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Thailand Fast Tracks High Speed Rail Projects in this edition

Why Economic Policy Fails Business brief Business brief Going up in Smoke: Sweeping New ASEAN Secretary-General Changes to the Thai Tobacco Market Takes Office



austcham 2013 corporate sponsor Akara Mining Limited


Chamber events Tri-Nations Braai/Barbecue at The Sukhothai Bangkok


A Level students achieve outstanding exam success


specialist mortgage

specialist mortgage


Contents PATRON His Excellency James Wise Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand PRESIDENT John Anderson Meinhardt Portfolio: Regional Links VICE PRESIDENTS M.L. Laksasubha Kridakon Baan Laksasubha Resort Portfolio: Alumni

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business briefs Thailand Fast Tracks High Speed Rail Projects to North 8 Why Economic Policy Fails 10 Going up in smoke: Sweeping Changes to the Thai Tobacco Market 14 New ASEAN Secretary-General Takes Office embassy news 18 Australia in Thailand Competition Australian alumni 20 AustralianAlumni Introduces 2013 Corporate Sponsors

austcham corporate sponsor 21 Introducing 2013 Sponsors chamber Events 22 Tri-Nations Braai/Barbecue at The Sukhothai Bangkok New members & members’ changes 24 AustCham Welcomes New Members From the Chamber Office 26 Message from the Executive Director

Belinda Skinner Top Talent Asia Portfolio: Communications and English Teaching TREASURER Leigh Scott-Kemmis DBM Portfolio: Advancing Trade and Commerce DIRECTORS David Bell Crestcom – Ra-Kahng Associates Portfolio: Speakers and Talks Khun Jurairat Jammanee HASSELL Portfolio: AustCham Ball Warwick Kneale Baker Tilly Portfolio: Community Services Sam Mizzi McConnell Dowell Portfolio: AFL and Eastern Seaboard Industry Sriram Narayan Qantas / British Airways Portfolio: Business Conference and Business Awards Alan Polivnick Watson, Farley & Williams (Thailand) Limited Portfolio: Legal Charles Wrightman Natural Ville & Lenotre Portfolio: Sponsorship

22 Cover: High Speed Railway System – future of the coutry’s development...

Saeed Zaki, Ph.D. dwp Portfolio: Breakfast Briefings

From the Board

President’s Message EX OFFICIO Greg Wallis Senior Trade Commissioner, Thailand COORDINATORS Paul Wilkinson JVK International Movers Ltd. ESB Coordinator Email: Harry Usher Lady Pie Phuket Coordinator Email: Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce 20th Floor, Thai CC Tower 889 South Sathorn Road Bangkok 10120 Tel.: +66 2 210 0216 Fax: +66 2 675 6696

Editorial Committee Belinda Skinner, Josh Hyland, Gary Woollacott, Domenica Agostino Marketing & Production Scand-Media Corp. Ltd 4/41-42 Moo 3, Thanyakarn Village Ramintra Soi 14, Bangkok Tel.: +66 2 943-7166/8 Fax: +66 2 943-7169 Advertising Finn Balslev Email: Contributions to Advance magazine are welcome. Please submit content to by the first day of the month for publication in the following month’s magazine. Opinions expressed in Advance do not necessarily reflect the views of the Chamber. AustChamThailand Advance


t has been a busy start to the year, highlighted by a successful Tri-Nations BBQ on 16 January. We saw a strong turnout of over 300 people enjoying this outdoor event. Thank you to our sponsors and the New Zealand and South African Chambers of Commerce. The event calendar is fast filling up, and I would encourage you to regularly check our web site for updates. Planning for this year’s ball on 1 June is well underway. Another important event, coming up on 6 March, is our Annual General Meeting followed by Sundowners. This is when a new Board of Directors for 2013 will be elected. I am unable to stand for re-election, having served on the Board for the maximum period of six years, two as President. I would encourage all members to support the election process by voting or assigning a proxy, and if interested standing for the Board. Serving on the Board has been great experience. It has given me the chance to work with the dedicated staff of AustCham, the many committee members and three other AustCham Presidents. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet many interesting people including the Governor General of Australia, the Reserve Bank Governor of Australia, past and present Deputy Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, Australian Members of Parliament and Senators, and CEOs of major corporations. I have seen our chamber develop to become one of the best of its kind in South East Asia. This is something that I am immensely proud to have contributed to. AustCham is critically dependent on volunteers like myself, as well as its committed staff. If you think you can contribute please contact the office for more details including nomination forms for the Board.

more welcoming environment for the services sector, which would also help businesses in Thailand navigate the pressures that will accompany the journey towards an ASEAN Economic Community. The BOI has posted some useful information on its website and the AustCham office can also provide some background. If members have any views on the BOI’s thinking thus far we would like to hear from you. Separately, recent changes were made to the personal income tax in Thailand. The new tax rates will take effect in April and will be divided into seven steps from the current five, with the maximum rate for individuals with annual revenues of Baht 4 million ($AU 131,000) and above will drop to 35 percent from 37 percent currently.

I’d also like to welcome – and thank – our 2013 line-up of Annual Corporate Sponsors. You will see many familiar names among them, as well as some new ones. AustCham relies heavily on sponsorship and I encourage all AustCham members to support those who support us.

The government will continue to waive tax on the first Baht 150,000 worth of individual income. The income tax restructuring is expected to lower 2013 government revenue by around Baht 25 billion. This is on top of changes to the minimum wage, which took effect from 1 January is now Baht 300 across the country.

Members might be aware that the Board of Investment is currently considering its Five Year Investment Strategy for the period 2013-17. It is particularly heartening to see that developing a knowledgebased economy in Thailand is seen as a priority. Achieving this would require a

John Anderson President, AustCham Thailand

February 2013


business brief

Thailand Fast Tracks High Speed Rail Projects to North By Abigail Evans, Meinhardt (Thailand) Ltd. The Vision Stop Press! Chiang Mai is moving closer to Bangkok! The high speed rail vision is now starting to become a reality. Prime Minister Yingluck has approved the Bangkok to Chiang Mai high speed rail project and it is advertised to be operational in 2017. The Nong Khai route is also on the ‘fast track’ approval. So is this ambitious infrastructure plan actually going to happen? When we think how long it has taken for the MRT and BTS to expand it is hard to believe. However, the ever growing super power China seems to be convincing the Thai Government it can actually do this and in record time! I never thought I would say this but I think Thailand needs to take its time and not rush into this multi billion baht project. China It is no surprise that the Chinese Government has a ‘special interest’ in the northern routes that could ultimately connect China to Thailand (through Laos) opening up China to the rest of South East Asia and in particular the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean Ports. Bidding The bidding process for the construction of the circa 700km route to Chiang Mai is imminent and it is expected that China will be bidding against the established Japanese and German designers. In December last year, Luo Chinfang, China’s deputy minister for railway assured PM Yingluck that the Chinese rail system will be the cheapest bid. Prime Minister Yingluck did express to Chinese Ministers the importance of integrating Thailand’s existing rail system with the High Speed Rail network and that cost and construction timescale


February 2013

The Bangkok to Chiang Mai High Speed Rail Proposed Route

must not compromise safety. There is no doubt the Chinese systems will be the cheapest but can they be as efficient and safe as a Japanese system? Maintenance and Operation One question that needs a reassuring answer from Thailand’s Government is ‘are Thailand ready to maintain and operate a high speed railway system?’. The trains are expected to travel at speeds of at least 250kmph and require a safe

infrastructure to support it. Maintenance of the existing railway system is almost nonexistent although funding has been authorised to upgrade the deteriorating infrastructure and improve safety, particularly at road crossings. Sustainability The Chiang Mai terminal will be known as the Northern Land Port and is anticipated to be a major transport and logistics hub second to Bangkok in Thailand.

AustChamThailand Advance

business brief



Lower total travel time

Socio-economic benefits • Mobility of population • New investment attraction • New jobs • Localisation of technologies and production

Higher comfort and reliability • Less experience of waiting, queuing and passing through security control points in airports

Release of extra capacity which helps to alleviate congestion in other modes of transport • Reduce in congestion and delays in roads and airports

Reduce the probability of accident

Release of extra capacity which helps to alleviate congestion in other modes of transport • Three times as energy efficient as cars, six time as energy efficient as planes • Reduce air pollution that causes global warming and harms public health

Less weather dependency travel • Heavy rains, storms or fogs usually do not affect the journeys, whereas flights may be cancelled or delayed under these conditions

Boost regional development • Pull together the regional economy and promotes intra-regional business growth • Train stations can become the focal points for commercial redevelopment and promote substantial new development in surrounding areas • Reduce regional inequalities • Provide a significant boost to travel and tourism by facilitating weekend leisure trips by families from smaller towns to the major cities and vice versa

The journey between the two cities is estimated to be three and a half hours making train travel potentially more attractive, convenient and cheaper than air travel. With Chiang Mai regularly suffering from air quality problems, the high speed rail offers a more sustainable option reducing the increasing demand for flights and to some extent the ageing long distance bus fleet. There is huge potential for the construc-

tion of the line to provide significant employment opportunities for the population living within the vicinity of the route. When the system is operating there is likely to be a high demand for commercial land development adjacent to stations contributing massively to local and national economy. Dr Chula Sukmanop, Director General for the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) provided the

following table to explain what HSR can do for Thailand. In conclusion there is no doubt that an efficient railway system is desperately needed in Thailand and the benefits will go far beyond reducing travel time and the perceived distance between Bangkok and Northern Cities. In 2013 we will all be eagerly awaiting the results of the bidding process and detailed plans. Abigail Evans is an Executive Transport Planner at Meinhardt (Thailand) Ltd with over 11 years international experience in providing advice to the public and private sector on development and transport projects. The Meinhardt Group was originally formed in Australia in 1955 as an engineering consultancy. The Group expanded to Asia in 1972 and is now headquartered from Singapore. The Meinhardt Group is employee owned with more than 3,000 professional staff located in over 30 offices throughout Australia, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, USA and the United Kingdom. Meinhardt (Thailand) Ltd. was established in Bangkok in 1991 and now employs 250 staff with an expertise focused primarily on engineering consultancy services

AustChamThailand Advance

February 2013


business brief

Why Economic Policy Fails By Stephen Grenville


t was not pre-ordained that the economies of Europe, the US, and the UK would perform as poorly as it they have over the past two years. There were better policy options available which would have lowered unemployment (currently close to eight per cent in the US and the UK, and nearly 12 per cent in Europe), fostered stronger growth, and left official debt in better shape. The US and the UK might have struck a better balance between the need for short-horizon fiscal stimulus and, simultaneously, the need for a credible commitment to medium-term fiscal sustainability. Europe might have accepted in 2010 that Greece was bankrupt, written off the debt and shored up the other peripheral countries against contagion. Why were the superior options not chosen? The best explanation may be found in the no-man’s land between economics and politics, where policy is determined beyond the discipline of economic theory but not exclusively in the territory of the vote-counters, quorum-builders, lobbyists and focus groups. This is the territory where differences of opinion (which are stock-in-trade for economists) encourage prevarication rather than resolution and political ‘realities’ (i.e. compromise) produce third-best solutions. Vested interests thrive, and majority opinion has trouble being heard. Unresolved political processes (like the US debt ceiling and the European peripheral debt) generate continuing economic uncertainty, creating jittery financial markets and stifling the animal spirits on which economic growth depends. Let’s agree that the last couple of years have been a difficult environment for policy-making. The world economy rode out the global financial crisis well enough considering the melt-down in the financial sector, and seemed to recover quickly in 2010, helped by near-universal fiscal stimulus. World growth, at over 5 per cent,


