WikiLeaks, Clinton and Yingluck

24 03 2016

WikiLeaks now has a Hillary Clinton Email Archive. Its pages states:

On March 16, 2016 WikiLeaks launched a searchable archive for 30,322 emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was Secretary of State. The 50,547 pages of documents span from 30 June 2010 to 12 August 2014. 7,570 of the documents were sent by Hillary Clinton. The emails were made available in the form of thousands of PDFs by the US State Department as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. The final PDFs were made available on February 29, 2016.

A simple search for “Thailand” produces 73 results, several of which seem barely relevant, with Thailand simply mentioned. PPT hasn’t been through all of these cables as yet.

One that has gained some social media attention, not least via a Facebook post by Andrew MacGregor Marshall, is about Yingluck Shinawatra, the 2011 floods and a visit by Clinton. It is originally from Karen Brooks and forwarded by Kurt Campbell, and dated 16 November 2011. Some interesting bits of this cable are clipped and included below.

Yingluck Clinton

On the politics of the floods:

To keep momentum, Yingluck will need to make changes in her team. Given the poor performance of the past two months, a cabinet reshuffle is a must do. Top of the list is Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut, who hails from the Chart Thai Pattana party – a coalition partner but at best a fair-weather friend. Not only has Theera been inept in his handling of the crisis since Yingluck took office (water management being part of his portfolio), but he also served as Agriculture Minister in the previous Abhisit-led government. He is thus seen (correctly) as guilty of either malice or incompetence (or both) for his failure to appropriately manage water levels at the country’s two biggest dams in the months preceding the inauguration of the Yingluck government – which greatly exacerbated the current crisis.

On Yingluck and her work:

She is tired…. Very tired. I saw her last night at her house at 11pm and she told me that she is up around the clock with very little support and a cabinet team that has proven weak (her words were less diplomatic) and unable to rise to the occasion. She said she always expected the job would be hard, but that learning everything about government, while managing. the complexities of the relationship with the palace and the military, while being slammed with a major national crisis – AND doing it all with a weak team – has taken its toll. Even so, she is determined and has fire in the belly. She emphasized that she had won an absolute majority for only the second time in thai history, and that she would not let the millions of thais who supported her down. If it means not resting until her term is over, so be it. She can handle it, she said, because she believes in what she is doing. She will make some changes in her cabinet in the coming weeks once the water has been drained, and then look forward to getting the A Team back in May of next year, when the ban expires on the 111 Thai Rak Thai politicians removed from politics by the courts in 2007 after the coup.

Yingluck on reconciliation:

She made a point of saying that she is ENORMOUSLY grateful that Sec Clinton is coming today. “It’s been six long years of turmoil in this country,” she said. “I’m determined to use my mandate to bring people together and foster reconciliation, like I said in the campaign. I’m working hard to win over the military and help them see they have a real place here without interfering in politics. I’m working hard to do the same with the palace. But let’s face it: democracy here is still fragile. We need the US engaged.”

On General Prayuth Chan-ocha and not bringing down the government (just then):

Yingluck tell me she has gone out of her way to work cooperatively with Prayuth, and Prayuth seems to have come to appreciate her sincerity and hard work.

On the relationship with the palace:

The Palace, similarly, has not shown any inclination to use the crisis to bring down the government. The King has given three audiences (made public) to PM Yingluck since she took office. (In the opaque world of the Thai monarchy, this is one key tea leaf to read.) Moreover, other members of the royal family have given the PM private audiences in recent weeks (not publicly known) – including the Crown Prince and two of the princesses. Perhaps most telling, however, is the recent appointment by the government of two palace favorites, Dr. Sumet [Tantivejkul] and Dr. Veerapong [Virabongsa Ramangkura], to the new reconstruction and water management committees. Sumet, who is a long time advisor to His Majesty and runs one of his foundations, would never have accepted the appointment if the King had not explicitly blessed the move. Two others on the water committee are similarly associated with His Majesty.

To be honest, PPT had not previously seen Virabongsa mentioned as a “palace favorite.”

On Thaksin Shinawatra and amnesty or pardon:

Yingluck told me big brother remains in a dialogue with the palace described as “constructive” and expressed hope that this would yield an amicable end to the five+ year drama of his exile – either through a royal pardon or through a parliament sponsored amnesty law, with support from the palace. This is, at best, a delicate dance, and any mishandling or miscalculation on Thaksin’s part could yet trigger another cycle of political drama here.

“Apolitical” Abhisit gets political

12 11 2011

At The Nation it is reported that opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has thrown his weight behind the first groups that have appeared trying to rekindle a flame of opposition to the Puea Thai government and overturn the July election result. Did anyone think he wouldn’t do this? Cynics are forgiven for suggesting that, as it was in 2005-6, the seemingly unelectable and anti-democratic Democrat Party relies on such concocted “movements” when it seeks power.

Abhisit’s statement of support is couched in terms that are remarkably similar to those that he used when he threw his and his party’s support behind the People’s Alliance for Democracy. His “warning” is for the government to not act against those pushing judicial action against the government. He says that government supporters should not take a stand against the group “planning to sue ruling politicians for their alleged failure to manage flooding.” He added that opposing such groups could lead to “further political conflicts.”

But in the best of British elite style, Abhisit paints himself as an ever so reasonable chap, saying that the “government should be ready to undergo scrutiny by the civic sector and get ready to explain its alleged mismanagement of the crisis.” Recall that this is the prime minister who refused scrutiny of his own decisions to gun down red shirts in 2010.

He adds that he wants “the government to place less focus on politicking, especially in relation to the ongoing flood crisis in the capital.” That would be reasonable if it wasn’t for the fact that it has been the Democrat Party and their supporters who have been at the forefront of anti-government and anti-Yingluck Shinawatra politicking. You get a measure of Abhisit’s disingenuousness on “politicking” in this story.

As would be expected, Abhisit’s statement is also at one with a military view that the government has been too political in dealing with the floods. It is a fabrication, but the idea is to destabilize the elected government.

In any case, the faux reasonableness is gone when Abhisit takes up the anti-government mantra born and nurtured mainly of yellow shirt social media and the mainstream media that takes up their allegations, factual or not: Abhisit repeats them: “Many people believe that this ongoing flood problem cannot be blamed on nature alone and has something to do with management as well. People have incurred damages that far exceed the government’s planned compensation.” Abhisit added “that though the authorities insist that more rainstorms than expected had hit the country, the government also stuck by its policy of retaining water in upstream dams for irrigation.”

PPT has no doubt there was mismanagement in the greatest flood disaster to impact Thailand in some 50 years. We’d be flabbergasted if any government didn’t mismanage elements of such a disaster. What is interesting is that the person now attacked by the Democrat Party and its supporters for delaying the release of waters from dams is Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut, who is a trained engineer with more than three decades of Royal Irrigation Department experience. He was also Minister of Agriculture in Abhisit’s government.

Theera appears to point to decisions he made in June, July and August. That period spans the Abhisit and Yingluck governments and Yingluck’s government inherited a flood and policies. Yingluck’s party may have won government in the 3 July election, but it was not until 5 August that the new government assumed office following a parliamentary vote, with cabinet receiving royal appointment on 7 August, and the required first policy speech to parliament on 23 August.

Military, the mainstream media, yellow-hued activists and the Democrat Party appear aligned. The political manoeuvring behind the scenes is intense.

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