Dr. Puey Ungphakorn died on July 28th, 1999, at
the age of 83, from stomach complications, in London, England where he
spent the last 23 years of his life.
During his outstanding career, Dr. Puey was the governor of the Bank of Thailand for 12 years and it was largely to his credit that the Thai banking system emerged in the sixties as a stable and trustworthy institution and that the Central Bank, until recently, exuded integrity and technical competence. Dr. Puey went on to become the Dean of the Economics Faculty of Thammasat University and built it into the strongest economic department in the country. Among his many initiatives at Thammasat, he set up the Graduate Volunteer programme to expose the academics to growing social problems and unjustice endured by the underprivileged in the countryside. His career, his life and his health, were devastated by the dark episode of October 1976.
It is a saddening fact that a man who was a remarkable economist, a champion of social justice and a spokesman for the welfare of his fellow countrymen, had to resolve to spend the last chapter of his life abroad. England was the only place that could provide him with the peace and quality of life that he and his family needed in his ailing years. Ironically it was this quality of life that, many years ago, he advocated for everyone of his homeland.
In the words of Ammar Siamwalla, an economist and scholar, "Dr Puey has been a troublemaker in much of his life, but the kind of trouble that he made was never violent. In a society as venal and corrupt as ours, there was no choice for an honest man but to be a troublemaker. it is a pity that there are so few troublemakers of this kind in our midst now."