- By Tammy, Thai Intel’s humanity journalist
Prachathai, a web news outfit, just reported that Jit Phumisak sister, Pirom, has passed away, and perhaps, it is an end to an era.
Jit is a famous Thai communist, often compared to Che Guevara. However, Jit’s activity, during his life time, was mostly about being the intellectual leader of Thailand‘s communist movement. Jit, like Che, was gunned down by the establishment.
According to folk-lore about Jit’s last moment’s in life, he struggled out of the jungle to which he escaped to and used as a base for fighting the Bangkok’s establishment. In hunger and on the verge of starvation, Jit asked villagers for some food-but was shot and killed.
One of Jit’s book, Face of Feudalism, whiled banned most of his lifetime, is now recognized as one of one hundred “Must Read Books” on Thailand.
Jit’s sister, Pirom, was the care taker of Jit’s original writing work, many of which began to be published in Thailand after his death and with the changed political wind in Thailand. However, the publishing continued to run into state opposition for many years, seeing those involved jailed.
Under Prem and Chaovalit, two military generals, to combat the communist, a policy of reconciliation was passed, where the communist were asked to re-join the Thai society, and help developed Thailand. China at that time, was supporting the Thai communist movement, however, the Bangkok establishment also made reconciliation diplomatic moves towards China.
But for most of the Thais, who joined the communist movement, according to the Thai military establishment, life in the jungle was just simply too rough for many Thais to sustain. Manny of the current leaders of Thailand, in politics, are in fact, former communist.
What continues to exist today in Thailand, as far as Maoist and Marxism is concerned, is mostly socialism of various thinkings.
Chit Phumisak (Thai: จิตร ภูมิศักดิ์, born 25 September 1930 – killed 5 May 1966) was a Thai author, historian, poet and Communist rebel. His most influential book was The Face of Thai Feudalism (โฉมหน้าศักดินาไทย, Chomna Sakdina Thai), written in 1957 under the pseudonym Somsamai Srisootarapan. Other pen names used by Chit include Kawi Kanmuang and Kawi Srisayam. He has been described as the “Che Guevara of Thailand”.
Born into a poor family in Prachinburi Province, eastern Thailand, he studied philology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. It was as a student that Chit first became exposed to Marxism; in 1953 he was hired by the U.S. embassy to help assist William J. Gedney, an American linguist living in Thailand, to translate The Communist Manifesto into Thai (in an attempt to scare the Thai government into taking a tougher stance against communism).
His writings were anti-nationalist and progressive and were viewed as a threat to the state by the harshly anti-communist government of Sarit Thanarat. He was arrested in 1957, branded a communist, and after six years in jail was declared not guilty by a court and set free.
In 1965, he joined the Communist Party of Thailand, headquartered in the jungles of the Phu Phan mountains, in Sakhon Nakhon Province. On May 5, 1966 he was shot dead by villagers near the village Nong Kung in Waritchaphum district. His body was burned and no proper ceremony for his death occurred until 1989, when his remains were finally placed in a stupa at the nearby Wat Prasittisangwon.
There is a small dispute over his death. Paul M. Handley, the author of the academically acclaimed “The King Never Smiles” states that Jit was executed by government officials near Phu Phan mountains shortly after he was released from jail.
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