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Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram ( th, แปลก พิบูลสงคราม ; alternatively transcribed as ''Pibulsongkram'' or ''Pibulsonggram''; 14 July 1897 – 11 June 1964), locally known as Marshal P. ( th, จอมพล ป.;), contemporarily known as Phibun (''Pibul'') in the
West West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass The points of the compass are an evenly spaced set of horizontal directions (or azimuth An azimuth (; from Arabic اَلسُّمُوت ''as-sumūt'', 'the di ...

West
, was a Thai military officer and politician who served as the
Prime Minister of Thailand The prime minister of Thailand ( th, นายกรัฐมนตรี; ; , literally 'chief minister of state') is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive Execut ...
from 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to 1957. Phibunsongkhram was a member of the Royal Siamese Army wing of
Khana Ratsadon The People's Party, known in Thai as Khana Ratsadon ( th, คณะราษฎร, ), was a Siamese group of military and civil officers, and later a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compet ...
, the first political party in Thailand, and a leader of the
Siamese revolution of 1932 #REDIRECT Siamese revolution of 1932#REDIRECT Siamese revolution of 1932 The Siamese revolution of 1932 or Siamese coup d'état of 1932 ( th, การปฏิวัติสยาม พ.ศ. 2475 or ) was a coup d'état A coup d'état (; ...
, transforming Thailand from an
absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocracy, autocratic authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monar ...
to a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
. Phibun became the third Prime Minister of Thailand in 1938 as Commander of the Royal Siamese Army, established a ''de facto'' military dictatorship inspired by the
Italian fascist Italian Fascism ( it, fascismo italiano), also known as Classical Fascism or simply Fascism, is the original fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppres ...
Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
, promoted
Thai nationalism Thai nationalism is a political ideology involving the application of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in ...
and
sinophobia Anti-Chinese sentiment or Sinophobia (from Late Latin Late Latin ( la, Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the written Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European ...
, and allied Thailand with
Imperial Japan The was a historical nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...

Imperial Japan
in
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. Phibun launched a
modernization Modernization theory is used to explain the process of modernization within societies. Modernization theory originated from the ideas of German sociologist Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Soci ...
campaign known as the Thai Cultural Revolution that included a series of cultural mandates, changing the country's name from "Siam" to "Thailand", and promoting the common
Thai language Thai,In Thai: ''Phasa Thai'' or Central Thai (historically Siamese;Although "Thai" and "Central Thai" has become more common, the older term "Siamese" is still used by linguists, especially to distinguish it from other Tai languages Tai or TAI ...

Thai language
. Phibun was ousted as prime minister by the
National Assembly In politics, a national assembly is either a unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media L ...
in 1944 and replaced by members of the
Free Thai Movement Free Thai Movement ( th, เสรีไทย; ) was a Thai underground resistance movement A resistance movement is an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to withstand the legally established government or an o ...
, until returning to power in the Siamese coup d'état of 1947, led by the Coup Group. Phibun aligned Thailand with
anti-communism Anti-communism is a political movement A political movement is a collective attempt by a group of people to change government policy or social values. Political movements are usually in opposition to an element of the status quo  and are o ...

anti-communism
in the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
, entered the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
under the
United Nations Command United Nations Command (UNC or UN Command) is the multinational military force that supported the Republic of Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial b ...
, and abandoned fascism for a façade of
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
. Phibun's second term as prime minister was plagued by
political instability Political decay is a political theory, originally described by Samuel P. Huntington Samuel Phillips Huntington (April 18, 1927 – December 24, 2008) was an American political scientist, adviser and academic. He spent more than half a century ...
and was subject to several attempted coup d'etats to remove him, including the Army General Staff plot in 1948, the Palace Rebellion in 1949, and the
Manhattan Rebellion The Manhattan Rebellion ( th, กบฏแมนฮัตตัน) was a failed coup attempt by officers of the Royal Thai Navy The Royal Thai Navy ( Abrv: RTN, ทร.; th, กองทัพเรือไทย, ), Thailand ) , ro ...
in 1951. Phibun attempted to transform Thailand into an electoral democracy from the mid-1950s but was overthrown in 1957 and entered
exile To be in exile means to be forced away from one's home (i.e. village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scien ...

exile
in Japan, where he died in 1964. Phibun is the longest-serving Prime Minister of Thailand to date, at fifteen years and one month.


