PChW MPCh MWM NR
|3rd Prime Minister of Thailand|
December 16, 1938 – August 1, 1944
|Preceded by||Phraya Phahon Phonphayuhasena|
|Succeeded by||Khuang Aphaiwong|
April 8, 1948 – September 16, 1957
|Preceded by||Khuang Aphaiwong|
|Succeeded by||Pote Sarasin|
July 14, 1897
Nonthaburi, Nonthaburi, Thailand
|Died||June 11, 1964
Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan
|Political party||Khana Ratsadon (1927-)
Seri Manangkasila Party (1955-1957)
|Service/branch||Royal Thai Army|
|Years of service||1914 - 1957|
|Rank||Field Marshal (Chom-phol)|
Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram (Thai: แปลก พิบูลสงคราม; Thai pronunciation: [plɛ̀ːk pʰíbuːnsǒŋkʰrāːm]; alternatively transcribed as Pibulsongkram or Pibulsonggram; July 14, 1897 – June 11, 1964), contemporarily known as Luang Pibulsonggram, often as Phibunsongkhram (Pibul Songgram) or simply Phibun (Pibul) in the West, was Prime Minister and virtual military dictator of Thailand from 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to 1957.
He was born Plaek Khittasangkha in Nonthaburi Province to Keed Khittasangkha and his wife. Keed was of Chinese-Thai heritage; his father was a Cantonese-speaking Chinese immigrant. Plaek's parents owned a durian orchard. He received his given name - meaning "strange" in Thai - because of his unusual appearance as a child. Plaek Khittasangkha studied at Buddhist temple schools, then was appointed to Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. He graduated in 1914 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the artillery. Following World War I, he was sent to study artillery tactics in France. In 1928, as he rose in rank, he received the honorary title of Luang from King Prajadhipok and became known as Luang Phibunsongkhram. He would later drop his title, but adopted Phibunsongkhram as his surname.
Phibunsongkhram was one of the leaders of the military branch of the People's Party (Khana Ratsadon) that staged a coup d'état and overthrew the absolute monarchy in 1932. Then-Lieutenant Colonel Phibunsongkhram rose to prominence as a man-on-horseback.
Abdication of the king
The following year, Phibunsongkhram, along with officers allied in the same cause, successfully crushed the Boworadet Rebellion. This was a royalist revolt led by Prince Boworadet. While King Prajadhipok was not in any way involved in the rebellion, it marked the beginning of a slide which ended in his 1935 abdication and replacement by King Ananda Mahidol. The new King was still a child studying in Switzerland, and parliament appointed Colonel Prince Anuwatjaturong, Lieutenant Commander Prince Athitaya Dibhabha, and Chao Phraya Yommaraj (Pun Sukhum) as his Regents.
Prime Minister of Thailand
In 1938, Phibunsongkhram replaced Phraya Phahol as Prime Minister and Commander of the Royal Siamese Army, and consolidated his position by rewarding several members of his own army clique with influential positions in his government.
Phibunsongkhram began to increase the pace of modernisation in Thailand. Phibulsonggram supported fascism and nationalism. Together with Luang Wichitwathakan, the Minister of Propaganda, he built a leadership cult in 1938 and thereafter. Photographs of Phibunsongkhram were to be found everywhere, and those of the abdicated King Prajadhipok were banned. His quotes appeared in newspapers, were plastered on billboards and were repeated over the radio.
"Aimed to uplift the national spirit and moral code of the nation and instilling progressive tendencies and a newness into Thai life", a series of Cultural Mandates were issued by the government. These mandates encouraged that all Thais were to salute the flag in public places, know the new national anthem, and use the Thai language, not regional dialects. People were encouraged to adopt Western, as opposed to traditional, attire. Similarly, people were encouraged to eat with a fork and spoon, rather than with their hands as was customary. Phibunsongkhram saw these policies as necessary, in the interest of progressivism, to change Thailand in the minds of foreigners from an undeveloped and barbaric country into a civilized and modernized one.
In 1939, Phibunsongkhram changed the country's name from Siam to Thailand. In 1941, in the midst of World War II, he decreed January 1 as the official start of the new year instead of the traditional April 13. On 5 August 1941, Thailand joined a group of nations that recognized the Japanese Co-belligerence countries similar to Nazi Germany Co-belligerence countries such as Finland, Bulgaria and Romania.
His administration also encouraged economic nationalism. Anti-Chinese policies were imposed, and the Thai people were to purchase as many Thai products as possible and therefore destroy the Chinese proportion in markets. In a speech in 1938, Luang Wichitwathakan, himself of Chinese ancestry, compared the Chinese in Siam to the Jews in Germany.
