Thanat Khoman (also Thanad; Thai ถนัด คอมันตร์, born February 9, 1914) is a former Thai diplomat and politician. He was Foreign Minister from 1959 to 1971, chairman of the Democrat Party from 1979 to 1982, and Deputy Prime Minister from 1980 to 1982.
Life and career
Thanat was born in Bangkok and comes from a Thai Chinese family. His father, Phraya Phiphaksa Satayathipatai (Po Khoman) was one of Siam's first law school graduates and a judge at the Supreme Court. Thanat attended the Assumption College in Bangkok, before he went to France, graduating from a Bordeaux lycée. Supplied with a scholarship of the Thai foreign ministry, he continued his studies in France, namely in Bordeaux and Paris, earning degrees from the School of Higher International Studies (HEI) and Sciences Po in 1939, as well as a Doctor of law from the University of Paris in 1940.
After his return to Thailand, Thanat was obliged to join the diplomatic service, as the foreign ministry had financed his studies. During World War II he was stationed as a Second Secretary at the Thai embassy in Tokyo from 1941 to 1943. During this time, the Thai-Japanese agreement of 1942 was concluded, allowing Japanese troops to march through Thailand and use it as a base for attacks on British Burma and Malaya and leading to Thailand's entry into the war on the Axis side. However, Thanat disagreed with what was perceived as a virtual Japanese occupation of Thailand and joined the Seri Thai ("Free Thai") resistance movement that was supported by the British Force 136 and the American OSS. In February 1945, he was a member of a secret delegation to the Allied South East Asia Command in Kandy, Ceylon.
After the Second World War, he held a number of diplomatic posts, including chargé d'affaires at the Thai embassies in Washington, D.C. and Delhi. In 1950 he was chosen as the chairman of the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) in New York. From 1952 to 1957 he served as the deputy to the Thai permanent representative to the UN. In 1957 he was promoted to Thai ambassador to the United States. On 10 February 1959 he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand in the government of authoritarian Prime Minister Sarit Thanarat. His major contribution was in promoting regional reconciliation and cooperation in South East Asia. He was a participant in SEATO talks in 1961. In March 1962 he signed a joint communiqué with U.S. State Secretary Dean Rusk in which the US promised Thailand support and defense against potential Communist aggressions. Despite just being an informal protocol, it was celebrated in Thailand as a bilateral pact of the two countries, dubbed the "Rusk-Thanat Agreement". In the 1960s Thanat played a key role in mediating between Indonesia and Malaysia. The choice of Bangkok as the founding place of ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) in August 1967 was an expression of respect for his active role in the formation of this institution. On 17 November 1971 he resigned his post after a coup d'état.
After his resignation as foreign minister, Thanat entered national politics in 1979 and served as chairman of the Democrat Party until 1982. Between 1980 and 1982 he was also Deputy Prime Minister in the government of Prem Tinsulanonda. In 1982 he retired from political life. He celebrated his 100th birthday in 2014.
- Marjorie Dent Candee, ed. (1958). Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson. p. 226.
- "Thai Foreign Minister to Lecture at Gaston". The Hoya. 24 October 1968. p. 3.
- Judith A. Stowe (1991). Siam Becomes Thailand: A Story of Intrigue. C. Hurst & Co. p. 377.
- E. Bruce Reynolds (2004). Thailand's Secret War: OSS, SOE and the Free Thai Underground During World War II. Cambridge University Press. p. 291.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "SEATO May Decide War Or Peace". March 26, 1961, p. 6. Retrieved on May 29, 2013.
- Louis J. Smith; David H. Herschler (2003). Foundations of Foreign Policy, 1969-1976. Foreign Relations of the United States I. U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian. pp. 181–182.
- Arne Kislenko (2003). The Vietnam War, Thailand, and the United States. Trans-Pacific Relations: America, Europe, and Asia in the Twentieth Century (Praeger). p. 224.
- Somkiat Onwimon (2014-02-26). บันทึกอาเซียนกับ ดร.สมเกียรติ อ่อนวิมล. Daily News (in Thai). Retrieved 2014-08-14.