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

By David van Praagh | Go to book overview

4
STANDING FIRM
AGAINST THE BRITISH

The next chapter in Seni Pramoj's life, and in Thailand's saga of survival, is more like a suspenseful spy novel than a recital of postwar realities.

It stretches across three continents at the dawn of a new era in the history of mankind. It starts with a long and lonely journey in a small plane. It embraces British and Thai royal figures, including that paragon of self-esteem, Lord Louis Mountbatten. It involves duplicity, heroism, and secret, unexpected messages. It proves America's commitment to democracy in Asia. For that reason alone, the astonishing events of late 1945 and the beginning of 1946 deserve to be more widely chronicled and understood than they have been for five decades.

These events mark both an end and a beginning. They ended the only foreign occupation the Thai people have ever endured, no matter what some of them call an imperial Japanese military presence lasting nearly four years. They ensured that Thailand did not then begin the era of universal hope after World War II under another open-ended military occupation, this time by the British, more foreign in important ways than the Rising Sun's and reflecting British determination to reestablish a colonial empire on which the sun was never supposed to set. But it did set in the heart of Southeast Asia. As a consequence Thailand salvaged the independent foundation on which it could and eventually did build its own democratic society. And this turn of events is due to Seni more than to anyone else.

A few days after Japan accepted on August 15, 1945, Allied terms of surrender following on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Seni received a cable in Washington from Pridi as regent. It said the minister in charge of the Thai Legation had done

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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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