Kukrit Pramoj

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Mom Rajawongse
Kukrit Pramoj
คึกฤทธิ์ ปราโมช
Kukrit Pramoj.jpg
13th Prime Minister of Thailand
In office
March 14, 1975 – January 12, 1976
Monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej
Preceded by Seni Pramoj
Succeeded by Seni Pramoj
Personal details
Born (1911-04-20)April 20, 1911
Singburi, Siam
Died October 9, 1995(1995-10-09) (aged 84)
Bangkok, Thailand
Nationality Thai
Political party Social Action Party
Spouse(s) M.L. Pakpring Thongyai (Divorced)
Children 2
Alma mater The Queen's College, Oxford
Profession Scholar, writer
Signature
Military service
Service/branch Royal Thai Army
Royal Thai Aide-De-Camp
Rank RTA-14.svg Major General
Battles/wars Pacific war

Mom Rajawongse (M.R.) Kukrit Pramoj (Thai คึกฤทธิ์ ปราโมช; RTGS: Khuek-rit Pramot, Thai pronunciation: [kʰ´ɯk.rít praːmôːt]) (April 20, 1911 - October 9, 1995) was a Thai politician and scholar. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives of Thailand 1973-1974 and was the thirteenth Prime Minister of Thailand, serving in office from 1975 to 1976. He also portrayed the Prime Minister of the fictional country of "Sarkhan" in the 1963 motion picture The Ugly American with Marlon Brando.

Early years[edit]

Of royal descent, he was born into an aristocratic family. Like may upper class Thais of his generation, his parents sent him and his siblings to boarding schools in England including Trent College. He finished his Bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) from Queen's College, University of Oxford. Upon returning to Thailand, his first job was in the field of banking; but his true vocation was his mastery of many forms of arts, including politics and journalism. Put off by Hollywood's portrayal of revered nineteenth-century king, Mongkut, in the 1946 film Anna and the King of Siam, based on the semi-fictional biographical novel of the same name, Kukrit and his brother, Seni Pramoj, wrote The King of Siam speaks in 1948. They sent their manuscript to the American politician and diplomat Abbot Low Moffat[1] who drew on it for his biography entitled Mongkut the King of Siam (ISBN 974-8298-12-4), and in 1961, donated the Pramoj manuscript to the Southeast Asian Collection, Asian Division, Library of Congress.[2] He wrote passionately for Siam Rath (Thai: สยามรัฐ Siam Kingdom), the newspaper that he founded. As a means of showing how Thai society adjusted to life in modern society, in 1953 he began a series of stories on the life and times of fictional Mae Ploy (Thai: แม่พลอย). who as a young girl enters the service of a princess of Rama V's Royal Household, and dies the same day as Rama VIII.[3] These were later collected in Si Phaendin (สี่แผ่นดิน) and translated in English as Four Reigns. His unique sense of humour offered a satirical view of his age.

As a scholar, he also wrote many non-fiction works ranging from history and religion to astrology. Most notable are his epics and many short stories portraying various aspects of life and documenting contemporary history. His Many Lives (หลายชีวิต Lai Chiwit) was also translated into English. He was a leading authority on traditional Thai culture and had a polymathic range of interests from Thailand's classical dance to literature. Most famous for his literary works, he was named a National Artist of Thailand for literature in 1985, the inaugural year for the honor. And he received The Special Commemorative Prize of The Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes in 1990, the inaugural year for the prizes again. His works encompass many subjects from humour to drama. He was also known as a staunch loyalist and served the monarchy for his entire life. He is considered one of the great statesmen of Thailand.

His former home is now a heritage museum which is preserved; paying homage to his life and Thai traditions.

Biography[edit]

Education[edit]

Achievements[edit]

  • M.R. Kukrit founded the Progress Party, the first political party in Thailand in 1945-1946.[citation needed]
  • Appeared on screen with Marlon Brando in the movie The Ugly American (1963), in which he played Prime Minister Kwen Sai and spoke both Thai and English.
  • Established diplomatic ties with China in 1975.
  • Named National Artist in Literature 1985.
  • Received the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 1990.
  • Founded the Khon Thammasat Troupe at Thammasat University, Khon being the highest form of dance drama in Thai classical dramatic arts.

Acting career[edit]

When George Englund decided to use Thailand as the location for the fictional country portrayed in his film The Ugly American, Kukrit was appointed as cultural advisor to make sure the film accurately portrayed monarchy in a Buddhist country. Englund had difficulty casting the part of the fictional Prime Minister, but he was so impressed by Kukrit's cultural refinement and mastery of English that he offered him the part, saying, "I can't think of anyone who could play it better." Kukrit accepted, saying, according to Englund, "We are all actors anyway, and I think you're right that I could play it better than anyone." Probably because of this, after he became a real-life Prime Minister of Thailand in 1975, the word "Sarkhan" has entered the Thai language as a nickname of Thailand itself, often with a slight self-depreciating or mocking tone.

M.R. Kukrit Heritage Home[edit]

The home that M.R. Kukrit built for himself in Bangkok has been registered by the Department of Fine Arts as 'Home of an Important Person'. It is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and official Thai holidays between 10am and 5pm.

Standing in 2 acres (8,100 m2) of land, surrounded by landscaped gardens, the house is a similar concept to the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok. Five small traditional Thai houses were dismantled and reassembled at the present site to make one house. The house is filled with artefacts and books collected by the owner.

Additions to the original house include air conditioning, a modern bathroom, and a lift was installed when the owner became too frail to climb up and down stairs.

The M.R. Kukrit Heritage Home is situated at 19 Soi Phra Pinit, South Sathorn Road, Sathon District, Bangkok 10120. Tel. +66 (0)2 286 8185. The nearest BTS Skytrain station is Chong Nonsi. English speaking guides are available to show visitors around. Photography is not allowed inside the house. The entrance fee is Bt50 for adults and Bt20 for children and students.

Works[edit]

Novels[edit]

Plays[edit]

Collected short stories and essays[edit]

Non-fiction[edit]

Most Thai were shocked by the portrayal of their revered nineteenth-century king, Mongkut, in the musical The King and I. The stage and screen versions were based on Margaret Landon's 1944 book entitled Anna and the King of Siam. To correct the record, well-known Thai intellectuals Seni and Kukrit Pramoj wrote this account in 1948. The Pramoj brothers sent their manuscript to the American politician and diplomat Abbot Low Moffat (1901-1996), who drew on it for his biography entitled Mongkut the King of Siam (1961) ISBN 974-8298-12-4. Moffat donated the Pramoj manuscript to the United States Library of Congress in 1961. (Southeast Asian Collection, Asian Division, Library of Congress)

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reference staff (July 30, 2010). "Abbot Low Moffat Papers". Biographical Sketch. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Asian Collections". SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC ISLANDS. The Library of Congress, Asian Reading Room. November 15, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2011. "Seni and Kukrit Pramoj, The King of Siam Speaks." 
  3. ^ ""Four Reigns": Kukrit Pramoj novel from 1953 on Thai history". Cambridge Forecast Group. July 30, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2011. "plot summary" 
  4. ^ Elliott Kulick, Dick Wilson. Thailand's Turn: Profile of a New Dragon (Thailand's Turn) (Paperback). Palgrave Macmillan. p. 84. ISBN 0-312-12188-1. 
  5. ^ An Impressive Day at M.R. Kukrit's Home; Thailand Bibliography

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Seni Pramoj
Prime Minister of Thailand
1975–1976
Succeeded by
Seni Pramoj