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DEC 2013

Vietnam Cambodia Laos

Vietnam with its motivated and youthful workforce, is a businessman’s paradise


Buy a piece of Paradise


ecently there was an advertisement in an English-Language Magazine: ‘Invest in Paradise, prices start from 12.2 million Baht…..….’ I imagine The Land Developer and Saint Peter himself sitting there, at Heaven’s gate, issuing eternal Title Deeds to the hopefuls - all of them dressed in white, fresh from the earthly struggle for fortune and fame. Maybe His Darkness, the Devil, will also be in attendance, ready to help those of us who cannot pay 12.2 million Baht. He will then guide us on the voyage deep downstairs to an even warmer location. Well, well, just marketing words of course but this ad made me think of real and false development.

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St. Matthew’s gospel 13.12 says: “For the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away”. Maybe the Land Developer knew this text and just looked at it face value, ‘let’s sell Paradise then’ but that is meanwhile not within his reach and I suppose the church can come up with an interpretation, showing the silliness of the developers misuse of words. One of my theological friends gave the following interpretation: ‘The one who will listen and learn [to the teaching of Our Lord] will experience lots of fruits thereof, but the one who let himself be deceived by greed, will lose it all’. My friend added that his interpretation was maybe a bit ‘rough and ready’, but in accordance. And as it shows so often, the Christian message is well in line with the Buddhist teaching; in this case the teaching of ‘The Middle path’, where we are told “to stay neutral, upright and centered. Meaning to investigate and penetrate the core of life………with an unbiased attitude” [Teaching in Chinese Buddhism 1996]. Behind both teachings are of course that if our intellectual compass is biased and for example geared solemnly towards money matters or sexual pleasures we cannot think in a true analytical way, we then become mental slaves. Then we maybe will fall into the trap and believe that a piece of paradise can be bought!

Publisher : 211 Soi Prasert Manukitch 29 Prasert Manukitch Road Chorakae Bua, Lad Prao Bangkok 10230, Thailand Tel. +66 2 943 7166-8, Fax: +66 2 943 7169 E-mail:

Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919) was an American business magnate who owned the biggest steel empire in the US. He became meanwhile, and quite early in life, a bit untraditional and decided to give away his billions. He declared: “There is no idol more debasing than the worship of money” – or: “There is nothing lower than money worshipping” [Wikipedia]. He then founded more than1.200 public libraries both in the USA and in Europe, he built Carnegie Hall; MellonCarnegie University etc. etc. and he was left with only a few millions when he died.

Editor-in-Chief : Gregers A.W. Møller

What he saw and what we all have to see is that money is without soul and if we worship them they will freeze our mind and make us senseless addicts.

Assistant Editor: Wachiraporn Janrut

Happy Christmas and May your God be with you.

Advertising : Finn Balslev Graphic Designer : Supphathada Numamnuay

Daily news and features here:

Flemming Winther Nielsen is Senior Lecturer (retired) DSH. DK. M.Sc.soc. (Aalborg University). The author has working and research experience from the Sudan, Zambia, Portugal and Thailand.

Past Events

Swedish business delegation to Vietnam Photos by Hema Selva


Swedish Business Delegation comprising high-level representatives from eleven companies, largely based in Singapore, visited Hanoi on 17-19 November 2013. The event was organised by the Embassies of Sweden in Hanoi and Singapore in close cooperation with the Swedish Business Association of Singapore. The Business Delegation was led by the Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore, Mr. Hakan Jevrell together with Camilla Mellander Ambassador of Sweden to Vietnam.



1. Breakfast Meeting 2. Meeting with Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Hai 3. Briefing with EU Ambassador 4. People’s Committee


Busy DBA and SBA day in Jakarta


ednesday the 27th November was a busy day for members of Danish Business Association Indonesia and Swedish Business Association Indonesia. Starting at 3 pm in the afternoon, members of DBA met for an informal meeting in the Fountain Lounge of Grand Hyatt. They continued from here to the Bromo Room for the Nordic Business Forum Meeting at 16.00 After about an hour, the participants were joined by the new EU Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Olof Skoog. Finally, at around 7 pm, all joined in the Burgundy room as guests of the SBA networking Glogg party and some Christmas snacks.

6 ScandAsia.Indo China • December 2013


Past Events

Viking Fest and 15th Anniversary


he 15th anniversary of Nordcham in HCMC was celebrated along with the 5th Viking Fest. The party let members and their guests get a taste of Viking life, travel back in time and celebrate the spirit of the Vikings. The participants boarded the Viking ship at Me Linh Point Pier at 18.00, where they were given special Viing outfit. Then the party sailed to dinner at Binh Quoi 2 Restaurant. The party was interspersed with fun games, live music and entertainment.

December 2013 • ScandAsia.Indo China


News Brief

Sweden’s ABB urged to abandon Malaysian dam project Norway, Indonesia ink seafood safety pact


orway and Indonesian have signed a Mutual Recoginition Arrangement (MRA) on Quality and Food Safety of Fish and Fishery Prod-

ucts. The Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Quality and Food Safety of Fish and Fishery Products between the Fish Quarantine and Inspection Agency of The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) of Norway was signed in Bergen, Norway in September 2013. The Norwegian Embasy has actively facilitated the meetings and discussions leading to the agreement and considers this a milestone in the Indonesian-Norwegian bilateral cooperation on fisheries. The Norwegian Seafood Council has high hopes for increased export of Norwegian seafood, especially Norwegian salmon, to the Indonesian market. Norway is the world’s largest exporter of fresh, air flown salmon and can deliver fresh salmon throughout the year to a market in strong economic growth. We see a strong trend within the sushi and sashimi segment throughout Asia and believe that this trend will gain momentum also in Indonesia in the years to come. Growth for Norwegian Salmon in Indonesia rests on the ability to bring in more fresh salmon to professionals and consumers. Due to lack of harmonized approval systems between our two countries the Norwegian salmon is currently under a 48 hours mandatory testing regime. With this newly signed MRA it is our hope that the quarantine established for extra testing can be removed. This will greatly improve the market situation for Indonesian importers who create value added products for export and domestic sales and give Indonesian consumers a fresher product. An improved trade situation for seafood from Norway will provide more tasty, healthy seafood from the cold, clear waters of Norway to Indonesia.


wiss-based NGO, Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) called on Swedish-Swiss power and technology group, ABB, to withdraw from all dam-related activities in Malaysia’s Sarawak. BMF criticised the Zurich-based multinational corporation, which specializes in automation and robotics, for ‘providing key technologies to Sarawak’s controversial dam projects’. In a statement released in November, BMF said that ABB, which has operations in around 100 countries, ‘is involved in a controversial dam initiative with vast environmental and social impacts in Sarawak’. “The human rights situation at the Murum Dam has been criticised for a while, but now the conflict has spread further and reached the area of the planned Baram Dam. In both areas, affected communities are manning blockades. “Since 2009, ABB has deepened its involvement in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo, where the government is currently realising a series of at least 12 mega-dams,” said BMF. It also noted that the planned dam programme would ‘dislodge tens of thousands of natives and inundate over 1,600 sq km of rainforest and farmland.

Saab, Malaysia mull weapon tech collaboration


wedish aerospace and defence company, Saab International Malaysia Sdn Bhd, has expressed interest in entering into partnerships with local companies to develop radar and weaponry technologies. Saab International Malaysia Managing Director, Thomas Linden, said the company was also open to discussion about possibility of technological tranfer. “We have been here (Malaysia) since 1970. Our strategies are to help South-East Asia countries, like Malaysia, improve defence capabilities and move to next level,” he told reporters after a briefing session at Malaysia’s National Defence University in November. Linden said its smart partnership with DRB Hicom involved working together to develop military systems for the Malaysian Armed Forces. “We have a long history with Malaysia’s defence industry players … we supply a lot of sophisticated technologies to Malaysia’s air force and navy,” he said. On Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s decision to postpone buying new MultiRole Combat Aircraft, Linden said he was optimistic of winning the deal once the government decided to continue with the purchase.