February 2013

was above average, although not quite the snap-back to full capacity characteristic of a perfect ‘V’ shaped recovery. Looking back, this policy period seems easy: when the economy is collapsing, budget stimulus gets wide support. Then growth ran out of steam in 2011 and 2012, with the advanced countries falling to half the 2010 rate. The GFC legacy quickly boosted official debt-to-GDP ratio, partly through bank rescue costs (Spain and Italy Ireland), but more widely through the fiscal drag of the on-going downturn. High-profile economists analysed a century of disparate experience and confidently pronounced that many economies had now reached a critical universally-relevant debt threshold, beyond which debt would be unsustainable. Others thought that households had to atone for their years of balance-sheet expansion with years of austerity to grind down their excessive borrowing. No promise of a quick fix here. Meanwhile, the small-government lobby (whose extreme form is the US Tea Party, but parallels are found everywhere) saw

the opportunity to promote their ‘starve the beast’ advocacy, where cutting government spending is always good, whatever the phase of the cycle. Simple extrapolation of expenditures (e.g. US entitlements) backed the case. Their economic acolytes argued that strict austerity would promote growth through raising confidence. Economists have always been known for their disagreements, but now the differences get more public coverage, via blogs and the 24-hour news cycle. There is a premium on strongly-held views. In the name of ‘balance’, nutters get air-time. This cacophony of disparate nostrums doesn’t help. When economists were asked about the net benefit of the 2009 US fiscal stimulus (a specific example of what is perhaps the central macro-policy issue of the past few years), there was a babble of voices, with less than half saying that the stimulus was beneficial. Moreover, the same survey suggests that even when economists agree (which is not that rare among practical policy-makers), the public is quite likely to have a firmly-held contrary view.

AustChamThailand Advance

business brief

Most economists agree that the US stimulus lowered the unemployment rate, but less than half of public respondents agreed. The key problem is the political process: who could argue that it was a good idea to take the US debt-limit confrontation to the edge of default, and yet that happened in 2011 and may happen again. The succession of decisions ‘kicked down the road’ reflects a dysfunctional system, ‘vehemently adversarial’ and ‘scornful of compromise’. What to do? There may be guidance in the precedents where good economics was also good politics. There have been some remarkable successes. The public is unconvinced of the benefits of free trade and yet there has been huge progress in opening up international markets. Deregulation (particularly the enhancement of competition and the reduced role of state monopolies) has changed the business environment in many countries, without wide public support.

What were the key enabling characteristics of these successes? Sometimes international peer pressure helped (GATT/WTO on trade, OECD on deregulation, the IMF on flexible exchange rates). Sometimes the key was institutional reform. The classic case (currently under vigorous discussion) is central bank independence, which distanced monetary policy from the political arena. Some argue that putting fiscal policy into a similarly independent institutional framework is the answer. Perhaps a rule or binding commitment would help. Maastricht didn’t ensure European fiscal rectitude, but a Golden Rule (budget balance over the course of the cycle) sometimes nails down waverers and shifts the recalcitrants. Agreement among economists is not in itself essential for good policies. But good policies rarely come out of lowest-common-denominator compromise or armwrestling trade-offs between strongly differing models or ideologies. Institutional fixes (central bank independence) and

decision rules (the budget Golden Rule) don’t last forever, and have some element of democratic deficit. But they take the decisions beyond the gridlock of doctrinal differences and the excessive power of vested interests. Meanwhile, economic forecasts will be based at least as much on politics as on economics. ‘Political risk has entered our vocabulary. Whether staring over the fiscal cliff, battling the eurozone crisis, trying to profit from a rising China, or taking cover from the Middle East; around the world, politics has come to dominate market outcomes.’ This article was originally sourced from The Interpreter, the blog of the Lowy Institute for International Policy. The Interpreter aims to provide fresh insights into international events and a new way to experience and interact with the Lowy Institute. It is required reading for anyone interested in the subjects covered by the Institute.

You are invited to our

Jungle Picnic Saturday 9th March 2013 The fun starts at10.00am and finishes at 1.00pm Join us for a morning of delicious snacks, treasure hunt, games, prizes and art & craft activities. Just 200 Baht per family and ideal for children 2-6 years old. All are welcome!

Free shuttle bus to and from the MRT at the Thailand Cultural Centre, Exit 2. Reserve your tickets today! Visit our KIS Facebook page for reservations and event schedule. Email:

AustChamThailand Advance

February 2013


business brief

Going up in Smoke: Sweeping Changes to the Thai Tobacco Market By Watson, Farley & Williams (Thailand) Ltd


he Thai Ministry of Public Health is currently considering drafting a new Tobacco Consumption Control Act (the “TCCA”). The TCCA will replace the two laws which have regulated the tobacco industry for the past 20 years. As well as combining the Tobacco Products Control Act and the Non-Smoker’s Health Protection Act (both promulgated in 1992), the TCCA imposes tighter restrictions on the tobacco industry. The two most radical changes are the increase in the legal age at which Thais can purchase tobacco products and a ban on the sale of cigarettes in packets of less than 20. The move follows Thailand’s ratification of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (which came into force in 2005) (the “WHO FCTC”) and the more recent THB20 tax increase on cigarettes. The new legislation is designed to target the main players in the tobacco industry: manufacturers, distributors and export/import agents. Restrictions on Sales and Advertising Along with the above headline changes, the TCCA also restricts the means of selling ‘tobacco products’ (the definition of which has been broadened and now includes, for example, electronic cigarettes), and the outlets which may sell cigarettes. The previous restrictions on vending machines remain in force under the proposed legislation and the sale of tobacco by: • electronic media; • the internet; • peddling; • offering samples or bartering; • discounts; or • price cutting or bulk promotions, will be prohibited under the TCCA. The maximum fines for breaches of the restric-


