Chaophraya Phrasadet Surentharathibodi
|Minister of Public Instruction|
6 April 1912 – 28 March 1916
|Preceded by||Chaophraya Wichitwongwutthikrai|
|Succeeded by||Chaophraya Thammasakmontri|
16 April 1867
|Died||14 February 1917 (aged 49)|
|Spouse(s)||Thanphuying Sa-ngiam Malakul|
|Children||10 children, incl. Pin Malakul|
|Known for||Developing modern education in Siam|
Mom Rajawongse Pia Malakul[a] (Thai: หม่อมราชวงศ์เปีย มาลากุล, 16 April 1867 – 14 February 1917), better known by his noble title Chaophraya Phrasadet Surentharathibodi (เจ้าพระยาพระเสด็จสุเรนทราธิบดี), was a Thai educationalist who was influential in the development of Siam's modern education system during the early twentieth century. He served as Minister of Public Instruction under King Vajiravudh from 1912 to 1916, and laid out the country's first formal education plan. He was also a writer; his manual on modern etiquette, Sombat Khong Phudi (Qualities of a Gentleman), is one of his most influential works. In recognition of his contributions to education, the 150th anniversary of his birth was celebrated in association with the UNESCO in 2017.
Mom Rajawongse (MR) Pia was born on Tuesday 12th, waxing moon, 5th month, year of the rabbit, which corresponds to 16 April 1867. His father was the Prince Krommamuen Prapporapak, a grandson of King Rama II; his mother's name was Piam. As a boy, he was presented to Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, and enrolled at Suankularb Palace School (now Suankularb Wittayalai School). MR Pia completed both stages of education, which usually took four years, in a single year. He then underwent customary temporary ordination as a Buddhist monk at Wat Bowonniwet.
Pia began his career in the Department of Education, serving as personal secretary to Prince Damrong and receiving the noble title Luang Phaisansinlapasat (หลวงไพศาลศิลปศาสตร์). Pia followed Prince Damrong to the Ministry of Interior in 1892 when the Prince became minister, and was promoted to the title Phra Montriphotchanakit (พระมนตรีพจนกิจ).
In 1893, King Chulalongkorn assigned Pia to be Prince Vajiravudh's guardian during the Prince's studies in England. Pia also acted as guardian to many of the King's sons in England, and received the title Phraya Wisutsuriyasak (พระยาวิสุทธสุริยศักดิ์). He also came to serve as Minister to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States, from 1897 to 1899.
As custodian to the royal students, Pia made observations of the modern Western education system. In a letter replying to the King's inquiries on why many of the students were failing in their education, Pia, a strong advocate of meritocracy, wrote that students were being sent regardless of their academic abilities, like sending whole logs to the sawmill; beginning work, only to find a hollow, unusable log, resulted in a waste of time and money. The King then commissioned a report, which Pia completed in 1898, suggesting improvements to Siam's developing education system; it was developed into the country's first education plan.
Pia returned to Bangkok in 1899. One of the government's priorities in education at the time was expanding professional education in order to staff the rapidly growing bureaucracy. Pia became the head of the newly established Training School of the Civil Service, which later became the Royal Pages School and then Chulalongkorn University. To train the newly educated in proper manners, Pia authored Sombat Khong Phudi (สมบัติของผู้ดี, Qualities of a Gentleman) a manual prescribing proper etiquette which was highly influential and had over a million copies printed throughout the century.
Pia became Minister of Public Instruction in 1912, during the reign of King Vajiravudh, and received the title Chaophraya Phrasadet Surentharathibodi (chaophraya being the highest rank in the nobility still in use at the time). He pushed for the adoption of compulsory education, but due to constraints in the development of mass education, the policy was not successful. It was later passed in 1921, under his successor Chaophraya Thammasakmontri.
Pia resigned from public office in 1916, due to ill health.
