LOPBURI — Statues dedicated to two military officers behind a revolt that ended Thailand’s absolute monarchy eight decades ago were missing as of Monday.
The statues, which depicted Phraya Phahol Pholphayuhasena and Field Marshal Pibulsongkram, at an army base in Lopburi were replaced with a huge portrait of the late King Rama IX. Construction workers were still removing concrete debris from where the statues once stood when a reporter visited the base on Monday afternoon.
Even the name of the base was stripped of references to Phahol Pholphayuhasena; his name was removed from the sign in front of the installation as of Monday. It’s now known simply as “ Artillery Center.” Two army officers interviewed for this story gave no explanation for the removals.
“We can’t tell you,” Lt.Col. Suppichai Paorith, an officer at the base’s civilian affairs division, said when asked about the name change and the missing statues.
His colleague, Col. Korn Ittiwiboon, said the new name is not considered official until an announcement is published in the Royal Government Gazette. An earlier media said the base would be renamed Fort King Bhumibol.
Both men said they have no knowledge of where the two statues might be, though one of the laborers working on the field said the statue depicting Field Marshal Pibul was removed “about a week ago.”
Phraya Phahol and Field Marshal Pibulsongkram were leaders of a group of civilians and military officers called the People’s Party, who overthrew the royal government on June 24, 1932, and introduced parliamentary democracy to Thailand, then known as Siam.
Another statue of the Field Marshal, who served multiple terms as a Prime Minister in his long political career, enshrined at a defense college in Bangkok also went missing without any explanation, a report on Prachatai news site said.
Other relics associated with the revolt have disappeared in recent years. A plaque celebrating the revolution was replaced in 2017 with one praising the monarchy. In December 2018, a monument marking the defeat of an ultraroyalist counter-revolution was dismantled overnight.
The mainstream media were also discouraged from investigating or reporting about the disappearances.