31 May 2011 will be the 50th anniversary of the execution of Khrong Chandawong and Thongphan Suthimat in Sawang Daendin district of Sakon Nakhon. They were executed by police on the orders of Prime Minister Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat in a field that today lies within the district administrative offices. In May 2003 some people put up a simple memorial stone (in concrete) and two side by side concrete posts, to the pair’s sacrifice to the cause of Thai democracy.
In August 2010, I visited the site with Khru Chandawong’s son, Khun Vithit Chandawong, who had not been there for quite a few years and we found that the memorial stone and posts had been moved within the government educational office compound. Worse than that, and in a sign of clear disrespect, the district authorities had permitted the construction of a new road within one metre of the memorial stone.
This photo attached shows the memorial stone and concrete posts as they were on 13 August 2010, with the works contractor wai-ing Khun Vithit on the left, presumably because he feels somewhat ashamed about the local government’s lack of respect to the martyred pair by the intrusion of his road construction.
Then this photo shows the final resting place of the bones of Khun Khru, on an island in a pond, next to Khun Vithit’s house, not far from the execution site.
Khun Vithit was interviewed in the Bangkok Post in May in 2010 during the Red Shirt uprising, with some interesting reflections on the political conflict.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who can provide further details on the life and history of Khrong Chandawong, an under-rated figure in Isan’s history, who fifty years on probably deserves far more recognition than the ignominy afforded him by the Thai state. Please email me at [email protected].