Chavalit Yongchaiyudh


Chavalit Yongchaiyudh ( th, ชวลิต ยงใจยุทธ, , ; born 15 May 1932), also known as "Big Jiew" (, , ), is a
Thai Thai or THAI may refer to: * Of or from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia ** Thai people, the dominant ethnic group of Thailand ** Thai language, a Tai-Kadai language spoken mainly in and around Thailand *** Thai script *** Thai (Unicode block) ...

politician and retired army officer. From 1986 to 1990 he was the
Commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Image:CIC-USS-CarlVinson-2001.jpg, A watchstander at her station in the combat information center of USS Carl Vinson, USS ''Carl Vinson'' in the ...
of the
Royal Thai Army Royal may refer to: People * Royal (name)Royal can be a surname or a given name. Bearers include: Surname * Billy Joe Royal (1942–2015), American country music and pop singer * Calvin Royal III, American ballet dancer * Darrell Royal (1924 ...
(RTA), and Supreme Commander of the
Royal Thai Armed Forces The Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTARF) ( th, กองทัพไทย; ) are the armed forces of the Kingdom of Thailand. The nominal Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, head of the Thai Armed Forces (จอมทัพไทย; ) is the King ...
from 1987 to 1990. In 1990 he founded the
New Aspiration Party The New Aspiration Party (''Phak Khwam Wang Mai th, พรรคความหวังใหม่'') is a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. I ...
which he led until 2002. He was
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern A ...

's 22nd Prime Minister from 1996 to 1997. At various times he has held the positions of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Labour and Leader of the Opposition.

Education and military career

Chavalit is of Sino-Thai and
Lao__NOTOC__ Lao may refer to: Laos * Something of, from, or related to Laos, a country in Southeast Asia * Lao people (people from Laos, or of Lao descent) * The Lao language * Lao script, the writing system used to write the Lao language ** Lao (Un ...
descent. His father was an infantry captain. Chavalit attended
Triam Udom Suksa School Triam Udom Suksa School ( th, โรงเรียนเตรียมอุดมศึกษา, ; lit.'university-preparatory school') is a State school, state school in central Bangkok, Thailand. It admits Education in Thailand, upper-seconda ...

Triam Udom Suksa School
and graduated from
Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School The Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School or AFAPS (Thai: โรงเรียนเตรียมทหาร abbreviated รร.ตท.) is a military academy in Nakhon Nayok Province, providing an education equivalent to the last two year ...
Class 1, same class as
Surayud Chulanont Surayud Chulanont ( th, สุรยุทธ์ จุลานนท์, , ; born 28 August 1943) is a Thai politician. He was the Prime Minister of Thailand The prime minister of Thailand ( th, :wikt:นายกรัฐมนตรี, ...
, and
Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy (CRMA) ( th, โรงเรียนนายร้อยพระจุลจอมเกล้า, Rongreiyn nayroy phra chulachomklao or รร.จปร.) is the service academy of Royal Thai Army (RTA). ...
, being appointed second lieutenant in 1953. He served in the RTA
Signal CorpsA signal corps is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, ...
and completed advanced training courses at the RTA Signal Corps School, as well as at
Fort Monmouth Fort Monmouth is a former installation of the Department of the Army in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The post is surrounded by the communities of Eatontown, Tinton Falls and Oceanport, New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in ...
, a US Army Signal Corps School, and with the US IX Corps in
Okinawa is a prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Th ...

