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Thon Buri and Bangkok Period

 

 

Thon Buri Period (1767-1772)

General Taksin, as he is popularly known, decided to transfer the capital from Ayutthaya to a site nearer to the sea which would facilitate foreign trade, ensure the procurement of arms, and make defense and withdrawal easier in case of a renewed Burmese attack. He established his new capital at Thon Buri on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The rule of Taksin was not an easy one. The lack of central authority since the fall of Ayutthaya led to the rapid disintegration of the kingdom, and Taksin's reign was spent reuniting the provinces.
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King Taksin: Warfare and National Revival (1767-1782)

After the shattering defeat that had culminated in Ayutthaya's destruction, the death and capture of thousands of Thais by the victoriousking-taksin
Burmese, and the dispersal of several potential Thai leaders, the situation seemed hopeless. It was a time of darkness and of troubles for the Thai nation. Members of the old royal family of Ayutthaya had died, escaped, or been captured by the Burmese and many rival claimants for the throne emerged, based in different areas of the country. But out of this national catastrophe emerged yet another savior of the Thai state: the half-Chinese general Phraya Taksin, former governor of Tak. Within a few years this determined warrior had defeated not only all his rivals but also the Burmese invaders and had set himself up as king. Since Ayutthaya had been so completely devastated. King Taksin chose to establish his capital at Thon Buri (across the river from Bangkok). Although a small town, Thon Buri was strategically situated near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River and therefore suitable as a seaport. The Thais needed weapons, and one way of acquiring them was through trade. Besides, foreign trade was also needed to bolster the Thai economy, which had suffered extensively during the war with Burma. Chinese and Chinese-Thai traders helped revive the economy by engaging in maritime trade with neighboring states, with China, and with some European nations. King Taksin's prowess as a general and as an inspirational leader meant that all attempts by the Burmese to reconquer Siam failed. The rallying of the Thai nation during a time of crisis was King Taksin's greatest achievement. However, he was also interested in cultural revival, in literature and the arts. He was deeply religious and studied meditation to an advanced level. The stress and strain of such much fighting and the responsibility of rebuilding a centralized Thai state took their toll on the king. Following an internal political conflict in 1782. King Taksin's fellow general Chao Phraya Chakri was chosen king. King Taksin's achievements have caused posterity to bestow on him the epithet "the Great"

King Rama I and the Reconstruction of the Thai State (1782-1809)

The new king, Phraphutthayotfa Chulalok, or Rama I, was like King Taksin a great general. He was also an accomplished statesman, a lawmaker, a poet, and a devout Buddhist. His reign has been called a reconstruction" of the Thai state and Thai culture, using Ayutthaya as a model but at the same time not slavishly imitating all things Ayutthaya. He was the monarch who established Bangkok as the capital of Thailand and was also the founder of the Royal House of Chakri, of which the ruling monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the ninth king. The significance of his reign in Thai history is therefore manifold.

King Rama I was intent on the firm reestablishment of the Buddhist monkhood, allying church to state and purifying the doctrine. Theking-rama-1
Tripitaka, or Buddhist scriptures, were re-edited in a definitive text by a grand council of learned men convened by the king in1788-9. This concern with codification and textual accuracy was also apparent in the collation and editing of laws both old and new which resulted in one of the major achievements of his reign: the "Three Seals Code" or Kotmai tra samduang. This too was the work of a panel of experts assembled by the king. King Rama I consistently explained all his reforms and actions in a rational way. This aspect of his reign has been interpreted as a major change in the intellectual outlook of the Thai elite, or a re-orientation of the Thai world-view. The organization of Thai society during the early Bangkok period was not fundamentally different from that of the late Ayutthaya period. Emphasis was still placed on manpower and on an extensive system of political and social patronage. The officials' main duty was still to provide the crown with corvee labor and to provide patronage to the commoners. The Burmese remained a threat to the Thai kingdom during this reign and launched several attacks on Thai territory. King Rama I was ably assisted by his brother and other generals in defeating the Burmese in 1785 and 1786, when the Burmese tried to invade Siam. King Rama I not only drove out these invading armies but also launched a bold counter-attack as retaliation, invading Tavoy in Lower Burma. During this reign, Chiang Mai was added to the Thai kingdom, and the Malay states of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, and Trengganu all sent tribute to King Rama I. The recovery of the Thai state's place and prestige in the region was one of King Rama l's major achievements.