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8 ScandAsia.Indo China • December 2013

News Brief

Indonesia adopts Finnish model in education revamp


he Indonesian government says it intends to reform its education system by learning from Finland’s known as one of the world’s best teaching and learning systems. Indonesia’s Education and Culture Ministry Secretary-General Ainun Naim, said that the ministry hoped a cooperation between Finnish and Indonesian education experts would help in the reform of the country’s education despite difference in the contexts and organizational setups. “We are hoping to set a new benchmark for education. However, we must acknowledge that we both have different social conditions, which means that an education system that works perfectly for one country may not translate perfectly for another. We have to take in other considerations,” Ainun said at a recent Finnish-Indonesian Symposium on “Education and The Role of Teachers” in Jakarta recently. During the symposium, Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg said that Finland’s education system featured a systematic focus on equity. “Equity means that the system has to be designed in a way that will help, with a particular focus on children who come from families or backgrounds that do not support their learning,” Sahlberg said. “Equity means that the school system must endeavour to compensate for those things,” he said. Schools with more students from deprived backgrounds should receive more financial support than other schools. Finland does not recognise national-standardised exams. The only standardised examination, he said, was conducted at the end of high school, when students were about 18 years old.

Norway is top giver among Nordic’s US$50M for Typhoon Relief


he spirit of giving is not lost to our friends in Nordic countries – the home of the Philippines’ favorite grandpa and very jolly symbol of giving himself, Santa Claus. Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland have given close to US$50 million in donations by the end of November for typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief efforts, according to Philippine Foreign Ministry. This excludes technical and other forms of assistance which some of the said countries have also been providing to the Philippines since the aftermath of the super typhoon. Following is the breakdown of donations per country, based on the various media reports, interviews, and updates from the respective Foreign Ministries of the five (5) Nordic countries which the Philippine Embassy in Oslo has been able to collect and receive: Norway was among the first to pledge aid to the Philippines after super typhoon Yolanda struck,

providing the country with an initial contribution of NOK20 million or US$3.2 million in aid via the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Red Cross. This aid was increased to NOK85 million or US$13.71 million and on 19 November, the Norwegian government has proposed to increase its humanitarian assistance to the Philippines with an additional NOK140 million or US$22.58 million. Once approved by the Norwegian Parliament, Norway will be contributing a total of NOK205 million (US$33.06 million) to the relief efforts.

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December 2013 • ScandAsia.Indo China


Vietnam with its motivated and youthful workforce is

a businessman’s paradise By Indius Pedersen


t is too easy to attribute Sigmund Stromme’s success to finding himself in the right place at the right time. The Norwegian shipping executive has over the past 20 years had his share of tough challenges and setbacks, doing business in Vietnam. Stromme has plenty of expert insights to share from his vantage point as an active participant in the transformation of Vietnam since the opening up of the Southeast Asian company’s economy to the world in the mid-1980s to the country today being one of the rising stars among the world’s developing countries. The way Stromme sees it, the key to any business success is the ability to make full use of the opportunities that presents themselves which is exactly what he has done since he arrived in Vietnam in 1993. Stromme has built up Thoresen Vinama Group to become a leading shipping and logistics operator/fertilizer producer. The 2008 10 ScandAsia.Indo China • December 2013

