Skip to main content

Thai ex-Prime Minister Sundaravej dies


BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Former Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who was ousted from office last year for appearing on television cooking shows for payment, died Tuesday.

Samak died after a two-month hospitalization for liver cancer, said his personal secretary, Paisarn Akkasarakul. He was 74.

He steered the People Power Party to victory in December 2007 in the first democratically held election since a bloodless coup the year before.

But the veteran politician and former governor of Bangkok was accused of being a nominee of friend and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose administration was mired in allegations of corruption.

Samak also faced allegations of corruption, appealed a three-year prison sentence for defaming a deputy governor, and dealt with an election commission decision that his party had committed fraud in the 2007 balloting and should be dissolved.

His nine months in office ended last year with political crisis in Thailand.

Thousands of protesters camped outside the government's headquarters and blocked Samak from entering.

But it was his television show, "Tasting While Grumbling," that ultimately ended Samak's career. As host, Samak served up his favorite Thai dishes, as well as commentary that struck his fancy

He was forced to step down as prime minister in August 2008 after Thailand's Supreme Court ruled that he had violated the constitution by accepting payment to host the popular show.

Political upheaval erupted in Thailand as protesters occupied Bangkok's international airport and ended finally with a court decision that found the ruling party guilty of electoral fraud.

Samak died at Bangkok's Bumrungrad International Hospital after a yearlong battle with cancer.

His funeral will be held at Benjamaborpit Temple and a royally sponsored bathing rite is set for Wednesday, the Thai News Agency said.

CNN's Kocha Olarn contributed to this report.