The most long-lasting creation of King Rama I was perhaps the city of Bangkok (Rattanakosin). Before 1782, it was just a small trading community, but the first king transformed it into a thriving, cosmopolitan city based on Ayutthaya's example. He had a canal dug to make it an island-city and it contained Mon, Lao, Chinese, and Thai communities similar to Ayutthaya. He also had several Ayutthaya-style monasteries built in and around the city.

King Rama I was indeed, a great builder-king He endeavored to model his new palace closely on the Royal Palace at Ayutthaya and in doing so helped create one of Bangkok's enduring glories: the Grand Palace with its resplendent royal chapel, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. King Rama I also completely rebuilt an old monastery, Wat Photharam, and had it renamed Wat Phra Chetuphon, which became not only an exemplar of classical Thai architecture but also a famous place of learning. The cosmopolitan outlook of the Thais during King Rama l's reign was also reflected in the arts of the period. Both painting and literature during the early Bangkok period showed a keen awareness of other cultures, though Thai traditional forms and conventions were adhered to, King Rama I's reconstruction of the Thai State and Thai culture was so comprehensive that it extended also to literature. The king and his court poets composed new versions of the Ramakian (the Thai version of the Indian Ramayana epic) and the Inao (based on the Javanese Panji story).

King Rama II and His Sons

King Rama I's son Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai, or Rama II, acceded to the throne peacefully and was fortunate to have inherited theking-rama_2
crown during a time of stability. His reign was especially remarkable for the heights attained by Thai poetry, particularly in the works of the King himself and of Sunthon Phu, one of the court poets. King Rama II was a man gifted with an all-round artistic talent: he had a hand in the carving of Wat Suthat's vihara door-panels, considered to be the supreme masterpiece of Thai woodcarving. At the end of King Rama II's reign, two princes were in contention for the succession. Prince Chetsadabodin was lesser in rank than Prince Mongkut, but he was older, had greater experience of government, and had a wider power base. In a celebrated example of Thai crisis power management, Prince Mongkut (who had just entered the monkhood) remained monk for the whole of his brother's reign (1824-1851). The avoidance of an open struggle between the princes worked out well for both the country and for the Royal House. While King Rama III ruled firmly and with wisdom, his half-brother was accumulating experience that was to prove invaluable to him during his years as king. The priest-prince Mongkut was able to travel extensively, to see for himself how ordinary Thais lived, and to the lay the foundations for a reform of the Buddhist clergy. In the late 1830's he had set up what was to become the Thammayut sect or order (dhammayutika nikaya), an order of monks which became stronger under royal patronage. To this very day the royal family of Thailand is still closely associated with the Thammayut order.

The Growing Challenge of the West (1821-1868)

The major characteristic of Thai history during the 19th and 20th centuries may be summed up by the phrase "the challenge of the West."rama_statue_3
The reigns of King Rama II and his two sons, Rama III and Rama IV, marked the first stage in the Thai kingdom's dealings with the West during the Age of Imperialism. During the Ayutthaya period, the Thais had more often than not chosen just how they wanted to deal with foreign countries, European states included. By the 19th century this freedom of choice became more and more constricted. The West had undergone a momentous change during the Industrial Revolution, and western technology and economy had begun to outstrip those of Asian and African nations. This fact was not readily apparent to the Asians of the early 19th century, but it became alarmingly obvious as the century wore on and several erstwhile proud kingdoms fell under the sway of the western powers. The early 19th century was a time when the Napoleonic Wars were preoccupying all the major European powers, but once the British had gained their victory in Europe, they resumed their quest for additional commerce and territory in Asia. King Rama III may have been "conservative" in outlook, striving hard to uphold Buddhism (he built or repaired many monasteries), and refusing to acknowledge the claims of Western powers to increased shares in the Thai trade, but he was above all a shrewd ruler. He was justifiably wary of king_mongkut_rama_1v
Western ambitions in Southeast Asia, but he was tolerant enough to come to an agreement with Burney, as well as to allow Christian missionaries to work in the kingdom. One of the men most intellectually stimulated by the Western missionaries was Prince Mongkut. The priest-prince had an inquiring mind, a philosophical nature, and a voracious appetite for new knowledge. He learnt Latin from the French Catholic bishop Jean-Baptiste Pallegoix and English from the American Protestant missionary Jesse Caswell. Prince Mongkut's intellectual interests were wide-ranging; not only did he study the Buddhist Pali scriptures but also Western astronomy, mathematics, science, geography, and culture. His wide knowledge of the West helped him to deal with Britain, France, and other powers when he reigned as King of Siam (1851-1868). King Mongkut was the first Chakri king to embark seriously on reform based on Western models. This did not mean wholesale structural change, since King Mongkut did not wish to undermine his own status and power as a traditional and absolute ruler. He concentrated on the technological and organizational aspects of reform. During this reign, there were road building, canal digging, shipbuilding, a reorganization of the Thai army and administration, and the minting of money to meet the demands of a growing money economy. The King employed Western experts and advisers at the court and in the administration. One of his employees at court was the English governess Anna H. Leonowens, whose books on Siam have resulted in several misunderstandings concerning King Mongkut's character and reign. Far from being the strutting "noble savage" figure portrayed by Hollywood in the musical "The King and I." King Mongkut was a scholarly, conscientious, and humane monarch who ruled at a difficult time in Thai history.

