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Pattaya Daily News

05 May 2008 :: 13:05:52 pm 28698

Mr. Ittipon Wins Overwhelming Election Victory to Become Pattaya’s New Mayor

It will come as no surprise to many that Mr. Ittipon Khunpluem romped home in the election for mayor of Pattaya, yesterday, May 4, 2008. Mr. Ittipon gained an overwhelming majority, relegating Mr. Surat to second place and Ms Alisa to third, gaining effective control of Pattaya City Council.
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Pattaya City is currently the nation’s number one tourist venue, described as mini-Bangkok, or the Asian Riviera, and the post of mayor has been described as the equivalent in magnitude and political weight to Chicago or Miami in the US. Mr. Ittipon is the second son of the highly influential, “king-maker”, Kamnan Poh.

In the run-up to the election, Mr. Ittipon, whose clarion call is “We Love Pattaya”, stressed his national administrative experience and avowed intent to improve life in Pattaya for all and truly consolidate the city’s position as an international tourist destination.

Mr. Ittipon intends to put his vision for a new improved Pattaya into practice by carrying out the following policies:

· environmental improvement
· the implementation of an effective water supply for the city and Kho Larn (Coral Island)
· a 12-year free education system
· low-cost housing for low income groups
· a new, improved traffic system
· a tramline transportation system
· flood prevention
· job opportunities to decrease poverty
· the eradication of Pattaya’s red-light venue  Walking Street
· the establishment of a drug-observation and prevention centre
· the encouragement of ecotourism
· the construction of a sports centre
· the establishment of a tourism festival
· the encouragement of world-class entertainment

Bold policies which will indeed elevate the status and life chances of Pattaya folk if they are implemented. We shall see.



The man slated to win Pattaya’s plum mayoral position, Mr. Ittiphon Khunpluem, has inevitably won the election, as expected, soundly trouncing the two contenders, Mr. Surat ‘Mike’ Mekavarakul and Ms. Alisa Phanthusak. Mr. Ittiphon , a native of Chonburi, is the second son of “kingmaker”, tycoon Somchai Khunpluem, aka Kamnan Poh. A family which has long exercised power in the Chonburi province; that power being largely political, both on a national and a local level.

Kamnan Poh’s conviction in 2006 by the Supreme Court of Corruption for the purchase of 140 rai of public land in tambon Khao Mai Kaew, worth Bt93 million, to be used as a garbage dump, however, brought discredit upon the family. It is alleged that the ramifications of this resulted in the political defeat of Sonthaya Khunpluem, Kamnan Poh’s eldest son, who lost Chonburi to the Democrats in the Dec 23 election. Mr. Sonthaya was suspended from politics for five years together with his disbanded Thai Rak Thai party.

As a consequence, the Khunpluem family began to shift their sights towards local rather than national government to maintain their political power. The family have a particularly strong power-base, in the form of the local populace, particularly those residing in the villages around Bang Saen, where Kamnan Poh used to be mayor.

Kamnan Poh’s sons have long been active in public life in Chonburi in their own right, so much so that they have managed to successfully distance themselves from their father’s image. This was evident, recently, when Withaya Khunpluem, Mr Sonthaya’s brother, won the election for chief of the Chonburi Provincial Administration Organisation, while his teammates won seats on the Chon Buri Council.

Now, it is Itthipol Khunpluem’s turn to wield power, having just achieved a spectacular victory in the Pattaya Mayoral election, yesterday, Sunday, May 5, 2008. Mr Itthipol holds a BA in Law from Chulalangkorn University and an MA in Law from USA Golden Gate University. Since returning, apart from running a family-owned five-star hotel, he has had a history of government service, holding advisory positions in tourism, sport, science, technology, and at the Ministry of the Interior, which will have given him a basic grounding in national administration. He has also served as chief advisor to the Mayor of Pattaya, Mr Wattanasarthsatorn, who will in turn act as Mr Itthipon’s advisor during the transition period.

Mr. Ittiphol has evidently taken on board Western thinking on strategy as he maintains he is committed to a phased 1, 3, 5 & 10-year development plan, using key performance indicators, to firmly establish Pattaya as an international-class tourist venue and to support its position as a mini-Bangkok with nigh on 1 million inhabitants and a magnet for multinational property developers and investors. To achieve this he aims to cut crime, corruption, poverty, increase government services, rubbish- recycling, water supplies, traffic flow, underground power lines, and public education and awareness. He also sees the necessity to increase transparency, accountability and have an evaluated road map and time plan.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Politics News

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