Early years

Plaek Khittasangkha ( th, แปลก ขีตตะสังคะ ) was born on 14 July 1897 in Mueang Nonthaburi,
Nonthaburi Province Nonthaburi ( th, นนทบุรี, ) is one of the central provinces (''changwat'') of Thailand ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capita ...
in the Kingdom of Siam to Keed Khittasangkha and his wife. Plaek's paternal grandfather was said to be a
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, Brit ...

Cantonese
-speaking
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...

Chinese
immigrant. However, the family was completely assimilated as Central Thai people and Plaek does not pass the criteria for being Chinese, which is why he could later successfully conceal and deny his Chinese roots. Plaek's parents owned a
durian The durian () is the edible fruit of several tree species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defin ...

durian
orchard and he received his given name – meaning 'strange' in English – because of his unusual appearance as a child. Plaek Khittasangkha studied at
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, an ...

Buddhist
temple schools, then was appointed to
Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy (CRMA) ( th, โรงเรียนนายร้อยพระจุลจอมเกล้า, translit=Roong riian naai rɔ́ɔi prá Jù-lá-jɔɔm-glâo or รร.จปร.) is the service academy ...
. He graduated in 1914 and was commissioned a
second lieutenant Second lieutenant is a junior Officer (armed forces), commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1a rank. Australia The rank of second lieutenant existed in the Colonial forces of Australia, military forces of ...
in the
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
. Following
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, he was sent to study
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
tactics in
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
. In 1928, as he rose in rank, he received the noble title '' Luang'' from
King Prajadhipok Prajadhipok ( th, ประชาธิปก; RTGS: ''Prachathipok''; 8 November 1893 – 30 May 1941), reigning title Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua, also Rama VII, was the seventh monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New Colleg ...
and became known as Luang Phibunsongkhram. He would later drop his ''Luang'' title, but permanently adopted Phibunsongkhram as his
surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt ...
.


1932 revolution

In 1932, Phibun was one of the leaders of the Royal Siamese Army branch of the
Khana Ratsadon The People's Party, known in Thai as Khana Ratsadon ( th, คณะราษฎร, ), was a Siamese group of military and civil officers, and later a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compet ...
(''People's Party''), a political organization that staged a ''
coup d'état A coup d'état (; French for "blow of state"), often shortened to coup in English, (also known as an overthrow) is a seizure and removal of a government and its powers. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a politic ...
'' which overthrew the
absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocracy, autocratic authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monar ...
in Siam and replaced it with a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
. Phibun, at the time a
lieutenant colonel Lieutenant colonel ( or ) is a rank of commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly orga ...

lieutenant colonel
, quickly rose to prominence in the military as a "man-on-horseback". The 1932 coup was followed by the
nationalization Nationalization (or nationalisation) is the process of transforming privately-owned asset In financial accounting Financial accounting is the field of accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communic ...
of some companies and increasing state control of the economy. The following year, Phibun and allied military officers successfully crushed the
Boworadet Rebellion The Boworadet rebellion (Thai language, Thai: กบฏบวรเดช; ; ) was a Thailand, Thai rebellion (or unsuccessful ''coup d'état'') led by royalist Prince Boworadet (1877-1947) in 1933, in consequence of the conflicts between the pre ...
, a royalist revolt led by
Prince Boworadet The Boworadet rebellion (Thai language, Thai: กบฏบวรเดช; ; ) was a Thailand, Thai rebellion (or unsuccessful ''coup d'état'') led by royalist Prince Boworadet (1877-1947) in 1933, in consequence of the conflicts between the prev ...

Prince Boworadet
. While King Prajadhipok was not involved in the rebellion, it marked the beginning of a slide which ended in his abdication and replacement by King
Ananda Mahidol Ananda Mahidol ( th, พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรเมนทรมหาอานันทมหิดล; ; 20 September 1925 – 9 June 1946), posthumous reigning title Phra Athamaramathibodin, was the eighth monarc ...

Ananda Mahidol
in 1935. The new king was still a child studying in
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
, and parliament appointed Colonel Prince Anuwatjaturong, Lieutenant Commander Prince
Aditya Dibabha Prince Aditya Dibabha ( th, อาทิตย์ทิพอาภา; ; ; 24 July 1900 – 19 May 1946) was a member of the Thai Royal Family and a Siamese political figure. He served as Chairman of the Regency Council between the years 1935 a ...
, and Chao Phraya Yommaraj (Pun Sukhum) as his
regent A regent (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...
s.