February 2013

tions under the TCCA are Baht 38,000 higher than for breaches of the previously more limited restrictions. Certain locations are also banned from selling tobacco products. The current list of venues is uncontroversial, including such venues as religious sites and schools. However, ministerial regulations could be enacted with relatively little notice to extend the scope of the prohibition without the need for further legislation. The TCCA does not contain substantive provisions regulating the display of tobacco products in retail outlets, nor does it contain an express provision to ‘grandfather’ the notifications passed under the current laws. A regulatory vacuum will therefore come about as the notifications in force immediately prior to the TCCA will have been superseded but no new notifications will fill the space. It does, however, provide a mechanism for regulations govern-

ing the display of tobacco products to be introduced by the Minister of Public Health without further legislation being enacted. Coupled with this, there is also an obligation for those selling tobacco products to display stop smoking campaign material. More generally with regard to advertising and marketing, the TCCA prohibits the use of branding imagery in any advertising and marketing of tobacco products. Other merchandise bearing branding imagery is also prohibited, as is the use of such images in sponsorship arrangements. For the most part, the changes to the advertising and marketing of tobacco products give effect to Thailand’s commitments under the WHO FCTC. Companies may need to think carefully about how they promote their CSR activities in Thailand if the new legislation is enacted. The punishment for advertising tobacco products under the guise of CSR commitments is Baht 50,000 (over US$1,600) per day.

AustChamThailand Advance

business brief

Regulation of Product Composition

During this period of consultation industry representatives will need to be vocal if their point of view is to be taken on board by the Thai Ministry, as anti-smoking groups are likely to take the opportunity to push for further restrictions. Moreover, the restriction on communications between the Thai government and the tobacco industry which will be imposed if the new legislation goes ahead unchanged will make this the last opportunity for those in the tobacco industry to influence policy directly affecting them. Industry feedback should be submitted as a matter of urgency.

Currently tobacco products must meet the composition standards set down by the ministerial rules or the manufacturer risks having the sale of their product or its importation refused. The TCCA gives the Minister the additional power to order the destruction of any tobacco products whose composition does not meet the ministerial rules and to make public announcements about the dangers of the product. Reporting Obligations and Communication Restrictions The TCCA establishes a new reporting obligation which falls on representatives of the tobacco industry. An annual report must be submitted to a newly created Board of Directors of National Tobacco Control. The report must detail, amongst other things, the company’s accounts, charitable donations and CSR contributions. The Board also has the power to order the submission of documents relating to any financial relationships the company has with other players in the tobacco industry, members of the civil service and charitable or political organisations. Strict restrictions on any communication between government agencies and various state organisations and members of the tobacco industry are introduced by the new Act, so that communication must only take place where it is necessary and transparent and solely for the benefit of tobacco control or as required by law. Assessing the Impact Changes outlined above will have a dramatic impact on the tobacco industry’s operations in Thailand. The TCCA raises the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 20 years old, removing some 2 million Thai youths from the legal tobacco market. According to a study by the Department of Disease Control and National Statistics Organization (NSO), there are approximately 13 million smokers in Thailand while the average age at which Thai smokers take up the habit is 17.4 years. Although there is clearly a risk that smokers under 20 will continue to purchase in contravention of the new law, the move is aimed at reducing the number of smok-


February 2013

ers in a manner which is easy for law enforcement officers to police. Along with increasing the age limit on cigarette purchases to 20, Section 29 of Thai Alcohol Control Act B.E.2551 (2008) raises the age limit for alcohol consumption to 20: raising both age limits is anticipated to have a major impact on those graduating from high school to university as this is a critical age at which individuals tend to take up drinking and smoking. The new legislation also prohibits the sale of packets of less than 20 cigarettes which will impact the availability of tobacco products to occasional smokers and those on low incomes. According to statistics cited by the Bureau of Tobacco Control, sales of tobacco in packages of less than 20 are regularly consumed by smokers working in the agricultural sector, which makes up the majority of the Thai population. Both measures are anticipated to create a much stronger demand for counterfeit cigarettes and black market products on which duty has not been paid. Along with a shrinking market, overall changes in government policy, and in particular the recent tax hike, are expected to push consumers towards cheaper options, such as hand-rolling tobacco. The final public hearings were completed in 30 November 2012. The Bureau of Tobacco Control is now compiling and assessing all the feedback received and will submit a report to the cabinet for approval before the new legislation goes to the Parliament this year.

Looking forward, the Asian Economic Community (the “AEC”) is due to come into operation in 2015. The AEC will see trade restrictions with the community relaxed in order to encourage the free flow of goods between members. As the AEC is based on free market principles these are likely to come into conflict with the restrictions contained in the TCCA. There are mixed views on how this conflict will ultimately play out. On the one hand, the TCCA will apply to imported cigarettes and consequently might stifle cross-border trade. On the other hand, the removal of trade barriers could see the restrictions in the TCCA challenged as protectionist measures. Highlighting this possible conflict in industry submissions to the Thai Ministry may prove persuasive. Politically there is strong support for tighter tobacco controls, but there is also a very real awareness of the need to more fully integrate Thailand into the global economy. Watson, Farley & Williams is a leading international law firm with 14 offices in major financial centres in Europe, Asia and the USA. Since opening in 2001, WFW Bangkok has grown to offer a full range of corporate and commercial, finance, employment and dispute resolution services. The team has particular experience in the power and energy, oil and gas, natural resources, international trade, real estate, insurance and reinsurance, aviation, shipping and ICT sectors. If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please get in touch with a member of the team: Alan Polivnick, Partner (apolivnick@wfw. com); Christopher Osborne, Partner (

AustChamThailand Advance

Eric Kenso Ward, ISB Class of 1979

International School Bangkok Bringing out the superhero in each of us since 1951.

business brief

New ASEAN SecretaryGeneral Takes Office By Arno Maierbrugger


ietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh took over the office as ASEAN Secretary-General at a hand-over ceremony on 7 January at the ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta from his predecessor Surin Pitsuwan. Minh has been appointed for a non-renewable term of five years, selected from among the 10 member states based on alphabetical rotation. After Thailand, it was Vietnam’s turn to nominate its representative for this position.

