. Mil-to-mil exchanges between China

and Thailand have expanded in recent years as has the number

of bilateral military VIP visits.

 

THAI MILITARY STRUCTURE

 

13. (C) The relative power and influence of the Royal Thai

Army (RTA) dwarfs the other services. As such, the Royal Thai

Army Commander traditionally wields more real power than the

Supreme Commander. Thailand\’s armed forces, which had a

history of interfering in the country\’s politics, have not

done so since 1992 and appear to be fully reconciled to

constitutional roles of defense and security. Their exposure

to U.S. civil-military values through their extensive

participation in IMET training deserves some credit for this

transformation of their attitude towards democracy.

 

THE ROLE OF THE ARMY

 

14. (C) The Royal Thai Army (RTA) is a legacy force faced

with serious modernization issues. Although 30 years have

passed, the RTA is still primarily organized and equipped to

defeat the large conventional threat that Vietnam represented

in the mid-1980\’s. However, poor maintenance and systemic

logistical support problems have undermined operational

readiness (OR) rates of tanks, helicopters and other major

systems. The real capacity of the RTA is difficult to judge

due to the large and fluctuating gap between the stated table

of organization and equipment (TOEs) and the real OR rates.

 

15. (C) Much of the continuing decline in operational

capacity is due to the budget constraints that were imposed

from 1997-2001 after the Asian Financial Crisis that have

severely impacted training and procurement. Since that time,

budgets have increased slightly, but not to pre-1997 levels.

Accordingly, the RTA must selectively choose how to

modernize. Serious corruption in the procurement process is

still widespread — and acknowledged by many Thai officers.

The RTA relies on JUSMAGTHAI and the Foreign Military Sales

(FMS) system for many of their high-profile procurement

programs. JUSMAGTHAI is working with the RTA on a $24M

program to refurbish 7 AH-1 Cobras. The RTA has recently

funded an FMS case to purchase up to 70,000 M16-A4 rifles.

Two additional UH-60 Blackhawks will arrive in Thailand in

early May 2006, bringing the RTA\’s fleet up to 7 total

aircraft. Additionally, the RTA is purchasing limited

quantities of GEN III Night Vision Goggles and Thermal

Weapons Sights. Significant direct commercial procurement

activity includes the purchase of over 1000 M240 machine guns

and negotiations are underway over the purchase of 96 LAVs

from Canada and the local refurbishment of 16 UH-1

helicopters originally procured through FMS.

 

16. (C) The RTA\’s transformation vision, unpublished and

informal as it is, is to become lighter and more mobile with

upgraded C4I systems that will make it more agile

operationally. On the C4I front, much work remains. The RTA

HQ and subordinate commands use commercial dial-up Internet

services and email accounts, if they use email at all.

However, they do have VTC capability and use it frequently.

 

17. (C) The RTG\’s CT effort in the South has been plagued by

repeated changes of government policies and lead agencies.

Shortly after taking power, Thaksin decided to dissolve the

joint civilian-police-military Task Force which since the

1980s had successfully contained the separatist-related

violence. The loss of that coordinating body increased the

natural propensity of the Thai bureaucracy to stovepipe

information and not cooperate operationally. The problems

caused by this lack of coordination have been compounded by

the constant shifting of both the civilian and military

leadership responsible for the South. In addition, Thaksin

often set unrealistic deadlines for his deputies to \”solve\”

the southern problem and has been inconsistent in his policy

statements, creating a situation where the operational

leadership has a weak mandate and lack of strategic focus.

Last year, Thaksin settled on Army CINC GEN Sonthi

Boonyaratklin (who is a Muslim with a Special Forces

Background) as his chief military representative. Sonthi

recently assured me that the Army was rebuilding its

intelligence and political network in the South, which is a

good sign. Nonetheless, there is little guarantee that the

Government won\’t switch course again in response to an actual

or perceived setback.

 

18. (C) While the RTA has a long history working with the

U.S. Army, recently we have also been working with MARFORPAC

and III MEF to improve links between the U.S Marine Corps and

the RTA. In many ways, our Marines are perfect training

partners for the RTA and field exercises in Thailand afford

our Marines many opportunities they don\’t have elsewhere in

Asia. We will host the USS Essex Amphibious Assault Ship

during Cobra Gold and are looking for other training

opportunities in the coming months.