Prime Minister of Thailand


First premiership

On 16 December 1938, Phibun replaced Phraya Phahol as the
Prime Minister of Thailand The prime minister of Thailand ( th, นายกรัฐมนตรี; ; , literally 'chief minister of state') is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive Execut ...
and as the Commander of the Royal Siamese Army. Phibun became the ''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
''
dictator A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the ...
of Thailand and established a
military dictatorship A military dictatorship is a dictatorship in which the military exerts complete or substantial control over political authority, and the dictator is often a high-ranked military officer. The reverse situation is to have civilian control of the m ...
, consolidating his position by rewarding several members of his own army clique with influential positions in his government. After the revolution of 1932, the Thai government of Phraya Phahol was impressed by the success of the
March on Rome #REDIRECT March on Rome The March on Rome ( it, Marcia su Roma) was an organized mass demonstration in October 1922 which resulted in Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party (PNF) ascending to power in the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of I ...

March on Rome
of
Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
's
Italian Fascism Italian Fascism ( it, fascismo italiano), also known as Classical Fascism or simply Fascism, is the original fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism ...
movement. Phibun also seemed to be an admirer of the Italian fascism and sought to imitate the fascist Italian regime's cinema
propaganda Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to Social influence, influence an audience and further an Political agenda, agenda, which may not be Objectivity (journalism), objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a pa ...
, valued as one of the most powerful propaganda instruments of Italian political power. Its main purpose was to promote the ideologies of
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
and
militarism Militarism is the belief or the desire of a government or a people that a state should maintain a strong military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for w ...
, strengthening the unity and harmony of the state, and glorifying the policy of ruralisation in Italy and abroad. With the pro-
fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particular ...

fascist
leanings of Thai political leaders, Italian propaganda films including newsreels, documentaries, short films, and full-length feature films, such as Istituto Luce Cinecittà, were shown in Thailand during the
interwar period In the history of the 20th century, the Interwar period lasted from 11 November 1918 to 1 September 1939 (20 years, 9 months and 21 days), the end of the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as t ...
. Phibun adopted the Italian-style fascist salute, modeled on the
Roman salute The Roman salute ( it, saluto romano) or fascist salute ( it, saluto fascista) is a gesture A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication Nonverbal communication (NVC) is the transmission of messages or signals through a nonverbal pla ...

Roman salute
, and he used it during speeches. The salute was not compulsory in Thailand, and it was opposed by
Luang Wichitwathakan Major-General Luang (title), Luang Wichitwathakan (also known as just Wichit Wichitwathakan) (Thai alphabet, Thai หลวงวิจิตรวาทการ, วิจิตร วิจิตรวาทการ; Chinese language, Chinese ...
and many cabinet members as they believed it inappropriate for Thai culture. Together with Wichitwathakan, the Minister of Propaganda, he built a leadership cult in 1938 and thereafter. Photographs of Phibun were to be found everywhere, and those of the abdicated King Prajadhipok were banned. His quotes appeared in newspapers, were plastered on billboards, and were repeated over the radio.


Thai Cultural Revolution

Phibun immediately prioritized
Thai nationalism Thai nationalism is a political ideology involving the application of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in ...
to the point of
ultranationalism Ultranationalism is "extreme nationalism that promotes the interest of one state or people above all others", or simply "extreme devotion to one's own nation". When combined with the notion of national rebirth, ultranationalism is a key foundati ...
, and to support this policy he launched a series of major reforms known as the Thai Cultural Revolution to increase the pace of
modernisation Modernization theory is used to explain the process of modernization within societies. Modernization refers to a model of a progressive transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'Traditional society, traditional' to a 'modern' society. Modernization theory ...
in Thailand. His goal "Aimed to uplift the national spirit and moral code of the nation and instilling progressive tendencies and a newness into Thai life". A series of cultural mandates were issued by the government. These mandates encouraged all Thais to salute the flag in public places, know the new national anthem, and use the standardized
Thai language Thai,In Thai: ''Phasa Thai'' or Central Thai (historically Siamese;Although "Thai" and "Central Thai" has become more common, the older term "Siamese" is still used by linguists, especially to distinguish it from other Tai languages Tai or TAI ...