Thoresen Vinama’s takeover of Baconco fertiliser was the crown jewel of his achievements. “I have always wanted a life in which excitement and speed are key elements of my work, and so it will be,” said the sprightly 57-year-old Norwegian. “But I cannot do this without a good Vietnamese staff. They have done excellent job providing me with crucial support that I need.” From the start in 2008, with expansion in production facilities and growing workforce, Thoresen Vinama Group has now moved its head office to Petroland Building in HCMC. “I still remember on Day One the fertilizer manufacturing company was running in the red. There were red figures everywhere. Today, the company registered profit after tax of over USD7 million this year. Stromme arrived in Vietnam in 1993. He was put in charge of the construction of the Freight Terminal in Halong Bay. Thoresen entered into a

joint venture with Vinamarine and set up a representative office. The company grew slowly but surely. They established hadquarters in HCMC and in 2008 the company bought – together with others shareholders – Baconco. The fertilizer manufacturer had earlier built warehouses that they used and rent out excess spaces to other companies. “I wear a lot of hats. But they all fit me,” Stromme said. “I like my work pace to be fast and intense. And I work seven days a week. When I’m off duty and have my valued spare time, I switch to being the chairman for NordCham in HCMC.” “The NordCham will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year, so I have a lot to do in my spare time. Viking Party, Charity and Christmas dinner for all the members,” said Stromme. “What’s important for me and the future of our company and ultimately the future of Viet-

nam, is the young people,” Stromme said. “I enjoy working with young people who bring with them lots of enthusiasm. They are so eager to learn about business and practice foreign languages.” Vietnam is different from some other developing countries in for instance Africa, he says. “I was in Africa during most of the 1980s, then I came to Vietnam. Later I went back to Africa for a visit.. Nothing seems to have happened in Africa over the period of 10 years!”, he said. “If you come back to Vietnam after a period of absence, you’ll notice that a lot of things happened. Everything has moved forward. And it still is making progress.” “When I first arrived in Vietnam, we had to sail up the Mekong to do business. Today we have highways, bridges and modern infrastructure. ”

“In my opinion, Vietnam is simply one of the best places to do business. A businessman’s paradise, if ever there was such a thing. Things keep moving. Vietnamese may do their job differently, but as soon they realize that their way is not the best in the world, they want to change and adopt new ideas.” “In many major Chinese cities, you see rapid development, but they have serious recession in the countryside. In comparison, Vietnam has got it just right. There is development in big cities as well as in the countryside. And that is an important difference. The Vietnamese government has not forgotten the farmers.” Vietnam is a country which has great potential for development in whatever way it chooses. In the beginning, the country relied on assistance through foreign aids, he said. But now they continue in the same speed with little help from other countries.

“It may well be true that Vietnam still has many state enterprises, which have yet to be reformed and modernized. But that inefficient system, a relic of the past, will change sooner or later,” Stromme said. After two decades in Vietnam, Sigmund Stromme said he could not emphasize enough the desirable character traits that have made Vietnamese workers the best people to work with. “In Europe they hold a lot of meetings basically about nothing. In Vietnam you talk briefly and the job will get done right away. In Europe, the members of the staff go home on an agreed time everyday. In Vietnam, the workers keep working until they finish their jobs. It will be very difficult for me to go back to Europe, where complicated work process is the name of the game. I will probably stay in Vietnam for the rest of my life.”