 

WE LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR VISIT

 

19. (U) We are grateful for the terrific support your staff

has shown in making Cobra Gold 2006 a success. We look

forward to your visit.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

06BANGKOK2643 SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF PACOM ADM FALLON

leave a comment »

“62783”,”5/4/2006 10:01″,”06BANGKOK2643″,

 

“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 05 BANGKOK 002643

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

PACOM FOR ADM FALLON AND FPA HUSO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/03/2016

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

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF PACOM ADM FALLON

 

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

 

1. (C) Summary. Fox, I\’m looking forward to your visit and

hope to host you and Mary for lunch while you are here.

While things have settled down for the moment on the domestic

political front, a great deal of uncertainty remains over who

the next Prime Minister will be and the makeup of the new

Parliament. Nonetheless, we have a number of key initiatives

in the works that further our strategic interests in

Thailand. As you know, Cobra Gold will be underway when you

visit. We are pleased that the exercise this year includes

the active participation of Japan, Singapore and Indonesia.

We are working closely with your staff to make Cobra Gold a

signature event for the Global Peace Operations Initiative in

2007. Gary Roughead and Jonathan Greenert have briefed me on

the Navy\’s plans to become more active in our area — plans

that mesh well with our overall maritime security and counter

terrorism efforts. Related to this, we have put forward an

ambitious proposal to enhance maritime security in the

Andaman Sea/Strait of Malacca. Also of note, drawing on our

military programs, we are working with U.S. law enforcement

agencies to help the Thai better address separatists in the

Malay majority South. The Thai will appreciate any

information you can provide on our long-range military plans

for Thailand and the region. END SUMMARY.

 

THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

 

2. (C) Bilateral relations with Thailand remain very good.

Throughout the political crisis, we maintained close links

with the Government and with the opposition. Major points of

friction remain over human rights and Thailand\’s policy

towards Burma. Regularly in meetings with Thai military

officials we emphasize the importance of respecting

international human rights norms and not to resort to

extrajudicial killings during activities in the South.

Thailand\’s policy of \”constructive engagement\” with the

military junta in Burma and provision of economic assistance

to Rangoon is a source of continuing frustration for us. The

Thai government supports democracy in Burma but maintains,

not altogether convincingly, that engagement with the SPDC is

the only realistic approach it has to make progress on the

major cross-border flows of refugees, illegal economic

migrants, and methamphetamines it faces from Burma.

 

THE OVERALL SECURITY RELATIONSHIP

 

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

50 years of close cooperation. Thai soldiers, sailors and

airmen participated in the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts

and Thai peacekeepers served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thailand is the fourth largest participant in the U.S.

International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.

Thailand\’s willingness to allow the United States to use

Utapao Naval Air Station as the hub for our regional tsunami

assistance program was key to making Operation Unified

Assistance a success. Utapao remains vital to our interests

in the region. In your meetings with Thai officials, you will

want to note the overall strength of the relationship —

highlighting our history and underscoring the importance of

our tsunami cooperation, exercise program, increased tempo of

USN ship visits (most recently, the USS Abraham Lincoln

Carrier Strike Group), and cooperation in the War on

Terrorism.

 

THE POLITICAL SITUATION

 

4. (SBU) As we discussed recently, the Thai political

system is working through its biggest crisis since 1992.

After tens of thousands of Thais participated in peaceful

rallies protesting government corruption and PM Thaksin\’s

recent tax-free sale of Shin Corp to Singapore. Thaksin

dissolved parliament and called snap elections. The

opposition boycotted the poll, and called on the voters to

abstain. Many small parties, dredged up by the government to

run \”opposition\” candidates, were disqualified for fraud and

though Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) political party won a

majority of votes nationwide on April 2, the massive number

of protest abstentions tainted his \”victory.\” Thaksin, who

is currently caretaker Prime Minister, may not seek to head

the next government, although his plans are not clear.

5. (C) On April 25, the King made public statements highly

critical of undemocratic aspects of the elections, and

instructed the relevant judicial bodies to propose a solution

to the impasse caused by the boycott of opposition parties

and the large number of abstentions. The courts\’

recommendations are expected soon, and could include

annulling the vote and scheduling new elections later this

year. Despite being out of the PM\’s office, most observers

expect that Thaksin will still be the \”puppetmaster\”

directing his party from the background. The situation

remains fluid.

 

COUNTERTERRORISM AND SOUTHERN THAILAND

 

6. (C) Press reports indicate that over 1,000 persons have

been killed either by militants or by security forces since

January 2004. Local Muslim separatist militants have attacked

symbols of Thai and Buddhist authority, civilians, and local

citizens suspected of collaborating with the Government.

