6 June 2024

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, of the Progressive Movement, will detail his plans this weekend for the former south Paris residence of the late former Thai prime minister Pridi Banomyong.

The announcement will be made at the residence, located in Antony, Paris, via the movement’s Facebook page on Saturday.

The movement published a photo today, showing Thanathorn at Suvarnabhumi International Airport with Pridi’s daughter, Suda Banomyong, prominent scholar Sulak Sivaraksa and Charnvit Kasetsiri, a veteran Thai historian and academic.

Also in the picture were the movement’s core members, Pannika Wanich and Chamnan Chanruang. Charnvit posted the same photo on his Facebook page, with the caption, “On the way to Antony, Paris.”

The page also published an invitation card, detailing Saturday’s programme. The hosts of the Facebook event will be Thanathorn and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a co-leader of the movement.

In early April, Thanathorn revealed that he had purchased the house, where Pridi spent his last days, from its Vietnamese owner.

He did not initially disclose the price, but it was later revealed to be about Bt63 million. Thanathorn stated his intention is to preserve the house as a memorial to the Thai political revolution of 1932.

Piyabutr detailed how Thanathorn purchased the residence, explaining that he was the one who found it.

After the coup d’état in Thailand in 2016, a group of Thai students in France, who were interested in the history of the Khana Ratsadon party, searched for where party members had lived in France.

They eventually discovered that Pridi lived in Antony, south of Paris, and finally located the house. Piyabutr wrote that, in other countries, there are often plaques on houses indicating that notable figures used to live there, so the Thai students thought it would be good if the house were to belong to a Thai.

“In 2016, I went to the house with that group of Thai students and learned that Pridi’s wife, Thanpuying Poonsuk, had sold it to a Vietnamese national, because she wanted to move back to Thailand. We met the Vietnamese owner, who showed us the house,” he said.

The new owner insisted that she would not sell the house because she loved it, despite requests from her family. One day, Thanathorn told me that he wanted to buy the house, but I informed him that the owner did not want to sell.

In 2022, however, Piyabutr learned that the Vietnamese owner now wanted to sell the house, because she was getting very old. Thanathorn and his wife then went to Paris and bought it for 1.6 million Euros (Bt63 million), after a few rounds of negotiation.

Thanathorn discovered that some real estate developers wanted to buy the property and planned to demolish it to construct a condominium.

Before the purchase was officially completed, the Vietnamese owner passed away and the house was inherited by her brother. Thanathorn’s wife travelled to Paris in February this year and finalised the contract.