1946 was a tumultuous year for Thailand.
World War II had ended only a year ago, leaving the country with a damaged infrastructure and economy, its people in distress.
A sense of jubilation over the return of the young King Ananda Mahidol in late 1945, quickly turned into a tragedy after he was found dead in his bed with a bullet wound to the head, in June 1946.
Against the political turmoil, economic hardship and post-war scarcity, an English-language daily, aiming to serve as a ‘’real’’ newspaper, was born on August 1, 1946
The Bangkok Post.
A Bangkok Post founder Alexander MacDonald, 1908-2000
The founders had to look elsewhere and subsequently stumbled on a Japanese printing house in the Saphan Khao area that published Kao Parb newspaper, a photo news daily that featured the war activities of the Japanese occupation force. The house was abandoned after the war and placed under the Enemy Property Office.
The founders discovered that the printing machine was still in good condition, although some printing typefaces were missing. No English printing type was then available in the country but it could be ordered from abroad.
The next move was to approach the American embassy and request permission to purchase the printing house. The application was approved and the founders’ plan began to take shape.
Another piece of luck was that the Japanese printing machine they had acquired was a rotary press — the most advanced of its kind at the time. The founders dule ordered English printing type for their Japanese press from overseas.
MacDonald even managed to convince the US embassy to allow two Japanese prisoners of war who knew how to operate, maintain and repair the press to help him.
Today that original press takes pride of place in the lobby of the newspaper’s headquarters, complete with the small wooden boxes that held the individual letters used to make the original four-page newspaper.
Four months later, Post Publishing Company Ltd was registered, with MacDonald as the first managing director.
With a staff of 25, including delivery boys and typesetters, the 500 copies of the first issue of the Bangkok Post rolled off the press on August 1, 1946.
In the first month there were only 200 subscribers. Their homes became the first in Thailand to have newspaper boxes hanging outside the gate as the Bangkok Post was the first to start this practice.
After two years, circulation had increased ten-fold to 2,000. Today, the figure stands at around 40,000.
For decades Khun Theh was known for his access to and interviews with prominent government figures in Thailand and across the region. He was named the 1977 Mitsui Fellow for “his three decades of journalistic work in Thailand”.
(Excerpted from ‘’A Difficult Birth’’ by Sriwipa Siripunyawit and Kateprapa Buranakanonda, Bangkok Post, August 1, 2016, and ‘’A Man of Vision” by Alan Dawson, Bangkok Post, August 1, 2016.)