Wikileaks and palace political intervention

21 08 2011

A week or so ago PPT had one of our Wikileaks posts look at a cable concerning the the King’s Principal Private Secretary Asa Sarasin’s view from the palace regarding the run-up to events that led to the April 2006 snap election. A couple of days ago we posted on the king’s political intervention by his two speeches to judges in late April 2006, that led to the annulling of those elections. In this post we look at a cable from 7 July 2006.

In this cable, Ambassador Ralph Boyce is again recording his comments on a meeting with Asa, apparently called for a discussion of the political situation.

Background: At the time, Thaksin Shinawatra was in power, the April elections had been annulled and there was meant to be another election. Big street demonstrations had mostly ended and the anti-Thaksin struggle was being led “elsewhere.” Although there had been a bit of a political hiatus as the king reveled in the lavish celebrations of his 60 years on the throne, in early June, Bowornsak Uwanno had resigned as Cabinet Secretary-General “under pressure from an unspecified member of the Privy Council…”. Soon after, Thaksin made it clear that he would lead Thai Rak Thai into the elections. Then, Thaksin made his claims regarding an “extra-constitutional” and “charismatic figure” who was manipulating and influencing agencies established by the constitution.

In the cable, Boyce says that Asa:

“admitted that the government’s proposed election decree was on hold in the Palace. They wanted more clarity on certain issues, especially the status of the Election Commission, before the King would sign the decree…. He expected the embattled election commissioners to step down soon, and this would necessitate some delay in holding the elections.

Boyce comments that:

many Thaksin opponents have forecast that the King would not sign the decree until the controversial election commissioners were replaced. Asa stopped short of saying this, but did indicate that the Palace is not ready to go along with the current election plans.

Asa is also said to have “dismissed Thaksin’s ‘revised history’ of his audiences with the King.” Boyce notes that “Asa is one of the few people present when the King has an audience.” At the same time, Boyce says: “Asa does not always level with us, but we are inclined to buy his version of the meetings between the King and Thaksin, especially since Thaksin’s story is constantly changing.” Recall that Asa is not always said to be truthful with the public, either.

Boyce explains that “Thaksin has recently taken to claiming that the King had ordered him to leave office during his April 4 audience. Thaksin also says that the King told him on May 19 that Thaksin could never return as PM…”. Asa’s account, according to Boyce,

parallels the original story we had from Thaksin: the PM told the King right after the election that he would step down, and the King just nodded in response. Asa said that, during the May audience, Thaksin told the King that he would return to a more active role as caretaker, and the King approved. They then discussed practical issues about the replacement for the two vacant seats on the Election Commission.

The conversation then turns to Thaksin’s claims regarding political interference by an “extra-constitutional” and “charismatic figure.” Boyce calls it “Thaksin’s lightly-veiled attack on the highly respected Privy Council President Prem [Tinsulanonda].”

Asa is said to have been “quite upset by Thaksin’s comments. Asa is reported as speculating that Thaksin’s claim “might be a misguided attempt at gaining public sympathy, to keep his options open for a potential return as PM some day.” Interestingly, Asa seems to think that Thaksin is finished at this point. We could happily speculate about this, especially as Asa is said to have “complained that the main opposition Democrat Party was hopeless…,”* he didn’t believe that TRT of the Democrat Party would be dissolved by the Constitutional Court and he believed that TRT would win an election.”

Clearly, following the king’s speeches in April, the palace remains heavily engaged. In fact, Prem was about to get even more deeply involved.

________

*Boyce notes that “Democrat Party leader Abhisit [Vejjajiva] also admitted to the Ambassador last week that the party was not able to reach out as effectively to the voters and formulate a winning platform because it was so busy defending itself from Thaksin’s attacks.”


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22 08 2011
Wikileaks Newslinks 22 August 2011 « William Bowles.info

[…] Wikileaks and palace political intervention | Political Prisoners … By thaipoliticalprisoners A 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 palace regarding the run-up to events that led to the April 2006 snap election. … https://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/wikileaks-and-palace-political-intervention/ […]

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

[…] has been an important contact for the U.S. Embassy, although not always trusted by the Embassy (see here) and was manipulative of the public through bent stories from the palace (see here). It was Asa […]

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

[…] has been an important contact for the U.S. Embassy, although not always trusted by the Embassy (see here) and was manipulative of the public through bent stories from the palace (see here). It was Asa […]




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