Wikileaks, palace and cheering the junta

28 03 2012

Yesterday PPT posted on a Wikileaks cable about an “unsolicited” briefing U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce was pleased to receive from military junta employee and message boy Bowornsak Uwanno.

That cable was interesting for several reasons, one of which was a tone that indicated support for coup and military junta. That tone becomes a cheering for the illegal actions taken by the military brass in this cable.

Also dated 25 September 2006, in this cable, Ambassador Boyce appears to support some of the junta’s political repression. He first refers to the  Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy and its decision to ban “illegal” wiretapping and “eavesdropping” on communications.

Of course, “legal” wiretapping was still fine, and this move by the junta was based on what Boyce says is “widespread fears” that “Thaksin [Shinawatra] and his supporters were using their control of the largest cellphone operator.” Boyce seems to have forgotten that Thaksin had sold his telecoms interests to Singapore’s Temasek in January 2006. Despite this, Boyce claims that the “fears” has foundation. The cable states “… we believe [the fears] were justified.”

The cable then turns to the junta’s “Public Announcement 22″ where it:

advised all administrative and political organizations on the local level which “disagree with the CDRM” to “stop their political movements or activities until the situation in the country is back to normal.”

Tellingly, there is no embassy editorializing on this, suggesting that Boyce isn’t about to condemn a military crackdown on political liberties. This lack of comment is even more telling in that the cable linked above had a comment on the military protecting freedoms. All Boyce does is observe that there is some “anti-coup political discussion…”.

The cable then turns to the junta and the palace:

All television stations simultaneously broadcast a September 22 ceremony at which CDRM leader General Sonthi and other CDRM figures received the Royal Command empowering the CDRM to run the government….

It is pointed out that the king “does not appear in person for such ceremonies.” Clearly, this television event was another element in justifying the coup to the Thai public. At the same time, it also notes that cosmetic surgery was underway to try to protect the palace from criticism of deep involvement in the coup:

a Chinese journalist from Guangming Daily informed us that the Thai MFA protested a Xinhua News Agency story that linked the coup with the monarchy, and Xinhua was in the process of formally apologizing for the report.

Erasing the palace’s fingerprints has continued since then.

The cable then discusses a range of issues, mentioning in neutral terms, the continued detention of four pro-Thaksin politicians. It does reject rumors that the junta moved to prevent a pro-Thaksin coup as:

… nothing more than an effort at a post-facto justification of the coup by journalists, who are supporting the coup because they hated Thaksin, but have a guilty conscience about it.

There seemed no “guilty conscience” at the Ambassador’s residence, for under the sub-heading “KINDER, GENTLER COUP – PHOTO OP OF THE DAY,” Boyce says:

Everyday, the front page of the various newspapers show pictures of smiling soldiers receiving flowers from the public and playing with children. Today’s best public relations photo showed a smiling bride and groom in Chiang Mai, getting their wedding pictures taken in front of a tank.

Cheering the coup from Wireless Road may not seem diplomatic, but all along Boyce had been pro-yellow, pro-royalist and pro-coup.

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