Southern separatists direct their anger at the government in

Bangkok, not at the United States. Since a U.S. presence or

perception of U.S. involvement in the South could redirect

that anger towards us and link it to the international

jihadist movement — a link that is currently absent — we

ensure that any offers of assistance or training pass the

\”location and label\” test. Put simply, we keep U.S. military

personnel away from the far South and we make sure that we do

not label any assistance or training as directly linked to

the southern situation. Likewise, we work to avoid feeding

rampant, outlandish speculation that we are somehow fomenting

the violence in the South in order to justify building

permanent bases — a very sensitive issue in Thailand. We do

not want to jeopardize our access to key military facilities

in Thailand like Utapao Naval Air Station.

 

7. (C) Working closely with Washington and PACOM, the

Embassy has a three-pronged focus to improve our military

cooperation in order to address the violence in the South:

 

–1) Using our exercise and training program to improve the

professional and operational skills of the Royal Thai Armed

Forces, especially the Thai Army;

–2) Help the Thai break down stovepipes between the Thai

military, police forces, and civilian agencies;

–3) Do everything we can to ensure the Thai respect

international human rights norms as they counter the violence.

 

Key military programs assisting the Thai include:

 

–JCETs programs focused on enhancing general CT

capabilities, counter-insurgency operations, civil affairs

and psychological operations, and information warfare. Since

FY04 over 2500 Thai soldiers from 50 different units have

been trained in counter-insurgency by U.S. Special Forces.

 

–Building a National Training Facility (NTF). We have

worked with the Thai for over a year to develop an NTF that

can serve as a world-class training facility. Such a site

could not only help hone CT skills and provide human rights

training, but be a key tool to improve peace keeping skills

for soldiers in the region under the Global Peace Operations

Initiative (GPOI). We have been cobbling funds together to

make the NTF a Center of Excellence and could use more.

 

–PSYOPS. We presently support a U.S. Military Information

Support Team (MIST) unit from Ft. Bragg attached to

JUSMAGTHAI. This team will likely be augmented by an

experienced Civil Affairs planner within the next month who

will assist with campaign planning and product support to

counter ideological support to terrorism.

 

At the same time, we are working with Thai and U.S. law

enforcement agencies to improve the professionalization of

various Thai police entitites.

 

REGIONAL MARITIME SECURITY

 

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

Maritime Security. We are working closely with PACOM to

encourage Thailand and others to support the Regional

Maritime Security Initiative (RMSI). We recently proposed to

the Royal Thai Supreme Command and the Royal Thai Navy the

Andaman Sea Maritime Security Initiative. This project is a

layered approached to assist the Thai military secure

territorial waters while also providing coverage of the

northern shipping lanes feeding into the Strait of Malacca.

It would combine a High Frequency Radar capable of reaching

Sumatra, with a constellation of overlapping x-band radars to

provide radar coverage of the waters off the west coast of

Thailand. The initiative would also improve the Royal Thai

Navy\’s interdiction capabilities and has the potential to be

linked to other facilities in the region.

 

MILITARY COOPERATION

 

9. (C) Perhaps due to their lack of a colonial heritage, Thai

leaders are far more willing to host multilateral exercises

than are others countries in Asia. Unlike Japan, which only

hosts annual bilateral exercises due to legal prohibitions

over collective security, or Australia, which avoids

multilateral exercises so as not to \”dumb down\” its own

training opportunities, the Royal Thai Government supports

multilateral exercises as a way to show regional leadership.

So long as our concepts are properly sold to Thai military

and political leaders, we should be able to continue to

modify exercises to meet our regional security objectives —

including an ability to establish a near-continuous presence

in the region.

 

10. (C) Cobra Gold 2006 will include almost 7,000 U.S.

troops working together with Thai counterparts in field

training exercises ranging from Military Operations in Urban

Terrain and Air Assault Operations to Naval Special Forces

protecting offshore natural gas platforms. The Command Post

Exercise at Cobra Gold will include participation by U.S.,

Thai, Japanese, Singaporean and Indonesian forces and will

focus on peace keeping operations. Cobra Gold in the coming

years will be a centerpiece of our GPOI, designed to train

15,000 regional peacekeepers by 2010. As mentioned, Utapao,

the Thai Navy Air Base used as the primary staging area for

U.S. disaster relief efforts in the region following the

December 2004 tsunami, has long been a critical support hub

for U.S. aircraft transiting the region. Over 420 DOD

aircraft use it each year. Our largest air exercise, Cope

Tiger, involves Thailand, the United States and Singapore.

