Chavalit Yongchaiyudh

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Chavalit Yongchaiyudh
ชวลิต ยงใจยุทธ
Prime Minister of Thailand
In office
November 25, 1996 – November 8, 1997
Monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej
Preceded by Banharn Silpa-Archa
Succeeded by Chuan Leekpai
Leader of the Opposition in House of Representatives of Thailand
In office
September 2, 1998 – April 30, 2000
Succeeded by Chuan Leekpai
In office
November 26, 1997 – January 12, 1998
Preceded by Chuan Leekpai
In office
May 15, 1992 – June 16, 1992
Succeeded by Pramarn Adireksarn
Personal details
Born (1932-05-15) May 15, 1932 (age 82)
Nonthaburi Province, Thailand
Nationality Thai
Political party Pheu Thai Party (since 2009)
People's Power Party (2007-2008)
Thai Rak Thai Party (2002-2005)
New Aspiration Party (1990-2002)
Spouse(s) Vipha (Div.)
Prasertsri Chan-aporn (Div.)
Pankruea Yongchaiyudh
Military service
Service/branch Royal Thai Army
Rank Thai army O9.png General
Commands Commander-in-Chief (1986-1990)

General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh (Thai ชวลิต ยงใจยุทธ, born May 15, 1932 in Nonthaburi) is a Thai politician and retired general. He was Thailand's 22nd Prime Minister from 1996 to 1997.

Early political career[edit]

Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is of Sino-Thai, Lao and Persian descent.[1][2] From 1986 to 1990, he was Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army. He was one of the architects of the amnesty program that ended the insurgency of the Communist Party of Thailand. Under his leadership, the army started projects for rural development. These included the Isan Khiew programme in the underdeveloped North Eastern region and the New Hope programme in the conflict-ridden Southern provinces. For these projects he provided big businesses with lucrative contracts, including the leading agrobusiness corporation Charoen Pokphand (CP). Chavalit began his political career in 1988 as Defence Minister, with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister, in the administration of Chatichai Choonhavan. He held that position until 1991. In 1990, he founded his own party, the New Aspiration Party. The party was backed by the CP group and its chairman Dhanin Chearavanont.[3] He then served as Minister of Interior in the cabinet of Chuan Leekpai from 1992 to 1994, and was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in the government of Banharn Silpa-archa from 1995 to 1996.


In late 1996, following the Royal Decree of Parliament Closure a general election was held. On November 16, 1996, Chavalit's New Aspiration Party won the most seats. With the support of five coalition parties - Chart Pattana, Social Action, Thai Citizen, Seri Dhamma and Mass Citizen - Chavalit was appointed by royal decree as the 22nd Prime Minister on November 25, 1996. However, he encountered pressure from many political movements, who finally forced him to resign on November 6, 1997, in the midst to the Asian financial crisis.

On 14 May and 15 May 1997, the Thai baht, which was then pegged to the U.S. dollar, was hit by massive speculative attacks. Prime Minister Chavalit announced he would not devalue the baht, but eventually Chavalit's government could not help but had to devalue the currency's value in July 1997. This sparked the Asian financial crisis, since the Thai government failed to defend the baht against the international speculators.

Thailand's booming economy came to a halt amidst massive layoffs in finance, real estate, and construction that resulted in huge numbers of workers returning to their villages in the countryside and 600,000 foreign workers being sent back to their home countries.The baht devalued swiftly and lost more than half of its value. The Thai stock market dropped 75% in 1997. Due to the crisis, in November this year, the premier eventually stepped down.

During the early 1990s, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh controlled 126 military-run radio stations and two of the country's five television networks. Chavalit agreed to make military stations available for an anti-AIDS campaign. He also agreed to help Meechai Viravaidya spearhead a three-year blitz to halt the spread of the disease.


After holding the position of deputy prime minister in Somchai Wongsawat cabinet in 2008, on October 7, 2008, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh resigned and admitted partial responsibility for violence due to police tear gas clearance of Parliament blockade, causing injuries to 116 protesters, 21, seriously. His resignation letter stated: "Since this action did not achieve what I planned, I want to show my responsibility for this operation.[4][5][6]" But after dispersal, 5,000 demonstrators returned and also blocked all 4 entries to the parliament building[7] [8] .[9]

On October 2, 2009, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh joined the Pheu Thai Party, which comprises Thaksin Shinawatra's loyalists. He insists he will be a regular member until the party's executives consider a future role for him.[10]

Royal Decorations[edit]

  • Order of the White Elephant - Special Class (Thailand) ribbon.png Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant
  • Order of the Crown of Thailand - Special Class (Thailand) ribbon.png Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand
  • Order of the Direkgunabhorn 1st class (Thailand) ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn
  • Order of Chula Chom Klao - 2nd Class upper (Thailand) ribbon.png Knight Grand Commander (Second Class, higher grade) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao
  • Order of Rama 2nd Class ribbon.pngKnight Commander (Second Class) of the Honourable Order of Rama
  • The Boy Scout Citation Medal 1st class (Thailand) ribbon.png The Order of Symbolic Propitiousness Ramkeerati (Special Class) - Boy Scout Citation Medal
  • Victory Medal - Vietnam with flames(Thailand).png The Victory Medal - Vietnam War
  • Freeman Safeguarding Medal - Class 1 (Thailand).png The Freeman Safeguarding Medal (First Class)
  • Border Service Medal (Thailand) ribbon.png The Border Service Medal
  • Chakra Mala Medal (Thailand) ribbon.png Chakra Mala Medal
  • King Rama IX Royal Cypher Medal (Thailand) ribbon.png King Rama IX Royal Cypher Medal, 4th Class

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Banharn Silpa-Archa
Prime Minister of Thailand
Succeeded by
Chuan Leekpai