Anand Panyarachun (born 9 August 1932) was Thailand's Prime Minister twice, between 1991–1992 and once again in 1992. He was effective in initiating economic and political reforms, one of which was the drafting of Thailand's "Peoples' Constitution", which was promulgated in 1997 and abrogated in 2006. Anand received a Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 1997.
|18th Prime Minister of Thailand|
2 March 1991 – 23 March 1992
|Preceded by||Chatichai Choonhavan|
|Succeeded by||Suchinda Kraprayoon|
10 June 1992 – 22 September 1992
|Preceded by||Meechai Ruchuphan (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Chuan Leekpai|
|Born|| 9 August 1932
|Spouse(s)||M.R. Sodsri Panyarachun (née Chakrabandhu)|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
Anand was the youngest of twelve children of a wealthy family of Mon heritage on his father's side and Thai-Chinese (Hokkien) on his mother's. According to Anand himself, he inherited his Chinese heritage from his maternal grandmother, whose surname was Lau (Chinese: 刘). His Chinese ancestors came to Thailand in the mid-18th century and eventually became one of the country's most prominent Hokkien families. He is distantly related to Korn Chatikavanij through this branch of his family. Anand attended Dulwich College and later read laws at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating with honours in 1955.
Anand spent 23 years in the foreign service, serving at times as the Ambassador of Thailand to the United Nations, Canada, the United States, and West Germany. In January 1976 he was appointed Permanent Secretary of the foreign ministry, and played a leading role in ensuring the US military withdrawal from Thailand. Following that year's October coup, Anand was branded a communist by the military during the subsequent political witch hunts, presumably for the Foreign Ministry's role in the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Thailand and the People's Republic of China. Although the civil service panel set up to investigate the allegations cleared him of any wrongdoing, Anand was put into relatively unimportant posts and in 1979 left the public sector for the private. He became the Vice-Chairman of the Saha-Union Group in 1979 and the Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1991. He has been a Director of Siam Commercial Bank since 1984.
On 23 February 1991, a military coup led by Generals Sunthorn Kongsompong, supreme commander of the armed forces, and General Suchinda Kraprayoon, the commander-in-chief of the army, imprisoned the leader of the democratically elected administration of Chatichai Choonhavan. As in previous Thai coups, the military formed a National Peace Keeping Council (NPKC) to run the country. To shore up its image and gain the trust of King Bhumibol, the NPKC appointed Anand as interim prime minister.
Anand, closely linked to the palace and held in respect by both the bureaucracy and the business community, proved acceptable to the people and the international community. He was regarded as being astute and disciplined, and had never been associated with any financial scandal.
Upon accepting the position of prime minister, Anand was quick to declare that he did not agree with everything the junta had done and that he intended to follow an independent course. He further angered the NPKC by suggesting that the imprisoned Chatichai be released immediately upon a cabinet being appointed.
The interim constitution that was promulgated on 1 March reconfirmed the intention of the NKPC to retain substantial control. However, Anand was allowed relative freedom to select his own cabinet members. For the entire period of his premiership Anand faced constant pressure from the junta leaders, who tried to influence government decisions in order to gain financial benefits.
Anand filled his cabinet with well-known academics, technocrats, and ex-bureaucrats with proven records. Various commentators, ranging from the president of the prestigious Thailand Development Research Institute to the mass-circulation newspaper Thai Rath, described the cabinet as the most impressive Thailand had ever had. The strong guiding hand of privy councillor Prem Tinsulanonda could be seen. Amongst those selected by Anand were Prem's previous finance minister and economic advisor. A senior diplomat during the years Prem served as prime minister became foreign minister. The technocratic orientation of the cabinet substantially diminished the fears of foreign investors.
Anand's administration proved more hard-working than his predecessors. The administration worked on its task of implementing a long list of much-needed reforms. Its emphasis on education, public health, exports, agriculture, industry, environment, and improvement in living conditions, met with widespread approval. In a Bangkok poll in late-July 1991, 61 percent of respondents felt that the Anand government was more honest than previous administrations.
Arguably the most significant of the reforms was a restructuring of the taxation system, which saw the introduction of a value added tax (VAT) and a reduction in corporate and income taxation. Several measures were taken to free up the flow of funds into and out of the country. Thai nationals were allowed to invest abroad without the approval of the Bank of Thailand. Regulations were altered for foreign banks to open branches and the ceiling on bank interest rates was lifted. In addition, the process for obtaining official operating licences for factories was greatly simplified, while the method of allocating textile and tapioca quotas was made more apparent. In the energy sector, price control barriers were dismantled.
