160. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State1

25032. Subject: Thai Coup: Sequence of Events.

1. The sequence of events leading to the ouster of Prime Minister Thanin and his Cabinet unfolded following a meeting of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council (PMAC) on the morning of Oct. 20. At about noon the military was placed on full alert, and at 1630 the police force in Bangkok was ordered on alert.

2. By mid afternoon Thanin had convened a Cabinet meeting at Government House attended by most, but not all, of the Cabinet Ministers (Minister of Interior Samak was reportedly not present).

3. At approximately 1700 three truckloads of infantry troops and one tank took up positions in front of Government House. The PM and Cabinet were informed of their dismissal, and at 1800 Radio Thailand broadcast the official announcement that the Thai military, under the leadership of Adm. Sangat Chaloyu, had assumed control of the government.

4. Throughout the evening Radio Thailand carried a series of five announcements and seven orders issued by the new government leaders, calling themselves “the Revolutionary Party” (RP). The statements, designed to explain the group’s action and to ensure public order and understanding, have been reported septel by FBIS Bangkok.2

5. In a show of solidarity, six key leaders of the RP, including Gen. Kriangsak, the military service commanders and the Director General of Police appeared on television at 2200 to inform the nation they had been granted an audience with the King and assured viewers the new [Page 571] government would uphold the three principles of nation, religion, monarchy.

6. As reported earlier, the pace of life in Bangkok and upcountry remains virtually unchanged. Our Consuls in Chiang Mai and Songkhla report that events have had no rpt no noticeable impact there. Thai citizens were initially ordered not rpt not to leave the country, but this order was lifted after being in effect only a few hours, and few travelers were affected by it. The travel ban did not rpt not affect foreign travellers or international air service.

6. Former Prime Minister Thanin and all members of the former Cabinet are reported free and are not rpt not under arrest or custody. Government has ordered all ex-Ministers not rpt not to leave the country.

Comment: Events leading to dismissal of Thanin Cabinet transpired in orderly fashion and without bloodshed. The move appears to have had the full support of Thailand’s top military leaders, and the situation as of noon October 21 appears stable. The composition of the Revolutionary Party is the same as that of the former Prime Minister’s Advisory Council, with the exception that the late Gen. Arun Thawathasin (killed in the abortive March 26 coup)3 was replaced by Director-General of Police Gen. Monchai Phankongchuen.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770387–0439. Limited Official Use, Priority. Sent for information to CINCPAC for POLAD, DIA, Chiang Mai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Rome for Holbrooke, Singapore, Songkhla, and Udorn.
  2. Not found.
  3. The Embassy reported on the attempted coup in telegrams 6577 and 6579 from Bangkok, March 26, and 6587 from Bangkok, March 27. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770104–0232, D770104–0285, and D770105–0240)