THAILAND: The Inside Man

Everybody agrees that the most powerful politician in Thailand is astute Premier Pibulsonggram, but there has long been dispute as to just which of the Premier's closest cronies, his Army field marshal, Sarit Thanarat, or his police chief, General Phao Sriyanond, is the second most powerful. This uncertainty has always suited Pibul just fine.

Like most good generals the world over, dour, gong-shaped Marshal Sarit has always professed a profound dislike and disinterest in politics. Instead, he has been content to boss the army and to combine business with business by seeing that most of the army's requirements for supplies...