On the Phibun threat (1957)

14 03 2013

Andrew MacGregor Marshall has another useful posting including archival material from 1957 at Zen Journalist. In another post we referred to material that showed clear palace involvement in the 1957 coup planning. In this we refer to a document that has the young king explaining his position on Prime Minister Phibun, who had been overthrown by General Sarit Thanarat.

The cable we refer to in this post can be downloaded as a PDF. Much attention will undoubtedly focus on Australian Minister for External Affairs, Sir Richard Casey, who is said to have known the king for some time and sees him as engaging in “baby talk.”

Casey

PPT doesn’t know what the relationship between Casey and the king was. However, British Ambassador Richard Whittington tends to agree with Casey’s assessment but does see “some progress” from a shy lad.

Arguably more significant is the king’s comment on Phibun:

Phibun

This perspective reflects the view of the old princes, his mother and the royalists such as Kukrit and Seni Pramoj. Phibun was hated almost as much as Pridi Phanomyong, and the king was imbibing from the waters of the anti-1932 royalists. Criticisms of Sarit and military regimes appear designed for the foreigners for the palace and royalists were in the political bed with Sarit and the royalist faction in the military.

Also revealing is the anti-communism exhibited by the king and his observations on politics in the northeast (where political opposition was seen as communism) and at Thammasat University, the latter considered to be influenced by Pridi.

Commies

These views were to influence much of the king’s and palace’s activism in the years that followed. Conservative kings will certainly worry about communists yet it is the congruence of fears about the northeast, poverty and communism that see U.S. get deeply involved in Thailand and in promoting the monarchy as a bulwark against communism.

Alleged communists and republicans are a feature of the post-1932 period and define much of the palace’s political shenanigans (even in 2010!).


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