Pridi Phanomyong (ปรีดี พนมยงค์)
Thai. Name of
a highly-revered Thai politician, who was a former three-terms Prime Minister and
a Senior Statesman of Thailand, as well as
the founder of the
Thammasat University (map - fig.).
He was a writer of the first
Thai Constitution (fig.), which in 1932 changed
Thailand from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. One of his legacies
is his refusal to sign the declaration of war against Britain and
the US, issued in January 1942 by the then Prime Minister, Field Marshal
Phibun Songkram (fig.).
Because of his anti-Japanese stance, he is often portrayed as an alleged member
of the Thai resistance organization Seri Thai, that fought the Japanese
occupation during WWII and for which he was after the war awarded
the Medal of Freedom from the United States
of America. His socialist views and overall opposition to Phibun
Songkram, whom he had been friends with in the early days of his career, had
eventually turned him into a personal rival. As a consequence, he was effectively
demoted by being appointed regent for the
Ananda (fig.), for whose untimely death he was later blamed
by rightwing factions, who accused him of being the
leader of a conspiracy to assassinate the King, a claim
that was never substantiated. In the end, Pridi fled the
country and spent the remainder of his life in exile.
He was born on 11 May 1900 in
(map - fig.) and died on 2 May 1983 in Paris, the place where he, as a young doctorate student in Law,
had first met with core members of the group that would bring about the
1932 revolution. On
11 May 2000, a century after his birth, UNESCO posthumously named him one of the
world's great personalities for his roles in politics, administration, economics
and education. In 2011, 111 years after his birth, Pridi was commemorated by a
set of two Thai postage stamps (fig.).
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