Who is Anand Panyarachun?

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

In a recent interview Anand Panyarachun said that the Pua Thai government was “dysfunctional”, implying that what Thailand needed was a “stable” and “firm” government that can tackle the economic problems arising from the political turmoil. He suggested that the two sides should “compromise”.

Translated into plain English, this means that he wants Yingluk to resign in favour of an unelected government of “good people” and that Thailand should have a half democracy. Any compromise between Sutep’s Democrats, who are against democracy, and the elected Pua Thai government would naturally be a half democracy. It is difficult to see any difference between Anand’s views and those of Sutep. Although Anand probably doesn’t want to become Prime Minister at this stage in his life, he likes to create an image that he is a “good person”.

What is Anand’s record?

In 1991 Anand was appointed as an unelected Prime Minister by Suchinda Kaprayoon’s military junta. Suchinda had just stage a coup and toppled an elected government. As Prime Minister, Anand introduced free-market policies, especially in banking. These helped to accelerate the 1996 economic crisis and the collapse of the banks.

In 1992, after General Suchinda was overthrown by a mass popular uprising, Anand again became an unelected interim Prime Minister before elections could be held. He pushed through a blanket amnesty for Suchinda and others who had ordered troops to kill pro-democracy demonstrators in the streets of Bangkok. Soldiers like General Surayut Julanon were under Suchinda’s command and Surayut was responsible for violence against medics treating wounded demonstrators in the Royal Hotel. Later Surayut became a Privi Councillor and then a military appointed Prime Minister after the 2006 coup.

Anand Panyarachun is known to be extremely anti-trade union and his Saha Union factories banned all unions.

After the massacre of ninety Muslim Malays at Takbai in 2004, under Prime Minsiter Taksin Shinawat, Anand was appointed as head of a peace and reconciliation committee. He told the people of Takkbai to “forget” the massacre.

Anand believes that King Pumipon lives a “frugal” life, according to his sufficiency economic philosophy. King Pumipon is the richest man in Thailand and the 8th richest man in the world. Forbes puts his wealth at $44.24B.

So judge Anand Panyarachun’s words today in the light of his past record.