December 2013 • ScandAsia.Indo China


in Asia 2013 Romhild’s Bangkok Christmas 2013


lizabeth and Peter Romhild are frequent participants in events in the Bangkok community and a very charismatic couple. Together the couple has one daughter and one son who are both studying abroad. Elizabeth and Peter met in Iran, where Elizabeth was born by a Danish mother and Armenian father. In 1979, they had to leave the country when the revolution started. Since then, they have lived in several countries and in 1988 they arrived in Bangkok and have no plans on leave. Elizabeth has made herself a name as an artist, known for her sensual paintings and impressive sculptures. Her paintings are as colourful as she is; a warm hearted woman with a great smile. Peter is a tall guy with wild white hair, active board member in different companies and President of the Danish Chamber of Commerce. Asking Elizabeth what she and her family’s plans are for Christmas, she replied quickly, “We will celebrate a traditional Gammel Jul (Christmas) in our Bangkok home, with a big Julebord (Christmas table) and all the typical Danish dishes, and of course Gingerbread and Glögg (hot spiced red wine). “Our son will be home from New York and our daughter from Denmark. When the kids lived at home, they used to help me with the Christmas preparations, but this year I have to do it by myself as they arrive just in time for the holiday.” When asked if she has a special Christmas memory, she answered, “When I was a child, I once received some Marionette dolls and I got so deeply attached to them and I still am.” Trying to get her to spill the beans about Peter’s secret wish for Christmas, Elizabeth paused and with a smile she said, “Well, a sleigh-ride through a snowy landscape, that’s what he would enjoy I think. The closest he will get will be a boat ride through the klongs, I suppose.” At last Elizabeth was asked what her big wish for her children would be. “I wish for them to live their lives and fulfill their dreams, to stay honest to themselves, appreciate the good life they have and be healthy and happy”. What more could one ask for? Merry Christmas!

Øystein Tønnessen Singapore Christmas 2013

12 ScandAsia.Indo China • December 2013


ystein Tønnessen, Head of Music & Information at the Norwegian Seamen`s Mission, will celebrate Christmas in Singapore together with his family.– Christmas Eve we have a great Scandinavian celebration with 200 people at the Norwegian Seamen`s Mission. On Christmas Day we will have a private family celebration together with my mother who is visiting us from Norway. We are looking forward to have lots of time together, eat great food, travel a bit and just relax. Our daughter Ella will meet Santa for the first time, wonder how that meeting will go:)

Eskil Hallstrom’s Dream Christmas


’ve been fortunate to have parents that put an enormous amount of effort into making Christmas a special experience. Starting as early as advent 1st with the start of the Christmas calendar on TV you knew that something was up. And when you got your first chocolate calendar you just knew that it was going to be incredible, you were getting chocolate out of a calendar every single day for crying out loud! On the eve of December 23rd my parents would put me and my brothers to bed early and then spend hours meticulously cleaning and decorating the house, changing every table cloth, curtain and carpet to a special Christmas kind in red white and green. On the morning of the 24th our socks would be full of candy but most importantly with pieces of paper that, puzzled together, would create a map to where the first morning gift for the whole family was hidden, one year we had to go on a one hour walk to find our new ice hockey game! This kept us brothers very busy in the


Katja Nordgaard, Norways Ambassador to Thailand

eeting the blond, good looking Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is a great pleasure. When she smiles, the whole world smiles. Katja Nordgaard has been an ambassador for Norway located in Bangkok since three years and three months. She loves her job and enjoys meeting interesting people. Katja was also responsible for Myanmar until October 28th this year, when an Embassy was opened and a new Ambassador arrived. During her many trips to Myanmar she learned to love that country and its people. She enjoyed seeing how the country developed and opened up. Katja has not been back to Norway for Christmas holidays in three years. “This is the best part of the year in Thailand” she says “so why leave?” She is looking forward having her 2 eldest daughters, 21 and 19 years old, coming home to Bangkok for the Christmas celebration. They both study in England, while the youngest daughter, who is fourteen, goes to school at NIST Bangkok and sees her mummy daily. Katja comes from a family who cares a lot about traditions. There will be a Christmas table with Norwegian dishes like “Ribbe”, which is similar to