. In 1963 he graduated from the RTA Command and General Staff College, and one year later from the
United States Army Command and General Staff College The United States Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC or, obsolete, USACGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is a graduate school File:CCMDonation49.JPG, Student receives degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Ed ...
Fort Leavenworth Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army installation located in Leavenworth County, Kansas Leavenworth County (county code LV) is located in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known a ...
. During the 1960s and 1970s, Chavalit served in the communist insurgency suppression campaign in the jungles of Thailand, and prepared Thai soldiers for their operations in the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars and the Cold War , image = VNWarMontage.png , image_size = 300px , caption = Clockwise, from top left: U.S. ...
. During the period after the October 1973 popular uprising, he was considered close to the ''Thahan Prachathippatai'' ("Democratic Soldiers") group, even though he did not openly identify as a member of the group. In 1979, Chavalit was promoted to major-general and Director of Army Operations. Intending to outwit
Communist Party of Thailand
Communist Party of Thailand
(CPT) guerillas, he created the pro-government ''
Thahan Phran The Thahan Phran (ทหารพราน; literally "hunter soldiers"; AKA Thai Rangers) AKA the Royal Thai Paramilitary Force is a paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the military, for ...
'' ("hunter soldiers"), paramilitary units who would use guerilla tactics against the CPT. They took over a significant share of the army's counterinsurgency missions by 1982. However, Chavalit believed that the communists could not be defeated by purely military means, but that combating the political, economic and social causes of the insurgency was also necessary to destroy their popular support. He helped to author cabinet orders 66/2523 (1980) and 65/2525 (1982) of Prem Tinsulanonda's government, which offered amnesty and a return to civil life to surrendering communist fighters. The orders contributed significantly to the demise of the CPT and the end of the insurgency. In 1982, Chavalit was promoted to lieutenant-general and assistant chief-of-staff, and one year later deputy chief-of-staff of the army. Chavalit's rise to the army's top posts was unusual for a signal corps officer, as its leading positions were traditionally reserved for infantrymen, artillerymen, and "cavalrymen" (i.e., tankers). He owed his exceptional career partly to his close relationship to Prime Minister Prem, being one of his core supporters in the army, but also to his military, strategic, and political acumen. In 1986 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the RTA, and one year later the supreme commander of the armed forces. Under his leadership, the army began projects for rural development. These included the ''Isan Khiao'' ("Green Isan") programme in the underdeveloped Isan, northeastern region, and the ''Khwam Wang Mai'' ("New Hope") programme in the conflict-ridden Southern Thailand, southern provinces. These projects were based on the ideas of the former "Democratic Soldiers" and cabinet order no. 66/2523: that economic development and relief of regional disparities involved national security, and were therefore tasks for the army. For these projects Chavalit provided large corporations with lucrative contracts, including the leading Thai agribusiness corporation Charoen Pokphand. Chavalit retired from military service in 1990, at the age of 58.

Political career

Chavalit began his political activity while still serving in the military. From 1984 to 1987, during the "Semi-Democratic" phase, he was an appointed member of the Senate of Thailand, Senate. In 1987 he publicly proposed to have a prime minister directly elected by the people; he was accused of attempting to undermine the monarchy's role, temporarily discrediting his public image. In 1990 he was appointed Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Deputy Prime Minister in the administration of Chatichai Choonhavan. During the early 1990s, Chavalit controlled 126 military-run radio stations and two of the country's five television networks. Chavalit agreed to make military stations available for an anti-AIDS campaign. He also agreed to help Meechai Viravaidya spearhead a three-year blitz to halt the spread of the disease. In 1990, he launched his own party, the
New Aspiration Party The New Aspiration Party (''Phak Khwam Wang Mai th, พรรคความหวังใหม่'') is a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. I ...
. His plan was to make it a dominant ruling party, modelled on the Golkar party of Indonesia's President Suharto. The party was backed by the Charoen Pokphand group and its chairman Dhanin Chearavanont. Chavalit used contacts from his time as army commander and head of the "Green Isan" programme to recruit former soldiers, civil servants, and local officials in the Northeast as members of his party. In March 1992, Chavalit was elected a member of the House of Representatives (Thailand), House of Representatives for a constituency in Nonthaburi Province. Being the leader of the largest non-government coalition party, he was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition (Thailand), Leader of the Opposition. He then served as Minister of the Interior in the cabinet of Chuan Leekpai from 1992 to 1994, and was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in the government of Banharn Silpa-archa from 1995 to 1996.


