Wikileaks, palace and political meddling

14 08 2011

On 28 March 2006, just a month before the king made a most decisive political intervention, the U.S.  Ambassador Ralph Boyce is, in this Wikileaks cable, telling Washington and embassies around the world that the palace is neutral and wanting to stay out of politics.

Asa Sarasin

The cable begins with the interesting note that the “Ambassador called on Asa Sarasin, the King’s Principal Private Secretary, on March 28 to deliver an advance copy of the controversial biography of the King that is slated to be published in the United States in May.” In fact, according to this academic account, Boyce had gone to considerable lengths to placate the Thaksin Shinawatra government and the palace over Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles. Providing the palace with an advance copy (apparently, Yale University Press provided two copies to the State Department) was one more step in this process.

In the meeting with Boyce, Asa maintained that the palace was concerned about:

the repeated calls from anti-Thaksin demonstrators for the King to intervene to resolve the current political impasse. Asa said that the King did not intend to intervene, since that would be a set back for Thailand’s democratic development. The Palace believes that the situation can be resolved without the King’s intervention.

That’s not exactly a statement of political integrity by a constitutional monarchy. It is merely a statement of the belief that the political crisis could be resolved without the king having to intervene. Of course, the palace was already deeply involved with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and in aligning the royalist elite against the elected government.

In fact, Asa concludes that either the courts will get rid of Thaksin or that “the demonstrations will continue unabated. Eventually, in his [Asa’s] assessment, the PM will be forced to concede to the unending opposition, and step down.” Asa is reported to have continued:

In either case, Asa said, the situation will be resolved without the need for royal intervention. It may take time, since the PM is “ignoring all the signals.” [PPT: presumably including those from the palace.]  But the Palace prefers this to the option of a premature and unnecessary interference in politics.

Boyce seems gleeful in recording his general agreement, stating that despite the Constitutional Court’s “shady reputation,” if it doesn’t rule against the legality of the election of some candidates for the Thai Rak Thai Party in the still to be held election, then the PAD will be bolstered.

PPT can’t help wondering if Boyce was being mischievous in this cable. He was well aware that the palace was highly politicized. In an earlier cable he noted that the palace did not rule out intervention. Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda had already declared that Thaksin should go. Privy Councilor General Surayud Chulanont had told Boyce that the political situation was “a mess” – term later used by the king – and noted Thaksin’s “corruption.”

If the news reports of the period from late 2005-April 2006 are examined, the palace’s political involvement is seen in, for example, the campaign to keep the oddball but anti-Thaksin Attorney-General Jaruvan Maintaka in her position, despite the lack of a legal foundation for her staying on. Her claim, not apparently disputed by the palace, was that she was appointed by royal decree and only the king could dismiss her. Prem was making heralded visits to the south, claiming government policies there had failed – they might have, but this was political campaigning by the palace’s senior official. He and Surayud were engaged in politicking on the annual military reshuffle in December 2005-January 2006.

There’s no need to continue. Boyce knew all of this and more and yet portrayed the palace as neutral and constitutionally correct; he wasn’t simply reporting palace positions, he was agreeing with them.

Boyce is now Vice President, Boeing International and President, Boeing Southeast Asia, where he continues to maintain his royalist and military links in Thailand.


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17 08 2011
Wikileaks Newslinks 15-16 August 2011 « William Bowles.info

[…] Wikileaks, palace and political meddling | Political Prisoners in … By thaipoliticalprisoners On 28 March 2006, just a month before the king made a most decisive political intervention, the U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce is, in this Wikileaks cable, telling Washington and embassies around the world that the palace is neutral and … https://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/wikileaks-palace-and-political-meddling/ […]

19 08 2011
Wikileaks, palace and 2006 election | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] cables, palace officials repeatedly claimed the king wasn’t about to intervene and that the courts would probably sort things out. A month later, the king has intervened and is pushing the courts to sort things out by nullifying […]

21 08 2011
Wikileaks and palace political intervention | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] week or so ago PPT had one of our Wikileaks posts look at a cable concerning the the King’s PrincipalPrivate Secretary Asa Sarasin’s view from the pal… regarding the run-up to events that led to the April 2006 snap election. A couple of days ago we […]

5 09 2011
29 09 2012
Asa out, Grit in « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] bent stories from the palace (see here). It was Asa that Ambassador Ralph Boyce went to when handing over an advance copy of Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles and waiting expectantly for Thaksin […]

29 09 2012
Asa out, Grit in « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] bent stories from the palace (see here). It was Asa that Ambassador Ralph Boyce went to when handing over an advance copy of Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles and waiting expectantly for Thaksin […]

7 06 2016
Palace and lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] palace’s involvement in lese majeste cases. We have previously noted this involvement by the political interventionists at the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary, here and here, and by the Privy […]

7 06 2016
Palace and lese majeste | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] palace’s involvement in lese majeste cases. We have previously noted this involvement by the political interventionists at the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary, here and here, and by the Privy […]