‘’For much of Thailand, as elsewhere in Southeast Asia, 1945 and the first five months of 1946, was a time of hardship, political turmoil and apprehension, with a few heady interludes of celebration and hope,’’ is how the late author William Warren summarised the mood and tone of the 1940s in his prelude to the book Chronicle of Thailand.
Bombings by the Allied forces destroyed thousands of homes, railway bridges and electricity generating plants in Bangkok. By 1945, the capital was virtually deserted, with a majority of its residents evacuated, its infrastructure heavily damaged and its economy in tatters.
At that time, most of the country’s 17-million population were farmers. Slowly, Siam, as it was still known, picked up the pieces. The country became the 55th member of the United Nations in December 1946, the same year the British Chamber of Commerce was established.
The country has gone through sea changes since then as agricultural expansion gave way to industrialisation and export-led policies before digital economy became the present name of the game.
To mark our 72nd anniversary, the Bangkok Post features businesses that were launched during the same decade as the newspaper and still stand tall today. Their experiences – how they got started, the major challenges they faced, what they have learned, and the keys to their survival – are precious lessons for all of us facing the disruptions that are rapidly spreading today.
In another section, we asked five individuals born around the same time as the Bangkok Post to relate their life and career experiences in their diverse fields. We asked them what shaped their thoughts, what inspired them, and, most importantly, what they have learned through the years.
We hope you will find what we uncovered in the process as interesting and illuminating as we do.
Ageing, when done right, brings wisdom. Greater age brings more experience and experience filtered through time becomes a shining crystal that reveals joys and regrets of the past, contentment and comprehension of the future.
The individuals featured in this special publication have weathered the years with dignity and refinement. They have made their marks in their respective fields and still, even as septuagenarians, contribute to the discourses in their areas of expertise, from trade and politics to the environment and journalism.
Like the Bangkok Post, Supachai Panitchpakdi, Prakit Vathesatogkit, Sompol Kiatpaiboon, Sopon Supapong and Roger Crutchley grew up in the post-war years, when the world was reeling from the uncertainty and confusion of the mid-19th century and looking forward to the dawn of a new era. They came of age, like the Bangkok Post, in times of great change, socially, politically, culturally, and they witnessed the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s as adults, wondering if the new era their generation had hoped for would ever arrive.
Been there, done that? Maybe more, because what they’ve seen, heard, thought and done over the seven decades is fundamental to the continual progress of society in these ongoing times of transformation.