Phraya Manopakorn Nititada Biography

Phraya Manopakorn Nititada became the first prime minister of Siam (Thailand got its present name only in 1939) following the 1932 Siamese Revolution. He was selected to head the first People’s Assembly of Siam whose members were mostly from the Khana Ratsadon (People’s Party), the group that led the revolution. Later, he was offered the post of prime minister because the leaders of the revolution, particularly Pridi Panomyong, wanted someone who was seen as neutral and clean. This was to gain the support of the royalists and thereby achieve stability as soon as possible.

Phraya Manopakorn Nititada
Phraya Manopakorn Nititada (Credit: Wikipedia.org)

Kon Hutasingha was born on 15 July 1884 in Bangkok. After studying at the Assumtion College, a premier private school in Bangkok, he proceeded to England and acquired a degree in law from Middle Temple in London. Upon returning home, he worked at the Department of Justice and eventually gained the title Phraya Manopakorn. In 1918, he became a member of the Privy Council, the advisory council of King Vajiravudh or King Rama VI.

After forming his cabinet, Phraya went on to form a committee to draft Siam’s first constitution. The committee finished its work and promulgated the constitution on December 10, 1932 which is now celebrated as Thailand’s Constitution Day.

The following year, the Minister of State, Pridi Panomyong, presented his economic plan branded as the “Yellow Cover Dossier” which contained many solutions to economic problems using socialist strategies. The King rejected the plan and reportedly attacked Pridi publicly. This caused so much unease between and among the members of Phraya’s cabinet. Soon, Pridi was forced to flee the country after Phraya dissolved his own cabinet and suspended some provisions of the constitution, shutting down the judiciary and preventing the members of the Assembly from further meetings. This is now referred to by historians as The Silent Coup of 1933.

Phraya’s policies increasingly became dictatorial. He disbanded organized groups he considered as leftist and shut down their publications. Many members of the Khana Ratsadon were disgruntled. Four days before the first anniversary of the revolution, Phraya was ousted by a coup d’etat led by Phraya Pahol Polpayuhasena who eventually became the second prime minister.

Phraya was exiled to Penang, British Malaya where he lived until his death in 1948 at the age of 64. He left a daughter named Tum.

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