We have also been working closely with PACFLT to give our

major naval exercise, CARAT, a more regional flavor in the

coming years.

 

THE ROLE OF CHINA AND INDIA IN THE REGION

 

11. (C) Southeast Asia continues to feel the rising influence

of China and India. While emphasizing the vital role of the

U.S. in the region — and Thailand\’s desire to intensify U.S.

engagement — Thai leaders also focus on developing stronger

relations with the two regional powers. Bangkok views both

countries as sources of unlimited consumer demand and hope to

conclude Free Trade Agreements with both nations. The Thai

military has a number of Chinese weapons systems in its

arsenal. While Thai military links with the United States are

deeper and far more apparent than Sino-Thai links, China\’s

growing influence in Thailand and Southeast Asia is evident

in business, the arts, the media and the military. The PLA

Navy has close links with the RTN and recently conducted a

major ship visit to Phuket. After jointly holding a limited

naval exercise in the Andaman Sea last fall, Thailand and

China are exploring conducting joint SAR exercises. The RTN

has acquired several ships from China over the past decade.

China is refurbishing tanks and air defense equipment

provided to Thailand in the late 1980\’s. Thailand is also

trying to negotiate a barter deal trading Chinese armored

vehicles for Thai fruit. Mil-to-mil exchanges between China

and Thailand have expanded in recent years as has the number

of bilateral military VIP visits.

 

THAI MILITARY STRUCTURE

 

12. (C) The relative power and influence of the Royal Thai

Army (RTA) dwarfs the other services. As such, the Royal Thai

Army Commander traditionally wields more real power than the

Supreme Commander. Thailand\’s armed forces, which had a

history of interfering in the country\’s politics, have not

done so since 1992 and appear to be fully reconciled to

constitutional roles of defense and security. Their exposure

to U.S. civil-military values through their extensive

participation in IMET training deserves some credit for this

transformation of their attitude towards democracy.

 

THE ROLE OF THE ARMY

 

13. (C) The Royal Thai Army (RTA) is a legacy force faced

with serious modernization issues. Although 30 years have

passed, the RTA is still primarily designed to defeat the

large conventional threat that Vietnam represented in the

mid-1980\’s. On paper, the RTA would seem to possess the

capability to defeat a large conventional attack — however,

it is plagued by an almost universally low Operational

Readiness (OR) rate. This problem is a systemic weakness

based on insufficient sustainment of equipment as well as

budget shortages in place since the 1997 financial crisis.

This problem remains a key focus.

 

14. (C) Much of this decline in effectiveness is due to the

budget constraints that were imposed from 1997-2001 after the

Asian Financial Crisis. Since that time, budgets have

increased slightly, but not to pre-1997 levels. Accordingly,

the RTA must selectively choose how to modernize. Serious

corruption in the procurement process is still widespread —

and acknowledged by many Thai officers. The RTA relies on

JUSMAGTHAI and the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system for

many of their high-profile procurement programs.

 

15. (C) The RTA\’s transformation vision, unpublished and

informal as it is, is to become lighter and more mobile with

upgraded C4I systems that will make it more agile

operationally. On the C4I front, much work remains. The RTA

HQ and subordinate commands use commercial dial-up Internet

services and email accounts, if they use email at all.

However, they do have VTC capability and use it frequently.

 

16. (C) The RTG\’s CT effort in the South has been plagued by

repeated changes of government policies and lead agencies.

Shortly after taking power, Thaksin decided to dissolve the

joint civilian-police-military Task Force which since the

1980s had successfully contained the separatist-related

violence. The loss of that coordinating body increased the

natural propensity of the Thai bureaucracy to stovepipe

information and not cooperate operationally. The problems

caused by this lack of coordination have been compounded by

the constant shifting of both the civilian and military

leadership responsible for the South. In addition, Thaksin

often set unrealistic deadlines for his deputies to \”solve\”

the southern problem and has been inconsistent in his policy

statements, creating a situation where the operational

leadership has a weak mandate and lack of strategic focus.

Last year, Thaksin settled on Army CINC GEN Sonthi

Boonyaratklin (who is a Muslim with a Special Forces

Background) as his chief military representative. Sonthi

recently assured me that the Army was rebuilding its

intelligence and political network in the South, which is a

good sign. Nonetheless, there is little guarantee that the

Government won\’t switch course again in response to an actual

or perceived setback.

