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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BANGKOK2257
2005-03-30 09:47:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

THAI POLITICAL UPDATE -- MARCH 30, 2005

Tags:   PGOV  TH 
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						UNCLAS BANGKOK 002257 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TH
SUBJECT: THAI POLITICAL UPDATE -- MARCH 30, 2005

REF: BANGKOK 2017



1. (U) HOUSE SPEAKER'S PARLIAMENTARY PERFORMANCE HARSHLY
CRITICIZED

The opposition Democrat Party (DP) again walked out in
protest of actions by House Speaker Bhokin Bhalakula. The
latest protest occurred on March 25 when Bhokin rejected a
request by Democrat Party Chief Advisor (and former prime
minister) Chuan Leekpai to clarify references made to him by
Deputy Interior Minister Sermsak Pongpanich. This is the
second walkout in less than two weeks (reftel). Bhokin, who
was strongly backed Prime Minister Thaksin and his wife for
the House Speaker's position has been subject to ridicule
even by some Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party colleagues, especially
the Mod Dum (Black Ant) faction led by First Deputy House
Speaker Suchart Tanchareon, for his clumsy performance as
Speaker. DP MPs, of course, are scathing in their accusations
that Bhokin is biased and prejudiced in a position that
should be at the least nominally neutral. Critics of a
Thai-language daily even dubbed him "dictatorial Bho-Shin,"
sarcastically rhyming his name with that of the PM Thaksin,s
Shin Corporation. More serious commentators have criticized
Bhokin but also chastised the DP for being so quick to walk
and trivializing its role as the lead opposition party.



2. (U) BUT THAKSIN DENIES BHOKIN ABOUT TO BE REPLACED

Prime Minister Thaksin subsequently defended Bhokin's
performance as House Speaker, saying that he was
"straightforward" in his approach to the job but also
suggesting that Bhokin could be "more compromising" in
conducting House sessions and seek more cooperation from both
Government and Opposition whips in settling any conflict.
Thaksin denied any truth to widespread rumors that House
Speaker Bhokin was about to be replaced, claiming that any
new speaker would face the same challenges from Opposition
members.



3. (U) TRT FACTION LEADER SANOH REPORTEDLY SNUBS THAKSIN'S
GOLF INVITATION

Meanwhile, Sanoh Thienthong, leader of the TRT Wang Nam Yen
faction, is apparently still smarting over Prime Minister
Thaksin's "insulting" offer to appoint him as honorary chief
advisor to the government whip. He has spurned the Prime
Minister's offer to join in a conciliatory round of golf.
The invitation from Thaksin came after last week's strong
public grumbling by Sanoh and his faction supporters over
what they considered a paucity of positions allocated to
their faction - the last straw being the offer to Sanoh of
the honorary whip advisor's post -- a position that Sanoh
described as "a joke." Thaksin shrugged off the snub,
telling reporters that he had not invited only Sanoh to play
and besides that, The Prime Minister added, the only purpose
of his game was "to have fun and relax."



4. (U) CABINET MAKES NEW APPOINTMENTS

On March 22, the Cabinet announced the appointment of a
number of MPs and others to political posts. Some of these
include:

(1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Dr. Pracha Kunakasem (Party List 2) - appointed as the
Foreign Minister's Advisor
Mr. Pitiphong Temcharoen (Bangkok MP) - appointed as the
Foreign Minister,s Secretary
Mr. Phairot Tanbanchong (Phayao MP) - appointed as the Deputy
Foreign Minister's Secretary
(2) Dr. Phansak Winyarat - appointed as Chairman of the PM,s
Policy Advisory Board.

(3) Mr. Jakrapop Phenkhae (the ex-Government Spokesman)
appointed as Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Surakiat
Sathienthai,s Secretary.

(4) Former Justice Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana appointed
as Head Government Whip.
BOYCE