Chatichai Choonhavan; Former Thai Prime Minister
Chatichai Choonhavan, 76, known as Thailand’s “no problem” prime minister during his country’s economic boom, which has since collapsed. The veteran politician, who was prime minister from 1988 until he was deposed in 1991, had remained active in Thailand’s wheeling-and-dealing, often-corrupt politics and made a final, failed bid for the premiership in November. The Chart Pattana Party, held together out of respect for Chatichai, is now expected to be torn by a succession struggle. It is the No. 2 opposition party in the Thai parliament. As prime minister, Chatichai countered critics who called his government corrupt with a smile and a mantra-like slogan of “no problem.” The only son of powerful Field Marshal Phin Choonhavan, Chatichai graduated from Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in 1939, saw action in Burma and China during World War II, fought in the Korean War and became the youngest general in Thai history. An assistant military attache in Washington in 1949, he later served as ambassador to Argentina, Austria, Turkey, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and the Vatican. On Wednesday in London of liver cancer.