quick glance at Thailand's leadership during the 1980s might be
misleading. After all, for most of the decade, just one man was
prime minister : Prem Tinsulanonda.
Papa Prem, as he was fondly called for his fatherly approach to
political problems and conflicts within his government, was at
the helm of the country's amazing economic growth during the decade.
It was a time of prosperity ans stability.
"The people accepted his rule, because he was friendly and
didn't play favourites," says Jureerat Buakaew, an assistant
professor of history at the Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani.
"Everyone loved him." Well, not everyone.
A series of coup attempts, including two by the so-called Young
Turks, marred his peaceful premiership. An assassination attempt
almost claimed Prem's life in 1982 -- the anti-tank rocket hit
a tree instead of him -- though the public heard nothing about
it for almost a year.
Prem resigned, simply because it was time to let someone else