Apiwan Wiriyachai

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Apiwan Wiriyachai
อภิวันท์ วิริยะชัย
อภิวันท์ วิริยะชัย.jpg
Deputy Speaker of the
House of Representatives
In office
22 January 2008 – 10 May 2011
Preceded byLalita Rerksamran
Succeeded byWisut Chainarun
Personal details
Born(1949-04-20)20 April 1949
Nonthaburi, Thailand
Died6 October 2014(2014-10-06) (aged 65)
Political partyPheu Thai Party
Spouse(s)Ratchanee Wiriyachai
Alma materChulachomklao Royal Military Academy
Illinois Institute of Technology (Ph.D.)
Civil servant
Army officer
Military service
Allegiance Thailand
Branch/service Royal Thai Army
RankRTA OF-5 (Colonel).svg Colonel

Apiwan Wiriyachai (Thai: อภิวันท์ วิริยะชัย; April 20, 1949 – October 6, 2014) was a Thai politician (Pheu Thai Party) and a member of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship.

Early career[edit]

In 1996 Apiwan entered politics as a New Aspiration Party MP for the province of his birth. A close confidante of provincial godfather Sanoh Thienthong, Apiwan followed his mentor into the Thai Rak Thai Party and became the party's MP for Nonthaburi in the 2001 general election, a seat he would hold through all subsequent elections. He served as chief of staff to the defence minister from 2002 to 2004.

Following Sanoh's resignation from Thai Rak Thai, Apiwan gravitated towards Thaksin Shinawatra's inner circle.

Pheu Thai Party[edit]

Following Pheu Thai's 2011 electoral victory Apiwan was at one point tipped to become the speaker of the house, but his close association with the UDD eventually forced the party to pick Somsak Kiatsuranont instead.[1][2]

In October 2012 Apiwan proposed that Charupong Ruangsuwan serve as leader of the Pheu Thai Party. His nomination went unchallenged.[3]

In early November 2013 Apiwan was among the seven Red Shirt MPs who voted to pass a controversial amnesty bill that would have pardoned those responsible for the army's massacre of UDD protesters in 2010.[4] The bill met widespread opposition from both the UDD and the opposition, prompting the government to abandon it.[5]

The bill's retraction did not save the government, however. The opposition coalesced into the People's Democratic Reform Committee protest movement which proceeded to paralyse Yingluck Shinawatra's government and ultimately pave the way for a military coup on May 22, 2014. A lèse-majesté charge was filed against Apiwan in the immediate aftermath of the army's seizure of power, prompting him to flee to the Philippines, where he died of a lung infection on October 6.[6][7]


Apiwan believed that the legitimacy of the monarchy rests on the faith and goodwill of the populace, and was an opponent of Thailand's draconian lèse-majesté law, which, in his view, has been used without the king's consent. Apiwan was explicit in his approval of several known republicans or critics of the prevalent ultraroyalism, ranging from Red Shirt activist Sombat Boonngam-anong to the Nitirat Group, and had also praised Somsak Jeamteerasakul, the most brazen academic critic of King Bhumibol's monarchy, as a man of "consistent morality."[8][better source needed] Such statements provoked calls for Apiwan to be investigated on charges of holding the monarchy in contempt, and ultimately brought about his arrest warrant.[9]

Apiwan believed that privy council president Prem Tinsulanonda was the chief architect of the 2006 coup.[10] He alleged that Prem had cajoled General Sonthi Boonyaratglin into overthrowing Thaksin by deceitfully invoking the king's authority.[11][better source needed]


  1. ^ "Yingluck, Yongyuth to pick seats". Pattaya Today. Pattaya. 27 July 2011. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Unbiased gavel in the House?". Bangkok Post. Bangkok. 4 August 2011.
  3. ^ "Jarupong elected new Pheu Thai leader". Pattaya Today. Pattaya. 31 October 2012. Archived from the original on 14 February 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Red shirts feel betrayed". The Nation (Thailand). Bangkok. 2 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Blowing the Whistle". The Economist. Singapore. 16 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Apiwan passes away at 65". Thai Rath. Bangkok. 7 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Apiwan dies while on the run". The Bangkok Post. Bangkok. 7 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Apiwan at a Red Shirt Rally (Youtube video)". 22 June 2012.
  9. ^ "Govt eases tight security in Parliament". The Nation (Thailand). Bangkok. 26 March 2010.
  10. ^ "Apiwan wants amataya toppled". Bangkok Post. Bangkok. 1 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Apiwan at a Red Shirt Rally (Youtube video)". 22 June 2012.