Sanan Kachornprasart along with Banharn Silpa-Archa and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh are instrumental yet controversial behind-the-scenes old-timers of Thailand's patronage politics.
Cavalry officer Sanan Kachornprasart was a career soldier up until 1977 when he was imprisoned for treason for his involvement in an attempted coup led by the late General Chalard Hiransiri, aimed at toppling the radical rightwing government of Tanin Kraivixien.
After eight months and eight days at Bang Kwang Detention Centre, on 3rd December 1977 Maj-Gen Sanan was released as a result of an amnesty issued by General Kriangsak's administration. After his release from detention Sanan decided to enter politics and joined the Democrat Party.
In his first general election, Sanan ran for a House seat in his home province of Pichit and won. His first ministerial post, deputy transport minister, came in 1986 under Prem Tinsulanonda. And in 1988, Sanan Kachornprasart was elected as the Secretary-General of Democrat Party.
In 1989, in the wake of country’s worst natural disasters, typhoon Gay, the large extent of illegal logging, piled up in provincial capitals, was revealed. A nationwide logging ban, ordered by an agriculture minister Sanan, revoked forestry concessions and resulted in the destruction of more forests. Critics charged Sanan Kachornprasart of personally benefitting from the ban, citing his reported connections to illegal logging hideouts. Sanan of course flatly denied the allegations.
In 1994 Sanan got the post of interior minister in the first Chuan Leekpai government. In March 1998 he berely survived a Parliament inquiry to determine if he had supplied a false educational background which listed him as a Bachelor's degree holder. Such an
offence could have cost him his ministerial post.
In September 1998, Sanan approved a hike in tollway fees from ฿30 to ฿40, apparently violating the state contract with the private tollway operator Bangkok Expressway Plc. The illegal hike cost motorists an estimated ฿29 Million.
During a January 1999 House censure debate, opposition lawmaker Chalerm Yoobamrung from the NAP accused Sanan and his close associates of accepting ฿22 Million in bribes to help alleged German mafia figure Wolfgang Ulrich escape immigration and tax charges.
At about the same time, a female reporter accused Sanan of sexual abuse. Whatever the circumstances may be, he is not the one to give up easily, resilience is one of Sanan's greatest assets.
On 19 August 2000, Sanan resigned as Secretary-General of the Democrat Party, following the Constitutional Court’s finding that he had made false statements on his assets declaration. Sanan was banned from politics for five years. The case and the suspension further tarnished the clean image of the Democrat Party, reducing its prospects for the 2001 election.
Both Sanan Kachonprasart and Thaksin Shinawatra were found to conceal their wealth. Both cases were well documented. The Constitution Court banned Sanan from politics for five years, but two weeks later absolved Thaksin, after one of his people has been appointed to the court.
In 2003, Sanan backed Banyat Bantadtan to become the new leader of the Democrat Party. Banyat won a narrow victory over Abhisit Vejjajiva. A source within the Sanan's faction said of Abhisit, "He rarely communicates with other members. He might be a popular politician and a parliament star, but many party members see him as snobbish."
Sanan attempted a political comeback in 2004, setting up the Mahachon party to compete in the February 2005 general election. Mahachon had a disastrous showing, winning only two seats (Ubon Ratchathani and Nakhon Ratchasima). Despite that, Sanan, however, was later able to bring to the opposition the three votes it needed for the total of 125 required to start impeachment proceedings against TRT ministers.
In 2007, Sanan left his old Mahachon outfit to join with Banharn Silpa-archa and Chart Thai for the December election. Sanan and his son Siriwat ran in the family’s home province of Phichit and won. Sanan served as deputy prime minister in the Samak and Somchai governments and continues to serve as a deputy prime minster in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government.
Sanan Kachornprasart is married to Khunying Chaweewan. The couple have two daughters and one son, Siriwat, who is now a House MP representing Phichit.
Sanan Kachornprasart is an avid drinker of wine, with a known preference for Margaux. Sanan’s residence is reportedly a wine-cellar in its own right, with hundreds of bottles in storage ranging in price from a few thousand baht to a hundred thousand baht.
On October 20, 2008, Sanan and his wife reported total assest of US$3,881,487.98. Assets of interest include ivory tusks, 18 guns, multiple cars and houses, and an ostrich farm (Kachorn Farm).