Minh said after taking over that his urgent task will be to ensure that the ASEAN Economic Community, set to kick off in January 2016, is functionally planned, adding that regional peace and security are essential to this success. He said that ASEAN will have to reach conclusions on the conflict in the South China Sea and strengthen relationship with negotiating partners while maintaining its neutrality. The new ASEAN Secretary-General has been in his country’s foreign service since 1975, just after the reunification of Vietnam. He graduated from the Institute of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. He has served in the foreign ministry in various capacities, including as Deputy Director-General, then as Director-General for International Organisations and as Director-General for Multilateral Economic Cooperation. Minh also spent 14 years working at the United Nations. He was the President of the UN Security Council twice – first from 1-31July, 2008, and second from 1-31 October, 2009 – when Vietnam held a non-permanent seat on the Security Council. He has served as Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister since 2008. Pitsuwan Lauded Minh’s predecessor Surin Pitsuwan, who held the position from 2008-


February 2013

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretary general Le Luong Minh (left) of Vietnam with his predecessor Surin Pitsuwan from Thailand during the secretary general of ASEAN

2012, has been lauded as a “hard act to follow” by observers. Pitsuwan has raised the international profile of ASEAN, with the ASEAN Charter in place as a legal entity. Under his helm, ASEAN has had to deal with an intra-ASEAN conflict between Thailand and Cambodia, the devastation and reconstruction that followed Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, as well as ways to sustain ASEAN centrality amid intense competition among its major powers. As a former foreign minister of Thailand, Surin also utilised his experience and made use of his network to broaden ASEAN’s works and programmes, as well as international recognition. A Jakarta Post editorial published on 20 December praised Surin’s performance, stating unconditionally that of all the 12 secretaries-general who have come and gone since 1976, he has been the most effective.

It has not been announced which future job Pitsuwan is going to take on. According to his own statements toInside Investor, there are plenty of jobs awaiting him, whether in Thailand or in international organisations such as the UN. It is likely, however, that he will play the role as an adviser for ASEAN for a while and possibly even remain within the organisation. Brunei Chairs ASEAN in 2013 In 2013, Brunei is heading ASEAN as per a rotating country system. The small oilrich nation’s chairmanship comes at a challenging moment. Externally, ASEAN has to deal with new leaders in China, Japan and South Korea, whose expectations of ASEAN are still unknown. Brunei is expected to provide leadership during high-level talks on complex issues that defy immediate resolution, analysts says. The US-China relations and their impact on the region and the Asia-Pacific are at the forefront of these concerns.

AustChamThailand Advance

business brief

Who is Le Luong Minh, ASEAN Secretary-General?


e Luong Minh was born on 1 September, 1952. He is a native of Thanh Hoa, a coastal town 150 kilometres south of Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.

tenure in June 2011 concurrently Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was nominated ASEAN SecretaryGeneral by the government of Vietnam, a post which he took over on 1 January, 2013. The ASEAN leaders endorsed him as ASEAN Secretary-General for 20132017 in a ceremony at the bloc’s headquarter in Jakarta on 7 January, 2013.

Minh studied Diplomacy at the University of Foreign Affairs (now the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam) in Hanoi and received his degree in 1974. He then studied linguistics and English literature at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. In 1975, he began his career in Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Deputy Director-General for International Organisations in 1993. In 1995, he was appointed as Ambassador – Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and Other International Organisations in Geneva. In 1997, he was appointed as Ambassador – Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations at Headquarters. Between December 1999 to December 2002, Minh was Deputy Director-General,

He is married and has two daughters. then Acting Director-General for International Organisations in Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry. He became Acting Director-General, then Director-General for Multilateral Economic Cooperation in the Foreign Ministry from December 2002 to January 2004. From 2004 to 2011, Minh was Vietnam’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the United Nations. From August 2007 to December 2008, he was concurrently Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and from December 2008 till the end of his

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February 2013



Akara Mining Limited


kara Mining Limited is a highly successful gold mining and exploration company that owns and operates the low cost Chatree gold mine in central Thailand using world’s best practice for safe, environmental and socially responsible operations. Chatree is the largest gold mine in Thailand and is one of the lowest cost gold operations in the world. Akara’s vision is to be a preferred gold company delivering shareholder value through profit and growth. Our expertise is based on embracing cultural diversity and skill development, fostering teamwork and a focus on the best result for all stakeholders. Safety in the workplace is integral to Akara’s operational and sustainability policies and the mine strives for an incident free environment for all employees and contractors. Akara


February 2013

has developed appropriate policies, codes, procedures and ongoing training to help maintain an accident free work place.

Akara continues to set world-class safety and environmental standards and is gaining international recognition. The Chatree gold mine contin-

AustChamThailand Advance


ues to be the “World’s Safest Gold Mine”. All international and local standards have been maintained with accreditation for Social Accountability SA 8000, Health & Safety OHSAS 18001, Environment ISO 14001, Quality ISO 9001, Laboratory Standard ISO 17025, certified as compliant with the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMI) and the Thai Labour Standard TLS 8001. Akara has a proven track record of genuine capacity building within the communities in which we work,

AustChamThailand Advance

backed by award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility standards. Our supply chain policy is to buy local and to help expand the capacities of local contractors wherever we can.

training program. 99 per cent of our employees are Thai and 75 per cent of these are from the local communities. 40 per cent of the management positions are held by women.

Akara believe that “People With Education and Training are Assets, Not Costs”. Akara promotes education through the building of schools, the sponsorship of educational programs in local schools, providing scholarships to local students, providing educational assistance to employees and hiring students as part of their school

Akara will continue to explore, develop, mine and process gold free from exploitative and unnecessarily harmful practices. We will work with all our stakeholders with integrity and for mutual benefit, while minimising our environmental impact and leaving a meaningful community legacy. Our motto is “SUCCESS TOGETHER”

February 2013


embassy news


Visit Australia in Thailand on Facebook – the latest way to stay connected with the Australian Embassy in Thailand. Keep abreast of Embassy activities, scholarships and cultural programs. Learn about Australia’s relationship with Thailand, and stay up-to-date with news from Australia. Australia in Thailand and learn more about Australia!

Step 2 Take a photo of yourself with anything Australian. Be creative! Step 3 Email your photo and photo caption (maximum 10 words) along with your contact details (your Facebook user name and mobile number) to

We will upload your photo & caption to our ‘What’s your Australian moment?’ photo album on the Australia in Thailand Facebook page. Two IPAD minis will be given away to the most creative and popular photos. Get your friends to ‘like’ your photo to improve your chances of winning! Take part in our ‘What’s your Australian moment?’ competition by following these three simple steps:

Step 1 ‘Like’ the Australian Embassy’s Australia in Thailand Facebook page.


Submissions close on 25 February 2013. Winners will be announced on 1 March 2013. For more information on rules, visit Australia in Thailand Facebook Page.



For more information visit


February 2013

AustChamThailand Advance

australian alumni

AustralianAlumni Introduces 2013 Corporate Sponsors Alumni Partner Opus Recruitment Ltd was formed in 2003 to service the needs of local and multinational companies that seek to recruit high quality of people. Excellent human resources are essential for all organisations that are serious about competing in an increasingly difficult business environment, and Opus specialises in identifying and recruiting senior level business people who will help to lead an organisation to achieve its full potential. Opus’ consultants take the time to understand a client’s business so that searches can be tailored to the client’s specific requirements, resulting in the recruitment of the best qualified candidate. Alumni Supporter Blackmores, Australia’s leading natural health brand, improves peoples’ lives by delivering the world’s best natural health solutions, to become peoples’ first choice in healthcare. We achieve this by translating our unrivalled heritage and knowledge into innovative, quality branded healthcare solutions that work. Our high quality products and reliable free health advisory services are among the many reasons that Blackmores is the most trusted name in natural health.

The AustralianAlumni program unites and supports graduates of Australian universities by providing activities and opportunities for Australian alumni to leverage their Australian education for personal and professional success. For information about becoming a member please visit the website www. or facebook page


February 2013

AustChamThailand Advance

is proud to introduce the Corporate Sponsors for 2013 Gold Sponsors Akara Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (Kingsgate) is a highly successful gold mining, development and exploration company, traded on the Australian Stock Exchange (KCN: ASX). The company owns and operates (through Akara Mining) the world class low Chatree gold mine in central Thailand, the Challenger underground gold mine in South Australia and is undertaking feasibility studies on its two advanced development projects, the 100% owned Nueva Esperanza silver/ gold project in the highly prospective Maricunga Gold Belt in Central Chile and the Bowdens silver project in NSW. Kingsgate is a responsible gold producer and explorer with a commitment to achieving the highest levels of sustainability (workplace safety, community and environmental responsibility) by working with and respecting our stakeholders. BlueScope BlueScope Steel Limited is a world leader in quality coated steel products (Colorbond®/Zincalume®) and innovative steel solutions such as Lysaght® Roofing/Walling, Butler®PreEngineered Steel Buildings, EndurFrame® Residential House Frames & Ranbuild® Sheds. The company began manufacturing in Thailand in 1988, and has grown to become the number one coated steel supplier and number one steel building solutions provider in Thailand. The company operates three businesses in Thailand. All are joint ventures with Loxley Public Company Limited. Minor International Minor International PCL is today one of the largest hospitality and leisure companies in the Asia Pacific Region. With over 80 hotels & resorts, 1,300 restaurants and 200 retail trading outlets, Minor meets the growing needs of consumers in Thailand and in 22 markets from Africa to Australia.

Silver Sponsors

Central Food Retail is the leading supermarket chain in Thailand currently operating 230 stores nationwide, a business unit of Central Retail Corporation, the country’s largest retail conglomerate.

Capital Television Group was established in 1995 by Australian expats. The award-winning production company focuses on English

Bronze Sponsors

language TV programming and corporate video productions for a wide range of clients. Capital TV’s travel and lifestyle programs air on-line and on TV daily in Thailand and have reached millions of viewers across Asia on some of the regions biggest broadcast networks.

Thana Burin AP is a specialist communications firm that connects industry and government leaders to media, with over 21 years of experience domestically and within SE Asia/Oceania.

Singapore Airlines is the largest South East Asian airline. Singapore Airlines operates a hub at Changi Airport and has a strong presence in the Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia and “Kangaroo Route’ markets.

QBE Insurance (Thailand) Public Company Limited has an extensive branch network with offices in Bangkok and major regional centres. Solutions are widely available to meet business, professional or personal insurance needs. With expertise in general insurance lines, QBE Thailand is especially strong in marine, professional indemnity, directors & officers liability and contract works insurance.