The government was also able to successfully conclude agreements for a number of large-scale infrastructure projects initiated by the Chatichai administration. A regulatory board to oversee the privatisation and private investment in infrastructure projects was established. The projects themselves were also to be independently approved and monitored by agencies outside the government in order to minimise the opportunities for corruption.
In an attempt to spread the benefits of the country's economic growth, civil servants were given a 23 percent raise in wages, state employers a 20 percent wage rise, and the minimum wage was raised by 15 percent. In addition to this, the Anand government allocated six billion baht in the 1992 fiscal budget to be distributed to villages for their own discretionary spending.
Key accomplishments of Anand's government include:
On the international front Anand performed well. Despite international concern over the coup, foreign administrations had sufficient confidence to resume relations quickly. Anand made visits to China in September 1991 and Japan in December 1991, and went on to meetings with President George H. W. Bush in the United States. He was able to shake off the stigma of being a junta-installed prime minister, instead successfully presenting the image of an administration determined to deregulate, cut red tape, and create an environment conductive to free enterprise.
The Anand government's policies to its neighbours followed the lead of his predecessor Chatichai. Relationships with Laos improved significantly, with Thailand allocating one-half of its 200 million baht aid budget to the nation. Thailand under Anand became deeply involved in the Cambodian peace process, while relations with Vietnam went through a period of fence-mending and confidence-building.
Anand disagreed with the military junta's plans to increase the defence budget. Anand denied the military's request for supplemental funding that would have totalled 53 billion baht. Junta member Air Chief Marshal Kaset Rojananil criticised the government for being too "inefficient" and calling for it to resign. Suchinda justified the military's request by stating that there were still communist fighters in the Indochina region. In November and December Anand publicly repeated his views that the country's security did not lie in military might, but in its economic and political development, on one occasion stating, "Military might is no longer a guarantee of national security. No nation can feel secure as long as its citizens are deprived of freedom of political expression and of the opportunities for a better and more meaningful life."
Anand also voiced disagreement with the junta's draft constitution, although the constitution was ultimately promulgated. At first, he refused to comment as the Constitution Scrutinising Committee, hand-picked by Sunthorn, made changes to what became the final draft constitution. Then on 16 November, Anand spoke out against clauses that gave the appointed 360 member Senate the same powers as elected members of the House of Representatives as well as a clause allowing permanent public officials and military officers to hold political posts. Anand suggested that the Senate be reduced in size. The military-dominated Constitution Drafting Assembly refused to accept his suggestions and voted unanimously to pass the draft. Anand's response was simple: "I'm disappointed".
Anand's refusal to interfere with the junta's actions meant that his administration failed to come to grips with human rights issues. He had a comprehensive environmental bill passed, but it was ignored by the military, which continued to conduct its corrupt activities. Not long after it had taken power, the NPKC announced a huge rural development project that would help solve the problems of rural landlessness and encroachment on protected forests, issues that had for decades occupied the king's attention. The military had promised to resettle more than 1.2 million people to permanent farmlands, but instead callously evicted villagers from forest reserves, where they had lived in some cases for generations, and transferred the lands to corporate plantations. In almost all cases, the army failed to provide new homes and food supplies. When an activist monk led villagers to protest, he and his followers were attacked and arrested.
In mid-June 1991, the outspoken president of the Labour Congress of Thailand, Thanong Phoarn, mysteriously disappeared. The deputy defence minister, a military man, casually brushed the matter aside, claiming that Thanong had probably fled his wife. He has not been seen since.
With respect to the freedom of information, the Anand administration also disappointed many. With the NPKC in full control of the media, blatant censorship was practised of any issue that was critical of the military. Thus, rallies and demonstrations on a wide range of issues of public concern were kept from the public. The transparency of the denials of censorship by the military-dominated Interior Ministry must have been apparent to Anand, but he chose to do nothing about them.
Anand was succeeded by General Suchinda, who was appointed by parliament after general elections.
Suchinda resigned on 24 May 1992, following an intervention by the king that ended the violent military crackdown on massive popular protests against his government. The five coalition parties that made up his administration still attempted to cling to power, however, despite calls for their resignation by the opposition and the press, and nominated Air Chief Marshal Somboon Rahong, leader of the Chart Thai Party, for the premiership. At the time it looked as if House Speaker Arthit Urairat was set to submit Somboon's name to the king. Arthit however held back the nomination of Somboon following a meeting with privy councillor Prem, who was thought to have been exerting pressure on behalf of the king. The House Speaker instead announced that no decision would be made until the constitutional amendments were passed on 10 June, adding that the next prime minister would be a civilian.
On 10 June, Arthit surprised the country by recommending Anand's name instead of Somboon's to the king. The announcement was greeted with almost universal approval and even relief. Only the coalition parties of the previous government were dismayed, turning at first on Arthit, who they saw as having betrayed them.
