Wikileaks: Boyce meets an “annoying” Pongthep

16 01 2012

In this Wikileaks cable, dated 7 September 2006, a meeting two days before between U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce and the Thai Rak Thai Party’s deputy leader Pongthep Thepkanchana is reviewed.

Boyce, seemingly bored by TRT and Thaksin Shinawatra, claims that Pongthep “gave a fairly standard version of the TRT view of the political situation.” He is also not taken by his interlocutor:

Pongthep was unimpressive, but he is, according to many contacts, one of Thaksin’s leading choices for PM if Thaksin has to step down. The PM reportedly doesn’t want anyone too good, who might eclipse him. Pongthep should fit the bill.

We can only wonder what Pongthep might have thought of this ambassador who very openly wore his Thai political stripes as a supporter of the opposition to the most popular elected government in Thai history.

The ambassador “sought Pongthep’s views on the origins and possible cures of the Thai political crisis, which has dragged on for the better part of a year.”

On the origins of the political conflict, Pongthep

pointed to TRT\’s landslide victory in February 2005 as a problem. People looked at the PM and saw someone who “had it all:” money, education,  connections and political power. He is a visionary and, especially after the landslide, extremely self-confident. “Higher echelons” of Thai society did not like this type of elected leader.

Pongthep is said to have “singled out opposition firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul, motivated by a personal grudge against Thaksin, as a key opponent.” Nothing new there or in the claim that Sondhi used his “illegal, illegitimate cable TV station” to spread untrue accusations.”

Boyce admits that ASTV’s legal status is unclear but defends “Sondhi’s small cable station … as one of the most important tools the opposition has.” He cites others on this.

After finding Pongthep’s response on a question about the dissolving of parliament “annoying,” Boyce turned to the “ever-more-public conflict between Thaksin and the Privy Council, particularly Prem Tinsulanond.”

Pongthep emphasized that “there is no misunderstanding” between the royal family and Thaksin. Boyce thought this view disingenuous. Pongthep focused on those close to the palace:

The issues are with the Privy Council, which is used to having a lot of authority. In the past, for example, Prem could have influence over the military promotions of his proteges. He doesn’t want to lose that.

And, so close to the 2006 coup being initiated, Pongthep reveals that TRT strategists misunderstood Army boss Sonthi Boonyaratglin and the determination of Prem and friends. Pongthep says Sonthi wants

to promote his own aides. However, Pongthep added that he did not anticipate military intervention. Even if the military launched a coup, they would not be able to form a military government — those days were past. So, they would be taking a significant risk for no real benefit.

In the long term, Pongthep may have been proven correct – the Army found running a coup and then a country was more complicated than they expected – but he was remarkably naive on the process unfolding before his very eyes in September 2006. Given Thaksin’s departure for New York, he too was misjudged the Army and its allies and was overly-confident.


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17 01 2012
We are back up! « Politicalprisonersofthailand's Blog

[…] Wikileaks: Boyce meets an “annoying” Pongthep January 16, 2012 tags: ASTV, Pongthep Thepkanchana, Prem Tinsulanonda, Privy Council, Ralph Boyce, Sondhi Limthongkul, Sonthi Boonyaratglin, Thai Rak Thai Party, Thaksin Shinawatra, Wikileaks […]

18 01 2012
Wikileaks: Boyce and Bhokin in la-la land « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] It is clear that Bhokin thinks the election will take place and that TRT will win. Why he is so confident that the election will be held is apparently related to the perceived position of the king. Readers may recall that some other TRT people felt the Army boss wasn’t up to pulling off a coup. […]

18 01 2012
Wikileaks: Boyce and Bhokin in la-la land « Political Prisoners of Thailand's Blog

[…] It is clear that Bhokin thinks the election will take place and that TRT will win. Why he is so confident that the election will be held is apparently related to the perceived position of the king. Readers may recall that some other TRT people felt the Army boss wasn’t up to pulling off a coup. […]




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