in Public Administration
Tinsulanonda Center for International Education
Prem's Private Photo Gallery
Tinsulanonda (1920- ), Thai general and Prime Minister (1980-1988),
who governed Thailand during an unusually long period of political
stability. Prem, born in 1920, rose through the ranks of the Thai
officer corps from his appointment as a sub-lieutenant in 1941 to
the post of commander in chief.
He served as Deputy Minister of the Interior in 1977 in the government
of Kriangsak Chomanan, becoming Minister of Defence in 1979 and
then Prime Minister in 1980. Prem led a shifting coalition of parties
but he was successful in facing down two coup attempts in 1981 and
General Prem was able to step down as army commander and continue
his administration as a civilian Prime Minister, retaining control
of the military by remaining Minister of Defence. Much of the day-to-day
running of government was left to civil servants and his government
came to be regarded as a "semidemocracy".
Prem himself also had a good reputation for being untouched by the
corruption that has been common in Thai politics. The support of
King Rama IX for his government was important in enabling Prem to
survive the two coup attempts. During the 1981 coup attempt the
royal family accompanied Prem to Khorat, from where he was able
to rally support and defeat the plotters.
Prem's close relations with the king were confirmed by the bestowal
of the rare Nopparat Rajavaraporn (the Ancient Auspicious Order
of the Nine Gems) in 1988, the year he stepped down as Prime Minister.
Prem has remained a senior counsellor in Thai politics and was present
when the King brought General Suchinda and Chamlong Srimaung before
him to put an end to the street fighting in May 1992.