Wikileaks: Boyce and Bhokin in la-la land

18 01 2012

In a Wikileaks cable dated 11 September 2006, with coup talk whirling around them, former House of Representatives Speaker, deputy leader of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Thaksin Shinawatra supporter Bhokin Bhalakula met with Ambassador Ralph Boyce on 8 September and had what, even at the time, must have seemed like a conversation in a magical La-la land of elections, good kings and political mandates.

Bhokin “expressed optimism about upcoming legislative elections. The northern and northeastern regions of Thailand — which together accounted for a majority of the constituency-based seats in the House — remained solidly pro-TRT…”.

Sounding a bit like a new Asian Survey article by Naruemon Thabchumpon and Duncan McCargo written fully 6 years later, Bhokin notes that:

TRT would continue the programs that had generated enthusiasm among the lower and middle class; future government grants under the small, medium, and large-scale (SML) village fund program would increase by at least 50 percent. Other political parties could not compete with TRT’s proven approach of delivering benefits.

He added that Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva “knew only how to criticize, and he did so in a long-winded manner that most Thai found unappealing…”. Not much has changed there.

On the other opposition leader, Sondhi Limthongkul of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, Bhokin says that his influence is on the wane. Noting that “the final blow pushing Sondhi into opposition was the dismissal of crony Viroj Nualkhair from his position as CEO of state-owned Krung Thai Bank,” he says that “although Sondhi benefited from the support of royalist oligarchs, he had gone too far in projecting himself as a representative of the King’s interests.” Hence, his support was down.

In fact, he is probably right, as the PAD and Sondhi had apparently deferred to the anti-Thaksin leadership of Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda since April 2006.

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.

Bhokin said “the King wanted elections as soon as possible…”. This view came from the king’s expeditious signing of the “Royal Decree (issued on September 6) calling for an extraordinary session of the Senate (September 8-10) to select Election Commission members.”

Further, Bhokin believed:

The King respected democracy and viewed elections as a source of legitimacy; he would continue to refuse to take drastic steps affecting political processes. However, the King did not want to speak out publicly on this matter, according to Bhokin, because his words often created controversy as various sides offered rival interpretations.

Nothing in the king’s previous history would suggest that Bhokin’s beliefs matched reality. Further, Bhokin considered that “the armed forces had become split, partly because soldiers benefiting from illegal activities, such as the drug trade, had suffered under TRT’s policies.” He also

predicted an upcoming reshuffle of top military, police, and civil service positions would ensure that government and security forces officials would “totally obey” the administration.

Bhokin believed that the

King would endorse the reshuffle plan as received from the government … noting parenthetically that, if the King did not, “the whole country will blow up.

It seems that senior TRT people were concocting a position that allowed them to discount the possibility of a coup.



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Puea Thai Party and lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

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