Four days later Anand announced the formation of his cabinet, which included twenty respected technocrats who had held ministerial portfolios during his previous tenure as prime minister. The top tasks of Anand's government were the rehabilitation of the economy, the organisation of free and fair elections, and the removal of top armed forces commanders from their posts.
The Internal Peacekeeping Law, which allowed for the use of military force against demonstrators, was abolished on 29 June, and on 1 August, he removed Air Chief Marshal Kaset, General Issarapong, and General Chainarong, the First Regional Army Commander, from their posts.
Anand was succeeded by democratically-elected Chuan Leekpai later in 1992.
Anand rejoined the Saha-Union Group as chairman after the general elections of 1992. His government had awarded Saha-Union a major Independent Power Producer concession. He resigned from Saha-Union Group in 2002.
In 1996, Anand was elected as a member of the Constitution Drafting Assembly and was appointed Chairman of the Drafting Committee. He oversaw the drafting of what became known as the "Peoples' Constitution" of 1997. The constitution was abrogated in 2006 after a military coup against Thaksin Shinawatra that Anand supported. The People's Constitution instituted several important reforms, including:
From March 2005, Anand served as chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission, tasked with overseeing that peace was restored to the troubled south. A fierce critic of the Thaksin-government, Anand frequently criticised his handling of the southern unrest, and in particular the State of Emergency Decree. He has been quoted to have said, "The authorities have worked inefficiently. They have arrested innocent people instead of the real culprits, leading to mistrust among locals. So, giving them broader power may lead to increased violence and eventually a real crisis." Unfortunately, the situation deteriorated from 2005 to 2006, with escalating violence, especially among teachers and civilians. Despite much criticism of the Thaksin-government's policies, Anand refused to submit the NRC's final report, choosing instead to wait for the results of the 2006 legislative election.
Anand finally submitted the NRC's recommendations on 5 June 2006. Among them were
The recommendations were rejected by Privy Council President Prem, who stated, "We cannot accept that [proposal] as we are Thai. The country is Thai and the language is Thai... We have to be proud to be Thai and have the Thai language as the sole national language".
Anand is a member of the Trilateral Commission and the International Advisory Board of American International Group (AIG). Anand is a member of the Carlyle Group and sits on the Carlyle Group's advisory board for Asia-Pacific.
He served as UNICEF Ambassador for Thailand since 1996. During November 2003 and December 2004, Anand was requested by then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to chair the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change   of the United Nations. The panel of former presidents, prime ministers, and scholars was tasked to prepare recommendations for possible UN reform.
He is also the founding chairman of the Kenan Institute Asia, a social and economic development non-profit serving the development needs of the Greater Mekong Subregion. Under Anand, the institute focused on fostering development partnerships between Thailand and US organisations. Some of the projects under his leadership included recycling steel slag, implementing low cost HIV-diagnostic testing, building a waste water treatment plant, developing sustainable energy by generating energy from landfill gas, and building capacity in development.
Anand supported the 2006 military coup that abrogated the People's Constitution and overthrew the government of Thaksin Shinawatra. Anand had been a sharp critic of Thaksin for several years prior to the coup, and he blamed the coup on Thaksin. He also stated fears that the military junta would fail and that Thaksin could make a comeback. "When the [Chatichai] government disappeared from the scene [after the 1991 coup] there was no fear it could make a comeback. But over the past five years Thaksin and his party have become too powerful. They have consolidated their hold over the government machinery and certain sectors of the armed forces and parliament. So I think it's a more precarious situation." Anand claimed that the coup was well received by the people and that the military junta's ban against opposition or political activity would not last long. He also noted surprise at the international community's condemnation to the coup.
In a private meeting with US Ambassador Ralph Boyce, whose post-meeting report was leaked by WikiLeaks, Anand was critical of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. Anand noted that although the Crown Prince would succeed his father according to the law, the kingdom would be better off if other arrangements could be made. However, Anand noted that King Bhumibol would not likely change the succession. Anand also said that the Prince's succession would face "complicating factors" he continued interfering in politics or could not avoid embarrassing financial transactions, and that it was the consensus view among many Thai was that the Crown Prince could not stop either, nor would he be able, at age 57, to rectify his behaviour. Anand neither confirmed nor denied that he made the statements. Anand's alleged negative opinion of the Crown Prince was repeated by Privy Counsellor Prem Tinsulanonda and Siddhi Savetsila in their meetings with the US Ambassador, the reports of which were all leaked by Wikileaks. Criticism of the royal family is illegal in Thailand.
|Prime Minister of Thailand
|Prime Minister of Thailand