Free Thai movement memorial opens as peace activists gather

Building pays tribute to statesman Pridi, clandestine group

Bangkok Post, Ploenpote Atthakor

The Free Thai Movement Memorial Building is being opened this morning as peacelovers and government officials mark Thai Peace Day, paying tribute to statesman Pridi Banomyong, and members of his clandestine group.

In proclaiming peace on Aug 16, 1945, Mr Pridi or Luang Pradit Manutham, successfully saved the nation, then Siam, from being condemned as one of the Axis powers.

Located in the 360 rai Seri Thai water park in Bung Khum district, the three-storey building is designed after the then-residence of Mr Pridi on Phra Athit road, while he was regent to His Majesty King Ananda Mahidol.

The riverine place, now a residence of a privy councillor, also served as a headquarters of the Free Thai Movement. Construction of the memorial building, an initiative of former Bangkok governor Bhichit Rattakul, was completed last year for nine million baht.

The building consists of public library and a museum, showcasing historical materials and documentaries about the Free Thai Movement.

``This is the first time ever that we have a museum, telling the story of commoners in the most comprehensive way,'' said Sinsawat Yodbangtoey, manager of the Pridi Banomyong Institute in his capacity as a coordinator of the memorial building project.

Mr Sinsawat said the project would allow the younger generation to learn of the Free Thai Movement, its ideology, and its sacrifice to the motherland. It was also a way of preserving the past.

Opening the building on behalf of Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej, who was caught in the conflict with the people's sector over the change of name of the Pradit Manutham road, will be deputy governor Tarin Sa-nguansermsri.