Thai language
, not regional
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
s or languages. People were encouraged to adopt
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

Western
attire as opposed to traditional clothing styles. Similarly, people were encouraged to eat with a Western-style eating utensils, such as
fork In cutlery or kitchenware, a fork (from la, furca 'pitchfork') is a utensil, now usually made of metal, whose long handle terminates in a head that branches into several narrow and often slightly curved tine (structural), tines with which one ...

fork
and
spoon A spoon is a utensil consisting of a small shallow bowl (also known as a head), oval or round, at the end of a handle. A type of cutlery (sometimes called flatware in the United States), especially as part of a table setting, place setting, it i ...

spoon
, rather than with their hands as was customary in Thai culture at the time. Phibun saw these policies as necessary, in the interest of
progressivism Progressivism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...
, to change Thailand in the minds of foreigners from an undeveloped country into a civilized and modern one. Phibun's administration encouraged
economic nationalism Economic nationalism, also called economic patriotism and economic populism, is an ideology that favors state interventionism over other market mechanisms, with policies such as domestic control of the economy, labor, and capital formation Capit ...
and espoused staunchly anti-Teochew sentiment. Sinophobic policies were imposed by the government to reduce the economic power of Siam's Teochew-Hoklo origin and encouraged the Central Thai people to purchase as many Thai products as possible. In a speech in 1938, Luang Wichitwathakan, himself of one-quarter Chinese ancestry, followed
Rama VI Vajiravudh ( th, วชิราวุธ, , 1 January 188126 November 1925), was the sixth Monarchy of Thailand, monarch of Rattanakosin Kingdom, Siam (Rama VI) under the Chakri dynasty, ruling from 1910 until his death in 1925. King Vajiravud ...
's book ''Jews of the East'' in comparing the Teochew in Siam to the
Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...

Jew
s in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
, who at the time were harshly repressed. On 24 June 1939, Phibun changed the country's official
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
name from "Siam" to "Thailand" at Wichitwathakan's urging. The name "Siam" was an
exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
of unknown and probably foreign origin, which conflicted with Phibun's nationalist policies. In 1941, in the midst of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, Phibun
decreed 1 January
decreed 1 January
as the official start of the new year instead of the traditional ''
Songkran Songkran is a term derived from the Sanskrit word, ' (or, more specifically, ') and used to refer to the traditional New Year New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's calendar era, year count incr ...
'' date on 13 April.


Franco-Thai War

Phibun exploited the
Fall of France The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of German ...
in June 1940 and the
Japanese invasion of French Indochina The was a short undeclared military confrontation between Empire of Japan, Japan and Vichy France, France in northern French Indochina. Fighting lasted from 22 to 26 September 1940; the same time as the Battle of South Guangxi in the Second S ...
in September 1940 to advance Thai interests in
French Indochina French Indochina (previously spelled as French Indo-China; french: Indochine française; vi, Đông Dương thuộc Pháp, , lit. 'East Ocean under French Control; km, សហភាពឥណ្ឌូចិន), officially known as the Indochi ...
following a border dispute with
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
. Phibun believed Thailand could recover territories ceded to France by King
Rama V Chulalongkorn ( th, จุฬาลงกรณ์, 20 September 1853 – 23 October 1910) was the fifth monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or ...

Rama V
because the French would avoid armed confrontation or offer serious resistance. Thailand fought against
Vichy France Vichy France (french: Régime de Vichy; 10 July 1940 – 9 August 1944) is the common name of the French State (') headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Pétain (24 April 1856 – 23 July 1951), generally known a ...
over the disputed areas from October 1940 to May 1941. The technologically and numerically superior Thai force invaded French Indochina and attacked military targets in major cities. Despite Thai successes, the French tactical victory at the
Battle of Ko Chang The Battle of Ko Chang took place on 17 January 1941 during the Franco-Thai War in which a flotilla of French warships attacked a smaller force of Thai vessels, including a coastal defence ship. The battle resulted in a tactical victory by the ...
prompted intervention from the
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

Japanese
, who mediated an
armistice An armistice is a formal agreement Agreement or concord (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates. It is an instance of inflection, and usually involves makin ...

armistice
where the French were forced to cede the disputed territories to Thailand.