The Reign and Reforms of King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910)

The reforms and foreign policy of King Mongkut were carried on by his son and successor, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), who came to the throne a frail youth of 16 and died one of Siam's most loved and revered kings, after a remarkable reign of 42 years. Indeed, modern Thailand may be said to be a product of the comprehensive and progressive reforms of his reign, for these touched almost every aspect of Thai life.

King Chulalongkorn faced the Western world with a positive, eager attitude: eager to learn about Western ideas and inventions, positivelyking-chulalongkorn
working towards Western-style "progress" while at the same time resisting Western rule. He was the first Thai king to travel abroad; he went to the Dutch and British colonial territories in Java, Malaya, Burma, and India, and also made two extended trips to Europe towards the end of his reign. He did not just travel as an observer or tourist but worked hard during his trips to further Thai interests. For instance, during one of his European sojourns he obtained support from Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and the German Kaiser Wilhelm II to put Siam in a stronger international position, no longer dominated by Britain and France. The King also traveled within his own country. He was passionately interested in his subjects' welfare and was intent on the monarchy assuming a more visible role in society. He wanted to see at first-hand how his subjects lived and went outside his palace often, sometimes incognito. His progressive outlook led him, in what was his first official act, to forbid prostration in the royal presence. He considered that such prostration was humiliating to the subject and apt to engender arrogance in the ruler. Influenced by Buddhist morality and Western examples, he gradually abolished both the corvee system and the institution of slavery, a momentous and positive change for Thai society. During this reign, Siam's communications system was revolutionized. Post and telegraph services were introduced and a railway network was built. Such advances enabled the central government to improve its control over outlying provinces. One of the central issues inaugurated in 1892 of King Chulalongkorn's reign was the imposition of central authority over the more distant parts of the kingdom. The King initiated extensive reforms of the administration, both in the provinces and in Bangkok. Western-style ministries were set up, replacing older, traditional administrative bodies. The old units, which were remodeled according to the Western pattern, were those of the Interior, of War, of Foreign Affairs, of Finance, of Agriculture, of the Palace, and of Local Administration. Completely new ministries were also created, such as the ministries of Justice, of Public Instruction, and of Public Works. This new ministerial system of government was

King Chulalongkorn's contribution to education was also to prove of great significance to modern Thailand. During this reign "public instruction" or education became more secular than ever before in Thai history. Secular schools were established in the 1880's aimed at producing the educated men necessary for the smooth functioning of a centralized administration. One of the pressing issues of the reign was the necessity to prove to the Western colonial powers that Siam had become a "modern" and "progressive" country: the problem, however, was that the King and his advisers had very little time in which to do so.

The King was eager to send Thais abroad for their education partly because the country needed skills and knowledge from the West and partly because Thai students abroad could come into direct contact with Europe's elite. Conversely, the King also hired several westerners to act as advisers to the Thai government in various fields, among them the Belgian Rolin-Jacquemyns (a "General Adviser" whose special knowledge was in jurisprudence) and the British Financial Advisers H. Rivett-Carnac and W.J.F. Williamson. Such policies were deemed to be essential for Siam's survival as a sovereign state and its progress to modernity.

Thai foreign policy during King Chulalongkorn's long reign was a series of precarious balancing acts, playing off one Western power against another, and trying to maintain both sovereignty and territorial integrity. Siam's heartland had to be preserved at all costs, even to the extent of conceding to Britain and France some peripheral territories whenever the pressure became too intense.

Even Siam's subtle and supple foreign policy was not always enough to offset the appetite for territory. In 1893, Siam ceded all territories on the east ("left") bank of the Mekong River to France, then building up its Indochinese Empire. In 1904, the Thais had to cede all territories on the west bank of the Mekong to France.

