162. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1

5703. Subj: Deputy Assistant Secretary Hummel’s Call on Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn

Deputy Asst Secy Arthur W. Hummel on April 24 paid approximately a one-hour call on Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn accompanied by Ambassador Unger and FSO Colebaugh. Air Chief Marshal Dawee Chullasapya, who interpreted for Thanom, and Under Secy of State for Foreign Affairs Charunphan Isarangkun were also present.
After initial formalities Deputy Asst Secy Hummel expressed the USG’s great appreciation for cooperation of RTG in the deployment to Thailand of additional US forces to meet increased threat in Vietnam War. Amb Unger noted that there has been an increase to about 33,300 men or 1100 over the ceiling. He described the increase as temporary though of unknown duration.
In response to a question from Dep Asst Secy Hummel, Thanom stated that the insurgency in Thailand is “under control.” Thanom noted increased government activity against the CT’s and said that the recent Phu Kwang operation was possible due to increased funds available to the RTG through expanded US assistance.2 [Page 350]plans for increased coordination of civilians and police with military and unified command of operations, and mentioned more and better use of VDS–VSDU.
Thanom repeated a comment previously made to the press that NVN was extremely lucky to be supported by both the USSR and Red China who seemed to be competing with each other in their support of the North Vietnamese. He observed that without hesitation these two powers are “pouring” supplies into the north.
Dep Asst Secy Hummel raised the problem of narcotics trafficking and said the USG is interested in cooperating with the RTG in suppressing such trafficking. He particularly noted the recent well-publicized burning of 26 tons of opium and said this act has gone a long way in stilling criticisms of Thai efforts. Thanom said the RTG is sincerely trying to control drug trafficking and has been cooperating with the US and the UN. Dawee observed that harsher penalties for drug traffickers are in the works.
Thanom said he has received reports suggesting the Red Chinese are actively involved in drug trafficking. Dept Asst Secy Hummel expressed US interest in receiving any evidence of such involvement, but told Thanom that the US has never found hard evidence to support this.
The Amb also specifically raised with Thanom the drug problem at International School Bangkok, noting the considerable increase in the use of heroin among students at the school. He mentioned the great concern felt by everyone in the US community over this problem. Amb Unger said that he would act rapidly in all cases which came to his attention and that some people have already been returned to the US. Thanom said the drugs are being introduced not by young people but the older persons, also citing US and European “hippies” who travel here as tourists. He said he is considering banning such persons from entering Thailand. The Amb again noted that the USG appreciates the help that has been given so far, but said he would like to request special help from the police in cleaning up the sources of these drugs.
The Amb also told Thanom he has received a copy of an anonymous letter addressed to General Praphat Charusathien alleging involvement [Page 351] Thanom acknowledged receipt of the letter3 and said he had already talked about it with police DG General Prasert.
Dep Asst Secy Hummel asked about plans to promulgate a constitution and form a cabinet. Thanom observed that the problems which had brought about the November 17 coup have not yet been solved. In this regard, he specifically noted the need for governmental reorganization and security. Thanom said the NEC is working to solve these problems before returning to constitutional rule “so we will not have to have a coup again.” Thanom said the governmental reorganization will be the subject of discussion at the NEC meeting scheduled for April 25. He noted that continuation of these problems does not mean that there will be a wait of “20 years” before returning to constitutional government, but he declined to predict exactly when the change may take place.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 7 EA. Secret; Limdis.
  2. See the March 24 memorandum of conversation for further detail concerning the Thai insurgency. Thanom noted that the Phu Kwang 10-day operation cost approximately 4 million baht and that a number of Communist insurgent camps had been captured in the North. Thanom mentioned that several CT camps had been captured in the South. He also claimed that public opinion had turned against the Communists there. Finally, “Thanom mentioned the problem of the North Vietnamese refugees in the Northeast. He said there are some 30,000 Vietnamese who could fight against Thailand and said an estimated 12,000 are ‘real Communist.’ When asked if there was evidence to support an active role by the North Vietnamese refugees in the insurgency, Thanom listed several examples of North Vietnamese fund-gathering efforts. Ambassador Unger observed that while there is ample evidence of their fund-gathering activities he was aware of little evidence the Vietnamese refugees are actively engaged in the insurgency against Thailand.” (Ibid., POL 23 THAI)
  3. [text not declassified] telegram 29786 from Bangkok, dated April 4, reported the Embassy’s suspicions of drug corruption concerning Police Colonel Pramuan Wanikaphan and described its efforts to “neutralize” him through a fabricated accusatory letter to Praphat, Thanom, the American Embassy, and others, ostensibly written by an anonymous victim of Colonel Pramuan’s extortion. This plan evidently was put into effect. (Department of State, INR Historical Files, Country Files, Thailand 1972–1975)