Following the Royal Decree of Parliament Closure a 1996 Thai general election, general election was held on 17 November 1996. Chavalit's
New Aspiration Party The New Aspiration Party (''Phak Khwam Wang Mai th, พรรคความหวังใหม่'') is a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. I ...
won the most seats. With the support of five coalition parties—National Development Party (Thailand), National Development, Social Action Party, Social Action, Thai Citizens' Party, Thai Citizens', Liberal Integrity Party, Liberal Integrity and Mass Party (1995), Mass Party—Chavalit was appointed by royal decree as the 22nd Prime Minister of Thailand on 25 November 1996. However, during his premiership he encountered pressure from many political movements, who forced him to resign on 6 November 1997, in the midst of the Asian financial crisis. On 14 May and 15 May 1997, the Thai baht, which was then pegged to the US dollar, was hit by massive speculative attacks. Chavalit announced he would not devalue the baht, but in July 1997 the government had no choice but to devalue the currency. This sparked the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, Asian financial crisis, due to the Thai government's failure to defend the baht against international speculators. At the time, Thailand had acquired a burden of foreign debt that made the country effectively bankruptcy, bankrupt even before the collapse of its currency. Thailand's booming economy ground to a halt amidst massive layoffs in finance, real estate, and construction, resulting in huge numbers of workers returning to their villages in the countryside and 600,000 foreign workers being sent back to their home countries. The baht devalued swiftly and lost more than half of its value, and the Thai stock market dropped 75% in 1997. Due to this crisis, Chavalit stepped down in November 1997. According to some observers, King Bhumibol Adulyadej distrusted Chavalit as he saw him as a threat to his so-called "network monarchy", an informal alliance of politicians and officials favoured by the palace.

Later life

Chavalit then once again became Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. The New Aspiration Party quickly lost popularity, as well as the support of the Charoen Pokphand Group, which began supporting Thaksin Shinawatra and his new Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT). After New Aspiration's electoral defeat in 2001, Chavalit abandoned it and switched over to the TRT, taking most party members and lawmakers with him. Subsequently, Chavalit served as Deputy Prime Minister responsible for internal security under Thaksin's premiership from 2001 to 2005 and as Minister of Defence from 2001 to 2002. After holding the position of deputy prime minister in Somchai Wongsawat's cabinet, on 7 October 2008, he resigned, admitting partial responsibility for violence because of police use of tear gas at a Parliament blockade, injuring 116 protesters. His resignation letter stated: "Since this action did not achieve what I planned, I want to show my responsibility for this operation." On 2 October 2009, Chavalit joined the Pheu Thai Party, which is composed of loyalists to Thaksin Shinawatra. He insists that he will be a regular member until the party's executives consider a future role for him. Currently, he is active as a president for a South Thailand insurgency scheme, "Komuniti Pulang Kampong." Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is the Honorary Co-President of The International Academy of Social Sciences (Albany, USA) together with H.E. Alfredo Palacio, 44th President of the Republic of Ecuador.


Royal decorations

* Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant * Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand * Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn * Knight Grand Commander (Second Class, higher grade) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao * Knight Commander (Second Class) of the Honourable Order of Rama * The Order of Symbolic Propitiousness Ramkeerati (Special Class) - Boy Scout Citation Medal * The Victory Medal - Vietnam War * The Freeman Safeguarding Medal (First Class) * The Border Service Medal * Chakra Mala Medal * Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX Royal Cypher Medal, 4th Class

Military rank

* General, Admiral and Air Chief Marshal

Volunteer Defense Corps of Thailand rank

* Volunteer Defense Corps (Thailand), Volunteer Defense Corps General

Foreign honours

* ** Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín * : ** Honorary Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm#Commander, Order of the Defender of the Realm (P.M.N.) (1988) **Orders, decorations, and medals of Malaysia, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of Military Service(PGAT) ** Grand Cross 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany *: ** Legion of Merit, Commander of the Legion of Merit **Bronze Star Medal with "V" device *: ** Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960-device

See also

New Aspiration Party The New Aspiration Party (''Phak Khwam Wang Mai th, พรรคความหวังใหม่'') is a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. I ...


External links

'Nightmare Alliance' looms: Master-schemer Chavalit, power-hungry Thaksin
{{DEFAULTSORT:Yongchaiyudh, Chavalit 1932 births Living people Thai politicians of Chinese descent, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Thai people of Laotian descent, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Thai people of Iranian descent, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh People from Nonthaburi Province, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Commanders-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Chiefs of Defence Forces (Thailand), Chavalit Yongchaiyudh AFAPS Class 1, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Prime Ministers of Thailand, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh New Aspiration Party politicians, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Pheu Thai Party politicians, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Deputy Prime Ministers of Thailand, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Ministers of Interior of Thailand, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Ministers of Defence of Thailand, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Members of the Senate of Thailand, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Ministers of Labour of Thailand, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh