Somchai Kunplome dies at 82

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Somchai “Kamnan Poh” Kunplome, the patriarch of the province’s political dynasty, has died. He was 82. (Photo TNA)
Somchai “Kamnan Poh” Kunplome, the patriarch of the province’s political dynasty, has died. He was 82. (Photo TNA)

Somchai “Kamnan Poh” Kunplome, the patriarch of the province’s political dynasty, has died. He was 82.

Samitivej Chonburi Hospital notified the Kunplome family early Monday that Somchai has passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Arriving at the hospital around 3 a.m. were the sons who carried the family mantle in recent decades: Pattaya Mayor and former Cabinet minister Sonthaya Kunplome, President of the Chonburi Provincial Administrative Organization Wittaya Kunplome and ex-Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome.

Somchai has been under treatment for Stage IV nasal-cavity cancer since being pardoned and released from prison in December 2017.

A former mayor of Saensuk in Chonburi, Somchai was sentenced in absentia by the Supreme Court in May 2006 – a month after he jumped bail – to five years and four months in prison for the 1992 sale of reserved forest land in Khao Maikaew to Pattaya for use as its main garbage dump.

In March 2012, he was sentenced to an additional 25 years imprisonment for paying a gunman to shoot down political rival and former business partner near Bang Saen in 2006.

Kamnan Poh was captured Jan. 30, 2013 at the Lat Krabang toll booth following a two-month stakeout of his Bangsaen Beach home where he reportedly returned eight months after years as a fugitive, although it later was determined he had been hiding at properties owned by family members.

When he was captured, Somchai had been en route to Chonburi after being treated for cancer at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital. Police said he’d visited the hospital 11 times using an officially issued Thai identification card bearing the alias of “Kim Sae Tang.”

Immediately after being incarcerated at Bangkok Remand Prison, Somchai was transferred to the Medical Correctional Institute and placed on a respirator. He had been in and out of the hospital ward until his royal pardon.