With Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra babbling that her government will follow the king’s trite “advice” on the south, PPT went back to Wikileaks to look at some of the cables on previous times when royals were involved in the south. Specifically, when the queen was pushing the Thaksin Shinawatra government for more action on the south, in rabidly nationalist speech to ultra-nationalists.
In a cable dated 5 April 2005, the Embassy observes that the queen’s remarks were somewhat different from her “highly emotional November 16, 2004 speech (reftel) where she indicated that direct self-defense measures were required to protect Buddhist Thais living in the South.”
This 40-minute speech, parts of which are translated at the end of the cable, was on 23 April was a:
strongly worded nationally televised address calling for an end to the violence in southern Thailand. She urged all Thais to work with the government against persons responsible for recent killings and bombings, saying the violence threatens the economic livelihood of the entire country. The remarks were delivered at the Royal Palace in Bangkok in front of a large gathering of Village Scouts and other representatives of nationalist civil defense groups.
The cable notes that this speech was a determined intervention as the audience was selected for impact and the speech was “broadcast simultaneously nationwide by all of Thailand’s television stations, were delivered in front of nearly 1,200 members of the Village Scouts and members of other voluntary civil defense organizations from across the country.”
Very deliberately, it is reported that the queen “was heard telling Privy Councilor Surayudh Shulanont [General Surayud Chulanont] that ‘His Majesty wanted to say this, but feared it would be too strong, so he asked me to speak instead’.” To emphasize the king’s concern she stated: “I volunteered and took the Royal Command (from His Majesty the King) to travel to Thaksin Ratchanives Palace for two months’ stay in September and October 2004.” There she says she observed hardship and misery.
At the same time, the cable notes that “unusually, the Palace did not announce ahead of time that the Queen would deliver the remarks or that the audience would be televised.”
In her speech, the queen stated her “grave concern about the situation in our country, particularly a spate of simultaneous bombings in various places in Hat Yai,” and complained that this would chase tourists away. She added that if “we allow these tragic incidents to continue spreading, our incomes from tourism will dramatically decrease and our national economy will collapse.”
Her view of the insurgents was that they were “abnormal and cruel people who can kill human beings like fish or vegetables…”. She added that:
It is evident that this group of inhumane persons has intentionally killed the innocent without caring whether they are women, elderly, or children. This is evidently an act of brutes who have no religion, no morality, no humanity, and who are capable of doing violent and cruel things that normal people cannot. These people have no sympathy for anyone else. I believe these people not only deliberately intended to kill others but have also conspired against the country.
While the cable describes the speech as more measured than her call to arms in 2004, this is a speech that combines all of the xenophobic elements that were seen in the past to lead to violence (as in 1976). She speaks of the opposition as inhuman, grotesque and lacking religion and of “grave dangers now plaguing Thailand…. I feel that our country is in real danger.” As the cable points out, the queen shows she knows her audience as previously violent Village Scouts and paramilitary groups when she declares:
I am reminded of your pledge to defend the country and the Thai people uttered before His Majesty the King at a time when I don’t know who else to turn to for help. I have no specific proposal, and never think of mobilizing all of you to take up weapons to kill anyone [as she seemed to do in her November speech] , because we are all Thai compatriots and not duty-bound to suppress one another with arms. I would merely like to ask you not remain idle, for your idleness could do great harm to the country…. I really hope that all of you who vowed to defend the country, and on whom I have pinned much hope, will unite your efforts to defend your country, to show your gratitude to your homeland, and to build the country for ournew generations.
The cable notes that the Thaksin government was “predictably, complimentary of the Queen, with officials promising to heed her advice.” It also expresses concern about the audience:
Some local observers have expressed concern that the Scouts — who have a history of violence towards those seen as opposing the government — could aggravate the situation in the south by encouraging nationalist sentiment among the Thai populace, while further alienating southern Muslims. By keeping the Scouts in the picture, the Queen runs the risk of doing just that.
Later the cable comments that her striking call to the Scouts could “be interpreted by some as again having issued a call to action — to defend Buddhists.”