Thailand's Struggle for Democracy: The Life and Times of M. R. Seni Pramoj

By David van Praagh | Go to book overview

Preface

This book tells the story of M.R. Seni Pramoj, describes modern Thailand's politics, and relates both to the universal quest for democracy. It is written for both Thais and non-Thais, particularly Americans and other Westerners to whom Thailand has been a mystery partly because it was never colonized.

I tell the story of Seni, who was prime minister at three turning points in Thailand's struggle for democracy, as much as possible in his own words. But this is in no way an authorized biography. Reluctantly, and after I had asked him to do so over several years, Seni made himself available for extensive and intensive interviews starting in 1985. He did so only on the condition, expressed at the beginning and at the end, that this would not be an authorized biography. He had ruled out writing an autobiography for the same reason: he did not want to publicize, or seem to publicize, himself.

The conclusions drawn in this book are wholly my own. Neither Seni nor anyone else bears any responsibility for them. I had done the work for much of Chapters 6 and 7, dealing with the events of October 1973 and October 1976, soon after they occurred, and Seni was one of numerous sources at both times. During my stay in Bangkok from December 1987 to July 1988, I did much of the research on the political situation covered in Chapter 8. Many interviews during a visit to Thailand in February 1992 contributed to Chapters 9 and 10, describing the dramatic developments in 1991-92, but I could not have written them without the help of persons in Bangkok in May 1992.

In quoting Seni at length, I draw on notes from my interviews with him and transcribed tapes of his going over most of the same material a second time. Like any journalist, I have striven for accuracy and liveliness in the quotes I have conveyed. This sometimes meant combining words I noted down with words on the same subject I taped. It never meant changing or distorting Seni's meaning, but on

-xvii-

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Thailand's Struggle for Democracy: The Life and Times of M. R. Seni Pramoj
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Thailand's Struggle for Democracy - The Life and Times of M.R. Seni Pramoj *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword Stephen Solarz ix
  • Preface xvii
  • Introduction Finding Democracy in Asia 1
  • 1: An Extraordinary Democrat 22
  • 2: The Development of a Nonconformist 30
  • 3: The Undelivered Declaration of War 46
  • 4: Standing Firm Against the British 63
  • 5: Opposing Dictatorship 101
  • 6: The Student Revolution 133
  • 7: Betrayal of a Reborn Dream 165
  • 8: The Dead Hand of the Past 197
  • 9: The Struggle Renewed 222
  • 10: A People United 252
  • 11: Facing Economic and External Pressures 297
  • 12: Alone on the Sharp Edge 316
  • Bibliographical Note 330
  • Chronology 333
  • Index 345
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