Anand Panyarachun has long been one of Thailand’s most influential figures. In addition to his stellar career in diplomacy, he has served as a business leader, philanthropist, prime minister, economic liberal and social reformer.
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.
These extend from his childhood in Bangkok during World War II 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 more.
The outcome of six years of in-depth research and hundreds of interviews – with Anand and those who have met or worked alongside him – the book is a panoramic retelling of Thailand and the region’s political, social, and economic history. It is packed with insights into key moments, as told by the witnesses and other people who played pivotal roles.
Interviewees include Abhisit Vejjajiva, the late Singaporean president SR Nathan, social critic Sulak Sivaraksa and women and children’s rights defender Saisuree Chutikul. Economists Ammar Siamwalla and Amnuay Viravan are there, as are former Bank of Thailand governor Snoh Unakul and energy expert Piyasvasti Amranand.
Presented are previously unknown facts and new perspectives on topics such as the Vietnam War and the US military withdrawal, Thailand-China relations and Thailand’s turbulent political landscape. There are also timely lessons, since many of the political and social challenges encountered in the book parallel those that Thailand still faces today as it strives to establish constitutional democracy.
Faulder is a veteran journalist and editor. Originally from London, he has been based in Bangkok since the early 1980s and has worked for numerous news organisations and publications. He was previously a special correspondent with Hong Kong-based Asiaweek and had particular involvement in the coverage of Burma and Cambodia in the 1980s and 1990s. He has been an associate editor with the Tokyo-based Nikkei Asian Review since 2014.
Published by Editions Didier Millet (EDM Books), the book will be officially launched at 6.30pm tomorrow (November 21) at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel the Surawongse. The event will feature a keynote speech by Mechai Viravaidya, a member of the 1991 and 1992 Anand cabinets.
The 608-page hardback, including 32 pages of photographs, is available online and at Asia Books and Kinokuniya for Bt1,250.