Chamber Events

Tri-Nations Braai/Barbecue at The Sukhothai Bangkok Wednesday 16 January 2013 AustCham Thailand together with the South African-Thai Chamber of Commerce and the New Zealand-Thai Chamber of Commerce once again took pleasure in hosting the seventh annual Braai/ Barbecue where a mixed selection of food and beverages form the three nations was served. Taking place once again in the beautiful garden of the elegant Sukhothai hotel. Special thanks go to our event sponsors for helping to make the evening such a success. The Barbecue Store, Central Food Retail Company Limited, Clubhouse Bar Limited, Marsh PB Co., Ltd, MBMG Group, Meinhardt (Thailand) Ltd., Samitivej Public Company Limited, Sri Ayudhya General Insurance PCL including the beer sponsor for the evening San Miguel Thailand.





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7 February 2013

AustChamThailand Advance

Chamber Events




1) Graham Macdonald, South African-Thai Chamber of Commerce President; Justin Barnett, New Zealand-Thai Chamber of Commerce President; H.E.Robina Marks, South African Ambassador to Thailand; Pratim Ghose, Baker Tilly Thailand; John Anderson, Meinhardt, AustCham President; Nitichai Vudjakorn, Smart Living Bangkok; Brad McElroy,The Barbecue Store. 2) Nicolas Leloup, Samitivej Hospital; Porntip Utsahaphan, Samitivej Hospital; Pawita Chantracharoen, Samitivej Hospital; Barkha Kumar, Samitivej Hospital. 3) Chris Childs, QBE Insurance; Peter Shinkfield, Marlo Group Thailand; May Ounyart, Marlo Group Thailand. 4) Leanne L.Pamintuan, Sandee Thai Language School; Heather Preen, Shrewsbury International School; Debbie Brophy, SAS. 5) Banphot Doungpronprasert, Sala Rattanakosin; Saengphet Wannaprasert, Sala Rattanakosin; Tony Wrigley, Sala Rattanakosin. 6) Sean O’Maionough; Natchanan Dechaakhrawanit, Allied Pickford; Porntip Utsahaphan, Samitivej hospital; Petsy Wecker, Bangkok Prep; Keith B. Wecker, Bangkok Prep. 7) Somphong Sriket, AMC Convergent IT; Dr John Flanagan, AMC Convergent IT; Erika Lee, Meinhardt; Nicole Thio,Meinhardt. 8) Nicolas Leloup, Samitivej Hospital; Yanisa Thapluang, Wotif Group; Troy Cooper, Wotif Group. 9) Vincent Swift, Transearch; Mark McDowell, The Barbecue Store; David Armstrong. 10) Vu Thi Hoai, Resource Link Consulting Group; Markus Wehrhahn, Resource Link Consulting Group.

AustChamThailand Advance

February 2013


NEW MEMBERS and members’ changes

Siam Chaophraya Holdings Company Limited 333 Charoennakorn Road Klongtonsai, Klongsan, Bangkok Phone: 662 861 2888 Fax : 662 861 2361 Website: Email:

Representatives: Ms Katja Henke - General Manager Ms Josephine Png - Director of Marketing Background: Developed as one of the finest hotels in Bangkok and complete with a riverside location which inspired the W-shaped design, The Peninsula Bangkok offers panoramic views from every room. The hotel adds a distinctive architectural statement to the Bangkok skyline and guarantees luxurious comfort, sophisticated facilities, extraordinary dining options and the legendary Peninsula service. The hotel located on the banks of the scenic Chao Phraya River in Thonburi, close to the Sathorn Bridge and adjacent to the Saphan Taksin BTS Station, The Peninsula Bangkok is within easy access of the business and shopping districts of the city. It is also close to several of the city’s famous attractions and just 45 minutes from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Products / Services The Peninsula Bangkok has 370

luxurious and spacious guestrooms and suites which are furnished in a magnificent classical style, including the 3,890sq ft (364sq m) Peninsula Suite, four Theme Suites and 60 onebedroom suites. Each guestroom and suite is equipped with a state-of-theart electronic system that allows guests to control guestroom features with the touch of a button.

Background: Ms Richella Daly is a Director of JC Consulting Asia Ltd - a business based in Bangkok which provides administration outsource services to Financial Planners in Australia and Ex-pat Professionals based in Bangkok.

The Peninsula Bangkok offers 7,595sq ft (706sq m) of versatile meeting and event space, providing the flexibility for every type of event from intimate meetings to lavish galas.

• Mr Josh Hyland, Business Development Manager ASEAN is a new representative of AEC South East Asia Co., Ltd • Mr Praphan Likitwacharapakorn, Managing Director is a new representative of BLCP Power Limited • Ms Piyawan Suwapap, Senior Sales & Marketing Executive is a new representative of Virgin Australia • Mr Neil Chiu, Quality & Operations Manager is a new representative of Allied Pickford • Mr Ong Cheow Teck, General Manager is a new representative of Singapore Airlines Ltd

They also have many dining restaurants and The Peninsula Spa features 14 treatment rooms and four suites (two Private Spa Suites and two River Private Spa Suites), a Tea Lounge and Relaxation Rooms which together create a full-service oasis in the heart of the city. Treatments and packages are designed using European, Oriental and Ayurvedic philosophies for an entirely new, holistic experience. The Peninsula Spa includes exceptionally natural, high-quality skin care products to achieve outstanding results for energy, tranquility and balance.