While ardently pro-Japanese at the beginning, Phibunsongkhram and his administration soon considerably, but cordially, distanced itself from Japan following the aftermath of the French-Thai War, which lasted from October 1940 to May 1941, when Japanese territorial ambitions were skilfully realized during the peace talks. The Japanese gained the right to occupy French Indo-China. Being threatened by the war, Phibunsongkhram stated that the Japanese would be the transgressors. The administration also realized that Thailand would have to fend for itself when the Japanese invasion came, considering its deteriorating relationships with the major Western powers in the area.
Alliance with Japan
When the Japanese invaded Thailand on December 8, 1941, (because of the international date line this occurred an hour and a half before the attack on Pearl Harbor), hesitant Phibunsongkhram was reluctantly forced to order a general ceasefire after just one day of resistance and allow the Japanese armies to use the country as a base for their invasions of Burma and Malaya. Hesitancy, however, gave way to enthusiasm after the Japanese rolled their way through Malaya in a "Bicycle Blitzkrieg" with surprisingly little resistance. On December 21, Phibunsongkhram signed a military alliance with Japan. The following month, on January 25, 1942, Phibunsongkhram declared war on Britain and the United States. South Africa and New Zealand declared war on Thailand on the same day. Australia followed soon after. All who opposed the Japanese alliance were sacked from his government. Pridi Phanomyong was appointed acting Regent for the absent King Ananda Mahidol, while Direk Jayanama, the prominent Foreign Minister who had advocated continued resistance against the Japanese, was later sent to Tokyo as an ambassador.
As Japan neared defeat and the underground anti-Japanese resistance Seri Thai steadily grew in strength, the National Assembly forced out Phibunsongkhram. His six-year reign as the military commander-in-chief was at an end. His resignation was partly forced by two grandiose plans. One was to relocate the capital from Bangkok to a remote site in the jungle near Phetchabun in North Central Thailand. The other was to build a "Buddhist city" near Saraburi. Announced at a time of severe economic difficulty, these ideas turned many government officers against him. Phibunsongkhram went to stay at the army headquarters in Lopburi.
Khuang Abhaiwongse replaced him as Prime Minister, ostensibly to continue relations with the Japanese, but in reality secretly assisting the Seri Thai.
At the war's end, Phibunsongkhram was put on trial at Allied insistence on charges of having committed war crimes, mainly that of collaborating with the Axis powers. However, he was acquitted amidst intense public pressure. Public opinion was still favourable to Phibunsongkhram, as he was thought to have done his best to protect Thai interests. His alliance with Japan had Thailand take advantage from Japanese support the expansion of Thai territory in Malay and Burma.
Coup, second premiership and more coups
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2011)|
In November 1947, Royal Thai Army units under the control of Phibunsongkhram carried out a coup which forced then Prime Minister Thawal Thamrong Navaswadhi to resign. Khuang was again installed as Prime Minister as the military coup risked international disapproval. Pridi Phanomyong was persecuted. He was, however, aided by British and American intelligence officers, and thus managed to escape the country. On April 8, 1948, the military forced Khuang out of office and Phibunsongkhram assumed his second premiership.
On October 1, 1948, the unsuccessful Army General Staff Plot was launched to topple the government of Phibunsongkhram. As a result, more than fifty army and reservist officers and several prominent supporters of Pridi Phanomyong were arrested.
A Palace Rebellion in 1949 was another failed coup attempt. Its plotters' aim was to overthrow the government of Phibunsongkhram and to restore his main civilian rival Phanomyong to the Thai political scene.
Instead of the fascism that characterized his first premiership, Phibunsongkhram and his regime promoted a façade of democracy. American aid was received in large quantities following Thailand's entry into the Korean War as part of the United Nations' multi-national allied force in the Cold War against the communists.
Phibunsongkhram's anti-Chinese campaign was resumed, with the government restricting Chinese immigration and undertaking various measures to restrict economic domination of the Thai market by those of Chinese descent. Chinese schools and associations were once again shut down. Despite open pro-Western and anti-Chinese policies, in the late 1950s Phibunsongkhram arranged to send to China two of the children of Sang Phathanothai, his closest advisor, with the intention of establishing a backdoor channel for dialogue between China and Thailand. The girl, aged eight, and her brother, aged twelve, were sent to be brought up under the assistants of Premier Zhou Enlai as his wards; the girl, Sirin Phathanothai, later wrote The Dragon's Pearl, an autobiography telling her experiences growing up in the 1950s and 1960s among the leaders of China.
On June 29, 1951, Phibunsongkhram was attending a ceremony aboard the Manhattan dredge when he was taken hostage by a group of naval officers, who then quickly confined him on board the warship Sri Ayutthaya. Negotiations between the government and the coup organizers swiftly broke down, leading to violent street fighting in Bangkok between the navy and the army, which was supported by the air force. Phibunsongkhram was able to swim back ashore when the Sri Ayutthaya was bombed by the air force. With their hostage gone, the sailors and marines were forced to lay down their arms.
