Legendary Si Sao Thewes residence being demolished

Legendary Si Sao Thewes residence being demolished

Historical Si Sao Thewes residence, where late privy council president Pren Tinsulanonda lived, is being demolished. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)
Historical Si Sao Thewes residence, where late privy council president Pren Tinsulanonda lived, is being demolished. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)

Si Sao Thewes residence, the long-time home of the late Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, a former prime minister, statesman and president of the Privy Council, is being demolished, according to military sources.

It is also known as Ban Si Sao.

The army returned the historical residence and grounds to the Crown Property Bureau in 2019, the sources said. Gen Prem died in May 2019.

The living quarters for military officers and other buildings in the grounds have already been flattened and demolition of the Si Sao Thewes residence is almost complete. Only a small  part of the structure and concrete debris remain.

It has not been officially announced what the land will be used for.

Formerly, there was a plan to turn a building situated on one side of the grounds and used as the army club into a museum of valuable woods.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, when he was army chief, presided over the laying of a foundation stone for a new army club there. That plan has been cancelled. (continues below)

Inside the grounds of the famous Si Sao Thewes residence. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)

The Si Sao Thewes residence was named after nearby Si Sao Thewes intersection, where in the past there were four large power poles. The name did not derive from the fact that the building had a porch with four supporting posts, as many people believe.

According to the official domicile registration, the Si Sao Thewes residence was house number 279 on Si Ayutthaya (formery Duang Tawan) road in Bangkok's Dusit district.

It was once an official residence of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, a former army chief, leader of the 1957 miitary coup and Thailand's 11th prime minister.

Gen Prem moved into the residence in 1979 after he was appointed army chief in 1978. He remained there until his death - serving as Thailand's 16th prime minister and later president of the Privy Council.

There was a tradition for Gen Prem's close associates from various circles and commanders of the armed forces to gather at the Si Sao Thewes residence for breakfast.

On important occasions such as the New Year, Songkran and Gen Prem's birthday on Aug 26, it was a common for the country's leaders - military top brass, high-ranking police and officials - to gather at Si Sao Thewes residence and seek Gen Prem's blessing. This showed how powerful and influential a figure he was.

Several historical and major political events occurred at the Si Sao Thewes residence. They included the April 17, 1981, and Sept 9, 1985, failed coups by army officers wanting to  overthrow him as prime minister.

After eight years as prime minister and refusing to stay on for another term, saying "I have had enough", Gen Prem remained influential both in the military and politics.

When the country was in deep trouble after the Black May 1992 event, Gen Suchinda Kraprayoon, then prime minister, and Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, the protest leader, went to meet Gen Prem at the Si Sao Thewes residence.

They asked Gen Prem to take them for an audience with King Bhumibol, asking the KIng to intervene to end the crisis following a military crackdown on protesters. Gen Suchinda resigned as prime minister after that.

Whenever problems arose - be they over cabinet and military reshuffles or selection of a new prime minister - those in power would seek a meeting with Gen Prem for his advice.

The Si Sao Thewes residence remained powerful for about 40 years - while Gen Prem was army chief, prime minister, Privy Council president and statesman - until his death on May 26, 2019.

Today, the legendary residence is already a thing of the past, but it will certainly remain in people's memories, and in history books.

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