459. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1

1939. Repeat CINCPAC and POLAD CINCPAC by other means. Re Embtel 1928.2 With exception addition five Ministers Without Portfolio, Thanom,3 Cabinet shows remarkably few changes from Pote Sarasin’s provisional government. As noted reference telegram nine Ministries unchanged and new Ministers include two Punnakanta brothers moving up from Deputy Minister. Minister Cooperatives only completely new face.

Five Without Portfolio, however, include three questionable in Net Khammayathin, Tim Buriphat and Ari Tantiwetchakun. As Department aware, Net, who has been known as strong Pridi man, has been director of two Sarit-owned newspapers, Sarn Seri and Thai Raiwan, which have consistently followed strong anti-American, anti-SEATO line. Tim and Ari, elected to National Assembly December 15 on Unionist party ticket (as was Net) are relatively recent “converts” from leftist economist and free democrat parties respectively. While both within recent months have been credited with more acceptable (from US viewpoint) attitudes (i.e., are quoted in press as saying Thep [Page 980] Chotinuchitas Cairo Afro-Asian conference “speaks only for himself”), judgment must be reserved both as to their attitudes toward US and nature their influence within government.

Other two Without Portfolios are ex-SMPs re-elected as independents; both served as Deputy Ministers last Pibul government. Their appointment of interest in view strong Unionist opposition reported against naming any former SMPs to Cabinet. This attitude presumably was factor in keeping Worakan Bancha and Boriphan out of government. Believe appointment these five in part at least based on necessity have more adequate representation from first category (elected membership) of Assembly, since remainder of cabinet with exception Sukit, Sanguan4 and Che Abdullah either second category or non-members.

Re-creation Deputy Prime Minister posts not surprising in view nominees. Praphat’s title reflects strong position within military group, while Prince Wan may perhaps be considered in “elder statesman” category and as reassurance to West. Sukit was certainly due some additional recognition and reward for role as Unionist party leader and for willingness see party disappear into new National Socialist Party.

Thanom admitted to press difficulty in putting list together, noting he had been forced make revisions after Sarit failed approve earlier submissions. While this could be considered normal procedure with leader of National Socialist Party, it is actually, of course, demonstration that locus of real authority remains with Sarit.

Pote telephoned me to say briefly he was satisfied with new group. I am somewhat less sanguine, if only on basis three dubious members mentioned above. Do not, however, in view over-all makeup cabinet and preliminary statements by key members, expect significant change either foreign or internal policy in near future.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 792.00/1–458. Confidential. Repeated to Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Rangoon, Saigon, Vientiane, and Chiengmai.
  2. Telegram 1928, January 2, transmitted the names of the Cabinet members in the new Thai Government that took office the following day. (Ibid., 792.00/1–258)
  3. Lieutenant General Thanom Kittikachorn, who had been Minister of Defense in the caretaker government of Pote Sarasin, became Prime Minister after the elections held on December 15, 1957. He retained his position as Minister of Defense. Prince Wan Waithayakon Krommun Naradhip Bongsprabandh remained as Foreign Minister.
  4. A marginal notation in the source text at this point reads: “Sarit’s half-brother”.