Banharn Silpa-archa is of a Thai Chinese ancestry from Chaoyang. He was said to be born in 1932 (age 77) in Suphanburi Province of Thailand. However, there were varying rumors about it. Public figure, his name is also spelt variously: Banharn Silapa-archa, Banhan Silpa-archa, Banhaan Silpa-archa, Banharn Sinlapa-archa, Banharn Silpa-acha, etc.
Banharn is a veteran Sino-Thai Member of Parliament since 1976 as the elected representative of Suphanburi province. Since then, he, the strongman of Suphanburi, has enjoyed unchallenged domination in Suphanburi province. In every election he participated, he won by a landslide victory, receiving on average 6090% of the votes.
In 1994, Banharn became the Chart Thai (Thai Nation) Party Leader and the Oppsition Leader in Parliament. On 19 May 1995, after the Royal Decree of Parliament Closure, Banharn's Thai Nation Party won the landslide victory and he was appointed Prime Minister. Banharn left office a year after, on 27 September 1996, when the concordance in his administration had diminished as a result of yet another corruption scandal.
Throughout this seemingly versatile career, Banharn "I have charisma" Silpa-archa has been involved in numerous corruption scandals. Many Thais call him all sorts of pejorative names, such as "Mr. ATM", portraying him as a politico who dispenses dirty money under the table to anyone who needs it. His short-lived yet highly inept administration is believed to have paved the way for the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.
On 21 January 2008, Banharn held a press conference in which he officially announced the merging of his Chart Thai Party with the pro-Thaksin People's Power Party. Earlier he had vowed before the Emerald Buddha to never rejoin Thaksin because of his corruption scandals. Since then, Banharn has been given a new nickname "Slippery Eel."
On 2 December 2008, the Chart Thai Party along with People's Power Party was dissolved by the Constitutional Court of Thailand for having violated electoral laws in the 2007 general election. The party executives, including Banharn Silapa-archa, were banned from Thai politics for five years.