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‘More of Same’ as Kunplome Pick Leads Pattaya Mayor Race

Kunplome family pick Poramet Ngampichet cheers on supporters in Pattaya Sunday night. (Photo: Pattaya Mail, with permission.)
Kunplome family pick Poramet Ngampichet cheers on supporters in Pattaya Sunday night. (Photo: Pattaya Mail, with permission.)

Pattaya is headed for four more years under the rule of the Kunplome clan after handpicked successor Poramet Ngampichet won the unofficial vote count.

The tally – put on hold due to the issue of missing ballots at two polling stations – showed Poramet Ngampichet of the Rao Rak Pattaya group garnering 14,161 votes with the Pattaya Ruam Jai group’s Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn winning 12,336 votes. The Move Forward Praty’s Kittisak “Bob” Ninwattanatochai placed third with 8,713 votes while former Banglamung District chief and independent candidate Sakchai Taengho garnering 995 votes.

Poramet, a former MP and deputy mayor, ran on the record of former mayor’s Itthiphol and Sonthaya Kunplome, the latter of whom was appointed by Prayut Chan-o-cha who, ironically, led the military coup on this same day in 2014.

Sonthaya – driven more by money and power than ideology – spent his career turning coat, jumping from whichever party was in power to the next. He was a cabinet member under Thaksin Shinawatra and then jumped to the military-backed coalition that deposed Thaksin’s sister. He was awarded the lucrative Pattaya mayorship for softening up Chonburi for the 2019 election that turned Prayut from coup leader to prime minister under a rigged constitution.

As such, Poramet promises “more of the same” that Pattaya has endured over the past 12 years, including non-stop road, drainage and infrastructure work, full-speed development and the cronyism that comes from the Kunplome’s 12 years of city hall control.

In an effort to differentiate himself, Poramet came up with a “better Pattaya” platform focusing on boosting tourism events, extending operating hours of entertainment businesses and building more landmarks to attract domestic and foreign tourists.

While unlikely, a win was still mathematically possible for Sinchai, a respected businessman who family owns Pattaya’s Flipper Group of hotels, headed the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association (later led by Poramet’s brother) and served as a city councilman from 2016-22.

His brother Niran was Pattaya’s first elected mayor from 2004-08 and has strongly criticized Itthiphol and Sonthaya, alleging they’re corrupt outsiders who pillaged city coffers to build white elephant projects and ruined Pattaya’s economy and failed to quickly revive it after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just under 50% of Pattaya’s 78,415 eligible voters turned out to cast a ballot for the first time since 2012, far less than 70% anticipated.