The Thai government wanted to put an end to the clauses concerning extra-territoriality, land tax, and trade duties in the treaties concluded with Western countries during King Mongkut's reign. In return for the mitigation of treaty disabilities, the Thais had to cede several territories. For example, in 1907 the Khmer provinces of Siem Reap, Battambang, and Sisophon were ceded to France in return for French withdrawal from the eastern Thai province of Chanthaburi and the abandonment of French extraterritorial claims over their "protected persons" (mostly Asian and therefore not properly French at all). In 1909, Siam gave up its claims to the Malay states of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, and Trengganu, all of which became British protectorates. This cession of territory was again agreed to by Siam in return for a lessening of certain treaty disabilities. It was fortunate indeed for the Thai kingdom that Britain and France had agreed in 1896 to keep Siam as a "buffer zone" between British and French territorial possessions in Southeast Asia.

King Chulalongkorn kept Siam an independent sovereign state in spite of all these crises, and all the while he strove to uphold Thai cultural, artistic, and religious values. The Thammayut order of monks founded by King Mongkut thrived during this reign, extending its influence from Bangkok to the provinces.

When King Chulalongkorn died in 1910 a new Siam had come into being. The Thai kingdom was now a more centralized, bureaucratic state partly modeled on Western example. It was also a society without slaves, with a ruling class that was partly westernized in outlook and much more aware of what was going on in Europe and America. Technologically, too, there had been many advances: there were now railroads and trams, postage stamps and telegraphs.

With so many achievements to his credit, and a charisma that was enhanced by his longevity, it was no wonder that the Thai people grieved long and genuinely for King Chulalongkorn when he died. October 23, the date of his death, is still a national holiday, in honour of one of Siam's greatest and most beloved kings.

Nationalism and Constitution (1910-1932)

King Chulalongkorn's son and successor Vajiravudh (Rama VI) was the first Thai king to have been educated abroad, in his case at Harrow School and Oxford University in England. King Vajiravudh (r. 1910-1925) was notable for his accomplishments as a poet, dramatist (in both English and Thai), and polemicist. He was a convinced nationalist and was the first person to try to instill a western-style nationalistic fervor in his subjects. Like his father, he was determined to modernize Siam while still upholding traditional Thai values and royal authority.

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King Vajiravudh chose to work on issues and problems that appealed to his personal interests, largely in the literary, educational, andking_vajiravudh
ideological fields. The King was also keenly interested in military affairs and formed his own paramilitary organization, the "Wild Tiger Corps," to inculcate nationalism and promote national unity. When the First World War broke out, he was determined to join the Allies in their struggle against Germany. His decision in 1917 to send Thai troops to fight in Europe was a felicitous piece of timing: although the Thai expeditionary force did not see much action. Siam's participation in the war on the Allied side earned the country and its king much praise and recognition from the international community. The major achievements of King Vajiravudh, however, lay in the area of education and related legislation. In 1913, he compelled his subjects by law to use surnames and thus be no different from the Western nations. As a measure of his personal commitment to this idea, he himself coined hundreds of family names. In 1921, the King issued a law on compulsory primary education, which was the first step in Siam 5 path towards universal primary education. Two of present-day Thailand's most prestigious educational establishments were founded by King Vajiravudh, Chulalongkorn University, Siam's first Western-style University, named in honour of King Chulalongkorn, and Vajiravudh College, a boarding school for boys modeled upon the English public school. The death of King Vajiravudh in 1925 meant that Prince Prajadhipok, his younger brother, succeeded to the throne since King Vajiravudh had no male heir. The new king (also known as Rama VII) began his reign at an unenviable juncture of both Thai and world history. The global economic depression of the late 1920's and early 1930's forced the Thai government to make economic measures that led to some discontentment. As for Siam's internal development, the dilemma about when or whether to institute wide-ranging political reforms became more acute during this reign.

King Prajadhipok was a liberal and a conscientious man. A soldier by training, he nevertheless worked hard in addressing himself to Siam's problems, and his comments on various matters of government and administration in the state papers of this reign reveal him to be an admirable ruler in many ways. He was well aware of the desirability of establishing Siam in the international political community as a country with a "modern" and "liberal" constitutional system of government. The King, however, was still in the process of trying to convince the more conservative of his relatives in the Supreme State Council about the need to promulgate a constitution when matters were taken out of his hands by the bloodless "revolution", or coup d'etat, of 24 June 1932.

