My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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EN ROUTE TO U.S. (Delayed) Sept. 22—On our last evening in Bangkok a farewell party was given by Thailand's president of the council of ministers and Madame Pibulsonggram in honor of the delegates attending the 10th plenary assembly of the World Federation of United Nations associations.

A big buffet dinner was served in Government House, and while we dined two kinds of music were played—selections by a purely Thai orchestra and modern Western music by another band. Thai singers performed, but I was told that the beauty of these songs lay in the words and, of course, we could not understand them. A little later we enjoyed the performance of some beautifully trained classical dancers.

Prime Minister Pibulsonggram presented Mr. Ennals, secretary-general of the federation, with a large package containing a paper cutter for every delegate at the sessions—a delightful souvenir of Bangkok as the prime minister's name is engraved on each one.

It was obvious to all the visitors to Bangkok that the people of Thailand take the charter of the United Nations very seriously, as it should be. One will often hear it said by officials that Thailand cannot do thus and so because she is a member of the United Nations.

In Thailand information about U.N. activities is disseminated through the schools, and this certainly does not indicate a trend toward communism. The Thais are much opposed to communism and have succeeded in keeping it out of their country in spite of a very large Chinese population in and around Bangkok.

Like many other countries in Southeast Asia, and around the world, there is corruption in the government, sometimes in high places, but some courageous measures have been taken to wipe out the situations that made this corruption possible in both the police and military.

Thailand also has recently removed all censorship of the press. And such measures as these give hope to the people of the land for an honest government and that is the best possible weapon against communism.

At our final session Madame Pibulsonggram was elected president of the federation for the coming year, as Madame Pandit had sent word that because of her duties in London she could not continue in office. I think the federation is fortunate in its new president and I am sure she will carry out her duties very conscientiously and with great efficiency. All her arrangements for the conference just ended showed her extensive executive ability.

On leaving Bangkok I'm sure that all the delegates felt much regret. So much kindness and so much thoughtfulness was shown to us that it can never be repaid except by gratitude that comes from the heart. None of us will ever forget our friends there. We will hope to see them again in our own countries and make them feel as much at home there as they made us feel in theirs.

Bangkok is a city of temples and of many priests, and the people are a religious people. No one in the city appears to be hungry. But life for the poor is not easy, and in the northern and northeastern part of the country, I am told, there is often hunger and a bowl of rice a day is not always available.

Yet, the Americans working on economic development in Thailand tell me the country can be a rich country throughout with honest and efficient government and discipline in top business management. One can only wish every success to those who are trying to bring this about. I feel sure that Thailand is destined to be one of the leaders in its part of the world.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 23 September 1955