Alliance with Japan

Phibun and the Thai public viewed the outcome of the Franco-Thai War as a victory, but it resulted in the rapidly expanding Japanese gaining the right to occupy French Indochina. Although Phibun was ardently pro-Japanese, he now shared a border with them and felt threatened with a potential Japanese invasion. Phibun's administration also realised that Thailand would have to fend for itself if a Japanese invasion came, considering its deteriorating relationships with Western powers in the area. When the Japanese invaded Thailand on 8 December 1941, (because of the
international date line The International Date Line (IDL) is an internationally accepted demarcation on the Earth#Surface, surface of Earth, running between the South Pole and North Pole and serving as the boundary between one calendar day and the next. It passes ...

international date line
this occurred an hour and a half before the attack on Pearl Harbor), Phibun was reluctantly forced to order a general ceasefire after just one day of resistance and allow the Japanese armies to use the country as a base for their invasions of the British Empire, British colonies of British rule in Burma, Burma and British Malaya, Malaya. Hesitancy, however, gave way to enthusiasm after the Japanese rolled through the Malayan Campaign in a "Bicycle infantry#World Wars, Bicycle Blitzkrieg" with surprisingly little resistance. On 21 December Phibun signed a military alliance with Japan. The following month, on 25 January 1942, Phibun declared war on Britain and the United States. Union of South Africa, South Africa and New Zealand#Foreign relations and military, New Zealand declared war on Thailand on the same day. Australia followed soon after. Phibun purged all who opposed the Japanese alliance from his government. Pridi Banomyong was appointed acting regent for the absent King
Ananda Mahidol Ananda Mahidol ( th, พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรเมนทรมหาอานันทมหิดล; ; 20 September 1925 – 9 June 1946), posthumous reigning title Phra Athamaramathibodin, was the eighth monarc ...

Ananda Mahidol
, while Direk Jayanama, the prominent foreign minister who had advocated continued resistance against the Japanese, was later sent to Tokyo as an ambassador. The United States considered Thailand to be a puppet state of Japan and refused to declare war on it. When the Allies of World War II, Allies were victorious, the United States blocked British efforts to impose a punitive peace.


Removal

In 1944, as the Japanese neared defeat and the underground anti-Japanese
Free Thai Movement Free Thai Movement ( th, เสรีไทย; ) was a Thai underground resistance movement A resistance movement is an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to withstand the legally established government or an o ...
steadily grew in strength, the
National Assembly In politics, a national assembly is either a unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media L ...
ousted Phibun as prime minister and his six-year reign as the military commander-in-chief came to an end. Phibun's resignation was partly forced by two grandiose plans: one was to relocate the capital from Bangkok to a remote site in the jungle near Phetchabun Province, Phetchabun in north central Thailand, and another was to build a "Buddhist city" in Saraburi Province, Saraburi. Announced at a time of severe economic difficulty, these ideas turned many government officers against him. After his resignation, Phibun went to stay at the army headquarters in Lopburi Province, Lopburi. Khuang Aphaiwong replaced Phibun as prime minister, ostensibly to continue relations with the Japanese, but, in reality, to secretly assist the Free Thai Movement. At the war's end, Phibun was put on trial at Allied insistence on charges of having committed war crimes, mainly that of collaborating with the Axis powers. However, he was acquitted amid intense pressure as public opinion was still favourable to him, as he was thought to have done his best to protect Thai interests. Phibun's alliance with Japan had Thailand take advantage of Japanese support to expand Thai territory into Malaya and Burma.


Second premiership

In November 1947, Royal Thai Army units under the control of Phibun known as the Coup Group carried out the Siamese coup d'état of 1947 which forced then-Prime Minister Thawan Thamrongnawasawat to resign. The rebels installed Khuang Aphaiwong again as prime minister as the military coup risked international disapproval. Pridi Phanomyong was persecuted but was aided by British and US intelligence officers, and thus managed to escape the country. On 8 April 1948, Phibun assumed the position of Prime Minister after the military forced Khuang out of office. Phibun's second premiership was notably different, abandoning the fascist styling and rhetoric that characterised his first premiership, and instead promoted a façade of
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
. The beginning of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
saw Phibun align Thailand with the anti-communist camp, and received large quantities of US aid following Thailand's entry into the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
as part of the
United Nations Command United Nations Command (UNC or UN Command) is the multinational military force that supported the Republic of Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial b ...
's multi-national allied force against the communist forces of North Korea and the People's Republic of China. Phibun's anti-Chinese campaign was resumed, with the government restricting Chinese immigration and undertaking various measures to restrict economic domination of the Thai market by those of Chinese descent. Chinese schools and associations were once again shut down. Despite open pro-Western and anti-Chinese policies, in the late-1950s Phibun arranged to send two of the children of Sang Phathanothai, his closest advisor, to China with the intention of establishing a backdoor channel for dialogue between China and Thailand. Sirin Phathanothai, aged eight, and her brother, aged twelve, were sent to be brought up under the assistants of Premier Zhou Enlai as his Ward (law), wards. Sirin later wrote ''The Dragon's Pearl'', an autobiography telling her experiences growing up in the 1950s and 1960s among the leaders of China. Phibun was reportedly thrilled by the democracy and freedom of speech he had witnessed during a long trip abroad to the United States and Europe in 1955. Following the example of Hyde Park, London, Hyde Park in London, he set up a "Speakers' Corner" at the Sanam Luang in Bangkok. Phibun began to democratize Thailand by allowing the formation of new political parties, amnesty, amnestied political opponents, and planned free elections. Phibun founded and became chairman of his own new political party, the Seri Manangkhasila Party, which was dominated by the most influential in the military and the government. The Employment Act of January 1957 legalized trade unions, limited weekly working hours, regulated holidays and overtime, and instituted health and safety regulations. The International Workers' Day became a public holiday.