morning and our parents did not have to worry about us waking them too early, very cleverly designed I must say. Christmas morning was the first time I ever had coffee, I believe it was from a tradition from my mother’s side that on Christmas morning everyone should be well dressed and everyone including children should have coffee. Did I like coffee at 4 years? Oh yes! Simply because my mum had made it half cream half coffee and lots of sugar, any kid would love it :) In China I have spent many a Christmas trying to recreate the magic of Christmas from my childhood with homemade meatballs and glögg on bustling international Christmas parties. This year though, I will fly back to Sweden just before Christmas to go with my parents, brothers and their families to our vacation house in southern Dalarna to enjoy a tranquil Christmas with short, eye-blindingly white, snowy days and long starlit nights. Spare ribs, but more meatier and you serve it with cabbage and “lingon” Cranberry which is heavy food, so you have to take a small Aquavit to digest, she explains ”. Her mom and brother with family will arrive in time for the festivities and her home will be full but before that, the four women will take a needed rest and be visiting a Yoga resort in south of Thailand, a pre-Christmas gift. Asking Katja if she has a special Christmas memory she replies: “Yes, in 2001 we were located in South Africa and the kids were young. We spent Christmas Eve on a beach, sitting on a rug, listening to the Norwegian Choir “Sölvguttene” who were singing on the car radio, we shared the Christmas gifts and enjoyed the sea and calmness around us, that is a very dear memory to me.” Unfortunately Katja will move back to Norway 2014, in time for her youngest daughter to begin the gymnasium (high school). “We still have time here and we do have much more to experience she finishes before we say good-bye and Merry Christmas to an amazing Thailand!

Hanna Holtinen’s Beijing Christmas 2013


s a nonbeliever Christmas has not had any particular meaning to me for years. Despite the tacky Santas at local malls and on restaurant windows, it has been rather easy to forget about the whole Christmas frenzy that occupies most people’s minds for weeks before the actual celebration back home. No pre-Xmas parties, company Christmas dinners or panicky last minute Christmas shopping and most importantly, no akward attemps to start a conversation with that one distant relative who has been coming around for Christmas all your life but whom you never really bothered to get to know better. Last time I recall celebrating Christmas was almost ten years ago when I had just moved to China. I shared a flat with two other students and we invited a few friends over. Living on a very limited student budget our Christmas dinner wasn’t much to brag about, but we had rice porridge, hot glögg and good company and I have to say that was the best Christmas I’ve had since childhood. This year Christmas might not just be another day in the grey. My Chinese husband and I had a baby this autumn and since she seems to appreciate all things glittery, we’ve been thinking about decorating the house. No worries about overdoing it, I am sure she will love even the ugliest Santa as long as it has a little shiny wreath wrapped around its neck and belly. Whilst going to Christmas church is not on our list, we will listen to some Finnish Christmas carrols, exchange gifts and eat Ikea ginger bread. Maybe I will manage to make rice porridge and I think there is some glögg ingredients buried somewhere at the back of the kitchen cupboard. Also, let’s not forget family time wearing matching red thermal underwear, an age-old tradition in my Finnish family. December 2013 • ScandAsia.Indo China



Icelandic layercake Ingredients: 3 cups of cream Evil

The sponge: • 4 egg whites • 140 grams icing sugar • 140 grams shredded coconut Chocolate crème: • 4 egg yolks • 60 grams icing sugar • 100 grams melted cooled butter • 100 grams melted chocolate

Procedure: Whisk the egg whites very stiff and mix with icing sugar and shredded coconut. Spread the mass in a butter greased cake tin. Bake the sponge in 50-60 minutes at 175 degrees in the lower drill in the oven.

Crème: Whisk egg yolks with icing sugar, the melted but cool butter and mix it with the melted chocolate.

Are you done?


hen you have completed the above puzzles, please send your solution by fax to +66 2 943 7169 or scan and email to puzzles@ We will make a lucky draw among the correct answers. Five lucky winners will receive a ScandAsia polo shirt. Name:


Age: ________________________









Deadline for submitting your solution is 15 January 2014 14 ScandAsia.Indo China • December 2013

Take the finished sponge out of the cake tin and place it on a round platter. Spread the chocolate crème on the sponge and decorate with whipped cream on the top.

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ScandAsia IndoChina December 2013  

December 2013 edition of ScandAsia Indochina for Scandinavian residents from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland living in Vietnam, Cambodia...

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