Daly Richella, Ms Director of JC Consulting Asia Ltd 167/83 (9D3) Wittayu Complex New Petchburi Road, Makkasan Ratchthevi, Bangkok 10400 Email:

Change of Representative

Change of Company Name • QBE Insurance (Thailand) Company Limited change name to QBE Insurance (Thailand) Public Company Limited • AEC Group change name to AEC South East Asia Co., Ltd

Important Message for AustCham Members

Annual General Meeting (AGM) The AustCham Thailand AGM is to be held on Wednesday 6 March 2013. All members are encouraged to attend for a review of the year gone by and for the important Board Election. The board guide the Chamber over the ensuing 12 months and the elected Board subsequently elects a President. The Board reflects the Chamber, which is itself a reflection of its Members – that is you. All Members are encouraged to seriously consider what contribution they can make to the Chamber, both in general terms and by possibly standing for the Board of Directors. Application forms are available from the AustCham website. If you cannot attend it is important that you assign a Proxy, as we need to ensure that a quorum is achieved. For more information, please visit our website or contact the AustCham office.


February 2013

AustChamThailand Advance

austcham member offers

Pathumwan Princess Hotel Shopaholic’s Dream

Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square Meet @ Novotel and STAY FREE

A Shopaholic’s Dream offers only Baht 4,520 net/room/night for single shoppers 5,920 Baht and net/room/night for twin/double in the comfort of a spacious Superior Room. Inclusive of buffet breakfast, an exclusive MBK Discount Card and a hotel food and beverage voucher worth Baht 1,000.

Book a residential room for 15 nights or more at Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square and receive one complimentary night at any one of their 12 Novotel Hotels and Resorts throughout Thailand.

Located in the centre of Bangkok’s shopping precinct, with direct entry to MBK Shopping Centre, from the hotel’s lobby, and convenient access to the BTS Skytrain.

Complimentary room vouchers are valid for six months from date of issue. A maximum of three room vouchers can be issued per event and subject to room availability. Offer until: 31 March 2013 Call: +662 209 8888

Offer until: 31 March 2013 Call: +66 2216 3700

Pattaya Marriott Resort and Spa Escape to Pattaya and Save 10 per cent off Room Rates Enjoy the ultimate escape with an unforgettable getaway. Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa offer a 10 per cent discount on Benchmark rates, with a 15 minute “Back & Shoulder Massage” at Royal Garden Spa, plus a complimentary room upgrade. Terms & Conditions: • Room upgrade is subject to availability • Please present Australian Passport upon arrival • Cannot combine promotion with any other offer Offer until: 31 March 2013 Call: +66 38 412 120 #Sales & Marketing Department Email:

Blithe Spirit

Tickets are on sale now for Bangkok Community Theatre’s production of Noel Coward’s classic comedy “Blithe Spirit” at The British Club, Silom Soi 18, with dinner theatre performances at 7:30pm on Thursday, Friday & Saturday, March 14th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd, 2013. Tickets at B1200 (including dinner) are available through BCT by phone or email (087-529-3188 and Seating is limited, so book early to ensure a magically good time! For more information, please visit the BCT website at AustChamThailand Advance

February 2013


From the Chamber Office

Message from the Executive Director

Calendar of Events Wednesday 6 February Bangkok Sundowners

18.00-21.00 Venue: Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Sponsor: MBMG Group CS Sponsor: Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP Foundation) Saturday 16 February English teaching at Wat Phra Patharnporn School, Sri Ra Cha

Bus departs from Thai CC Building at 8.00 and returns at 16.00 Location: Wart Phra Patharnporn School, Sri Ra Cha Friday 22 February Eastern Seaboard Sundowners Hosted by AustCham



asting no time, the AustCham Board of Directors had its first meeting for 2013 in mid- January. One of the key items on the agenda was a ‘Strategic Objectives’ document to guide the work of the Chamber office for the year ahead. The document also acts as a performance evaluation tool with each of the objectives mapped to a key performance area and a set of required actions. It will be reviewed by the Board quarterly and amended in line with members’ wants and needs and directions by the Board. Looking at the tasks that have been set for the weeks and months ahead and it’s pretty clear we are going to be busy. One of our key objectives is to boost and broaden member participation in the Chamber and its activities. Our events – particularly Sundowners – are already popular but our sense is that members would like to see more opportunities to engage. A perennial challenge for us, however, is identifying the topics you are most interested in. So if you have an idea for a talk, seminar or anything else we’d like to hear from you. When we did a quick canvass of the business environment in Thailand we couldn’t help but recall the challenges we identified in our May 2012 Study of Australian Business in Thailand. In particularly, we said that a structural shortage of labour, skills deficit, greater competition brought about by an increasingly integrated Asian region, and the forthcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) were combining to put pressure on businesses to adapt and evolve. Productivity, we said, was only going to become more important.


February 2013

Clearly the pressures we identified in 2012 have only intensified as we enter 2013. We want to give a particularly focus this year, therefore, to three of the factors we think businesses will need to consider carefully as they navigate this increasingly complex terrain – People, Productivity and Performance. Our plan is to hold regular events on a specific topic falling under the ‘People, Productivity, Performance’ theme and to accompany them with blog articles and other methods that engage members in the conversation. If you’ve got ideas for topics that might be included in this program we would very much like to hear from you. Another focus for us in early 2013 will be helping the Board to invigorate its committees as part of the yearly Board renewal process. We’ll begin by seeking new volunteers for the Ball Community and Community Services Committee. Of course there will also be the opportunity for interested members to stand for the Board of Directors itself at the March Annual General Meeting. Our President John Anderson has reached the maximum term of six years on the Board and is, therefore, unable to stand. We will miss his leadership and thank him for the time he has voluntarily contributed to making AustCham a stronger and more capable institution.

Monday 25 February Makha Bucha Day

AustCham Office Closed

Thank you to January sponsors:

Mark Carroll Executive Director, AustCham Thailand

AustChamThailand Advance




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Advance ~ February 2013  
Advance ~ February 2013  

Advance is AustCham Thailand's high profile monthly magazine. It outlines the Chamber's activities and provides information on pertinent bus...