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Thanin Kraivichien

Thanin Kraivichien
ธานินทร์ กรัยวิเชียร
Thanin Kraivichien.jpg
14th Prime Minister of Thailand
In office
8 October 1976 – 19 October 1977
MonarchBhumibol Adulyadej
Preceded bySeni Pramoj
Succeeded byKriangsak Chamanan
Personal details
Born (1927-04-05) 5 April 1927 (age 92)
Bangkok, Siam
Spouse(s)Karen Anderson
Alma materThammasat University
University of London
Military service
Allegiance Thailand
Branch/serviceVolunteer Defense Corps
RankVDC Gen.[1]

Thanin Kraivichien (first name also spelled Tanin, last name Kraivixien or Kraivichian; Thai: ธานินทร์ กรัยวิเชียร, RTGSThanin Kraiwichian, IPA: [tʰaː.nin krai.wí.t͡ɕʰian]; born 5 April 1927) is a Thai former judge, politician and law professor. He was the prime minister of Thailand between 1976 and 1977. Subsequently, he was a member of the Privy Council until 2016.[2]

Family and education

Thanin is a son of Hae and Pa-ob Kraivichien. He was born in Bangkok. His father was a Chinese-born merchant and owner of one of the biggest pawnshops in Bangkok.[3] Thanin studied law at Thammasat University, graduating in 1948. He then went to the London School of Economics to continue with his law studies. He graduated in 1953, and in 1958 was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn.

In Britain, he met Karen Anderson, a native of Denmark, whom he married. They have five children.[3]

Judicial career

After he returned to Thailand in 1954, Thanin worked in the ministry of justice, becoming an associate judge. He rose quickly, finally becoming President of the Supreme Court of Thailand. Additionally, he taught law at Thammasat and Chulalongkorn universities and the Thai Bar Association. As an avocation, he published books that warned of the dangers of communism.[3]

After the democratic uprising against military dictatorship in 1973, Thanin was a member of the transitional legislative assembly appointed by the king. He became a member of the far-right anti-communist Nawaphon movement.[4] He had a TV show in which he attacked communism, the students' movement, and progressive politicians.[5]


Prime Minister Thanin with US ambassador Charles S. Whitehouse in 1976

After the Thammasat University massacre of 6 October 1976, the democratically elected prime minister Seni Pramoj was toppled by a military coup led by Admiral Sangad Chaloryu. Two days later, King Bhumibol Adulyadej appointed his favourite, Thanin, to be interim prime minister. Thanin insisted on selecting his cabinet himself and rejected most of the military junta's nominations. The military occupied only the positions of deputy prime minister and deputy minister of defence. Thanin's was the first Thai cabinet in which women — Wimolsiri Chamnarnvej and Lursakdi Sampatisiri — held ministerial posts. Thanin was seen as honest and intelligent, but also as eminently ideological and politically extreme.[3] After his taking office, he sent police special forces to notoriously liberal book shops, and ordered the confiscation and burning of 45,000 books, including works of Thomas More, George Orwell, and Maxim Gorky.[6]

Thanin announced that Thailand could only return to democratic rule after 12 years. The parliament was dissolved and all political parties outlawed. Thanin's crackdown on trade unions, progressive students' and farmers' associations drove activists into the underground structures of the Communist Party of Thailand. Instead of weakening the communists, it fuelled their armed struggle against the government.[7] In March 1977, a group of younger army officers known as the "Young Turks", who had an interest in political matters, tried to topple Thanin. Their attempted coup failed. On 20 October 1977, however, Admiral Sangad again seized power and pressed Thanin to resign. The military justified their intervention because Thanin's government had divided the country, had virtually no public support, the economic situation had worsened, and people in general disagreed with such a long-term suspension of democracy.[8]

Privy Councillor

King Bhumibol Adulyadej immediately appointed Thanin to his Privy Council. During the vacancy of the throne after Bhumibol's death on 13 October 2016, the former President of the Privy Council, Prem Tinsulanonda, served as regent and interim head of state. Thanin temporarily assumed the office of President of the Privy Council during this period. After King Vajiralongkorn's accession to the throne on 1 December 2016, Prem returned to his earlier position, while Thanin was not reappointed to the Privy Council at all.[9]

Academic rank


  1. ^ []
  2. ^ []
  3. ^ a b c d Nelson Peagam (1976), "Judge picks up the reigns", Far Eastern Economic Review, p. 407
  4. ^ Jim Glassman (1999), Thailand at the Margins: State Power, Uneven Development, and Industrial Transformation, University of Minnesota, p. 239
  5. ^ Chris Baker; Pasuk Phongpaichit (2009), A History of Thailand (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 192, ISBN 978-0521-767-682
  6. ^ Elliott Kulick; Dick Wilson (1996), Time for Thailand: Profile of a New Success, Bangkok: White Lotus, p. 27
  7. ^ Chris J. Dixon (1999), The Thai Economy: Uneven Development and Internationalisation, 98: Routledge
  8. ^ Chai-Anan Samudavanija (1982), The Thai Young Turks, Singapur: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 34
  9. ^ Yukako Ono (6 December 2016). "Thailand's new king appoints his privy council". Nikkei Asian Review.
  10. ^ []
Political offices
Preceded by
Seni Pramoj
Prime Minister of Thailand
Succeeded by
Kriangsak Chomanan
Preceded by
Prem Tinsulanonda
Acting President of the Privy Council
Succeeded by
Prem Tinsulanonda