Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Sports Chumpol Silpa-archa died of renal and heart failure yesterday at the age of 72.
Chumpol, the Chart Thai Pattana Party leader, who was behind the birth of the so-called 1997 people’s charter, collapsed following a heart problem at Government House and was admitted to Mission Hospital on December 17 last year.
Doctors found that Chumpol had two clogged arteries and transferred him to Ramathibodi Hospital to treat his heart problem. He was hospitalised there for five weeks and was pronounced dead at 9.39am yesterday.
Chumpol was the younger brother of former prime minister and Chartthaipattana chief adviser Banharn Silpa-archa.
Banharn said he was saddened by the death of his brother, saying Chumpol’s death was a great loss for him as his brother used to fully devote himself to the Chartthaipattana Party.
Chumpol worked as a civil servant and political science lecturer at Thammasat University, before entering politics in 1979.
In 1986 and 1992, he was vice president of the House of Representatives. From 1997 to 1998, he was minister for education in the Chuan Leekpai cabinet.
In 1995, Chumpol chaired the Political Reform Committee that gave birth to the 1997 Constitution. Chumpol was among the first group of elected senators, provided by the 1997 Constitution.
He became leader of the Chartthaipattana Party after the Chart Thai Party was ordered dissolved by the Constitution Court for electoral fraud in 2008.
When his party joined the Democrat-led government, Chumpol became minister of tourism and sports under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
In 2011, Chart Thai Pattana sided with Pheu Thai Party, which won the general election. Chumpol remained the minister of tourism and sports and was later appointed a deputy prime minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government.
Chumpol earned a Bachelor of Law from Thammasat University and a master’s degree from Syracuse University in the US.
He is survived by his wife Duangmal Silapa-archa, a senior judge at Samut Prakan Juvenile Court, and two children – Salilda Silapa-archa and Rattapol Silpa-archa.
His funeral rites will be carried out at Wat Thepsirin.
Banharn said there had been bad signs about Chumpol’s health five years ago. Chumpol had collapsed in front of a hospital and was hospitalised at Bumrungrad Hospital for seven days.
“When he collapsed on December 17, his heart stopped beating for 45 minutes. Normally 25 minutes is too long. If there had been a medical team at Government House, his life would have been saved,” Banharn said.
He said he had told Yingluck about the problem and the PM had instructed that doctors be stationed at Government House.
Kanin Boonsuwan, a drafter of the 1997 Constitution, regarded Chumpol as an important democratic advocate.
“Chumpol is a person who is faithful to true democracy and wants to change the Constitution so that it becomes democratic. As we have lost an important figure, I’d like the coalition parties to carry out Chumpol’s idea of charter change in his memory.”