Phichit's Crocodile King Sanan bids a final farewell

national February 16, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

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Sanan Kachornprasart, a veteran politician, six-time MP and chief adviser of the Chart Thai Pattana Party, was behind several controversies during both his military and political careers. He succumbed to a severe blood infection at Siriraj Hospital yester

The infection caused respiratory failure and problems with blood circulation. Sanan had been at Siriraj Hospital’s Respiratory Care Unit since November 22, where he was taken after suffering from a severe coughing attack and complications from emphysema. The late politician’s bathing rites will be held today at 5pm at Chonlaprathan Rangsarit Temple in Nonthaburi and a royal-sponsored chanting ceremony will continue for seven days, Chart Thai Pattana’s senior figure Somsak Prisanananthakul said.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva met Sanan’s family yesterday to offer his condolences. He said the former kingmaker had close ties with the Democrats as he had served as the party’s secretary-general in the 1980s and 1990s. “He was a generous man who was devoted to his work. He could coordinate with all parties. I want younger politicians to follow this good example,” Abhisit said.
Chuan Leekpai, who is also chief adviser for the Democrat Party, said he was very sorry to hear of Sanan’s unexpected passing, especially since the late politician was a healthy man. 
Democrat MP for Songkhla Jua Ratchasi said Sanan’s death was a great loss, as he was so widely respected in the political field. 
Born on September 7, 1935, Sanan became part of the Army’s Young Turks and earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from Ramkhamhaeng University. Sanan was a cavalry officer, carrying the rank of lieutenant colonel, before he was dismissed from the Army in 1977 for participating in a coup attempt led by General Chalard Hiransiri. He was later taken back and promoted to the rank of major-general. Apart from an illustrious Army career, Sanan also held several positions in the Cabinet. He worked as deputy prime minister during the Chuan Leekpai, Samak Sundaravej, Somchai Wongsawat and Abhisit Vejjajiva administrations, and led the Interior, Industry and Agriculture ministries at some time or the other. He was also deputy transport minister once. 
His colleagues affectionately called him Chalawan, after the mythical Crocodile King of his home province Phichit. He was considered an all-time champion of his province, winning a House seat there six times.
Sanan also worked for several different political parties. Apart from being chief adviser for the Chart Thai and Chart Thai Pattana parties, he was also leader of Mahachon Party, secretary-general and later deputy leader of the Democrat Party. 
Sanan played kingmaker in 1997, winning support from a group of 12 rebellious Prachakorn Thai MPs, which helped the Democrat Party become coalition leader and made Chuan Leekpai PM for a second time. However, on August 10, 2000, Sanan was banned from politics for five years because he was found to have provided false information about his assets to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. As soon as the ban was over, he returned to work for the Democrat Party before stepping away to form his own Mahachon Party to contest in the 2005 election. 
In 2007-2008, Sanan decided to return to Chart Thai Party and joined the People Power government as a deputy prime minister. 
After the People’s Alliance for Democracy ousted the then-government in 2006, and the Chart Thai, Machima Tipataya and People Power parties were dissolved in late 2008, Sanan helped establish the Chart Thai Pattana Party and put Chumpol Silapa-archa at the helm. The party later joined the Democrat-led coalition under Abhisit.
Chumpol died of heart failure on January 21 this year.
During the 2009-2010 political turmoil, Sanan put forward ideas of reconciliation. He also helped bail out red-shirt supporters who had been detained over terrorism charges. 
Sanan announced that he was giving up his MP status on March 12 last year, but he still helped steer his Chart Thai Pattana Party.
The veteran politician, who finally succumbed to complications yesterday, will certainly be remembered in the field of Thai politics. 

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