The 1932 coup d'etat put an end to absolute monarchy in Siam. Prior to this event, there had been an increased political awareness among the middle-ranking military officers and civilian officials who were to become the major figures in the coup group, which called itself the People's Party. Many of these men had been educated abroad, principally in France and Britain. There had also been a degree of discontent within the military and civilian bureaucracy resulting from. the royal government's retrenchment program, which in turn had been dictated by the worldwide economic depression. Government expenditures had been cut by one-third in early 1932, salaries were also cut, and many government officials lost their jobs. All these factors were instrumental in motivating the coup group of 1932 to initiate a new system of government. A formal constitution was promulgated and a National Assembly set up. Siam thus became a constitutional monarchy without any bloodshed or wholesale changes in its society and economy

After 1932: The Ascendancy of the Military

After June 1932, the country 5 governments alternated between democratically-elected and differing degrees of military rule. It was a period of transition, of trying to balance new political ideals and expectations with the pragmatism of power politics.

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King Prajadhipok abdicated in March 1935, feeling that he could no longer cooperate with the People's Party in a constructive way. He went into exile in England, where he died in 1941. The new king was Ananda Mahidol, the ten-year-old son of Prince Mahidol of Songkla, one of King Chulalongkorn's sons. The extreme youth of the new king, and his absence from the country while pursuing his studies in Switzerland, left the People's Party with a relatively free hand in shaping the destiny of the kingdom. During the 1940's leading figures of the People's Party dominated Thai politics. Two men in particular stood out: the civilian leader Dr. Pridi Panomyong and the young officer Luang Pibulsongkram (later Field Marshal P. Pibulsongkram). While the country experimented with various forms and degrees of democracy and several constitutions were promulgated, the two groups which held power were, alternately, the military and the civilian bureaucratic elite. Dr. Pridi Panomyong tried to lay down the foundations of a socialistic society with his economic plan of 1933. This plan was considered to be too radical. It proposed to nationalize all land and labor resources and to have most people working for the state as government employees. These ideas were unacceptable to the more conservative elements both within the People's Party and also in the elite as a whole, which did not desire any sweeping structural changes in Thai society. Dr. Pridi was forced into temporary exile, and the National Assembly prorogued.

After 1933, Siam entered a long period of military ascendancy. The army that had been so carefully and systematically built up during the reign of King Chulalongkorn became a formidable institution. During King Vajiravudh's reign, in 1912, some officers had tried unsuccessfully to stage a coup d'etat, wanting to see Siam progress into modernity in terms of politics and government. In 1932 some senior and middle-ranking military officers had formed part of the People's Party. The most dynamic of these military officers was undoubtedly Luang Pibulsongkram, who came into prominence after he had played a crucial role in the defeat of a royalist counter-revolution in 1933. The Thai army was to be Field Marshal P. Pibulsongkram's power base during the next 25 years. The military had one vital advantage over other groups: an organizational strength born of being a strict and tightly-knit hierarchy. Once the military decided to involve itself in politics, it was inevitable that it would prove to be a dominant force.

The first governments of the post-1932 era tried to keep a balance between civilian and military elements so as not to alienate any important group. For instance, in 1934 the exiled Dr. Pridi Panomyong was brought back into the administration as Interior Minister largely because the Prime Minister, General Phraya Phahol Pholphayuhasena, was eager to preserve civilian support for his government. Phraya Phahol also used Luang Pibulsongkram as a minister. During the period 1934-1938 both Dr. Pridi and Luang Pibulsongkram strove hard to consolidate their political power, the former through the Thai intelligentsia and the latter through influence over the army. When Phraya Phahol resigned in 1938 Luang Pibulsongkram succeeded him as Prime Minister, signifying that the military had gained a decisive advantage in the struggle for dominance in Thai politics.

In conformity with his view that a strongly enforced discipline backed by military strength was vital for Thailand's development he aimed atking-ananda-mahidol
focusing nationalism to maximum intensity. He continued this policy until, in 1941, he was forced into collaboration with the occupying Japanese. Dr. Pridi, during the same period, was sympathetic to the Allies and worked with Thailand's underground resistance movement. Towards the end of World War II, Field Marshal Pibul and his collaborative government resigned and Khuang Apaivongse became the Prime Minister in 1944. In the following year King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) returned from Switzerland, and Dr. Pridi became Prime Minister in 1946. But the unexpected death of the young King generated popular dissatisfaction and once again the tide turned. Dr. Pridi was forced into exile and Field Marshal Pibul again assumed power. This time his period of leadership was to be a long one. It would witness the establishment of parliamentary democracy in Thailand and see the emergence of the country's students as a powerful political force whose protests contributed to Field Marshal Pibul's eventual overthrow.