Pia married Miss Sa-ngiam (later Thanphuying Sa-ngiam), daughter of Luang Anurakphubet (Singto), in 1888. They lived at Luang Anurakphubet's family home on Atsadang Road before moving into a new property on Lan Luang Road, where Pia lived until his death. They had ten children, including a son, Mom Luang Pin Malakul, who would also become one of Thailand's most influential educators.
The family name Malakul was bestowed by King Vajiravudh on 30 May 1913, following the royal act which prescribed the use of surnames.
Toward the end of his career, Pia suffered from neurasthenia and also fell ill to malaria. Chaophraya Thammasakmontri, who was a close aide of his, would later note that "working with a fever in the office was one of his well-known habits". He died less than a year after retiring, on 14 February 1917.
Works and recognition
Pia produced numerous works, most of them textbooks written during his career in the Ministry of Public Instruction, focusing on the subjects of ethics and the Thai language. These include—in addition to Sombat Khong Phudi—Phonlamueang Di (พลเมืองดี, "The Good Citizen"), Chanya Phaet (จรรยาแพทย์, "Medical Ethics"), Akkharawithi (อักขระวิธี, "Orthography"), Phongsawadan Yo (พงศาวดารย่อ "Abridged Chronicles"), Kham Thiap Ro Lo (คำเทียบ ร.ล., "Comparison of Ro and Lo Words"), Chuai Phuean (ช่วยเพื่อน, "Helping Friends") and Tuean Phuean (เตือนเพื่อน, "Warning Friends"). To the modern Thai public, however, his most familiar work is probably the patriotic song "Samakkhi Chumnum" ("United Gathering"), for which Pia wrote the lyrics, and which and is set to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne".
As part of its anniversaries programme, the UNESCO, recognizing his contributions to education, was associated with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Pia's birth in 2017. A building in Suankularb Wittayalai School is named Sala Phrasadet in his honour.
- Royal Gazette. 29 (A): 5–6. 14 April 1912.
- Royal Gazette. 32 (A): 541–542. 29 March 1916.
- Suttinan Srisomsak (2015). Prose Works of Chaophraya Phrasadej Surentrathibodi: A study as didactic literature (PDF) (Master's thesis) (in Thai). Silpakorn University. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
- "ประวัติพระยาวิสุทธสุริยศักดิ์ (เอกสารประกอบ : แบบเรียนศัพท์ "ศัพท์โบราณแผลง")". Treasures of the Kingdom (in Thai). TK Park. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
- Saran Thongpan (14 June 2017). "เจ้าพระยาพระเสด็จฯ สมบัติของผู้ดี และ "สามัคคีชุมนุม"". Sarakadee Magazine website (in Thai). Retrieved 7 September 2018. Originally published in Sarakadee. (372). February 2016.
- Baker, Chris; Phongpaichit, Pasuk (2009). A history of Thailand (2nd��ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 67. ISBN 9780521767682.
- Kesboonchoo Mead, Kullada (2004). The Rise and Decline of Thai Absolutism. RoutledgeCurzon. pp. 77–78. ISBN 9780415421942.
- Somsak Damrongsoontornchai (April 2002). "เจ้าพระยาพระเสด็จสุเรนทราธิบดี". Manager. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- Jory, Patrick (September 2015). "Thailand's Politics of Politeness: Qualities of a Gentleman and the Making of 'Thai Manners'". South East Asia Research. 23 (3): 357–375. doi:10.5367/sear.2015.0271. S2CID 142989561.
- Vigal Phongpanitanon. "เจ้าพระยาพระเสด็จสุเรนทราธิบดี (เปีย มาลากุล)". Thai Literature Directory : ฐานข้อมูลนามานุกรมวรรณคดีไทย (in Thai). Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
- Personal letter by King Vajiravudh, dated 30 May 1913.
- "Ceremony Honours M.R. Pia Malakul, UNESCO Eminent Personality of the World". UNESCO Bangkok. 12 July 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2018.