Power play

Phibun's second premiership was longer but plagued with
political instability Political decay is a political theory, originally described by Samuel P. Huntington Samuel Phillips Huntington (April 18, 1927 – December 24, 2008) was an American political scientist, adviser and academic. He spent more than half a century ...
, and there were numerous attempts to oppose his rule and remove him from power. Unlike his first premiership, Phibun faced noticeable opposition from people connected to the Free Thai Movement due to his alliance with the Japanese, including from within the military. Additionally, Phibun was indebted to the powerful Coup Group that had returned him to power. On 1 October 1948, the unsuccessful Army General Staff Plot was launched by members of the army general staff to topple his government, but failed when discovered by the Coup Group. As a result, more than fifty army and reserve officers and several prominent supporters of Pridi Phanomyong were arrested. On 26 February 1949, the Palace Rebellion was another failed coup attempt against Phibun to restore Pridi Phanomyong by occupying the Grand Palace in Bangkok and declaring a new government led by Direk Jayanama, a close associate of Pridi. The civilian rebels were quickly ousted from the palace, but fighting broke out between military rebels and loyalists which lasted for over a week. On 29 June 1951, Phibun was attending a ceremony aboard the ''Manhattan Rebellion#The Rebellion), Manhattan'', a US dredge boat, when he was taken hostage by a group of Royal Thai Navy officers, who then quickly confined him aboard the warship ''Sri Ayutthaya''. Negotiations between the government and the coup organizers swiftly broke down, leading to violent street fighting in Bangkok between the navy and the army, which was supported by the Royal Thai Air Force. Phibun was able to escape and swim back to shore when the ''Sri Ayutthaya'' was bombed by the air force, and with their hostage gone, the navy were forced to lay down their arms. On 29 November 1951, the Silent Coup (Thailand), Silent Coup was staged by the Coup Group and it consolidated the military's hold on the country. It reinstated the Constitution of Thailand#1932 constitution, Constitution of 1932, which effectively eliminated the Senate of Thailand, Senate, established a unicameral legislature composed equally of elected and government-appointed members, and allowed serving military officers to supplement their commands with important Minister (government), ministerial portfolios. In 1956, it became clearer that Plaek, allied to Phao, was losing to another influential group led by Sarit which consisted of "Sakdina" (royalties and royalists). Both Plaek and Phao intended to bring home Pridi Banomyong to clear his name from mystery around death of King Rama VIII. However, the US government disapproved, and they canceled the plan.


1957 coup and exile

In February 1957, public opinion turned against Phibun at the end of his second term when his party was suspected of fraudulent practices during an election, including the intimidation of the opposition, buying votes, and electoral fraud. In addition, critics of Phibun accused him of a lack of respect for the Thai monarchy, as the anti-aristocratic prime minister had always sought to limit the role of the monarchy to a constitutional minimum and had taken on religious functions that traditionally belonged to the monarch. For example, Phibun led the celebrations of the 2500th anniversary of Buddhism in 1956/57 instead of the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was openly critical of Phibun . On 16 September 1957, Phibun was eventually overthrown in a coup d'etat by members of the Royal Thai Army under the command of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, who had earlier sworn to be Phibun's most loyal subordinate. Sarit was supported by many royalists who wanted to regain a foothold, and there were rumors that the United States was "deeply involved" in the coup. Phibun was then forced into
exile To be in exile means to be forced away from one's home (i.e. village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scien ...

exile
after the coup, first fleeing to Cambodia, but later settled in Japan after Sarit's new regime rejected his requests to allow him to return to Thailand. In 1960, Phibun briefly travelled to India to be a monk in the Buddhist temple in Bodhgaya.


