4. Academic Elite: The Nimmanhemin Family

Conspicuous in provinces have been either commercial or academic elites. The former are mostly ethnic Chinese, and most of the latter also originate from among them. The capital city was in an overwhelmingly advantageous position in terms of producing both academic and commercial elites. However, Chiangmai had the most developed school system among the provincial cities, and its relative economic prosperity as the hub of northern Thailand placed it in a somewhat better position in terms of producing academic elites.

One of the richest and most education-minded commercial elites in Chiangmai is the Nimmanhemin family. Sukit (1906-1976), a member of the family, studied in Britain at private expense in the mid-1920s and became a government official upon his return home. After serving as a director-general of a government department, he retired in 1948. Then he served as member of the Cabinet several times in the following quarter century. His cousin, Phisut (1915-1985), also studied in Britain at private expense from 1934, and joined the Bank of Thailand upon his return home, and later was promoted to governor of the bank from 1971 to 1975. His nephew, Tharin Nimmanhemin (Tarrin Nimmanhaeminda), held the post of finance minister for a long period of time during the 1990s after serving as president of a private bank. Tharin’s brother, Sirin, also headed a state bank.

4. Nimmanhemin Road

The Nimmanhemin family acquired a vast area of land using the wealth it had built up through its money lending business. This was the source of funds that helped finance the overseas studies of many family members. The family donated land for the construction of Chiangmai University in the 1960s, with the idea that development projects would boost the convenience of the area and, as a result, raise land prices. When a Super Highway was constructed, the family pressured the authorities into modifying the route, and connected the highway to a small road running through the family-owned area. This private road was later widened, and the area was developed for housing lots to be sold. In the picture, the road with a traffic divider in the foreground is the Super Highway, and on the other side of the intersection, with no divider, is Nimmanhemin Road.

TAMADA Yoshifumi
Relations between the Central and Local Governments in the Era of Democratic Politics

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