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Luang Phibunsongkhram

(1897—1964)


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(b. 14 July 1897, d. 12 June 1964).

Prime Minister of Thailand 1938–44, 1948–57

From a farming family, he graduated from the Military Academy in 1915, and left the Army General Staff College in 1924. After receiving training in France, he took part in the 1932 Revolution. He rapidly advanced in the army to become Minister of Defence, in which post he strongly influenced the moderate Premier Phya Bahol, whom he ousted in 1938. His government was autocratic, militarist, and nationalist. He signed a friendship treaty with Japan in 1941, though the country's isolation, its dependence on Japan, and his ruthless suppression of the anti‐Fascist Free Thai Movement, aroused opposition to such an extent that he was forced to resign in 1944. He returned to power after a renewed coup, this time using the Cold War to emerge on a wave of anti‐Communist feeling. He joined SEATO, which made its headquarters in Bangkok, and received strong support from the USA. Following three unsuccessful coups against him in 1948, 1949, and 1951, he was ousted in a putsch in 1957. He went to Japan, where in 1960 he became a Buddhist monk.

Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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