Death

Phibun died on 11 June 1964 from heart failure while in exile in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. After his death, Phibun's ashes were transferred to Thailand in an urn and decorated with military honors in Wat Phra Sri Mahathat (also called "The Temple of Democracy") he had founded in Bang Khen.


Honours


Noble titles

* 7 May 1928: '' Luang Phibunsongkhram'' (''หลวงพิบูลสงคราม'') * 15 May 1942: Abolition of nobility


Military rank

* 1916 - Second lieutenant * 1920 - Lieutenant * 1927 - Captain * 1930 - Major * 1933 - Lieutenant colonel * 1934 - Colonel * 1939 - Major General, Rear Admiral, Air Vice Marshal * 1941 - Field Marshal, Admiral of the Fleet, Thai military ranks, Marshal of the Royal Thai Air Force * 1955 - Volunteer Defense Corps (Thailand), Volunteer Defense Corps General


Thai decorations

Plaek Phibunsongkhram received the following royal decorations in the Thai Honours Order of Precedence, Honours System of Thailand: * 1937 - Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand * 1940 - Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of The Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant * 1941 - Knight of The Ancient and Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems * 1942 - Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of The Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao * 1942 - The Ratana Varabhorn Order of Merit


Foreign honours

* 1939 - 1st Class of the Order of the German Eagle * 1942 - Grand Cordon (1st Class) of the Order of the Rising Sun * 1955 - Raja of the Order of Sikatuna(GCS)ราชกิจจานุเบกษา
แจ้งความสำนักคณะรัฐมนตรี เรื่อง พระราชทานพระบรมราชานุญาตประดับเครื่องอิสริยาภรณ์ต่างประเทศ
เล่ม ๗๒ ตอนที่ ๖๓ ง หน้า ๒๐๘๕, ๙ สิงหาคม ๒๔๙๘
* 1939 - Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George(GCMG) * 1939 - Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus * 1955 - Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit * 1955 - Grand Cross with White Decoration of the Crosses of Military Merit, Order of Military Meritราชกิจจานุเบกษา
แจ้งความสำนักคณะรัฐมนตรี เรื่อง พระราชทานพระบรมราชานุญาตประดับเครื่องอิสริยาภรณ์ต่างประเทศ
เล่ม ๗๒ ตอนที่ ๖๓ ง หน้า ๒๐๘๕, ๙ สิงหาคม ๒๔๙๘


Academic rank

* 1939 Academic ranks in Thailand, Adjunct Professor of Thammasat University


See also

* History of Thailand (1932–1973) * Saharat Thai Doem * Nitya Pibulsonggram * Ramwong * Thai cultural mandates


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * *


External links

* Duncan Stearn:A Slice of Thai History: The Japanese invasion of Thailand, 8 December 194
Pattaya Mail - Pattaya's First English Language Newspaper
(part one
Columns
(part two
Columns
(part three) * {{DEFAULTSORT:Phibunsongkhram, Plaek 1897 births 1964 deaths Cantonese people Chiefs of Defence Forces (Thailand), Plaek Phibunsongkhram Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy alumni, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Commanders-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Exiled politicians Field marshals of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Grand Crosses 1st class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Honorary Knights Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George People's Party (Thailand) politicians, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Chula Chom Klao, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Knights of the Ratana Varabhorn Order of Merit, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Leaders who took power by coup Luang (nobility), Plaek Phibunsongkhram Marshals of the Royal Thai Air Force, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Military history of Thailand during World War II Ministers of Commerce of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Ministers of Culture of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Ministers of Defence of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Ministers of Education of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Ministers of Finance of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Ministers of Interior of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram People from Nonthaburi Province, Plaek Phibunsongkhram People of the Siamese revolution of 1932, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Prime Ministers of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Refugees in Japan Royal Thai Air Force air marshals, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Royal Thai Air Force personnel, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Royal Thai Army personnel, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Royal Thai Navy personnel, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai academics, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai admirals, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai anti-communists, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai collaborators with Imperial Japan, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai exiles, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai expatriates in Japan, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai fascists, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai generals, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai military personnel, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai nationalists, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai people of Mon descent, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai politicians of Chinese descent, Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai revolutionaries, Plaek Phibunsongkhram World War II political leaders