Wikileaks: Prem’s coup politics

5 11 2011

In a cable leaked by Wikileaks dated 18 July 2006, signed by counselor Alex Arvizu, the focus is Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda’s high-profile speech at the Chulachomklao Military Academy on July 14. A couple of questions arise: why has it taken 4 days to report the speech (we assume there were other cables that Wikileaks couldn’t get) and why is Ambassador Ralph Boyce silent? On the latter, there may be a host a reasons but looking at other cables, we guess he was away.

This comment is on one of the most profound and game-setting actions of the political crisis of 2006. While the Embassy has previously made all kinds of politically-biased judgements in almost every other cable we have read, this one is simply reported; that is, of course, a bias in itself.

The cable states that Prem has “struck back at PM Thaksin Shinawatra on July 14 in a speech to military cadets.” The cable goes on to refer to Prem’s speech as “bold” and his appearance in military uniform as a “high-profile visit to the Chulachomklao Military Academy…. with former Army Chiefs Chawalit Yongchaiyudh, [PPT: and fellow Privy Council member] Surayud Chulanont, Oud Buengbon and Pongthem Thespratheep alongside him…”.

This is the speech where Prem demanded that soldiers be loyal to the king, not the government:

in horse racing, horse owners hire jockeys to ride the horses. The jockeys do not own the horses. They just ride them. A government is like a jockey. It supervises soldiers, but the real owners are the country and the King … the government comes and goes.

The cable states that this was “only the first in a series of lectures he [Prem] plans to give to cadets and soldiers over the next few weeks, to “raise awareness.” The Embassy makes no comment on this even while the media saw these moves as coup preparations.

By this time it is clear that the Embassy is saddled up with Prem and the palace and is either hoping that the pressure is too great for Thaksin or views a coup as a viable option.


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19 09 2017
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[…] Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda prepares the ground for the coup […]