In 1946, Thailand joined the United Nations, recognizing the future importance of the UN’s role in securing world peace. In 1950, shortly after the outbreak of war in Korea. Thailand announced its support of United Nations intervention and promptly sent a 2,000-man fighting force, naval and air force contingents, and several tons of rice.

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Bhumibol Adulyadej (born 5 December 1927), is the current King of Thailand. Publicly acclaimed "the Great", he is also known as Rama IX. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he is the world's longest-serving current head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. Bhumibol was crowned King of Thailand on 5 May 1950 at the Royal Palace in Bangkok where he pledged that he would "reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people". Notable elements associated with the coronation included the Bahadrabith Throne beneath the Great White Umbrella of State; and he was presented with the royal regalia and utensils. Economically, the establishment of the People's Republic of China discouraged Thailand's Chinese from sending monthly remittances and encouraged local assimilation, which in turn stimulated local growth and profits. As world demand for food products rose, the countryside began diversifying away from the rice monoculture. And in response to local demand, enterprising producers founded light manufacturing industries on city and town outskirts.In 1957, the premiership changed from Field Marshal Pibul to Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat. Under his vigorous personal leadership, the government apparently satisfied the requirements of the ever-burgeoning population by emphasizing economic development and national security. As a consequence of these decisive actions and policies, Field Marshal Sarit provided the nation with a sound infrastructure which successive governments could easily continue and adapt.

Following the sudden death of Field Marshal Sarit in 1963, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn was appointed Prime Minister. The government led by Field Marshal Thanom not only concentrated on internal social and economic development but also promoted the stability of the region as a whole. Indeed, it was primarily through the initiative of Thailand that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967 in accordance with the Bangkok Declaration. However, in response to unprecedented political confusion caused by a student uprising in October 1973 Field Marshal Thanom relinquished the premiership in favor of Professor Sanya Dharmasakti.

During the period 1973-1976, the Thai political area witnessed successive governments headed by Professor Sanya Dharmasakti, M.R. Seni Pramoj, M.R. Kukrit Pramoj, again M.R. Seni Pramoj, and finally Dr. Tanin Kraivixian, each of whom strove to develop the country in its own way.

In 1977, General Kriengsak Chamanand became the Prime Minister. His government maintained political stability, which successfully encouraged foreigners to invest in Thailand.

General Prem Tinsulanonda became premier in 1979 and headed four governments between that time and 1988, when he declined another term. During these years, insurgency-caused conflicts were greatly reduced and many groups of insurgents emerged from their jungle hideouts to peacefully surrender to government officials. Moreover, national stability and successful foreign policies brought about a great many socio-political and economic developments. In 1982 Thailand celebrated the 2nd centennial anniversary of Bangkok.

An elected Prime Minister, Major General Chatichai Choonhavan, took office in August of 1988. During his first year he continued the successful economic policies that have brought Thailand to the status of a newly industrialized country and was also active in foreign affairs, particularly those of neighboring Indochina.

In 1992 the military coup d'etat led by General Sunthorn Kongsompong ousted the democratically elected Chatichai cabinet. Mr. Anand Panyarachun, a diplomat and well-known businessman was appointed as the next Prime Minister. He led his cabinet as an interim government until his term ended in accordance with the constitution. A general election took place and resulted in an appointment of General Suchinda Kraprayoon as the Prime Minister. The cabinet led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon was ended by a political mass demonstration for democracy. After resignation of General Suchinda Kraprayoon, Mr. Anand Panyarachun was for the second time appointed as the Prime Minister. In his second period, Mr. Anand Panyarachun came with several liberalization programs for the enhancement of economic growth and the general advancements of the country. He has also introduced a nationwide reform and revised the outmoded laws of the country resulting in greater facilitation and greater assurance to the business community.

The Anand II interim cabinet came to an end when Chuan Leekpai won the election in 1992 and was Prime Minister from 1992 to 1995. In mid 1995, Banharn Silpa-Archa won the election and became Prime Minister until September, 1996. He was replaced by Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, who became Prime Minister until November, 1997. In November, 1997 Mr. Leekpai returned and became the Prime Minister.

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