On November 29, 1951, the Silent Coup was staged by the army-led Coup Group and it consolidated the military's hold on the country. It reinstated the Constitution of 1932, which effectively eliminated the Senate, established a unicameral legislature composed equally of elected and government-appointed members, and allowed serving military officers to supplement their commands with important ministerial portfolios.
On November 13, 1956, Thailand's Criminal Code BE 2499 was signed into law by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the present king of Thailand. Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram countersigned the Code.
Sarit seizes power
At the end of his second term, suspicions of fraudulent practices during an election emerged. The American-equipped Thai army played a major role in the coup d'état of 1957, and the United States was "deeply involved" The resulting unrest led to a second coup in October 1958 by Field Marshal Sarit Dhanaraj, who had earlier sworn to be Phibun's most loyal subordinate. Sarit was supported by many royalists who wanted to regain a foothold. Phibunsongkhram was then forced into exile in Japan, where he lived until his death in 1964.
- 1911 - King Rama VI Coronation Medal
- 1925 - King Rama VII Coronation Medal
- 1929 - Member (Fifth Class) of The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand
- 1929 - Chakra Mala Medal
- 1931 - Companion (Fourth Class) of The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand
- 1932 - 150 Years Commemoration of Bangkok Medal
- 1934 - Dushdi Mala - Military
- 1937 - Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand
- 1938 - King Rama VIII Royal Cypher Medal
- 1940 - Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of The Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant
- 1941 - Victory Medal - Indochina
- 1941 - Knight of The Ancient and Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems
- 1942 - Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of The Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao
- 1942 - The Ratana Varabhorn Order of Merit
- 1943 - Medal for Service Rendered in the Interior (Asia)
- 1943 - Victory Medal - World War II
- 1943 - Dushdi Mala - Civilian
- 1944 - Bravery Medal - World War II
- 1956 - Bhumibol Adulyadej King Rama IX Royal Cypher Medal, First Class
- 1957 - Border Service Medal
- 1942 - 1st Class, Grand Cordon Order of the Rising Sun
- (Thai) ผู้นำทางการเมืองไทยกับสงครามโลกครั้งที่ 2: จอมพล ป.พิบูลสงคราม และ ปรีดี พนมยงค์
- Benjamin et al., 1990, p. 64, ...Phibun was a Thai by nature. Although it was said that his grandfather was a Cantonese, he had no features of an overseas Chinese.
- "man on horseback". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved June 30, 2011. "n. A man, usually a military leader, whose popular influence and power may afford him the position of dictator, as in a time of political crisis"
- Churchill, Winston S. The Second World War, Vol 3, The Grand Alliance, p.548 Cassell & Co. Ltd, 1950
- A Slice of Thai History: The Japanese invasion of Thailand, 8 December 1941 (part one)
- Ford, Daniel (June 2008). "Colonel Tsuji of Malaya (part 2)". The Warbirds forum. Retrieved June 30, 2011. "Though outnumbered two-to-one, the Japanese never stopped to consolidate their gains, to rest or regroup or resupply; they came down the main roads on bicycles"
- "The Swift Japanese Assault". National Archives of Singapore. 2002. Retrieved June 30, 2011. "Even the long legged Englishmen could not escape our troops on bicycles."
- A Slice of Thai History: The Japanese invasion of Thailand, 8 December 1941 (part three)
- Roeder, Eric (Fall 1999). "The Origin and Significance of the Emerald Buddha". Southeast Asian Studies Vol. 3. Southeast Asian Studies Student Association. Retrieved June 30, 2011. "Judith A. Stowe, Siam becomes Thailand (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991), pp. 228-283."
- Aldrich, Richard J. The Key to the South: Britain, the United States, and Thailand during the Approach of the Pacific War, 1929-1942. Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-19-588612-7
- Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Mar., 1962), pp. 93-110
- Biography of Field Marshal P., Royal Thai Army website. Retrieved on December 4, 2008.
- Batson, Benjamin Arthur; Shimuzu, Hajime; Asada, Shunsuke; The Tragedy of Wanit: A Japanese account of wartime Thai politics, Issue 1 of Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Dept. of History, National University of Singapore, 1990, ISBN 9971622467
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Plaek Pibulsonggram.|
- Duncan Stearn:A Slice of Thai History: The Japanese invasion of Thailand, 8 December 1941  (part one)  (part two)  (part three)
- Kopkuea Suwannathat-Phian (1989). Foreign Policies of Phibunsongkhram Government: 1938–1944 (pdf) (in Thai). Bangkok: Thammasat University Press. ISBN 9745724165.
Phraya Phahol Pholphayuhasena
|Prime Minister of Thailand
|Prime Minister of Thailand