Sontaya 'group of 12' to join Pheu Thai

Sontaya 'group of 12' to join Pheu Thai

Former Pattaya mayor Sontaya Kunplome, front centre, joins a press conference with key members of the opposition Pheu Thai Party on Wednesday. (Photo: Sontaya Kunplome's Facebook)
Former Pattaya mayor Sontaya Kunplome, front centre, joins a press conference with key members of the opposition Pheu Thai Party on Wednesday. (Photo: Sontaya Kunplome's Facebook)

A group of 12 politicians led by veteran Chon Buri politician and former Pattaya mayor Sontaya Kunplome will contest the general election under the Pheu Thai Party banner.

Their candidacy was confirmed on Wednesday by Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew, who said the new group would run in the constituency and party-list systems.

Dr Cholnan expressed confidence that Mr Sontaya, who was a member of the Thai Rak Thai Party before it was dissolved, would clinch a landslide win in Chon Buri for the opposition Pheu Thai Party.

Mr Sontaya said he decided to join Pheu Thai because of its policy platforms, which cater to the needs of all groups in society, and its determination to address the country's problems.

He was optimistic his team would win all 10 constituency seats in Chon Buri, saying they represent people of all age groups and have experience in both local and national politics.

Asked if his younger brother, Culture Minister Itthipol Kunplome, would join him at Pheu Thai, Mr Sontaya said his brother would remain a cabinet minister until the government completes its term.

"Our family has agreed that we'll join Pheu Thai, but those who have duties to fulfil will continue. Mr Itthipol will continue working as the culture minister. If he decides to defect, I don't think it will cause any problem in the cabinet," he said.

Mr Itthipol serves in the cabinet under the quota of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

Veteran Chon Buri politician and former Pattaya mayor Sontaya Kunplome receives flowers from supporters at the municipality office on March 24, 2022. (File photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Mr Sontaya doubted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would secure a landslide victory, saying the government under his leadership had failed to effectively tackle corruption and economic disparities over the past eight years.

"He can say they will, but whether that will materialise is another story and it depends on the people," he said.

Mr Sontaya's team is expected to face strong competition from politicians led by Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin who recently moved from the PPRP to the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party.

Mr Suchart was reportedly introduced to politics in the eastern province by the influential Kunplome family, known as 'Ban Yai' (Big House), starting in 2011. At the 2019 polls, Mr Suchart won a constituency seat, but Mr Itthipol was defeated in a different constituency.

Reports of divisions emerging between them began circulating early last year, with Mr Suchart being quoted as saying he was ready to challenge the Kunplome family in all constituencies in Chon Buri.


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