 

17. (C) While the RTA has a long history working with the

U.S. Army, recently we have also been working with MARFORPAC

and III MEF to improve links between the U.S Marine Corps and

the RTA. In many ways, our Marines are perfect training

partners for the RTA and field exercises in Thailand afford

our Marines many opportunities they don\’t have elsewhere in

Asia. We will host the USS Essex Amphibious Assault Ship

during Cobra Gold and are looking for other training

opportunities in the coming months.

 

THE NAVAL RELATIONSHIP

 

18. (C) While our overall relationship with the Thai military

is good, our links with the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) are not as

strong as those with the Royal Thai Army or Air Force. The

RTN is smaller than the other services and tends to be less

willing to be open with U.S. counterparts. This has not been

the case historically, and we are working to reverse the

trend through potential projects like the Andaman Sea

Maritime Security Initiative. We\’ve also been working with

PACFLT and Seventh Fleet to increase the tempo of U.S. Navy

ship visits. The April 19-24 visit of the USS Abraham

Lincoln Carrier Strike Group was well received by the RTN,

received front page and prime time media coverage, and was a

successful opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of the

U.S.-Thai security relationship. Recently, the Chinese have

improved their ties to the RTN as evidenced by the ship visit

to Phuket mentioned above, a joint SAR exercise in the

Andaman Sea, and sales to Thailand of Chinese equipment.

Likewise, the RTN has been developing a closer relationship

with the Indian Navy and has conducted some exercises with

the Indians.

 

19. (C) In addition to supporting our annual Cooperation

Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with Thailand,

JUSMAGTHAI has worked closely with RTN Special Warfare units

to increase their capacity. USN SEALS have helped to provide

their Thai counterparts with some impressive capabilities.

For instance, Thai SEALS regularly conduct exercises aimed at

protecting oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Thailand.

This NSW relationship was graphically demonstrated during the

tsunami response when USN and RTN SEALS rapidly deployed to

 

SIPDIS

Phuket to assist in the recovery efforts. The Prime Minister

was photographed in a recovery boat manned by the SEALS.

Despite their improved professionalism, the Thai SEALS are

not well-supported by senior RTN officials.

 

THE AIR FORCE RELATIONSHIP

 

20. (C) Our premier air force exercise with Thailand is Cope

Tiger. Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) officials have disagreed

with our suggestions to combine Cope Tiger with Cobra Gold —

and in fact have told us that they will not agree to move

Cope Tiger and will plan to hold the exercise bilaterally

with Singapore, or even invite a third country, if we insist

on moving it. We are working closely with PACAF, MARFORPAC

and PACFLT to develop a way to support the exercise.

 

21. (C) Although Utapao is an RTN facility, PACAF has been

designated PACOM\’s executive agent in assessing what upgrades

are needed there. Thai officers and U.S. officials in

country agree that Utapao needs some safety enhancements in

order to continue to be safe for us to use. In September, a

PACAF assessment team visited Utapao to determine what

systems need enhancement or upgrading, the Thai eagerly await

the results of the PACAF assessment.

 

22. (C) Last year, Thailand announced its plans to replace

aging F-5s in the RTAF fleet. Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary

Rice and the President all urged Thailand to either use its

defense budget to perform mid-life upgrades (MLU) on its

existing F-16s or to buy F-16 Block 52s. A vast majority of

senior RTAF officers favor the F-16 over SU-30. However,

Russian officials and Israeli contractors have reportedly

offered inducements to senior RTAF officers to buy Russian

planes and PM Thaksin has reportedly promised President Putin

that he would look favorably on Sukhoi\’s bid. We are urging

the Thai to proceed with the MLU purchase but not to procure

any Russian planes for interoperability reasons, the impact

such a move could have on technology releases in the future,

and the effect such a procurement might have on Thailand\’s

ability to eventually purchase the Joint Strike Fighter.

