Wikileaks: Thaksin and Boyce bombshells on palace and politics

26 09 2011

PPT’s posting of Wikileaks cables continues with a cable from U.S. Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce dated 18 May 2006 that discusses then Prime Minister-on-a-short-break Thaksin Shinawatra’s view of politics and monarchy. Thaksin had taken a kind of leave of absence after a meeting with the king.

Boyce begins by noting that Thaksin saw himself as a victim of a “palace coup” and that he was especially frank, dropping “several bombshells.”

By this time, Boce was noticeably anti-Thaksin – see below – and states that:

Thaksin spun an elaborate tale of palace intrigue, accusing privy councilors [General] Prem [Tinsulanonda] and [General] Surayud [Chulanont] of conspiring against him, including blaming Surayud for bringing Gen. Chamlong [Srimuang] out of retirement to head the opposition “People’s Alliance for Democracy.” He claimed that courtiers in the palace are manipulating the infirm and isolated King….

 Thaksin is said to have repeated his theory that “the King sees Thaksin as rival for the loyalty of the people in the countryside.” However, Thaksin averred that he was not trying to do this, adding that he was just a “simple peasant.”

This might be seen as one of the earliest references to ideas that eventually came to be summarized in the amart/phrai dichotomy.

Boyce claims that Thaksin then spoke of the king “with barely-concealed disdain,” as:

“provincial,” unaware of the changes that had taken place in the world (“never been on a Boeing 747”), and accused him of “thinking he owns the country.”

Thaksin advisor Pansak Vinyaratn added that “recent events were a return to ‘absolute monarchy’.”

Then Thaksin explained that he “cannot come back as prime minister as long as this King is alive.” He believed there was an effort to drive him into exile.

Thaksin “mentioned his strong relationship with the Crown Prince…”. Boyce considered that Thaksin was “implying that, once the present King was dead, he would have an ally on the throne.”

As mentioned above, PPT’s reading of this and other cables show that Boyce had become a determined anti-Thaksin activist by this stage. Hence it is no surprise that Pansak

expressed disappointment with the US position. They had expected a clearer public and private line that the US wanted all parties to abide by the rule of law, which they believe was subverted by the course of events. They hoped that the US would recognize that what was happening was a setback for democracy in Thailand.

They may have expected that the U.S. might aspire to some democratic ideal, but that would fly in the face of decades of U.S. foreign policy and, in any case, there was no chance of any support with a determinedly anti-Thaksin Boyce riding shotgun on U.S.-Thailand policy.

Even so, Boyce has to reluctantly agree that many Thais “cast the current struggle to a certain degree as a contest between the King and the prime minister.”

Then Boyce has a bombshell of his own, citing an unnamed source who states that:

the King had not been influenced by his [privy] councilors — quite the opposite, in fact. A close friend of the King’s had recounted how the King himself had been poring over law books and quietly preparing his response to the problematic elections. The Privy Councilors had been unaware of his plans and were taken by surprise when he made his speech criticizing the elections.

Boyce tends to write-off Thaksin’s “diatribe and revisionist history.” He says they are “highly suspect” and adds that “we are not convinced that the King and his minions pushed Thaksin out of office.” He then criticizes Thaksin’s “enormous ego” and disingenuously refers to the highly organized and well-funded PAD as “a rag-tag bunch of demonstrators…”. By this point, PAD had stopped demonstrating and the palace seemed to be leading the action against Thaksin.

Boyce even thinks that Thaksin’s “story” of “the palace’s machinations against him, and his accusations of a palace coup, may be part of his effort to ‘bring the King down with him’…”. Interestingly, while he says Thaksin is “delusional,” he is forced to add: “That said, we agree with the underlying theme of Thaksin’s complaint — the palace has aligned against him and will (carefully) seek ways to support the effort to drive him from politics definitively.” PPT added the emphasis; the implication is that Boyce supports this palace effort.

In a very real sense, by this time, Thaksin was up against the king, palace and the U.S. as personified by Ambassador Boyce.



2 responses

10 10 2011
Wikileaks: King, Thaksin and “democracy” | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] PPT hasn’t posted on any Wikileaks material for a while, and it is time to get back to the cables. In this cable, dated 18 May 2006, U.S. Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce looks at the deeper meanings of the political struggle going on in Thailand and the future of democracy as the king intervened in April 2006 to eventually have an election annulled by the courts. For more background, see the important cable by Boyce on the very same day. […]

3 01 2012
Wikileaks: Pansak on palace opposition to Thaksin « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] See Pansak’s earlier comment on this here. […]

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