Last of the ‘Three Tyrants’ dies at 90
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Last of the ‘Three Tyrants’ dies at 90

Narong Kittikachorn remained active in public life after returning from exile following bloody 1973 uprising

Col Narong Kittikachorn was a key figure at one of the most turbulent times of 20th century Thai history. (Photo: Ning Kittikachorn Instagram Account)
Col Narong Kittikachorn was a key figure at one of the most turbulent times of 20th century Thai history. (Photo: Ning Kittikachorn Instagram Account)

Col Narong Kittikachorn, one of the “three tyrants” who led the country prior to the October 1973 student uprising, died on Tuesday at the age of 90.

Thepmontri Limpaphayom, an independent historian and theologian, posted the news on his Facebook account and expressed his condolences to the Kittikachorn family.

Narong was the son of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn and the son-in-law of Field Marshal Prapass Charusathiara, a former interior minister and police department director-general.

Thanom came to power in 1963 after the death of the dictator Sarit Thanarat. In 1971, Thanom staged a coup against his own own government, citing the need to suppress communists. In December 1972 he appointed himself prime minister for a fourth time, with Narong and Prapass also named to key posts. The trio became known as the “three tyrants”.

Growing public discontent and calls for elections led to days of violence, culminating in the events of Oct 14, 1973 when 77 people were killed and more than 800 injured. Thanom, Narong and Prapass fled the country. Narong and his father later returned to the country after the situation calmed down.

Narong was accused of being on a helicopter and firing bullets at the protesters, an allegation he always denied.

In October 2003, Mr Thepmontri released two books, containing what were purported to be confidential government documents, claiming that both Narong and his father were not involved with any actions against protesters during the Oct 14 uprising.

Born on Oct 21, 1933, Narong graduated from Suankularb Wittayalai School and continued his studies at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy and then Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom.

Following the 1971 coup, Narong was expected to become the successor to his father, who was facing growing pressure because of corruption allegations.

The crash of an army helicopter in Bang Len district of Nakhon Pathom in April 1973 became a national scandal when wild gaur meat was found on board. It was later learned that as many as 50 military and police officers had gone into the forest in two helicopters to poach wildlife.

Narong was later named to head a committee to investigate and resolve the corruption, which raised further scepticism among the public.

Narong was also suspected of being the mastermind behind the murders of numerous businessmen and political rivals. But all the evidence was said to have been completely sealed by utilising his power when the “three tyrants” were at the peak of their power.

Following his return to the country, Narong served as the commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, King’s Guard Unit.

He later entered politics as a Chart Thai Party MP for Ayutthaya in 1983. He later joined the Liberal Party and was elected as an MP for Ayutthaya in 1986 and 1988.

He was appointed a member of the National Legislative Assembly after the 1991 coup that overthrew the Chatichai Choonhavan government.

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