 

WE LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR VISIT

 

23. (U) I look forward to hosting you and Mary for lunch

when you come to Bangkok and to sharing views on how best to

promote our strategic interests in Thailand.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

05BANGKOK6798 OPPOSITION POLITICIAN PESSIMISTIC ON SOUTH, PARTY PROSPECTS

leave a comment »

“43921”,”10/28/2005 12:10″,”05BANGKOK6798″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”05BANGKOK6240″,

“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 006798

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL:10/26/2015

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, Democratic Party,

Political Parties, Southern Thailand

SUBJECT: OPPOSITION POLITICIAN PESSIMISTIC ON SOUTH, PARTY

PROSPECTS

 

REF: BANGKOK 6240

 

CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL COUNSELOR SUSAN M. SUTTON, reason

1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: A Democrat party MP gave downbeat

assessments of his party\’s short term prospects, and of the

security situation in the troubled South. The MP warned

that the current government would be unable to resolve the

problems in the South because it had completely lost the

trust of the people. Meanwhile, the PM was not too

concerned, as his nationalist rhetoric on the issue was

actually winning him support around the country. The

Democrat party must rebuild from the grass roots, in the

MP\’s view, and cannot rely on a \”people power\” type revolt

to unseat the prime minister and his powerful Thai Rak Thai

party. His view of the South is overly pessmistic, we

believe, but he is probably right about his own party\’s

weakness in the face of a still-strong TRT. End summary.

 

Prospects for the South — bad

——————————

 

2. (C) Polcouns met with Sukhumbrand

Paribatra, a party list MP and Democrat Party

(DP) leader. Sukhumbrand echoed the concerns

of other DP interlocutors in assessing the

situation in the South. He respected the

members of the National Reconciliation

Commission (NRC) but doubted whether their work

could have much impact. At this point, he

said, it won\’t help even if the government

comes up with a good solution to respond to the

core problems in the South. The government

itself is the problem, and more specifically

the Prime Minister. The people in the South

have no faith in the government or PM anymore

and will not trust anything they do.

 

3. (C) Further, Thaksin has little incentive

to make concessions that might help quiet the

problems in the South. Thaksin\’s nationalist

rhetoric is still popular with the people in

the rest of the country. \”For every one enemy

he makes in the South, he gets ten supporters,\”

Sukhumbrand claimed. Thaksin\’s Thai Rak Thai

(TRT) party is prepared to concede the South to

the opposition. \”What does it matter that he

loses 40-50 MPs from the South, if he wins

everywhere else in the country?\” Sukhumbrand

asked.

 

Prospects for the opposition — bad

———————————–

 

4. (C) Polcouns asked what the Democrat Party

strategy would be for the Senate elections next

year. \”Shall I tell you honestly? We will get

on our knees and pray.\” Sukhumbrand said. He

expected that TRT would \”use state power\” and

their control over the media so effectively

that the DP and other opposition parties would

not have a chance. DP was also to blame; for

many years it had been \”coasting,\” certain that

it would muster enough seats to have a role in

any coalition government. The dramatic losses

in 2001 and this year had shaken up the party,

and now they would have to rebuild. The new

party leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, had told the

party that it must now compete to win, not just

to be part of a coalition.

 

5. (C) In the by-elections on October 30, the

opposition could only hope to gain one or two

seats. It had hoped to win three of the four

contests, reaching 125 seats in the Parliament;

this is the number needed to initiate censure

and impeachment motions. Sukhumbrand did not

expect to succeed. The opposition would take

the seat in Satun in the South, which TRT had

decided not to contest (unless low turn-out

rendered the election void). The opposition

had a chance Phichit, which has been hotly

contested . In Uthai Thani, \”all that matters

is money\” and TRT has more of it. In Singburi,

the opposition candidate has not maintained

good contact with his constituency, and so is

not expected to do well.

 

6. (C) Polcouns asked about the impact of the

Auditor-General scandal (reftel) and the

efforts by opposition groups to gin up

widespread public discontent and anti-

government demonstrations over the issue.

Sukhumbrand discounted the effect of the

scandal. \”It\’s too complicated,\” he said, \”I

had to have it explained to me twice.\”

(Comment: us, too. end comment.) If the public

does rise up against the government, it would

probably be over some simple issue that no one

can now predict, like the death of a family

from bird flu. He drew a parallel with the

student demonstrations of the past, which had

grown out of narrow grievances.

 

Comment

——-

 

7. (C) Sukhumbrand gave a more realistic

assessment of the political situation than we

have heard from many other opposition and civil

society figures. His view that the party

cannot count on public unrest and \”people

power\” revolt against Thaksin is probably

unwelcome among many of his colleagues, who

would like to avoid the long, hard job of

building grassroots support around the country.

His assessment of the South may be too grim, in

our view. We don\’t think that it is yet too

late for good government policies effectively

implemented to improve the conditions in the

South. Unfortunately, the situation might

reach that point if the government doesn\’t work

more effectively soon.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 6:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized