Over a long and momentous life, Anand Panyarachun has emerged as one of Thailand’s most astute and influential figures. In addition to his stellar first career in diplomacy, he has served as a business leader, philanthropist, prime minister, economic liberal, and social reformer dedicated to the development of Thailand.
In the highly anticipated new biography Anand Panyarachun and the Making of Modern Thailand, journalist Dominic Faulder traces the key events in the elder statesman’s life – from his childhood in Bangkok during the Second World War through to the derailment of his diplomatic career, his two unexpected tenures as an appointed prime minister, his role in the drafting of the ‘People’s Constitution’ of 1997, and much more.
The book is more than a biography. The outcome of six years of in-depth research and hundreds of interviews with Anand and those who have met or worked alongside him, it is a panoramic retelling of Thailand and the region’s political, social, and economic history during the late 20th century – and packed full of insights into key moments, as told by those who witnessed them, or played a pivotal role. Interviewees include figures such as Abhisit Vejjajiva, the late Singaporean president S.R. Nathan, social critic Sulak Sivaraksa, and women and children’s rights defender Saisuree Chutikul, as well as the economists Ammar Siamwalla and Amnuay Viravan, former Bank of Thailand governor and development expert Snoh Unakul, and energy expert Piyasvasti Amranand.
Anand Panyarachun and the Making of Modern Thailand is, however, ultimately a character study. Throughout the book, Anand’s recollections on everything from his formative years in post-war England to his two terms in office give fresh insight into the thinking of a man known for his integrity and frankness, even under trying circumstances:
“Anand then set out the three key rules of engagement with the military that
would apply for the duration of his government: ‘Firstly, whatever I do as prime
minister, I will try to explain it to you. Secondly, I will never stab you in the back –
and I expect you not to stab me in the back. And thirdly, I am the prime minister.’
‘I don’t think they had met a man like me before,’ Anand reflects on this odd
encounter. Here was a lone technocrat-cum-businessman in a city suit squaring
up to the generals in their crisp uniforms, earnestly informing them that he had
every intention of doing the right thing and being the best prime minister possible.”
– From Chapter 9: A Tale of Two Coups (1991)
“‘We are not conscious of our own diversity. Most Thais do not know their own history. Eight-hundred years ago, we were very much like the princely states in Italy or Germany. There was no kingdom of Siam. Then we became preoccupied with this false concept of Thainess – of Thailand as a unitary state. This obsession to me is a threat to the kingdom.’” – From Chapter 20: Representing Thailand
Published by Editions Didier Millet (EDM Books), Anand Panyarachun and the Making of Modern Thailand will be officially launched at 6:30pm on Wednesday, 21st November 2018 at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse. Hosted by Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, the event will feature a keynote speech by Mechai Viravaidya, founder and chairman of the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation and member of the 1991 and 1992 Anand cabinets, as well as remarks by author Dominic Faulder, and EDM Books managing editor Nicholas Grossman.
The author Dominic Faulder is a veteran journalist and editor. Originally from London, he has been based in Bangkok since the early 1980s and worked for numerous news organisations and publications. He was previously a special correspondent with the Hong Kong newsweekly Asiaweek, and had particular involvement in the coverage of Burma/Myanmar and Cambodia in the 1980s and 1990s. He has been an associate editor with the Tokyo-based Nikkei Asian Review since 2014.
EDM Books is a Singapore-based publisher of biography, history, reference, and photography books with a long record of producing publications on Thailand and Southeast Asia. Previous books include An Unexpected Journey - Path to the Presidency
(S.R. Nathan); A Chance of a Lifetime – Lee Kuan Yew and the Physical Transformation of Singapore; A History of the Thai Chinese; and King Bhumibol Adulyadej: A Life’s Work.
Anand Panyarachun and the Making of Modern Thailand is available online and in stores through Asia Books and Kinokuniya, price 1,250 baht, and also worldwide for pre-order through Amazon.com.
Hardback, 608 pages, including 32 pages of photographs.