Manoonkrit Roopkachorn

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Major General Manoonkrit Roopkachorn (Thai: มนูญกฤต รูปขจร, RTGS: Manunkrit Rupkhachon; born Manoon Roopkachorn, 13 December 1935 in Ayutthaya province) is a former Thai military officer, Senator and Speaker of the Senate. A leader of the "Young Turks" clique of military officers, he took part in the coups of 1976 and 1977, in the unsuccessful coups of 1981 and 1985, and in the 2002 corruption case of Prime Minister Thaksin.

Early life and career[edit]

Manoon graduated from the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in its 7th Class, along with classmates Sanan Kachornprasart, Chamlong Srimuang, and Pallop Pinmanee.

Attempted coup of 1981[edit]

Important military factions in the early 1980s included the Young Turks; the fifth class of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy led by Suchinda Kraprayoon; the "Democratic Soldiers", mostly staff officers in counter-insurgency planning; and the military leadership, such as Generals Arthit Kamlang-ek and Pichit Kullavanij, both with close ties to the palace, and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a loyalist to Prime Minister General Prem Tinsulanonda.[1] The Young Turks were increasingly frustrated by the military leadership, which they claim had "allowed themselves to be subservient to the rotten political system just to live happily with benefits handed to them by (corrupt) politicians."[2]

On 1 April 1981, the Young Turks took over Bangkok in a bloodless coup of overwhelming military force, without informing King Bhumibol Adulyadej in advance, as had sometimes happened.[1] The Thai royal family immediately fled to Korat province, along with Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda. With royal support for the Government thus made clear, Arthit Kamlang-ek led troops loyal to Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy Class 5 in a bloodless counter-coup that recaptured the capital. The coup attempt later became known as the April Fool's Day Coup or the Mesa Hawaii (Thai: เมษาฮาวาย) Coup.

Attempted coup of 1985[edit]

On 9 September 1985, the Young Turks again unsuccessfully attempted to topple the government of General Prem, although Prem was abroad at the time. Led by Manoon and his brother, Wing Commander Manas Roopkachorn, he was supported by former Prime Minister Kriangsak Chomanan, former Supreme Commander General Serm Na Nakhon, former Army chief General Yos Thephasdin, former Air Force chief marshal Krasae Intharat and former Air Force chief marshal Arun Promthep.[3] The pre-dawn coup consisted of several hundred men and twenty-two tanks. Within 10 hours, government troops led by General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh quelled the bloody rebellion. There are 59 injuries, 5 casualties, 2 of them foreign journalists. Over 40 active and former military officers were arrested. Exiled pyramid scheme operator Ekkayuth Anchanbutr was widely cited as a financier of the coup, leading some to call the coup the "Share Rebellion".[4][5]

Return to Thailand[edit]

Manoonkrit returned to Thai politics in the mid-1990s as an advisor to classmate Maj. Gen. Sanan Kachornprasart of the Democrat Party.[6]

Senator and Senate Speaker[edit]

Manoonkrit ran for the seat of Senator of Saraburi province on 4 March 2001. He won 140,000 votes, but was disqualified after being accused of buying votes. Manoonkrit won again in the second round of voting on 29 April.[7] His victory was later endorsed due to lack of evidence of fraud.[8]

Manoonkrit won a majority 114 votes in a secret ballot over three other candidates for Speaker of the 200-member Senate.[6]

Thaksin's 2002 Corruption Case[edit]

Senate Speaker Manoonkrit, citing a petition signed by some 60,000 people, forwarded a formal request to the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) to investigate four Constitution Court judges — Kramol Thongdharmachart, Phan Chanpan, Sak Techacharn and Jumpol na Songkhla — in connection with their rulings on the asset-concealment case against the Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, which then triggered major legal questions and a constitutional paradox. President Uthai Pimchaichon, who was also speaker of the House of Representatives, asked the Constitution Court to block the investigation launched by the NCCC. "Apart from the tough questions of whether the NCCC was empowered to investigate Constitution Court judges, and whether the court could stop such a probe, the country was threatened with parallel showdowns between key political institutions - NCCC versus the Constitution Court and the Senate versus the House of Representatives. The Administrative Court was also dragged into the fray, following a petition by three of the investigated judges."[9]

Announced resignation[edit]

On May 20, 2003, Manoonkrit announced his resignation from the posts of Senator and Speaker effective on January 4, 2004, after some members of the upper house tried to force him to step down following a debate calling for an evaluation of his performance. His opponents said he made a promise, during his campaign, to stay in post for two years, so he decided to step down two years before his terms expired in 2006.[10]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thailand: Military Intervention and the Politics of Authoritarian Domination
  2. ^ Chai-Anan Samudavanija, "The Thai Young Turks", p. 31, from an address to Manoon's Young Turk followers, 27 June 1980
  3. ^ Timeline of modern Thai history[dead link]
  4. ^ Thai-language newspaper headlines, 20 September 2004 Archived June 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ หนุ่มแนว, ย้อนรอย มนูญกฤต รูปขจร เบื้องหลังกลุ่มพันธมิตร, 3 มีนาคม 2006
  6. ^ a b Kyodo News International, "Former coup-maker elected Thai Senate president"
  7. ^ Julian Geering, "Power Of The Ballot", Asiaweek, 12 May 2000
  8. ^ Asiaweek, 19 May 2000 Archived July 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Phairath Khampha (27 April 2002). "Thailand's National Counter Corruption Commission Agrees to Probe Judges in Prime Minister Thaksin's Corruption Case". ARCHIVE by GEOCITIES.WS expires Monday, September 12, 2011 11:50:43 AM. The Penguin Star. Retrieved 14 July 2011. followed a formal request from Senate Speaker Manoonkrit Roopkachorn, who acted on a petition signed by some 60,000 people. 
  10. ^ Akeamorn Threekrutphan (May 2003). "May 2003 : October 14 to be Democracy Day" (text/html). modified Thursday, July 14, 2011 7:51:34 AM. Institute of Public Policy Studies. Retrieved July 14, 2011. Last but not least, Senate Speaker Manoonkrit Roopkachorn announced his resignation effective on January 4. 

Further reading[edit]