Chonsawat Asavahame, celebrity Thai politico jailed for misconduct, dies at F1 track

Chonsawat “Ae” Asavahame in a photo from his Facebook account.
Chonsawat “Ae” Asavahame in a photo from his Facebook account.

Thai politicians, actors, and celebrities today were mourning the death of a controversial former politician and businessman who died early this morning after he collapsed at an F1 racing track in the eastern province of Buriram. 

Chonsawat “Ae” Asavahame was confirmed dead in the early hours of Friday after he collapsed during a practice race at the Chang International Circuit. He was 54.

While initial reports said that Chonsawat collapsed from a heatstroke, but some news media later reported that Chonsawat died from acute heart disease. However, the Buriram Hospital as of the publication time had not issued any official statement on Chonsawat’s cause of death. 

Chonsawat was once a key politician in Samut Prakan province. He was the son of Watthana Asavahame, a fugitive politician who previously served as deputy interior minister. Chonsawat was the chief of the Samut Prakan Provincial Administrative Organization when he was suspended from the post by the military when it seized power in 2015.

In August 2015, Chonsawat was sentenced by the Supreme Court to 18 months for malfeasance relating to election fraud in 1999 in Samut Prakan. While in prison, he was hospitalized in 2016 for heart disease and chest pain. 

Chonsawat’s body was being transferred today from Buriram to his home in Samut Prakan.

Newin Chidchob, owner of the Buriram United, and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul were seen rushing to the hospital last night after hearing Chonsawat had collapsed. 

Nantida Kaewbuasai, Chonsawat’s ex-wife and pop diva-turned-head of the Samut Prakan Provincial Administrative Organisation, also appeared at the hospital. 

A motorsports enthusiast, Chonsawat participated in super car racing competitions. He and his team won the Super Car Class 1-GT3 races in 2014. Chonsawat was also the first owner of the Samut Prakan City Football Club. The football club this morning mourned its former president.

In 2014, he was linked to domestic violence after photos leaked of extensive bruising on the body of his then-wife Janie Tienphosuwan.

Chonsawat and Nanthida’s daughter, Chontida “Pleng” Asavahame, has thrown her hat in the political ring as a candidate for Anutin’s Bhumjaithai Party. 

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