Former CPT leader Thong Jamsri dies aged 98

The funeral ceremony for Thong Jamsri, the 4th Secretary-General of the Communist Party, was held on 14 July 2019 at Phra Pratone Chedi Temple, Nakhon Pathom Province. Following Buddhist tradition, the ceremony started with a lunch offering to monks and a requiem ceremony. In the afternoon, the ceremony continued with a commemoration, wreath laying, singing, poetry reading and music performances before funeral robes were offered. The funeral pyre was lit at 4 pm.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

A donation box was placed at the funeral with a registration table to order a 300-page autobiography of Thong Jamsri. Former members and supporters of the Communist Party of Thailand from all over the country attended the funeral. Sirawith ‘Ja New’ Serithiwat, the political activist who was recently assaulted, also attended the funeral to read a poem with his eye still covered in bandages.

Wreaths were sent from Persatuan Rakyat Malaysia Sarawak, Jaran Ditapichai, the political activist in exile, Sopol Chingchit (Comrade Pithan), Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Commission, Thida Thavornseth, Weng Tojirakarn and others. A representative of the Communist Party of Malaya also brought a wreath from Abdullah CD to express their condolences.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

Born in Phichit Province on 17 December, Thong was the son of overseas Vietnamese. His father was Sao Jamsri (Võ Tùng in Vietnamese) and his mother was Yor Jamsri (Đặng Quỳnh Ạnh in Vietnamese). Thong’s mother was a granddaughter of Đặng Thúc Hứa, a Vietnamese who came to the northeastern part of Thailand in 1910 to mobilize the Vietnamese to liberate their country from France.   

Đặng Thúc Hứa started organizing the Vietnamese in northeast Thailand in 1923 during the reign of King Rama VI. Villages were established to link with the revolutionary movement in Vietnam. Đặng Thúc Hứa and Võ Tùng, Thong’s father, established a Vietnamese community and a school in Nong Bua Village, Udon Thani Province in 1924 to spread Marxism to young people. Thong grew up there and soon became a revolutionary.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

According to research by Nitirat Supsomboon, Thong Jamsri also studied at Sakonrajwitayanukul School, Sakon Nakhon Province, and Udonpittayanukoon School, Udon Thani Province, and then went to Bangkok to study Chinese at Hua Chiew School - a school also established by communist comrades. He was arrested for being a communist in 1936 and became a member of the Communist Party of Siam in 1938.

Thong became the editor of the first underground newspaper ‘Mahachon’ (the public) in March 1942. He was soon elected to the First Central Committee at a meeting of representatives of the Communist Party of Thailand in December. He started helping workers in the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly in 1944 and pioneered work with northeastern farmers before he went to fight as a guerrilla in Lao between 1949-1951.   

At the 2nd party assembly in 1952, he was elected as member of the politburo and studied at the Marxist-Leninist Institute in Beijing between 1952-1957. At the 3rd assembly, he was elected as a member of the Central Committee and politburo. He pioneered working in Dong Prachao, Sakhon Nakhon Province, and was arrested in 1967. Elected as a permanent politburo member at the 3rd party assembly in 1972, he remained in jail until 1973.

He went on to operate a secret base in the jungle of Nan Province in 1974 and was elected as Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) in 1982. He left the jungle in 1993, 13 years after Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda issued Order 66/2523 which offered amnesty to the communist rebels. Despite the defeat of the CPT, he remained committed to Marxism until the very end. "In the age of globalization, there is only change in technology; the class conflict remains high," said Thong in an interview after the Cold War. He died at the age of 98 at Nakhon Pathom Hospital, due to a respiratory infection.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach