__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1


2

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

3


JOIN TRASH HERO KOH PHI PHI By Little Wandering Wren

PUBLISHER Colin Hastings editorbigchilli@gmail.com EDITOR Nina Hastings ninabigchilli@gmail.com

I

t’s pretty quiet these days on Thailand’s magnificent Koh Phi Phi, one of Southeast Asia’s great natural wonders. Gone are the masses of tourists, because of COVID-19, leaving Koh Phi Phi and other islands here more or less empty. Which is perhaps no bad thing since they had become so heavily reliant on overseas tourism that they were beginning to suffer from ‘overtourism’. Leonardo’s ‘The Beach’ in Maya Bay, for example, which used to attract up to 5,000 people daily, remains closed to allow the environment to recover, though there are other beaches and bays to capture your castaway fantasy. Now, like so much of Thailand, ‘undertourism’ is the issue with all its consequences. Indeed, it was sad in a way to see how dilapidated and closed-up the island has become. Despite its depleted population, Koh Phi Phi is still creating waste, and the angry monsoon sea throws up even more. Fewer residents means fewer helping hands to clear up the mess. In the past, Trash Hero Koh Phi Phi was a vibrant community who did so much to help the island’s clean up. Eighty per cent of participants came from international visitors who loved nature and the island’s wondrous environment. Nowadays the loyal locals are doing their best to continue with the community work but Trash Hero numbers are seriously depleted. Nevertheless, Phi Phi Island Conservation and Preservation Team Cleanup still happens on the 10th, 20th & 30th of every month. Everyone is welcome. Just turn up with enthusiasm and a smile to join together cleaning around Koh Phi Phi Island. In fact, now is a perfect time to visit Koh Phi Phi, if, like us, you had previously stayed away because of the crowds. At Phi Phi viewpoint I met Khun Noppadol, known locally as Uncle Nopp, a long-standing passionate Trash Hero. He invited us all to appreciate the beauty of Koh Phi Phi and join him and others in their wonderful work. Anyone can become a cleanup Trash Hero, at any age. They are about educating the kids, reducing our own waste, making a difference in the world and having fun! https://www.facebook.com/Trash-Hero-Koh-Phi-Phi Little Wandering Wren is a Bangkok Blogger. More can be found at www.wanderingwren.com and on Instagram and Twitter @littlewanderingwren

4

TheBigChilli

SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai sendtorose@gmail.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Thana Pongsaskulchoti thanabigchilli@gmail.com ACCOUNTING MANAGER Janjira Silapapairson janbigchilli@gmail.com ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa PHOTOGRAPHY AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Drew McCreadie, Maxmilian Wechsler Zoe Evans, Jessica Weber and Ruth Gerson

TheBigChilliMag

thebigchillimagazine

No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission from The BigChilli Co., Ltd. The opinions and views of the writers are not necessarily the views of the publishers. All details are deemed correct at the time of print, the publisher, the editor, employees and contributors can not be held responsible for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions that may occur. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or amend any submitted artwork, photographs, illustrations and manuscripts. The BigChilli welcomes unsolicited contributions but assumes no responsibility for the safe-keeping or return of such materials damaged or lost in transit.

The BigChilli Co., Ltd. 8/2 FMA Group Building, 4th Floor, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500. ☎ 02-635-5085, ☎ 081-358-1814 Fax: 02-635-5086 :thebigchillimagazine@gmail.com :thebigchilli.com

WRITE FACEBOOK

The BigChilli Co., Ltd. 8/2 FMA Group Building, 4 Floor, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500.

thebigchillimagazine

EMAIL TWEET

thebigchillimagazine@ gmail.com

@TheBigChilliMag


A New International School Driven By Design VERSO is the first international school in the world to be conceptually designed by IDEO, the world-famous design and innovation company from San Francisco. Driven by design, VERSO delivers a highly creative, student-centered education in a stunning state-of-the-art campus.

INNOVATIVE TEACHING APPROACH

Moving beyond the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ curriculum, VERSO places each student at the center of their own learning. Students are organized into mixed-age groups and work with a team of learning designers. We value curiosity, self-direction, and independence and help students to think like designers. We have redesigned the school day so we can give students more time to dig deep into learning that truly engages them.

AGILE LEARNING SPACES

VERSO’s iconic ‘Loops’ are designed to bring a sense of fun, flow, movement, and interconnectedness to our learning. Traditional classrooms have been replaced by contemporary learning spaces that are flexible, agile, and adaptive to the needs of our learners. We consider our whole campus as a learning space with frequent opportunities to play and learn beyond the walls.

A PASSIONATE LEARNING DESIGN TEAM

At VERSO, we believe in the creative capacity of our educational teams. We intentionally call our teachers Learning Designers. They are highly-skilled educators who work closely with our students to design deeply engaging learning experiences. At VERSO we are passionate about working in a highly collaborative and creative project-based environment that inspires learning for everyone.

CONNECTED TO NATURE

VERSO’s impressive campus was designed to complement the rich bio-diversity of its natural surroundings. Working closely with environmental and landscape specialists VERSO’s campus has been designed to support a thriving eco-system that allows us to connect with nature on a daily basis. We have a responsibility to help students develop a deeper understanding of the natural world and what we all need to do to protect it. VERSO’s innovative learning architecture has been designed using American curriculum standards. Learning is interdisciplinary, project-based, and personalized. VERSO will be fully accredited by WASC, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

admissions@verso.ac.th

+66 2 080 6200

TheBigChilli

www.verso.ac.th

5


News

All quiet at the Grand Palace, so don't miss it!

6

TheBigChilli


Off the record ■ No wonder wine is expensive. An importer was recently sent four bottles of wine from Spain as samples for possible future distribution here. Simple enough, right? The importer thought so – until he got the bill: the agent wanted 28k baht to clear customs, 2k per bottle in duties and a further 20k for ‘handling.’ Which works out at 14k per bottle! Is Thailand in danger of becoming a third world business partner?

CP halts plans for huge development on Jomtien Beach ■ There’s never been a better time to visit Thailand’s premier tourist attraction – The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It’s comparatively all nice and quiet compared to the pre-virus days when this magnificent complex was often jam-packed with tourists. Because of the block on overseas travelers, the only visitors nowadays are Thai nationals and permanent foreign residents who can wander at leisure around the spectacular temples, palace and salas. And they’re not even allowed to gather for group ‘selfies’ – a favorite ploy of visitors in the past. The only possible drawback is the 500 baht fee non-Thais have to pay, even if they are long-term, taxpaying residents. There’s no charge for Thai nationals. Most foreigners nevertheless think it’s money well spent for such a wondrous experience. What’s more, the complex is only a short walk from the newly opened Sanam Chai MRT station.

■ Plans to build three 50-storey condos and two hotels on land adjacent to Ocean Marina on Jomtien Beach have been suspended because of the economic slowdown and lack of tourists caused by the Covid19 epidemic. Owners of this huge beachside property, Charoen Pokphan (CP), have yet to indicate when work on the development is likely to begin. CP is Thailand's largest private company and one of the world's largest conglomerates. It has substantial business interests in China. Directly opposite the property is the entranceexit to the recently opened Highway 7 extension from Chonburi to U Tapao international airport. This now fully open junction is expected to draw considerable additional traffic and business to the area’s main resorts, including Jomtien, Pattaya and Bang Saray. Bangkok investors have been snapping up condo units located in the Ocean Marine compound. Meanwhile, local property prices are increasing in anticipation of a mini-boom. U Tapao airport, a 30-minute drive to the south, is set to play a major role in the massive Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project, which also features a high-speed rail link to Bangkok. CP is an investor in the rail project together with various Chinese business interests. It is thought that the existing railway, which runs parallel to the beach in this part of the Eastern Seaboard, is not suitable for the new the high speed train project.

TheBigChilli

7


Feature

By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

8

TheBigChilli


Healthcare is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries - and Thailand is ver y much part of it. Modern, well-equipped hospitals are accessible in Bangkok and all 76 provinces. Sooner or later most of us enter the hospital system, and in Thailand it’s a lot easier to seek treatment in a private hospital than a government facility, especially for foreigners. Even though it comes at a much higher cost, many expats and tourists still consider medical care here a bargain compared to their own countries. And despite some criticism, most are impressed with the quality of care they receive.

T

he Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) legitimately claims that Thailand has gained worldwide recognition for its excellent healthcare services. According to the 2019 edition of the prestigious US magazine CEOWORLD Health Care Index, which ranks 89 countries according to factors that contribute to overall health, Thailand has the sixth best healthcare system in the world. Taiwan occupied the top slot, followed by two other Asian nations, South Korea (second) and Japan (third), with Austria and Denmark rounding out the top five. The Health Care Index is a statistical analysis of a country’s overall healthcare system that includes infrastructure, competence of health care professionals, availability of quality treatments and medicines and government commitment. The index also takes into consideration environmental and social factors in individual countries including access to clean water, sanitation, overall obesity rates, tobacco use and government readiness to enforce health measures, for example by imposing fines on people who violate restrictions on tobacco use. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul hailed the CEOWORLD ranking, announced

The waiting period for further medical tests or surgery in non-emergency cases might be weeks up to a few months. Expats complain they are charged more at government hospitals and some private hospitals, while others say they’ve been scheduled for unnecessary and costly procedures.

in August 2019, as confirmation that the determined efforts Thailand has made toward developing its healthcare sector have paid off. In September last year Minister Anutin said the government must not rest on its laurels, as mere rankings do not matter as much as how well the ministry performs its duty of maintaining public health. “It was a collective effort that got us here,” he added. There is general agreement among patients that the accolades are well deserved, but on the home front it’s not all bouquets for Thailand’s hospitals and overall health care system. Locals often complain of waiting for hours at government hospitals when they have a health problem. The waiting period for further medical tests or surgery in non-emergency cases might be weeks up to a few months. Expats complain they are charged more at government hospitals and some private hospitals, while others say they’ve been scheduled for unnecessary and costly procedures. Universal health coverage The healthcare sector in Thailand is overseen by the MOPH, along with several other non-ministerial government agencies. Thailand’s TheBigChilli

9


Feature network of public hospitals provide universal healthcare to all Thai nationals through three government schemes. An article published by Krungsri Research in June 2019 says: “Access to medical services and public healthcare is a fundamental necessity of life and the state has an important role to play in facilitating this. In light of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that Thailand’s universal health coverage (UHC) is one of the best models available for low-cost healthcare systems, even though per capita income in Thailand is relatively low when compared to other countries that provide UHC. “Thailand instituted its system of universal healthcare in 2002 with the enactment of the National Health Security Act. The most recent data indicates that 66.05 million people, or 99.94% of those with a right to universal healthcare, are now covered. Three funds are available through which Thai citizens are able to access healthcare: (1) the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS); (2) the Social Security Scheme (SSS); and (3) the Civil Servants Medical Benefit Scheme (CSMBS).” Krungsri Research also reported in 2019 that Thailand had 38,512

10

TheBigChilli

facilities providing some form of healthcare provisions. Of these, 34.7% are state-funded healthcare

In Bangkok alone there are at present reportedly 92 private and 41 public hospitals, with a capacity of about 14,000 and 18,000 beds respectively. The latest addition to the array of private hospitals is MedPark Hospital on Rama IV Road, which saw a limited opening in September. When fully operational the hospital will have 550 available beds.

providers (public health centers, district public health offices, and community and general hospitals), while the remaining 65.3% are private sector ventures (private clinics and hospitals). Divided according to size and the range of medical services they offer, 98.3% are classified as primary healthcare providers (9,800 public health and district health promotion centers and approximately 24,800 private clinics). The remainder is comprised of 641 secondary and tertiary healthcare providers, split between 294 (45.9%) hospitals under the management of the government, the MOPH, local administrative bodies, state enterprises or the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). The remaining 347 hospitals (54.1%) are in the private sector. Private vs public Government hospitals in Thailand are staffed with highly competent healthcare professionals. In fact, specialists at private hospitals often have office hours at government hospitals as well. Government hospitals are generally well equipped. For example, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok, considered one of the best government hospitals, has diagnostic equipment that is lacking in most private hospitals. Many tests and surgeries are performed in the new Bhumisiri Mangkhalanusorn Building, a stateof-the-art facility adjoining the original hospital complex. The drawback to government hospitals is the tremendous volume of patients. This makes long queues inevitable. Patients may have to wait several


weeks or even months before they can see a specialist or get a specific test. The workload also means that customer service can be limited, if not abrupt. Unless they have a good level of spoken and written Thai, most expats find it daunting to navigate a government hospital without a Thai relative or good friend. Even at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital there are usually few if any Western faces in the large waiting rooms. Some government hospitals in the provinces do see more foreign patients, in part because access to private hospitals and medical care in general is still behind the cities. Private hospitals are an important component of the national healthcare system, especially in Bangkok and other large urban areas. Foreigners almost always prefer to be treated at private hospitals and they are usually the choice of Thai nationals who can afford them as well. There is very little wait and generally better facilities all around. Administrative staff and nurses usually have adequate English language abilities and they have more time to answer patients’ questions. According to Thailand Medical News there are 1,373 public and private hospitals throughout the country. In Bangkok alone there are at present reportedly 92 private and 41 public hospitals, with a capacity of about 14,000 and 18,000 beds respectively. The latest addition to the array of private hospitals is MedPark Hospital on Rama IV Road, which saw a limited opening in September. When fully operational the hospital will have 550 available beds. It should be pointed out that often statistics on the number of hospitals and other healthcare facilities as reported in the Thai media are outdated, incorrect and sometimes contradictory. Thailand

Medical News appears to be the most reliable and accurate. Dual pricing at public hospitals now legal For many years expats have complained that public healthcare institutions charge them more than locals. A law implemented in September 2019 makes the dual pricing policy official and legal. This isn’t so surprising considering that national parks, museums and amusement parks have long been able to legally charge foreign nationals higher rates for entrance and services. It goes without saying that many small retailers and vendors follow suit without official legal sanction. The new system prescribes limits Thai hospitals under the MOPH are allowed to charge foreigners, but the limits are different for each of three categories, or tiers, of foreigners: Tier 1: Those coming from neighboring countries like Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

For many years expats have complained that public healthcare institutions charge them more than locals. A law implemented in September 2019 makes the dual pricing policy official and legal.

Tier 2: Those working and paying taxes in Thailand with the appropriate visas and work permits. Tier 3: Retired expats and tourists. Apparently hospitals are given some leeway in setting up their pricing schemes, but these must be submitted to the MOPH to finalize. The MOPH says the new system provides uniformity in prices for services and procedures, and in some cases foreigners will actually be paying less than before. Overpricing at private hospitals Some expats express unhappiness with the officially endorsed dualpricing scheme at Thai public hospitals and point to it as an example of broader discrimination against foreigners in Thailand. In practice, however, since relatively few foreigners visit public hospitals, not many are much affected by the dual-pricing scheme. Inflated charges at private hospitals for medical services and medicines are another matter. Thais may be victims of overcharging too, but many foreigners feel certain they are particularly targeted. Some complain about unnecessary tests and medical procedures prescribed by doctors to jack up the price. This can be difficult to prove since it involves questioning a doctor’s professional judgment. While not addressing the issue of whether foreigners are specifically targeted, the government last year bowed to public pressure to do something about overpricing at private hospitals. This came after it was reported in Thai media that an April 2019 survey by the Thai Ministry of Commerce showed many private Thai hospitals TheBigChilli

11


Feature were overcharging between 30% and 300% on a range of more than 10,000 medical products and services. New regulations controlling the price of medicines, medical supplies and medical services were announced and put into effect the following month. The Nation reported on May 30, 2019 that legal measures had been introduced to prevent private hospitals from hitting patients with huge, and in many cases unexpected, bills for services rendered. Earlier this year, Foundation for Consumers Secretary-General Saree Ongsomwang said that in one case a patient’s medical bill at a private hospital was calculated at over 23 million baht. “If hospitals involve many specialists when a patient shows simple symptoms like a headache or stomach ache, and then charge the patient a hefty fee, then that can be grounds for complaint and legal action,” Internal Trade Department Director-general Wichai Phochanakit said shortly after announcement of the regulations. He added that any hospital or executive officer found guilty of delivering unnecessary treatment and overcharging patients faces the risk of seven years in jail and/or a fine of 140,000 baht. The new rules stipulate that hospitals join importers, exporters, manufacturers and distributors in having to declare the purchase and selling price of their medicines and medical equipment. Initially the regulations cover 3,892 medicines, medical supplies and medical services listed in the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients. “We intend to significantly expand the number of medicines, medical supplies and medical services covered under the new regulations. Failure to disclose purchase and selling price will result in a jail term of up to one 12

TheBigChilli

A survey in 2019 by the Thai Ministry of Commerce showed many private Thai hospitals were overcharging between 30% and 300% on a range of more than 10,000 medical products and services. New regulations controlling the price of medicines, medical supplies and medical services were announced and put into effect the following month.

year and/or a fine of 20,000 baht, plus a 2,000 baht daily fine throughout the period of delay,” said Mr Wichai, adding that the prices declared by hospitals will be displayed on the website of his department’s and the hospitals’ websites. “Private hospitals are also required to display a QR code on their websites so patients can conveniently check prices. Our new rules aim to ensure fair prices,” Mr Wichai said. He also disclosed that if asked, private hospitals must now inform patients of the estimated cost of their treatment. “Also, under the new regulations, prescriptions must include the generic and trade names of a medicine, what form the medication is in, the amount and consumption instructions,” he said. “Bills should also specify the per-unit price of the medicine.

Hospitals failing to comply with these stipulations can face up to five years in jail and/or a fine of 100,000 baht,” Mr Wichai added. It was reported on July 15, 2019 that the Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Internal Trade would establish a center the following month to hear complaints about private hospitals overcharging patients. Prayot Pensut, the department’s deputy director-general, said the aim was to assure fair pricing for consumers. He also said the Central Committee on Prices of Goods and Services will set price ceilings for medical services. It’s anticipated that many people will come forward with grievances related to overpricing. According to a press release the center will be located within the department’s compound in the Sanam Bin Nam area in Nonthaburi.


I

n early April 2020 media reported that the Thai government warned private hospitals not to send medical bills to COVID-19 patients or their families, saying their medical expenses will be paid for by the government. The warning, posted on the Government House Facebook page, followed complaints that COVID-19 patients at private hospitals were being required to pay for treatment and services that in some cases topped 100,000 baht. The government said private hospitals should keep records of medical treatment and services and send the bills to related agencies for reimbursement. The MOPH’s draft regulations on reimbursement were approved by the cabinet. If patients have health insurance, however, they are being encouraged to use their policies first. The Social Security Fund for workers in the private sector, the welfare fund for state officials and the “gold card” universal fund would wholly or partially cover the cost of COVID-19 treatment based on the fund to which the patients belong People who are covered by the “gold card” scheme are eligible to receive treatment for COVID-19 free of charge effective April 2, 2020 according to an announcement in the Royal Gazette. The announcement says if patients seek treatment at private hospitals, Public/University Hospitals

reimbursement will be made in line with the MOPH regulations. COVID-19 testing fees When COVID-19 testing fees were published in the local press in March of this year, many people expressed shock at the exorbitant amounts charged by public and private hospitals. Khasod English website reported on March 16 that Roongreung Kitpati, an advisor to the Ministry of Health, said those without symptoms or at-risk travel history should refrain from getting checkups, which could overcrowd hospitals and use up test kits. “If you aren’t sick, please don’t get tests because it’s useless and wastes money. Most tests yield negative results. But if you are in an at-risk group, such as someone having contact with an infested person, please contact the Department hotline,” Mr Roongreung said. Since March most hospitals have reduced prices for testing. Among 16 hospitals in the metropolitan Bangkok area contacted by The BigChilli at the end of September to ask the fees – see list below – only two charge foreigners more than Thais. This should elate those foreigners who always complain about 'double standards'. The wait for test results from these 16 hospitals varies from four hours to two days.

5,800 baht for both Thais and foreigners. • Bamrasnaradura Infectious • Bangkok Hospital: 6,500 baht. Diseases Institute: Test cost 3,000 Same price for Thais and foreigners. baht for both Thais and foreigners. • Bangkok Nursing Home: 7,000 • King Chulalongkorn Memorial baht for Thais and foreigners. Hospital: 3,000-6,000 baht, same • Bumrungrad International price for Thais and foreigners. Hospital: 7,500 baht for Thais and • Ramathibodi Hospital: 2,000 foreigners. baht for Thais and 3,000 baht to • Kasemrat International Hospital foreigners. Ratthanatibet: 5,000 baht for Thais and foreigners. Private Hospitals • Mongkutwattana Hospital: 4,500 baht for Thais and foreigners. • Bangkok Christian Hospital: • Paolo Phaholyothin Hospital:

4,000 baht for Thais and 5,000 baht to foreigners. • PatRangsit Hospital: 4,950 baht for Thais and foreigners. • Phyathai 2 Hospital: 6,500 baht for Thais and foreigners. • Praram 9 Hospital: 6,500 baht for Thais and for foreigners. • Ramkhamhaeng Hospital: 3,500 baht for Thais and foreigners. • Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital: 6,500 baht for Thais and foreigners. • St Louis Hospital: 6,000 baht for Thais and foreigners.

TheBigChilli

13


STAYCATIONS

E n j oy

c ut- pr ice

lux ur y

in

top

B a ngkok

hotel s

137 Pillars Bangkok and Chiang Mai The Residence Package is priced at THB 5,137 per night, the Suite Package is priced at THB 9,137 per night. The Chiang Mai House package is priced at THB 14,272 for two nights, plus applicable service charge and the government tax. Tel: (02) 079 7000 Email: stay@137pillarsbangkok.com Website: www.137pillarsbangkok.com Chiang Mai Tel: (053) 247 788 Email: stay@137pillarshouse.com Website: www.137pillarschiangmai.com

Mandarin Oriental Rates from THB 17,450 per night. Benefits: Breakfast, early check-in from 8am, late checkout until 8pm; a bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne; daily hotel credit to the value of 50% of the daily room rate. Valid until 30 November 2020. - Additional benefits available when you log into or join Fans of M.O. https://www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok/chao-phrayariver/luxury-hotel/offers?offer=staycation-by-mo

Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok Accommodation with breakfast and other facilities from just THB 6,555 net per night. Also, 30% discount on in-house services, food and beverages, 15% discount at Michelin one-star Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. Contact kempinski.com/Bangkok, contact the Reservations Department on +662 162 9000 or email reservations. siambangkok@kempinski.com

Eastin Grand Sathorn Superior rooms @THB 1,899 net with breakfast for two persons / Executive Deluxe rooms @THB 3,099 net with breakfast for two persons. Benefits: Early check-in at 10.00 hrs. and late check-out until 16.00 hrs; 50% discount on F&B at all outlets. Stay period: now Ă? 31 October 2020 Available to Thai nationals, Thai work permit holders and Thai residence permit holders only. Contact 02-210-8100 or email rsvn@eastingrandsathorn.com 14

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

15


Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit From THB 2,500 net per room per night. Breakfast for two; 24-hour stay (check in from 10 am); 30% off F&B at all outlets exclude promotions, happy hour and wine & spirits by the bottle. From 15 July Ă? 31 October, 2020 Contact +66 2 090 7888 or email reservations@carltonhotel.co.th https://www.travelclick-websolutions.com/uploads/applications/ documents/001/593/065/thailand-residents-staycation-offer-carltonhotel-bangkok-sukhumvit.pdf

Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort From THB 9,801 Benefits: Thai dinner aboard a Manohra converted rice barge or set dinner at SEEN Restaurant & Bar; daily breakfast. Contact+66 2 476 0022 bangkokriverside@anantara.com

Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok From THB 3,900.00 average per night. Benefits: Daily breakfast at NEXT2 Cafďż˝ for 2 persons; Complimentary upgrade to the next room category; Early check-in at 8am and late check-out at 8pm; THB 1,500 F&B Credit during the stay (restaurant only). Available until 24 Dec 2020 https://www.shangri-la.com/bangkok/shangrila/offerdetail/rooms-suites/shangri-la-staycation/ 16

TheBigChilli

Renaissance Bangkok Room rates start from THB 3,000++ per night. Includes: Breakfast for two adults; additional 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per stay; Receive daily hotel credit THB 1,000 per room per day; complimentary late check out at 4.00 pm Book by October 31, 2020 for stays until March 31, 2021. Promotion code: ZX0 Call 02 125 5000 or email gen-bkkbrresv-DL@marriott. com or bkk.ratchaprasong@renaissancehotels.com

Radisson Blu From 2,563 baht ++ Benefits: Special price for breakfast buffet @ BHT 300 ++per person; 20 % discount on F&B in all restaurants. Available to Thai people only. Package unavailable between 27 December-1 January 2021 and 25-27 January 2021. Tel: 023023333 per reservation or email reservations. bangkok.blu@radisson.com


TheBigChilli

17


The Landmark Bangkok BHT 3,000 net Benefits: Premium Room; daily breakfast; one meal choice in Greenhouse. Available to Thai nationals and resident expatriates until 31 October. Contact 66 (0) 2254 0404 email@landmarkbangkok. com

Hotel Riva Arun Bangkok THB 3,442 ++ Benefits: One night in deluxe room with view of Chao Phaya river and Wat Arun; breakfast; three-course dinner in Above Riva rooftop restaurant. Contact 66 (0) 2 221 1188 stay@rivaarunbangkok.com

Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok THB 4,990 net

Centara Grande at Central World THB 2,020 credits Benefits: Complimentary breakfast for one. Call 0-2100-1234 ext. 6761 Ă? 6763, e-mail: cgcwreservation@chr.co.th or website www.centarahotelsresorts.com 18

TheBigChilli

Benefits: Two-night stay in a King / Twin room plus THB 3,000 of complimentary hotel credit; Two-night stay in a Grand Executive Suite (inclusive club access) for 7,490 net plus THB 4,500 of complimentary hotel credit; 40% discount at The Dining Room buffet. Contact +66 2254 1234 or email bangkok.grand(@)hyatt.com Available until 20 December 2020, blackout dates are 8 November 2020, 5 December 2020 and special holiday. Contact +66 2254 1234 or email bangkok.grand(@)hyatt.com


TheBigChilli

19


BITS & BITES Late Koyo culinary treats at Yamazato The Okura Prestige Bangkok is presenting the late Koyo (autumn) culinary specials in its Michelin Plate signature Japanese restaurant Yamazato with special Gozen lunch platters and a multi-course Kaiseki dinner featuring seasonal ingredients such as mackerel, saury and capelin fish, chestnuts and persimmons. Lunch and dinner from 1 - 22 November 2020, lunch: 11:30 - 14:30, dinner: 18:00 - 22:30. Priced at THB 1,600++ for Gozen lunch and THB 4,700++ for Kaiseki dinner.

Contact 02 687 9000 or email yamazato@okurabangkok.com or book on our website www.okurabangkok.com

`Saturday Lazy Lunch' at Chatuchak Cafďż˝ Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok has relaunched its popular lunch from 12.00 to 14.30 hours at THB 988 net per person (including soft drink). Menu includes `Seafood Island' and a `Carving Corner' featuring meaty specialities. Other highlights include Dynasty's classic Peking duck and Cantonese dim sum variety, Hagi's sushi, sashimi and Japanese specialties, and Don Giovanni's authentic pasta favourites. Call +66 (0) 2541 1234.

20

TheBigChilli

UNO MAS launches new lunch and dinner menu Now located at Central Chidlom's foodhall, UNO MAS sources fresh produce from around the world so that diners can enjoy authentic yet affordable Spanish and Mediterranean flavours for both lunch and dinner. Dishes include Breaded & Fries farm pork Flamenquines, Calamari `A la plancha,' Patatas bravas, Chicken croquettes and Albondigas `sea & mountain.' UNO MAS open every day from 10.00 to 22.00 hrs. Contact by email diningcgcw@chr.co.th or call 02 100 6255.


Uni Stars at Up & Above Restaurant The famous Japanese delicacy, sea urchin roe known as Uni, is taking centre stage at Up & Above Restaurant, The Okura Prestige Bangkok, in a special menu that includes a creamy sea urchin risotto with roasted nori seaweed, sea urchin spaghetti with ikura, tiger prawn and onsen egg, along with roasted Japanese wagyu. The sea urchin promotion at Up & Above Restaurant is available daily from 12:00 - 22:30 from 1 October - 31 December 2020, priced from Baht 950++.

Contact 02 687 9000 or email upandabove@okurabangkok.com, or book on our website www.okurabangkok.com

Dine at Goji Kitchen and stay a night at the hotel Goji Kitchen+ Bar is serving a dinner buffet + hotel accommodation deal every Monday and Tuesday evening priced at just THB 3,000 net for two people, which includes a voucher for a complimentary onenight stay in a Deluxe Room at Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen's Park. The restaurant's buffet includes fresh seafood, premium roasted meats, saltbaked fish, hand-cut sushi and sashimi, traditional Thai and Chinese delicacies, a sizzling barbecue and divine desserts Ă? plus specialities from popular local restaurants.

Call +66 (0)2 059 5999, email restaurant-reservations.bkkqp@marriott.com, or book via https://bit.ly/31pY3Uy or LINE https://lin.ee/buwm3bz.

Seafood buffet dinner at Chatrium Hotel Riverside Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok is back with its new Splash Seafood Buffet Dinner every Friday and Saturday at the River Barge restaurant, with food stations serving tasty appetizers, seafood on ice, grilled meats, top signature dishes, live cooking and delectable desserts. THB 1,490 net per person, including stunning river views. The dining experience also offers an `Eat Together Stay Together' package, which includes the Splash Seafood Dinner Buffet for two persons plus a onenight stay in a Grand Suite One Bedroom River View for only THB 3,880 net.

Contact Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok on 0 2307 8888 or email reservations. chrb@chatrium.com

THAI Catering's Royal Orchid Dining Experience Thai Airways International's Catering Department has launched the Royal Orchid Dining Experience, with meals from the THAI Royal First and Royal Silk in-flight menus. Menus include previous bestsellers such as Pasta, Shawarma, Chicken Tikka, Yakisoba, Cheesecake, Macaron, Salad, Roasted Beef with Nam Jim Jaew, and Kanom Chin Nam Prik, with prices starting at 65 baht. THAI Catering that has over 60 years' experience serving THAI and customer airlines. The special menus rotate every month. Contact 0-2356-1666 from 08.00-17.00 hours to book three days in advance.

TheBigChilli

21


New menu additions at Blunos Enjoy some great new dishes at Blunos Restaurant, At the Eastin Grande Hotel Sathorn, where superstar chef Martin Blunos continues to focus on his unique concept of `Happy Food for Happy People'. His new dishes are full of Thai flavor (Thai Twist Taste) and the menu includes delights such as Chicken Caesar Salad, Wagyu Beef Spaghetti, Risotto Tom Yum Koong and Sea Bass Phad Chaa Ă? based on Chef Martin's winning recipe from Iron Chef Thailand. Blunos is located at the 14th floor of the hotel. Call 02 210 8100 or visit their website at www.eastingrandsathorn.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/BlunosBangkok

Join the Bangkok Breakfast Club with Marriott Bonvoy Marriott Bonvoy members can now join the Bangkok Breakfast Club. When two diners enjoy breakfast together at any of Marriott's 12 participating hotel restaurants in Bangkok throughout October 2020, the second diner will pay just THB 1. website https://marriottbonvoyasia. com/R+B/discount-page/BangkokBreakfast-Club

Red Sky offers luxurious mid-week fine-dining Red Sky Chef de Cuisine Christian Ham has curated a menu featuring premium ingredients such as foie gras, smoked duck breast, Alaskan king crab and pan-seared Tasmanian salmon. The new set lunch and dinner is priced at THB 1,555++ and comes with the option of a special wine selection at an additional THB 999++ . Red Sky is located at Centara Grand, Central World.

For more information or to book a reservation, please call 02-100-6255 or email at diningcgcw@chr.co.th 22

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

23


24

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

25


26

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

27


Meet the Chef

Mr Thomas LE GOFF Executive Chef Why cooking as a career?

My parents have a restaurant, so I was born with a passion for cooking. I remember helping my father in the kitchen when I was young so I could have time with him.

Two biggest influences on your career? Chef Yoann Conte. He was my first chef. He followed me and helped me during my time at culinary school and after. He has real passion for this job. And also, naturally, my parents. I learned about the kitchen from them at an early age. They were good teachers.

Best early kitchen experience? When I was about 12 years old with my father. But the real first time I was 16 years old and working in a one star Michelin star.

Worst kitchen experience? I was threatened physically and morally for two months. The team wanted to test me, to see if I was going to stay or go. After two months without complaining, the chef wanted to hire me. I smiled and left. On that day I promised myself that I would never be like that in the kitchen with my colleagues.

Best meal you've ever had? Chamois Pie, from my province in France. Just this pie with a foie gras and Mondeuse sauce. I really miss this dish.

What's your cooking philosophy? A chef needs a team, and team needs a chef. We need to work together to give the best quality to customers.

What's your signature dish? I don't have a signature dish; I'm still young. I have to continue learning and finding my way. I just see people talking about, and promoting, my Macaron. Maybe this will become my signature dish in the future.

Favorite cookbook? The chocolate encyclopedia. It's the first book my chef bought for me before I joined my first restaurant. He signed the book and he wrote a small message inside.

How do you keep in touch with latest food trends? I talk a lot with other chefs from France and Thailand. We share information about what we see on the Internet or the last time we went to a restaurant, and what dish impressed us.

Have you ever created an entirely new dish? Yes, the dessert I make during my interview for Thai Airways. It's a meringue with blueberry sorbet, candied blueberry, and hay foam.

Greatest achievement to date? Being a pastry head chef in three-star Michelin restaurant. I was just 22 years old.

Famous people you've cooked for. Members of the Royal Family of Thailand. Many French and international actors, singers and famous chefs.

Most influential chef? Chef Amaury Guichon, he masters everything to perfection. Everything is carried out with finesse and perfection, right down to the last detail. It's really inspiring.

Music you listen to while cooking? I let my staff choose the music. Usually I only recognize two or three songs.

What's your favourite dish to cook for yourself? I love making homemade pizza !

28

TheBigChilli

Favourite dish cooked by someone else? Homemade smoked salmon by m my father! Nobody makes it better.

If you weren't a chef, what would you be? Carpenter... it's totally different but I need manual work. When I was young I hesitated between being a cook or a carpenter. I don't have any regrets today. What's next for you? I have many personal projects. But for now, with COVID 19, it is difficult to project yourself into the future.

Chef in focus â– Chef Thomas LE GOFF A French Pastry chef who has worked for many Michelin star restaurants, including La Marre aux Oiseaux (1 star Michelin), Yoann Conte (2 stars Michelin), L'Auberge des Glazicks (2 stars Michelin) Brittany France Restaurant Flocon De Sel (3 stars 2017 Michelin) and now at Thai Airways as a Pastry chef. THAI Catering's Royal Orchid Dining Experience Open every Wednesday to Sunday from 09.00-14.00 hours. Thai Airway Head Office Building 2, Vipavadee Rungsit Road.


Le Bouchon's Serge celebrates

Veteran restaurateur Serge Martiniani, owner of Le Bouchon restaurant on Patpong 2, marked his birthday with a party for friends and family.

TheBigChilli

29


Profile

Profile

Chris Foo

30

TheBigChilli


Former Patana International School student and mad keen ‘wakeskaster’ who inspired Thailand’s love of imported beers with HOBS on Thonglor, is now expanding his Bangkok business interests Name: Chris Foo. Age: 39. Born: Thailand. Education: Bangkok Patana International School from Kindergarten until high school. It’s here I found my love for sport and represented the school in many teams including athletic, swimming and rugby. After that I went to college in Cardiff, where I studied advanced travel and tourism –so I could travel the world. Back here I studied Business Administration at ABAC. Family: Dad is Chinese from Singapore but has been in Thailand over 40 years and Mum is from Cardiff, Wales, where my parents met at university. Dad worked for many years in Thailand as vice-president for the Minor Group in its food business, introducing brands like Swensens and Sizzlers to Thailand. I have two younger sisters, aged 37 and 20. The older sister lives in Wales and the younger in Chamonix, France. My wife Ramona is from Romania. We met in Thailand and have been together for 18 years, married for nine. She’s known as the ‘Queen of Salsa’ in Asia, a dancer and choreographer based here who works around the world at all kinds of events, including top Indian weddings, she also does a lot of choreography work for tv commercials, music videos and movies. What languages do you speak? Thai and English. Profession: Entrepreneur. TheBigChilli

31


Profile

What’s keeping you in Thailand? I love the country, the food, the weather and the people. I can do most of the things that I love to do here. I have many hobbies. My most favorite being ‘wakeskating’ and Thailand is home to one of the best places in the world to do this (Thai Wake Park). It also helps that we can do this all year round. I have grown up and lived in Thailand for 36 years so it is home for me and I am lucky to have many friends and family here. First job: I worked for a logistics company specializing in domestic transportation for the auto industry. I then worked with family in jewelry. Then? I met a Belgian guy who introduced me to Belgian beer, which I really liked. He was initially importing this type of beer just for himself, but we saw its potential for a wider audience and set up a company called ‘Knock on Wood’. We imported and distributed Belgian Beer to restaurant, bars, hotels and others in Thailand. 32

TheBigChilli


In 2006, we acquired a site on Thonglor 16 previously occupied by Bei Otto, and set up HOBS - House of Beers, a bar that specialized in imported Belgian craft beers. It was the first of its kind in Thailand. At one point we stocked 100 different Belgian beers with all kinds of tastes – sweet, bitter, chocolate flavored, fruity, bitter-sweet and loads more. Hard work? I was there every day, talking to customers and telling them all about the beers we sold. It was important to educate people about Belgian beer so we could build the industry and sell more beer. Apart from the beers, what else made it popular? We had a great location and we launched our beer garden that had more variety of beers available, a classier ambiance and more trendy than those set up by the local brewers in town. It also benefited from being in an upscale part of Bangkok. And it attracted all the local celebs! HOBS was then taken over by a local company who was also importing Belgian Beer and then I went and set up BREW - Beers & Ciders in Thonglor 13 in Seen Space right beside Ashley Sutton’s ‘Clouds’ bar where we worked together to promote the new space. Our bar focused on beers from around the world, starting off with 140 brands and ending up with over 500 different labels. It was a great time – we created a new vibe in Bangkok and were packed every night.

TheBigChilli

33


Profile

34

TheBigChilli


It became one of the most popular beer bars in Asia and was responsible for opening up the market and industry. So why did you close? We had a significant increase in rent after 7 years, so we closed in 2017 but by that time we had already opened another beer bar under the name of ‘TBC – The Beer Cap’ at The Commons on Thonglor Soi 17. We still have a BREW – Beers & Ciders on Sukhumvit Soi 11 as well. What’s your best selling beer? Limburgse Witte, a traditional Belgian wheat beer, Estrella Damm, BrewDog Punk IPA and Deschutes Fresh Squeeze IPA. Who are your customers? Mostly Thais, but also expats. Tourists are a bonus. Do you ever get difficult customers – if so, how do you deal with them? Our local customers are amazing. If we do have any issues, it’s usually with tourists who can’t understand why beer in Thailand is more expensive than where they are from. Do you have any other business interests? I have a few other business interests. One of the latest

projects is Saphan 55 Street Food Shelter which we are still working on at the bottom of Thonglor. If you’re looking for great eats at affordable even cheap prices, this is where you should go. Also have my hand in quite a few F & B businesses around town. What’s your favorite weekend destination? Thailand is full of wonderful places all over that need to be explored. If I’m not at the lake, wake-skating. Phuket is another place you could find me on the weekend visiting family and hitting the beaches. Surf’s up. Favorite countr y to visit? I never get bored of Europe in the summer. It’s my aim to spend at least two months in Europe every summer and we have been lucky to do so for many years. Most interesting person you’ve ever met? I meet many interesting people here in Thailand. Everyone just seems to come through this city. Your greatest extravagance? Probably, souping up cars and traveling to do some of my hobbies. What talents would you like to have? I wish I could play more instruments and speak more languages. Any hobbies? Go karting, cars, snowboarding, wake skating, diving, travelling. There’s too many! Favorite Bangkok restaurants and bars: Masala Art, an Indian restaurant in Thonglor 8, and Kow Tom Jiep in Pattanakarn Road. There are so many great restaurants and bars popping up all the time. We are so spoilt in Thailand. High and low points in your life? It’s really nice when people introduce me or credit me with being the person responsible for the beer industry we have today in Thailand. Simple words can make all the work worthwhile sometimes. Without the lows we would never appreciate the highs. I am also grateful for the lows and more grateful to all of those in my circle who have helped me through them. Any regrets? I try not to look at things with regret. Sometimes you make decisions that you had to at the time. It may have not been the most ideal after looking back but it’s the decision I made. It’s how we move forward that’s important so I try not to regret anything and treat and bad decisions as learning. What’s next? I’m full of energy and have loads of great ideas. I love creating new concepts, spaces and brands. I’m sure there is a lot more to come. TheBigChilli

35


News

C

hoosing new office or retail space is never an easy business decision, even at the best of times. In the post COVID-19 era, making the right choice will be more important than ever. Once a company decides on a new location, there’s no going back. These factors and more have gone into the construction and design of CAS Centre, a 36-floor multi-purpose development offering contemporary office and retail space that has been intelligently created for the new normal world. Boasting an outstanding location some 300m from MRT Rama 9 station, CAS Centre is right in the heart of Bangkok’s thriving new business district of Ratchadapisek, Phetchburi and Rama 9 roads. Within easy reach are the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the Chinese Embassy, Thailand Cultural Centre and Central Rama 3, along with a number of

36

TheBigChilli

top-line hotels and hospitals. The Makkasan Rail link to Suvannabhumi International Airport is just one stop away. Among the many unique highlights that emphasise CAS Centre’s role as a building designed for the new era is its focus on health and hygiene. Each office unit has its own individual bathroom which avoids the need to share bathroom or pantries with other CAS Centre users. Visitors and occupants alike can wash their hands as soon as they enter their own private office space. In the retail and public areas, all communal toilets are fitted with automatic hands-free door openers that operate on both entering and exiting the toilet. This means that after washing your hands in the bathroom, there is no need to touch a door handle and risk picking up any germs or bacteria left there by previous occupants.


Within the toilets, all taps, soap dispensers and UV hand driers will also be automatic and hands-free The installation of a PM 2.5 filtration system, which provides clean air for all common areas, as well as office areas, is another unique feature that makes the building a healthy choice for tenants and their employees. Energy-optimized, Destination-Controlled lifts whisk employees to their floors at six meters per second. The office areas are separated in two zones, low and high, avoiding congestion during peak times. The lift lobby for the low zone is on the 2nd floor and the lift lobby for the high zone is on the 3rd floor, with access security that separates the retail area from the office floors. The building has been designed with cost optimization in mind. CAS Centre is constructed to the LEED Gold Core & Shell Certification for low energy-efficient footprint buildings. Common area LED lighting, a comprehensive Building Management System, waste management and recycling, laminated and insulated glass with low E coating all contribute to the flow energy and maintenance costs for the building.

The eight floors are of retail space feature an attractive lifestyle plaza offering great business opportunities for retailers. In addition to employees within CAS Centre, this area will draw outside customers with its shops, bars, restaurants, gyms and beauty salons. A spectacular al fresco landscaped terrace on the 7th floor is simply perfect as a dining venue and after-work beer garden. It’s a great alternative for those who prefer a more sophisticated, private atmosphere instead of busy shopping malls in nearby Sukhumvit. Within one kilometre of the building are more than16,000 apartment units guaranteeing daily business.

Make the right move Investing in CAS Centre offers more - more space and floor plate for small businesses to large corporations, more flexibility with options of column-free and duplex office, more parking up with 940 car spaces equipped with 200 EV charging points, and 300 motorbike spaces. Other top-tier features include turnstile access, 24-hour CCTV, and security guards. Recession Proof CAS Capital’s largest shareholder is a fund managed by Apollo management, a NY listed investment manager with over US$331 billion AUM as of December 31, 2018. CAS Capital has unrivalled backing at a time when many other developers are facing financial challenges in the Thai market. For further information, visit: www.cas-centre.com For Office and Retail leasing enquiries, contact 02 643 8038, or at cas.centre@th.knightfrank.com TheBigChilli

37


Health By Tim Cornwall

I want my arm back! Visiting one of Bangkok’s leading chiropractors

R

ecently I made a painful mistake. On the back of a motorcycle taxi about 18 months ago, I pulled a muscle in my right arm. It hurt for a few days and then it seemed to get better. I stress “seemed to get better”, as early this year, my right arm started to get more and more painful and basically useless to the point where I had trouble tucking in my shirt at the back. Getting back to my story, my mistake? Not visiting Dr Mark when I first pulled my arm. With prior experience with muscle pain, having pulled my back twice, once 30 years ago in Tokyo and again here in Bangkok about ten years ago, I know the joys one can experience in getting back to normal with the help of a good chiropractor. Knowing I needed to see one, I asked around, and the answer from everyone I asked, was “Dr Mark on Ekamai”. With a quick internet search, I found Dr Mark but discovered he is no longer on Ekamai. He has since moved to Sukhumvit Soi 79, a five-minute walk from the On Nut BTS station. Dr Mark Leoni is originally from Los Angeles, California. He has been practising in Thailand since 1995. Dr. Mark has been very active in the local chiropractic community, serving as the Secretary of the Thailand Chiropractic Association since its inception in 1998. Dr. Mark played a key role in getting chiropractic legally recognized in Thailand through his work with the association. To practice chiropractic legally in Thailand, a chiropractor must first pass the chiropractic exam, administered by the Ministry of Public Health. Dr. Mark was one of the pioneering chiropractors who successfully passed the first chiropractic examine held in Thailand in 2008. Dr. Marks clientele has ranged from Thai Olympic athletes to those living a sedentary lifestyle working in an office, from kids with “growing pains”, to seniors, and from both Thai nationals, to all 38

TheBigChilli

of the other nationalities that make Bangkok such a diverse, international city. Asked why he chose to be a chiropractor, Dr. Mark recounts that while taking an accounting class in high school, he realized he did not want to spend his life sitting at a desk to make a living. His work as a chiropractor has confirmed his early intuition about the dangers of sitting all day as he has found that the majority of his patient’s problems stem from too much sitting, whether it be from working a desk job, driving several hours a day, or sitting on a couch watching television for several hours a day. One of the most important solutions for most of his patients is to encourage them to spend less time sitting each day and more time moving. The solution can be as simple as getting a sit-to-stand desk at work or scheduling regular breaks to get up and stretch out. As a chiropractor, Dr. Mark states he is moving all day long which he has found so beneficial for his own well being. I can attest to him being active in his work, as during my visits, he and his team are very active while treating me, first massaging my muscles in my upper arm and shoulder, then mobilizing my arm in many directions, followed by a few gentle quick tugs on my arm to loosen it up. The treatments last about an hour and I feel great after getting up. When asked what he felt were the most rewarding aspects of his time in Thailand, Dr. Mark had two answers. Firstly, that he has been able to maintain the same team of staff for 20 years. He has watched his staff mature to level of professionalism that is on par with anywhere in the world. Secondly, Dr. Mark is grateful for the opportunities he has had to donate his skills for charity, treating disabled children free of charge, since 1997. For more information, visit Dr. Marks website: http:// thailandchiropractor.com/


Night of nostalgia at Cornerstone's Carry On Britain

A big crowd of expats enjoyed 'Carry On Britain,' a party of musical nostalgia organised by Danny Poole and sponsored by Cornerstone, held at the Westin Grande Sukhumvit. DJ Andy 'Silverfox' Lazenby kept the place rocking til late.

TheBigChilli

39


Expat Women

Hopeful in Pattaya By: Deborah Bundityanond Owner, Rabbit Resort Pattaya Dongtan Beach, Pattaya

For more than 20 years a Pattaya resort hotel prospered. Then Covid-19 struck and business collapsed. But that’s not stopping its owner, a former self-proclaimed Southern California beach girl, from staying positive, whatever the future holds

W

alking along Dongtan Beach, Pattaya promenade at 7:30am is a daily ritual for me. It brings a sense of much needed normalcy; sharing pleasantries with the other exercisers is a soothing reminder of life prior to Covid-19. It is also hopeful knowing that every passerby is facing similar decisions with unknown answers. Being almost 70 years old, living and working in Pattaya has been a dream come true. The exceptional tropical beach weather, sociability within the community, expanding commercial development and light traffic compared to Bangkok, are reasons enough why my husband and I chose to make this city our permanent home. For the past twenty two years I’ve been a resident of Pattaya - that’s saying a lot from a Southern California beach girl. Unfortunately, Pattaya does suffer from a sordid image, but there is another side that attracts retirees, families and couples that you seldom hear about.

40

TheBigChilli

Bangkok - Sukhmvit 1989 It has been an exciting, 31-year adventure since moving to Thailand with my wonderful, Thai husband Paisan. Initially we spent 10 years in Bangkok while the BTS was under construction. We almost lived on the tracks where the pounding of the piling could be heard unceasingly. Then we encountered the


Tom Yum Goong financial crisis in 1998, which was a humbling experience. For 10 years in Bangkok, my work allowed me to travel to almost every corner of the country as a consultant for real estate developers. Conducting feasibility analysis and housing market research would later assist in creating the design and concept for our future resort. Rabbit Resort Pattaya – 2000 My husband inherited 10 rai of land in Jomtien, from his parents. We loved the variety of the city and its close proximity to Bangkok. We wanted to live, work and play on the beach. Our idea was to build a small resort, it was the perfect opportunity to semi-retire. We thought..... We had no former experience in hospitality. We didn’t know how much hard work would be required every day to develop a successful resort business. We seldom even went to the beach, rarely walking along the waves. We just awed at it from the resort. Many people have wondered why the name Rabbit? It was a very conscious decision. We wanted a name that people around the world could resonate to - simple, friendly and charming. It was chosen because my husband was born in the year of the Rabbit. We were unsure what type of resort the guests wanted. With no hospitality experience this was an important question. My consumer research revealed that guests wanted to feel like they were in Thailand. Not just a hotel room, but a cultural experience and that is what we built. Traditional Thai houses with old wood and contemporary details. A low density environment, only one or two stories, no lifts and lots of open space. Basically, it is the epitome of social distancing, located directly on Dongtan Beach. TheBigChilli

41


Expat Women

42

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

43


Expat Women Trip Advisor also started in 2000. For 11 years our resort was ranked #1 in Pattaya and we still maintain Travelers Choice Award status. I have always placed great importance upon guests’ satisfaction, creating a warm and comfortable environment during their visit. We also allowed customers to bring their small pets with them when staying with us. Covid-19 Closure n late March of this year, it was apparent that PILC Coffee Morning at Rabbit Resort we needed to close the resort because of Covid-19. Emotionally fighting the inevitable, we announced that April 1, 2020 we would close. After 20 years of continuous hard work I was distressed. Crying, depressed and afraid of the future. Shortly

I

thereafter, the Thai government mandated hotel closures. We will re-open on 9 October, 2020. Our thinking was to watch and wait to understand the pandemic and its effect on tourism in Thailand. We have renovated the resort, painting everything to a fresh new look. Cleaning and replacing anything we hadn’t done in twenty years. Now finished, the resort is ready for guests to return. Today, the only available market for us is the domestic Thailand market. Guests are primarily generated from Metropolitan Bangkok which is less than two hours away. From our experience we know that this guest normally stays only one night, Saturday night. That’s only four nights per month except when there is a long holiday. So, we are opening a limited number of rooms on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. Emotional Support Pattaya International Ladies Club (PILC) has been a life-saver since the Covid -19 appeared. Established in 1987 it has over 150 members from 42 countries, including Thailand. Most ladies have returned to their home now, but there are still approximately 40 that regularly attend monthly coffee mornings and lunches. This organization has helped the Pattaya community tremendously, raising funds and assisting charities. It is the cohesive glue that holds the expatriate community together in the city. It’s a very interesting and diverse group of women. They often have higher

44

TheBigChilli

Dear Friends Siam Paragon


Muscle Factory Pattaya Friends

degrees and held powerful management positions in their home country. I have always thought that these women are a valuable, untapped resource that can help Thailand, if given the chance. any arrived in Pattaya with their top management husbands working for international firms within the industrial estates that surround Pattaya. The ladies are mostly my age, over 60. Some of them are now widows. It surprised me that many chose to stay in Pattaya alone. Personally, I will be in Pattaya for the rest of my life. Thailand is my home.

M

Our Future Pattaya people are resilient, they are survivors believing that the future can be better, carving their lives around their potential. I must remind myself everyday not to give up, to keep forging ahead no matter what. Circumstances don’t make us, our attitude and belief system is the deep well we must continually draw upon during precarious times. Yes, Covid-19 is a tremendous obstacle for everyone. However, together we will continue on course with hope, courage and enthusiasm. No matter what happens, no matter what the world throws at us. RABBIT RESORT 318/84 Moo 12, Soi Dongtan Police Station, Jomtien, Nongprue, Banglamung, Pattaya Thailand 20150 Tel: (+6638) 251730 to 732 Mobile Thai: (+6681) 6596263, (+6681)9835223 Eng:(+6690)6782023 Fax: (+6638) 251628 E-mail: sales@rabbitresort.com

Seafood in Jomtien with Friends

Muscle Factory Pattaya and Rabbit Resort Donating Eggs to Mercy Center TheBigChilli

45


Expat Women By Robin Westley Martin

Strategically Speaking, Success Guaranteed

S

urvivor! I had listened, fascinated, to the story that Claudia Anghel had just related to me. I had first met her at a party on the busy Bangkok social scene – pre-Covid – a couple of years ago, and knew little of her hidden depths. At the age of 19 Claudia told me she had travelled to Japan, via Romania, where she was born, and Canada. She was a small-boats enthusiast, and soon met some like-minded people in The Land of the Rising Sun, so a few of them got together, decided to get on a catamaran and go looking for adventure. They found it! Only a few hours after they had cast off, and land had faded from view, the sky above them tuned ominously dark. The blackened clouds roiled, the wind picked up speed and force, and the waves got higher and higher as the minutes ticked by. Soon the

decks were awash, and after every pitch and roll of the boat water was heading below as the boat bucked and plunged, flooding the hold. It quickly became a rote reaction of the crew to frantically bail out the water after every surging ingress, to avoid sinking, and being sent to a watery grave as the next incoming torrent threatened to engulf them. They had been forced to tie themselves to any available stanchion to avoid being thrown from the ‘cat’ into the storm-driven sea. The perfect storm they had found themselves at the centre of lasted for a week, and the mostly inexperienced sea voyagers remained sleepless and hungry for most of that time. There was barely time to eat, or do anything else except struggle to survive … it was all about traversing their way through the tempest and coming out safely the other side. Nothing else mattered. But eventually the power of the cyclone began to abate, and they breathed a collective sigh of relief as they sighted a coastline … they wearily limped towards a landing in their battered craft, and with their bruised bodies. It was not to be a fairy-tale ending. Rather than being welcomed back to shore after their fight with the elements, they were greeted with suspicion rather than succour. They had arrived in waters patrolled TheBigChilli

47


Expat Women and controlled by the US Navy. But after what they had been through – and overcome – the unwelcoming greeting they received was of little import to the battle-hardened crew. It does not surprise me that this adverse seafaring experience did not dissipate Claudia’s love of sailing, She currently has over 20 years’ experience behind her, and has taken to the oceans in everything from small dinghies to megayachts. The stirring tale she had related to me had made me intrigued to know more about Claudia Anghel, she had sparked my curiosity. Claudia was born in Romania, and moved to Quebec, Canada, when she was still a kid. She went through high school there, learned English and French, and after graduation her itinerant spirit tempted her to seek out places even further afield, finally deciding upon a trip to Japan, an exotic place that had stirred her interest. She spent six years in Japan, taught English and French, learnt Japanese, improved upon her English skills, and also began looking into the world of business. Claudia then attended several business colleges back in British Columbia, Canada, and also gained experience in Ireland and around the world. All the while picking up valuable knowledge and making connections, as do most people who travel extensively. Claudia, as the new millennium ended its first decade, was by now a lass full of confidence, which I imagine she actually always has been. Apart from her free spirit, love of travel and thirst for knowledge, she told me she has also been a TV comedian, a model, and has been featured in some large-scale advertising campaigns. No shrinking violet is this girl. nd so, let’s jump forward to Thailand, where Claudia arrived in mid-2016. Soon after coming to The Land of Smiles she wasted no time in making her presence felt, and one of the first things she did was to connect with the expat Canadian community by becoming President of the Canada Friendship Society, which led to a position as an advisor to the Board of CanCham (Canadian Chamber of Commerce). The foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand proved to be fertile ground for Claudia, and she has made many friends and connections through them, and is either an official or unofficial

A

48

TheBigChilli

advisor to several, most notably from the countries of Scandinavia. Claudia is also the Founder of WaveOne, her own company she formed in 2018, that specializes in business solutions, “Unpredictability leads to opportunity, opportunity leads to unexpected solutions. WaveOne focuses on pragmatic win-win applications for businesses individually by applying sustainable solutions, as well as uniting them together with leading partners in the non-profit / public sector. WaveOne brings together media, foreign embassies, chambers of commerce and government. From these bridges that we build together, there are incredible opportunities and potential that can be unleashed,” said Claudia. After first connecting with Claudia through the social scene of Bangkok, and now knowing her for a couple of years, and becoming her friend, I have gradually become aware of what her business strengths are; she is a master at connecting people and companies together. She is a business strategist who is able to move in and out of ‘boxes’… she quickly grasps what a particular business needs in order to move it forward. he is an elite observer and solution seeker. She is able to clearly visualise the largely imperceptible, build solid relationships, find the key people, and identify gaps or loopholes. Claudia aces problem-solving – cultural, legal, or country specific. She is a generalist, focused on long-term thinking with immediate solutions and ideas to overcome any barriers that get in the way of her clients’ desired outcome. These are the attributes that I have come to understand after many conversations with Claudia, more often than not in a coffeeshop or bar. She is a girl that can party with the best of them. She is an Amazon. She knows how to enjoy herself, but the next morning in her office she is good to go, and with her perfect poise and exquisite classic elegance and style she is a force to be reckoned with in any business environment. But, perhaps most importantly, she is fun to be around. Claudia is effervescent, vivacious, full of fizz and is truly genuine. She is ready to put a shine onto your business, and a sparkle into your social life.

S


Concrete Therapy

Advice for modern city-dwellers Despite our best efforts, life in the big city can get pretty complicated, tr ying to juggle work, social life, personal problems—not to mention the never-ending stream of stressful traffic. We can talk to friends and family, but their involvement might be a little too close to home…sometimes a professional opinion really helps to put things into perspective. Calling our concrete therapists from New Counseling Ser vice (NCS) to the rescue for some solid advice! Do you have a question for one of our counsellors? We will never print your real name, you can ask anything anonymously. Just send your problem to: info@ncsbkk.com or message @ ncsbangkok on IG, FB, or Line.

Dear NCS, EI was recently assaulted at a well-known venue in the city. I wanted to warn other women, so I went to an online forum and anonymously posted my story to spread awareness. My post garnered a lot of attention – some positive, some negative. There were a few very abusive comments, calling me all kinds of names, saying I asked for it, etc. Normally, I would let this go as I know the internet is full of trolls, but a few of the men that commented are guys that I actually work with. They didn’t know it was me who posted the story and I wonder if things would have been different if I told them in person. To be honest, I feel unsafe just knowing that this is how they talk about women when they think nobody is watching. How can I face these guys at work? I don’t know them well enough to start a conversation about this, and I also don’t want to reveal that it was me who posted the story. Should I just try to forget about the whole thing?

Dear Anonymous, ■ That whole experience must have been very unpleasant and disturbing for you. Not only did you have to deal with the assault itself, but then to discover the nastiness of some of your colleagues must be very troubling. Sadly, sexism and misogyny—as well as racism, homophobia and other prejudices—do exist in every society, but it’s very unsettling Counsellor David Ogden

Photo by Verity Tan

-Anonymous

TheBigChilli

49


Concrete Therapy

to find it hidden so close to your everyday life. Whatever you choose to do (or not do), one particularly important thing is to ensure you look after and protect yourself as best you can. You have been through a difficult experience and no one gets to judge how you choose to respond to it. It takes time to recover from any experience like this that leaves you feeling less safe, and you need to really take care of yourself. Be sure to have some support people around you and don’t put any pressure on yourself to take any action until you’re ready to do so. A good first step is to take screenshots of the online comments in case you need evidence of these down the track. This could be useful if at any point there’s an attempt to deny or delete the comments. You can then take the time you need to decide what steps you might want to take regarding your colleagues’ comments, although generally the sooner such issues are addressed the more effective it tends to be. Of course, you have the option to do nothing further regarding the comments and given the personal and sensitive nature of the incident, you are certainly within your rights to not take the issue further. The downside to this approach is that allowing such comments to go 50

TheBigChilli

unchallenged in the real world can give the idea to the people who wrote them that since there are no real-life consequences for their actions, then what they wrote doesn’t really matter because it hasn’t affected them in any way. One thing that would be helpful is to secure some allies at work – other colleagues who share your belief that sexism and misogyny are unacceptable. This may help remind you that most people believe in treating each other with respect and you can get to know like-minded, decent colleagues, which will hopefully increase your sense of safety and support in your workplace. If you decide that you’d like to go further, another step you may choose to take is to disclose to some trusted colleagues (or a supervisor if appropriate) that you’re aware of misogynistic comments made by people at work and you want to ensure that you’re not alone in being concerned about that. Whether or not you choose to disclose the names of the colleagues who made the comments is up to you – after all they did make the comments in a public forum where they could be identified, so they need to accept the consequences. There’s a risk that this could spread through the workplace and potentially escalate the situation so you may need to

use discretion with this approach, but having a couple of people at work who are also aware of the situation may help you feel less vulnerable and more supported there. You said you don’t feel comfortable starting a conversation with those colleagues directly, but it would be beneficial if they knew that their comments have been seen by people who know and work with them. Maybe one of the allies you’ve established at work or a supervisor can confront them, or possibly even via an email from an anonymous account, ideally in a factual, matter-of-fact manner without attacking them beyond the comments they have made. Doing this will send a powerful message that when they make offensive comments online, everyone can see them – their mothers, their sisters, their wives, their children, their colleagues, their friends – and that such comments affect all of these people, which will hopefully cause them to reconsider their behaviour in the future. Another step to consider if you continue to feel unsafe in your workplace would be to talk to someone in your HR department. Most companies condemn sexist behaviour and even though these comments were made outside the workplace, you could still ask for advice on how to deal with colleagues who have publicly exhibited sexist behaviour, without needing to mention any names if you’d prefer. At least this way your company will be made aware of the issue and may be able to take some general steps to ensure a safer and more supportive workplace. Dealing with this would be a challenge for anyone and however you choose to handle things, please remember to protect yourself first. I wish you the best in continuing to deal with this difficult situation. Dave Counsellor


Dear NCS, My wife and I have lived in Bangkok for 7 years. She works at an international school and when she got the job, I went along as a ‘trailing spouse’ because it didn’t feel like a big deal to leave my job in the UK at the time. In BKK, I had a lot of free time which I spent going to the gym and occasionally watching rugby at the pub with my mates. I thought I was fine with it all, no big issues. At the beginning of this year, I went back to the UK for my mother’s funeral and I got stuck here because of Covid. I’ve come to realise that I’m so much happier here than I was in Bangkok and I have absolutely no desire to return. I didn’t know how unhappy I actually was until I got back home and felt the contrast. We've been apart for 6 months and I feel better than ever. Now, I don’t know what to tell my wife. She’s still working over there and she’s very happy at her job – she often says that moving to Bangkok was the best decision she ever made. All of this has made me doubt my entire relationship and life choices. I know you’ll probably suggest that I talk to her, but I’m going to need a bit more than that. I am really lost.   -Home at Last

Dear Home at Last,

Counsellor Johanna de Koning

Photo by Verity Tan

■ The issue you mention is very complicated as there may be much more involved than simply being home. Thank you for sharing your experience and your doubts honestly. I understand that “just talk to your wife” doesn’t sound like a great solution right now, especially considering how many thoughts are running through your mind. First of all, I want to offer my sincere condolences for the loss of your mother. When we lose a close relative we mourn and this can result in many mixed feelings. We are confronted with mortality and this may make us consider our own mortality or question our achievements and life decisions. How much is your wife aware of what you are going through emotionally in the days after your mother’s passing? How much were you able to share with her? Grief has no timeline. Some people grieve for several weeks, others a lifetime--and we all grieve

in different ways. I understand that there is a lot at stake for you right now: your relationship with your wife, the life you left behind in Bangkok, your relationships and family in the UK, and your current emotional/physical needs. At some point, it will definitely be necessary to talk to your wife. However, I can imagine it’s hard to think about when you may be overwhelmed by doubts and conflicting emotions. Mourning can cause confusion, so in general people are advised not to make big decisions in this period. You may want to read or watch some videos about grief, and perhaps you might recognise the process you are in. When searching for information about this topic, you can use the following search terms: grief, mourning, stages of grief, how to mourn. The following two links are a good place to start:

Stages of Grief https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Q2BJsOQypuw The Mourning Process https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=TXHDAtk8cAI TheBigChilli

51


Concrete Therapy

Sometimes it helps to put things into a visual representation, to map out our thoughts in order to see our priorities and needs on paper. Try the following exercise to get some clarity: grab a blank piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle. Write your name inside the circle. Around that, draw three more circles, each one larger than the previous. Now, think of all the people who play a role in your life such as your partner, family, friends, colleagues. Write their names in relation to your own in terms of ‘closeness’ – acquaintances may be around the edges of the paper, while closest friends could even be inside your circle. Don’t censor yourself too much, just write all the names that pop into your head. 52

TheBigChilli

Who is in your innermost circle, who do you engage with most and depend on most? List for yourself what is important to you in these relationships and the reason(s) why. Finally, I have three questions for you. Try to answer these honestly for yourself (I suggest writing down your answers), and then talk them over with a close friend or family member. After that, I hope you feel more prepared to start the conversation with your wife. You might begin by asking her to also write down her answers to the same questions. Some couples in longdistance relationships use this method of journaling back and forth in order to stay emotionally connected and understand each

other better despite the physical distance. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to these questions, it is best to write freely without judgment and then reflect on your answers later. • How do I feel about our marriage relationship? • What personal goals would I like to achieve and is this possible in our current situation? • What direction would I want to explore with you regarding our future ? I wish you courage during this process and if you want to speak to a professional, do feel free to reach out.

Johanna Counsellor


TheBigChilli 123


Guest review by Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Great respect for Dave’s No Idea

T

he third post Covid19 lunch was yet another great success. Generous and unflappable host Dave Hallam and Chef K. Duandern made this a truly enjoyable lunch for the 19 gourmands attending this venue now for a sixth time. With a refreshing white wine as aperitif, Terlan Winkl Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Terlano, Italy) commended by wine spokesman Jake Meerman, diners devoured the cold cuts and anchovies with relish (food spokesman Jim 54

TheBigChilli


Morrison was very impressed) before assembling at the long table for the first course of a Terrine of Pork, Duck & Foie Gras. This was a hearty start to the meal and I was grateful that the terrine had not been encased in Melton Mowbray style hot water crust pastry. Accompanying this we found Terlan Gewürztraminer 2018 (Terlano, Italy), an excellent

full bodied dry wine from Alto Adige which did not attract as many compliments as I thought it deserved. Jake, a red-blooded nonPC Aussie, went so far as to say with tongue in cheek it was a girl’s wine. The next dish demonstrated Chef Duandern’s skills in abundance. This was beautifully cooked Brittany Cod, tomato and cardamom; the fish was a huge TheBigChilli

55


chunk of tasty cod with bok choy and a delicate sauce. Most including Jake found the matching wine, Tongue in Groove Pinot Noir 2015 (Wairapa Valley, NZ), a great Pinot and an excellent choice to complement the cod. The Goat Cheese salad with rocket and a miso dressing drew mixed views with some including Jim finding the dressing a little overpowering but I love goat cheese and so found it very acceptable. Next up we found tender and flavoursome Australian rib-eye served medium-rare in family style with accompanying green veggies and roasted onions. This was as good as it gets, I thought, and Jim agreed noting the extra servings of the accoutrements which were readily made available. It came with the wine of the lunch, Corte Rugolin Amarone Crosara de le Strie 2012 (Veneto, Italy) in magnums, “fit for Resurrection Day!” as said by one Vivino scribe. It was garnet-red in colour, with a full, dry, velvety taste, and intense aromas of cherries macerated in alcohol (reputedly 16.0%), wild berries and spices. Indeed it was so good it made its way alongside the cheese platter where Dave’s selection of cheeses 56

TheBigChilli


from mostly Europe made a mouthwatering feast, served with freshly baked bread. And if that was not enough, John MacTaggart treated us to glasses of port to celebrate his birthday and to complete a much enjoyed meal. However, that extravagance also provided John the opportunity to thank on behalf of us all K. Duandern and Dave Hallam, and the team of servers that we over the years have come to respect and admire. No Idea Gastropub 8 Sukhumvit Soi 22, Bangkok (0) 2 663 6686 https://noideabkk.com/ TheBigChilli

57


Trevor's 60th

Popular British entrepreneur Trevor Allen celebrated his milestone 60th birthday with sixty of his pals at No Idea restaurant, Sukhumvit 22. During lunch, guests generously donated to a charity drive for the Beaumont Partnership Foundation's school in Chaiyaphum.

58

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

59


60

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

61


Feature

Golden Triangle Still a major source of narcotics as the war on drugs goes high-tech to catch the online smugglers Deputy NCB chief describes multipronged attack on traffickers By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

T

he Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers, remains one of the world’s major sources of illicit drugs, a top Thai police chief has confirmed. Paisith Sungkahapong, Deputy Secretary-General of the Narcotics Control Board (NCB), says illegal operations in this region include opium production and heroin manufacture, but in recent years the cultivation of the opium poppy in Myanmar has constantly decreased while the production of synthetic drugs in the Golden Triangle has been on the rise, especially methamphetamine tablets (yaba) and crystal meth (“ice”). 62

TheBigChilli

According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), East and Southeast Asia together make up the world’s largest market for methamphetamine. “The most popular drug smuggled from neighboring countries to and through Thailand is yaba, followed by crystal meth, ketamine and heroin. There are some small refineries in Thailand to produce heroin from opium, but the big ones are located outside the country,” said Mr Paisith during an exclusive interview from his office at the Office of the Narcotic Control Boards (ONCB) in Phayathai district of Bangkok. “Other drugs smuggled into Thailand are ecstasy and cocaine. Cannabis is grown in Thailand and neighboring countries.


Paisith Sungkahapong

TheBigChilli

63


Feature

“The smuggling of drugs into Thailand is most rampant in the North, especially in the area of the Golden Triangle,” he continued. “Smuggling has been going on there for a very long time. The smugglers use many routes and these often change. They use main roads or highways with checkpoints and also natural channels like forests. “We work with international partners and the Thai police and military to suppress drug smuggling activities. We receive reports on seizures from international partners and sometimes we go to other countries to help with their investigation. “We have information that these chemicals for production of these drugs, known as precursors, are being smuggled to the Golden Triangle from India through Bangladesh, from China to Myanmar or Laos, and some via the Mekong River. That’s why it is so important to work with other Mekong sub-region countries in what we call ‘Golden Triangle Operation 1511’ to dry up the supply of precursors. We’ve seized large quantities of precursors since the start of the operation in November 2019, and we’ve arrested a lot of smugglers.” But it is not just the remote areas of Southeast Asia that are fueling the drug problem. It also occurs much closer to home, says the police chief. “There are also cocaine smuggling rings operated by West African drug syndicates through Suvarnabhumi, Phuket and other airports. “Before COVID-19, African syndicates were bringing in ecstasy from Europe. Last year we had a case where an African man was working with a Thai woman – maybe she was his wife – to send the drugs to Japan using Thai women as couriers. Some of the women knew they were smuggling and some didn’t know. Many of the couriers were arrested by the Japanese police and later we managed to arrest the African man here. “The illicit drug problem cuts across all the important issues of society – health, crime, poverty, human rights, and also takes a big toll on the country’s economy and security,” adds Mr Paisith, a career law enforcement officer with a

diverse educational background. That “diverse” background has several interesting surprises, including a diploma in Art and Technique of Film Making (London International Film School, 1984), a Bachelor’s in Law (Ramkhamhaeng University, 1988), and a Master’s in Political Science in Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy (Thammasat University, 1995) as well as Barrister at law (Thai Bar Association, 2017). He also was trained at FBI Academy in 1998. After receiving training at the Royal Thai Police Academy in 1989 he began his career in law enforcement as a sub-inspector at the Office of the Secretary of the Royal Thai Police (RTP). He was later assigned to the Immigration Bureau, and served as Inspector at the Interpol office in Bangkok with the rank of Police Lieutenant Colonel. Mr Paisith left the RTP in 2002 to join the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) under Ministry of Justice. His last position at DSI was Director of the Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime Bureau. He left DSI in 2018 to become Deputy Director-General at the Central Institute of Forensic Science, Ministry of Justice, and was appointed to his current position this year. As Deputy Secretary-General of the NCB his responsibilities are to assist the Secretary-General of the NCB and to supervise five ONCB bureaus. These bureaus are concerned with International Affairs and Cooperation; Narcotics Crop Survey and Control; ONCB Scientific and Forensic Laboratories; Regional Bureau 3 in Nakhon Ratchasima; and Regional Bureau 4 in Khon Kaen. “The focus of the ONCB is on the integration of drug control agencies in Thailand and with their international counterparts,” said Mr Paisith. “We do the strategic planning for drug control in the country, and we support other agencies in terms of intelligence. When the government accepts our policy recommendations, they will be used by the ONCB and also by other agencies as well.” Mr Paisith explained that while the ONCB is tasked with devising

Before COVID-19, African syndicates were bringing in ecstasy from Europe. In one case, an African man was working with a Thai woman to send the drugs to Japan using Thai women as couriers. Some of the women knew they were smuggling and some didn’t know. Many couriers were arrested by the Japanese police and later we arrested the African man here.

64

TheBigChilli


TheBigChilli

65


Feature

Mr Paisith sits next to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (center) during a video conference on drug policy at Government House on July 17. High-ranking officials from all provinces joined in the conference.

the nation’s drug suppression strategy, it is up to the police to enforce it. “Normally we don’t do cases on our own, but join with the police, namely the Narcotic Suppression Bureau (NSB). The ONCB has the authority to search and arrest suspects. We can also interview drug suspects before transferring them to the police for further investigation, but usually when we make an arrest we turn the suspect over to the police right away. We don’t have a detention facility at the ONCB headquarters in Bangkok.” International cooperation is the key “The ONCB is keenly aware of the importance of international cooperation in drug control efforts and we are constantly working on ways to maintain, improve, extend and strengthen cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally with ASEAN, neighboring countries and international organizations. “We work closely with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the National Police Agency of Japan (NPA) and the British National Crime Agency (NCA) among others in terms of information and intelligence sharing, joint operation, joint training, etc. We also work with other police liaisons attached to embassies in Thailand. “An important area of cooperation is with the other 66

TheBigChilli

five countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region – Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam – to tackle drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle area under the principle of ‘No Chemicals, No Drugs’. Our 2019-2022 Safe Mekong Operation Plan is focused on interdiction of illicit drugs and their chemical precursors, and bringing the traffickers to justice. Targeting Thailand Thailand remains a major destination for narcotics produced in the Golden Triangle and is also a major transit route for drugs that are trafficked elsewhere. Last year the ONCB conducted a joint assessment with the Ministry of Interior on the extent of the drug problem in 82,127 villages and communities in Thailand. The survey showed illicit drug use was taking place in around 30% of these communities and more than 3,440 were seriously affected by the drug problem. Again, methamphetamine use is by far the biggest problem in Thailand. “A major transit point for yaba is in Rangsit district near Bangkok. The NSB made a big seizure some weeks ago,” said Mr Paisith. “While the North of Thailand is still the main theatre for drug smugglers, smuggling through the Northeast and West has increased in frequency and volume. Interestingly, the emergency decree announced on March 25 to control the spread of


COVID-19 in Thailand allowed the ONCB and our allied law enforcement agencies to more effectively control drug trafficking, especially in the first month of the lockdown. Apparently the smugglers went into lockdown too. This is indicated by the fact that seizures of over 100,000 methamphetamine tablets were rare during that month. “However, the situation began to return to normal during the second and third phase easing of the lockdown. After May 2020 we started to make seizures of from one to ten million meth tablets in nine districts of six provinces in the North and Northeast. At the beginning of the lockdown the authorities set up many checkpoints throughout the country and the border controls were also very tight, so the drug syndicates were having a difficult time. But after a while they adapted and started using natural channels more. “Our intelligence networks confirm that the same drug syndicates and fugitives operate in Thailand and neighboring countries to smuggle illegal drugs across borders. There are many drug syndicates, and some of the biggest are involved with producing yaba and smuggling it into Thailand. Some of the masterminds of the syndicates live inside Thailand and some outside. They don’t usually touch the drugs themselves. Most of the drugs are produced by various ethnic militias in the Golden Triangle in neighboring countries. Very little is produced in Thailand. “We believe that more than 72% of smuggling activities are disrupted by border defense forces working with drug suppression agencies. Based on intelligence reports, it is likely that the smuggling of a large volume of illicit drugs from neighboring countries into Thailand via different routes is pending at this time.” Online and in the mail On a much smaller scale than the cross-border trade, drug smuggling via private courier services through long-distance routes has been on the rise. “Many suspects were recently arrested for smuggling via courier services, yielding yaba tablets and crystal meth. The smuggling of ecstasy and its precursors from

Europe via international courier services is also being found. Most of those arrested are youthful offenders. Their M.O. is to smuggle the primary precursors and make club drugs here, to be sold to teenagers hosting parties at private residence in Bangkok and tourist destinations in the provinces. “Drug trafficking groups have exploited online platforms in parallel with various concealment methods. They use postal and courier services to rapidly deliver drugs to targeted users. Data from the Online Illicit Drug Monitoring System shows a considerable growth of online drug trafficking in April during the period of the emergency decree. In that month 769 online posts of illicit drugs were reported, a two-fold increase from the 383 posts reported in March. Different delivery options are offered, including pickup services, and private and public courier services. Crystal meth is the drug most traded online, followed by cannabis and then yaba tablets. “The ecstasy epidemic in Thailand is on the upswing, as seen from the rising number of arrests. The process of ecstasy importation is managed by Thai traders collaborating with foreigners. Most of the ecstasy imported into Thailand originates in Europe. It is bought through underground websites using digital money and then sent via postal services. “The problem of ecstasy in Thailand is still limited, and occurs mainly among younger addicts with good financial status. The price of ecstasy is much higher than meth tablets, and it’s sold mostly in tourist spots and at nightclubs. “The ONCB is increasing surveillance measures to deter drug smuggling from foreign countries in collaboration with the Thai Postal Company, international shipping companies and social media platforms. Twitter is the most commonly used online platform to market illicit drugs in Thailand, accounting for 91% of the volume (up from 74%). Twitter users are mostly quite young. Other social media platforms like Facebook and Line are used to sell drugs as well. We are now trying to purchase new equipment to allow us to monitor and trace the activities of online

Some of the masterminds behind the biggest drug syndicates involved with producing yaba and smuggling it into Thailand live in the kingdom, some outside. They don’t usually touch the drugs themselves. Most of the drugs are produced by various ethnic militias in the Golden Triangle in neighboring countries. Very little is produced in Thailand.

TheBigChilli

67


Feature

A large quantity of drugs before its destruction in Ayutthaya province on January 12, 2020.

drug traders. The objective is to arrest people who use social media to sell drugs, not for any other purpose.� Seizing assets is a top priority Mr Paisith said his organization is focusing more than ever on seizing the assets of drug traffickers. He explained that this is often easier than catching drug kingpins red-handed, and it also provides a direct benefit to the ONCB because it can use the seized funds to finance operations. “Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha came to the ONCB headquarters on May 8 and declared that assets seizure is a top priority in the fight against drug traffickers. I also believe that this is a truly effective way to suppress the drug trade. If you arrest someone with a shipment of drugs, the next day there will be another in his place. �We can usually get our hands on only the couriers or mid-level guys. If you seize one million yaba tablets today, tomorrow the factory will produce one million more. No matter what quantities we seize or how many people we arrest, the illegal drugs trade will 68

TheBigChilli

The smuggling of ecstasy and its precursors from Europe via international courier services is also being found. Most of those arrested are youthful offenders. Their M.O. is to smuggle the primary precursors and make club drugs here, to be sold to teenagers hosting parties at private residence in Bangkok and tourist destinations in the provinces.


International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, at ONCB headquarters on June 26, 2020.

Mr Paisith at the National Drug Committee meeting.

continue unabated. But confiscation of assets deals a real blow to the traffickers because, for one thing, they won’t have the funds to purchase new machines and chemicals to produce the drugs. “Like the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), which is a government organization we work closely with, the ONCB is authorized to seize the assets of criminals. However, there are differences in the two processes. According to AMLO regulations, they can seize assets if they suspect the holder of the assets has broken the law. AMLO can seize assets related to many types of crimes. After assets have been seized – or frozen to be more exact – AMLO begins a further investigation to determine if the crimes are committed. If not, then the assets will be returned. “Sometimes the investigators know that a suspect is involved in the drug trade and we know the person has a lot of money, houses, land, sports cars or whatever, but maybe we don’t have yet enough solid evidence to show the suspect has broken the law. In such a case we might ask AMLO to seize assets according their laws. We will then continue to investigate to try to secure evidence.” Summar y of Thailand’s drug trends Mr Paisith concluded the interview by summarizing major trends in the global narcotics trade as they relate to Thailand, as follows:

ONCB officers preparing for a drug raid.

• The Golden Triangle remains the main drug production area in the region, with a huge impact on the drug situation in Thailand. • The North remains the major area of drug smuggling into the country, while smuggling through the northeastern and western borders has been increasing in the volume and frequency. • Drug syndicates have increasingly exploited new technologies, and technology is increasingly being used to track their illegal financial transactions. • Young people, including children, are at serious risk of involvement with illicit drugs in Thailand. A call for informants Mr Paisith said the ONCB needs informants to help it fight illegal drugs use in Thailand. “We have a team which is looking for informants. Anyone can call our hotline by dialing 1386 to give information. But informants go way beyond this. An informant is someone we can believe and trust and who will be assigned to work undercover to collect intelligence for us. We protect every informant, and this includes relocating and giving them a new identity in a witness protection program, if needed, we have to work on this with the Ministry of Justice.” TheBigChilli

69


Feature

Drug cases and seizures throughout Thailand In the fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018 - September 30, 2019), there were 363,769 drug cases with 385,771 offenders who were charged with narcotic offences, classified as below:

to heroin. Arial and ground surveys of these areas during the August 2019 - April 2020 cultivation season detected 319 opium cultivation plots with a total area of 267.90 rai or 42.864 hectares in seven provinces, as follows:

• Consumption offences: 177,101 cases/179,846 offenders. • Possession offences: 104,402 cases/109,882 offenders. • Five major offences: 81,784 cases/95,207 offenders.

PROVINCE PLOTS HECTARES Tak

136 22.376

Quantity of seized drugs:

Chiang Mai

158

18.1616

• Methamphetamine: 518,896,162 tablets. • Crystal methamphetamine: 16,284.52 kg. • Cannabis: 14,342.71 kg. • Heroin: 941.85 kg. • Ketamine: 734.82 kg. • Cocaine: 27.90 kg.

Mae Hong Son

15

1.3232

Chiang Rai

4

0.3216

Nan

3 0.32

Kamphaeng Phet

2

0.2416

Opium poppy cultivation in Thailand Lampang 1 0.12 Areas in the North of Thailand are suitable for growing opium poppy, which can then be refined

Mr Paisith Sungkahapong Education • 2017: Barrister at law, Thai Bar Association. • 1998: Certificate in English for law profession, Sukhothai Thammathirat University. • 1995: Master of Political Science in Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy, Thammasat University. • 1988: Bachelor of Law, Ramkhamhaeng University. • 1984: Diploma in Art and Technique of Film Making, London International Film School (UK). • 1980: Certificate in English as Foreign Language, Hammersmith and West London College (UK). Selected Training • 1998: 194th session of FBI National Academy, FBI Academy (USA). • 1988: Police officer training course, Royal Thai Police Academy. 70

TheBigChilli

TOTAL

319 42.864

Selected Work Experience • 2020 - Present: Deputy Secretary-General, NCB Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). • 2018 - 2020: Deputy Director-General Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS), Ministry of Justice. • 2015 - 2018: Director Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime Bureau, Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Ministry of Justice. • 2011 - 2015: Director Anti-Human Trafficking Center, DSI, Ministry of Justice. • 2002 - 2011: Chief and Special Case Inquiry official, Foreign Affairs Division, DSI, Ministry of Justice. • 1996 - 2002: Inspector (Pol Lt Col) Interpol, Foreign Affairs Division, RTP. • 1991 - 1996: Sub-Inspector, Immigration Bureau, RTP. • 1990 - 1991: Sub-Inspector, Office of Inspector General, RTP. • 1989 - 1990: Sub-Inspector, Office of the Secretary, RTP. Selected Honor Outstanding Civil Servant of the DSI, Ministry of Justice, 2008.


About the NCB and ONCB

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha (4th from left) during his visit to ONCB headquarters on May 8, 2020.

Members of partnership to thwart trafficking of illicit drugs in Thailand.

T

he NCB set up on 1976 comprise of the Prime Minister as Chairman and ex-officio members e.g. Minister of Office of the Prime Minister who was assigned by the Prime Minister, Ministers of Defense, Minister of Interior, Minister of Justice, Minister of Public Health, Minister of Education, Attorney-General, CommissionerGeneral of the RTP, Director-General of the Customs Department, and Secretary-General as member and secretary of the Board. In addition, the Cabinet appointed other members up to six qualified persons. The term of appointed members is two years. Among other responsibilities and duties the authorities of the Board are to determine the work, plans and measures for preventing and suppressing the offenders relating to narcotic offences; to control investigation, inquiry, suppression and prosecution of offences under narcotic law. Also to prepare

Mr Paisith with some foreign colleagues.

and implement projects, to give recommendations to the Cabinet for the improvement of the official performance or in the work plans or projects of the regulatory government agencies on narcotic control and narcotic laws. The ONCB under the Ministry of Justice is the central agency for drug control and a leading agency in development and driving forward the drug control strategies of Thailand and ASEAN in order to make Thailand safe from drugs. ONCB focuses on the integration of drug control implementation with agencies concerned in the country and with the international counterparts. Narcotic control has been implemented to suit the drug situation in terms of the narcotic drug vigilance, monitoring, drug law enforcement, international cooperation, strengthening of village/community, raising the public awareness and encouraging the participation of non-government agencies, civil societies and private sectors. TheBigChilli

71


Diplomats

p Meet the people uniting nations

His Excellency Dato’ Jojie Samuel

72

TheBigChilli


Malaysian Ambassador praises cooperation and engagements with Thailand’s ministries and government organizations By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

On the occasion of its 63rd National Day on August 31, His Excellency Dato’ Jojie Samuel, Ambassador of Malaysia to Thailand, gave an interview to The BigChilli.

“I have been in Bangkok for about two years and nine months, since my arrival in Bangkok in early January 2018. This is one of a few largest diplomatic missions of Malaysia; the amount of work that we do here correlates with the importance of Thailand as a neighbour of Malaysia, as well as the closeness of Malaysia-Thailand bilateral relations. “I think one of the achievements would be when our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad undertook official/working visits to Thailand, not once but four times, both in 2018 and 2019. The first visit was from 24-25 October 2018 as part of Tun Dr Mahathir’s introductory visit to neighbouring Southeast Asian countries since he became Prime Minister in May 2018, during which he met with Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. “Shortly after, on 15-16 December 2018, the former Prime Minister undertook his second visit to Thailand, during which he was conferred an honorary doctorate in social leadership, business and politics by Rangsit University. Likewise, in 2019, the former Prime Minister visited Thailand, twice, in June and November attending the ASEAN Summits. “The former Prime Minister also inaugurated the first ever Malaysia Fest in June 2019 which was organized by the Embassy of Malaysia with the cooperation of the Malaysian-Thai Chamber of Commerce. The event saw more than 30 Malaysian entrepreneurs showcasing their various food products including street food, ready-made Malaysian products and services.

“The Embassy also successfully organized the Malaysian Durian Fest in June 2018 and Malaysian Food Promotion in December 2018 and in September 2020. “The number of visits and events conducted is just one aspect of measuring the achievements. Another important aspect is of course to highlight the outcomes from these bilateral visits and ASEAN meetings. Exchanges between the two premiers would normally open the path for both governments to identify and pursue potential areas of cooperation, for example border trade between Malaysia and Thailand. Overall, I am glad to say that, following these visits and bilateral contacts, we have managed to strengthen ties between Malaysia and Thailand, in terms of trade, investment, and people-to-people ties. “It is unfortunate that the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted international travel. Nonetheless, we expect Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to undertake his official visit to Thailand and meet with his Thai counterpart once situation permits.” Happy in “Land of Smiles” “Throughout my stay in Thailand, it has been wonderful. I could not agree more with the slogan ‘Amazing Thailand always amazes you.’ Thailand is a beautiful country, and is full of diversity. I have managed to travel to most parts of the country, the most memorable experience would be meeting with the different people of Thailand, to discover and explore the Thai spirit. In northern Thailand with TheBigChilli

73


Petronas Twin Towers – Standing majestically at a height of 451.9 metres, Petronas Twin Towers is a world-renowned icon of Malaysia. This gleaming structure is the centre piece of the Kuala Lumpur.

majestic mountain ranges, we have descendants of ethnic Chinese and hill tribes. “In southern Thailand, Muslim population is concentrated in the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. Then, we see a large number of Thai population living in central Thailand and based around Chao Phraya River, which was and still is the main source of economy of many people. One thing I must stress is that, it does not matter what background or ethnic group they belong to, there is one similarity: the people of Thailand are always friendly, gentle, calm and soft-spoken. It is no wonder that Thailand is known as the ‘Land of Smiles.’ “Of course, especially during this difficult time when the coronavirus outbreak threatens the livelihood of millions of people, I truly admire the resilience of the people of Thailand when I see them having a positive attitude to face the challenges, and to adopt creative approaches to find extra source of 74

TheBigChilli

income. Their positivity is something that we could learn from. “Apart from meeting with Thais, I also have the opportunity to meet with Malaysians residing in Thailand. Many Malaysians have family linkages with Thais, while some have successfully established their business presences here in Thailand. Their journey and stories setting foot in Thailand have been inspiring for me. More importantly, they have been very supportive when it comes to activities organized by the embassy, including the national day celebration and other festive and social events. Their active participation and involvement have made our events more meaningful and livelier. “In addition to that, I am encouraged to see the strong bonds between the Embassy and the Malaysian community to support those who are in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. We collaborated in several corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes


TheBigChilli

75


Stadhuys Buildings, Malacca City – Characterized by salmon red walls, the Stadthuys was once the official residence of the Dutch governors and their officers. Built in 1645, the Stadthuys is the oldest remaining Dutch building in Southeast Asia.

to provide assistance and contributions to local communities, including orphanages and shelters. These are our small efforts to give back to the community. “Aside from meeting different people, I like to discover the hidden gems in Thailand. I recently had the opportunity to visit Bang Kachao with a group of foreign diplomats and expatriates, where we got to cycle around the ‘lung of Bangkok’ to explore a place that we would have never thought about, located just less than one hour away from the embassy. It certainly felt good to see the urban oasis after months of lockdown measures, and I will continue my adventurous outlook to explore the rest of the country. I just picked up a new hobby and got my own bicycle, and will occasionally cycle around Bangkok to explore the city’s secret spots with my colleagues from the Embassy. I also enjoy playing golf in Thailand.” Impact of COVID-19 “The pandemic has certainly impacted our work at the Embassy. Earlier this year, we anticipated the worsening of the COVID-19 outbreak, which led to the state of emergency being imposed in Thailand since late March. Similarly, the Government of Malaysia imposed the Movement Control Order (MCO) since March 18, 2020. Hence, we focused on our repatriation 76

TheBigChilli

efforts during the first half of 2020. As of early September 2020, we have brought back 2,007 citizens and spouses to Malaysia, including 358 using four repatriation flights, and the rest through land border checkpoints. “Under reciprocal and humanitarian arrangements, Thai citizens in Malaysia are also being repatriated. We also assisted the Thai government to bring back their nationals from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, allowing them to transit in Malaysia. I must say that the repatriation exercise would not have been possible without the support from the Government of Thailand, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, which I deeply appreciate. “Due to the travel restrictions, there is no high-level visit this year. Correspondingly, bilateral cooperation is a bit less active. Nevertheless, we try our best to continue engaging with our counterparts through different means, including phone calls and video conferences. “Multilateral meetings at the Bangkok-based United Nations Economic and Social Commission (UNESCAP) have been cancelled. However, we still continue our active participation. With the support from the UNESCAP Secretariat, Malaysia successfully chaired and facilitated the negotiations of draft resolutions for the 76th UNESCAP Commission Session using virtual platform. This was the first


Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Kuala Lumpur – This remarkable edifice, built in 1897, was named after the State Ruler and served as the government administration building during the British era.

time in history that delegates met online to negotiate and adopt resolutions. We also participated in other meetings via hybrid model introduced by the UNESCAP Secretariat. “This year at the Embassy, we did not have the luxury of hosting national day reception due to social distancing regulations. Instead, we switched to a series of small-scale celebrations and programmes targeting different segments of our audiences, among others, a ‘Merdeka Fun Ride’ cycling event to foster the spirit of patriotism and unity among Malaysians residing in Thailand, ‘Merdeka Golf ’ to strengthen the connections between Malaysians and friends of Malaysia, weekly classes for our children to develop a stronger sense of national and cultural identity, and a mini food festival to promote Malaysian cuisine to our friends in Thailand. “The work nature of a diplomat is to meet faceto-face, to build connections and to exchange information. As lockdown measures are slowly eased, we look forward to resuming face-to-face engagements with our friends and counterparts. I expect the pace will accelerate in the second half of the year, and we are fully prepared to continue our work as usual. In short, I would say that yes, the pandemic has made our work a bit more difficult and different, but if there is a strong determination, plus a bit of creativity, we can overcome it.”

Future plans “We notice that the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent border closures have impacted bilateral trade between Malaysia and Thailand, resulting in the decline of bilateral trade volume. However, we must note that this is a global trend, not just between Malaysia and Thailand. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful that our trade will recover following the reopening of land border for movement of goods. “In relation to that, I would love to see an increase of bilateral trade and investment in the future. I will continue to promote Malaysia as an attractive and preferred investment destination for Thai investors. Investing in Malaysia has several advantages. First, Malaysia shares land border with Thailand, hence it is comparatively easier and convenient for investors and goods to commute. Second is the strategic location of Malaysia, which provides easy access to the massive ASEAN market. Third is the stable investment ecosystem that is supported by a pool of talent, attractive government incentives, and world-class facilities, including deep-sea ports, an e-Commerce hub, and five special economic corridors. “When we talk about enhancing trade and investment, we have to look at the broader picture. It involves connectivity and transportation. Therefore, I look forward to the discussion on friendship bridges TheBigChilli

77


Cameron Highlands – Malaysia’s premier hill resort is located on the Main Range of Peninsular Malaysia.

that will connect Kelantan (Malaysian side) and Narathiwat (on Thailand side). At the same time, I hope that commercial flights would resume once the lockdown measures are being eased gradually. “I also look forward to continuing the discussion with my Thai counterparts on several matters, such as memoranda of understanding (MOUs) currently under discussion, and gaining market access for certain Malaysian products. I strongly believe that both countries will make good progress on the basis of mutual benefit.” Bilateral relations “Sharing a common border of 656.8 km, Malaysia and Thailand inherently share strong bilateral ties on multiple fronts. Apart from trade and investment which I will explain later, both countries enjoy good cooperation in terms of education, training, tourism, agriculture, defence and security. “We constantly receive active participants from Thailand to join the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) in various diverse fields ranging from diplomacy to information technology, customs and trade facilitation, prison management, disaster prevention and irrigation. It allows the exchange of best practices among participants. Additionally, it lays the groundwork for establishing connections, thereby 78

TheBigChilli

leading to future cooperation. It is unfortunate that all MTCP courses have been cancelled this year. Still, I look forward to the resumption of MTCP courses so that we can once again welcome our Thai participants to Malaysia. “In terms of defence, military exercises and drills are being conducted regularly under bilateral and multilateral platforms, the well-known ones are Ex Thamal, Cobra Gold and Aman Yuyi. We also have a few officers from the Armed Forces of Malaysia who are taking courses in Thailand. “Similarly, law enforcement agencies have regular exchange of information related to cross-border crime, such as fraud, stolen vehicles and drug trafficking. Currently, while international border checkpoints remain closed, law enforcement agencies also focus on border patrol to curb human trafficking and illegal crossing, with the ultimate goal to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “On the cultural front, people-to-people exchanges have been ongoing through tourism. We are also working on a translation project with the Department of Cultural Promotion of Thailand, where we will see a few Malaysian literature and books to be translated into Thai, to foster the learning and understanding of cultures. We will be very delighted to launch and introduce these books to our friends in Thailand once they have been made available.”


Putrajaya – Hailed as the “Intelligent Garden City” Putrajaya is the futuristic administrative capital of the country.

Trade

Good cooperation

“From January - June 2020, total bilateral trade stood at US$8.8 billion, representing a negative 26.81% growth rate as compared to the same period last year. Obviously, this was due to the pandemic and lockdown measures. “Major exports from Malaysia to Thailand are electrical and electronic products; chemicals and chemical products; LNG; machinery, equipment and parts; crude petroleum; manufactures of metal; optical and scientific equipment; transport equipment; and manufactures of plastics. “Malaysia’s major imports from Thailand are electrical and electronic products; chemicals and chemical products; natural rubber; transport equipment; processed food; machinery, equipment and parts; petroleum products; and rubber products. “From January-June 2020, Thailand was Malaysia’s seventh largest trading partner, sixth largest export destination and eighth largest import source. Thailand was Malaysia's second largest trading partner in ASEAN. “From January-June 2020, Malaysia was Thailand’s fifth largest trading partner, tenth largest export destination and fourth largest import source. Malaysia was Thailand's second largest trading partner in ASEAN.”

“As I have briefly mentioned, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand has been very helpful and responsive when it comes to enhancing our bilateral cooperation. Our relations have been excellent. Every time we meet to discuss certain issues, we are able to do it in a frank and cordial manner. Indeed, true friendship is not about being there when it is convenient; it is about being there when it is not. This spirit is clearly manifested during our repatriation efforts. I was told that officials at the Ministry stayed up late to get clearance for the repatriation flights. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to them. “Likewise, cooperation and engagements with other ministries and governmental organizations have been positive. Our economic, trade, defence, security, agricultural and tourism offices have maintained close contacts with their Thai counterparts, to conduct various activities, such as site visits and promotional programmes. “I am also the patron of the Malaysian-Thai Chamber of Commerce (MTCC) and Kelab Malaysia in Thailand (KMT). Both organizations have been very active, forthcoming and supportive when it comes to co-organising activities with the embassy. “Again, I always stress this to my officers, although TheBigChilli

79


Langkawi – Langkawi is the main island in an archipelago of 99 islands of the same name situated in the Andaman Sea 30 km off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

the existing relations have been positive, we should not be taking it for granted and living in the comfort zone. Instead, we must continue to identify new ways to elevate cooperation with our counterparts in Thailand to a higher level.” Development of Malaysia “Over the past decades, Malaysia has witnessed steady economic growth and has substantially improved the well-being of its people. Malaysia’s economy expanded by 4.3% in 2019 as compared to 4.8% in the preceding year. In 2019, the Malaysia’s GDP in current prices amounted to RM1.51 trillion (US$364 billion), and for constant prices recorded RM1.42 trillion (US$342 billion). Gross National Income per capita increased to RM45,131 (US$10,869) from RM43,307 (US$10,430) in 2018. “Malaysia’s current development plan is guided by the Eleventh Malaysia Plan 2016-2020 and the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030. The Eleventh Malaysia Plan focuses on the Malaysian people, to provide them with well-being and prosperity. It is the final leg in the journey towards achieving full developed status in Malaysia. Productivity and innovation are basic pillars for the Plan, which is based on six Strategic Thrusts: (1) Enhancing inclusiveness towards an equitable society; (2) Improving wellbeing for all; 80

TheBigChilli

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park – The park comprises a group of 5 islands located off Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.


Curry Noodle – Curry Mee is a dish that is unique to Malaysia.

(3) Accelerating human capital development for an advanced nation; (4) Pursuing green growth for sustainability and resilience; (5) Strengthening infrastructure to support economic expansion; (6) Re-engineering economic growth for greater prosperity. “The Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 aims to provide a decent standard of living to all Malaysians by 2030. It also aims at addressing the different issues and challenges, including wealth and income disparities, by restructuring the economy to be more progressive, knowledge-based and high-value with full community participation. Under the Shared Prosperity Vision, Malaysia is expected to achieve a GDP of RM3.4 trillion (US$819 billion) (nominal) in 2030 with an

average growth rate of 4.7% per annum (constant) within the period of 2021-2030. “Overall, I would say that Malaysia has achieved significant progress in terms of economic development. We have to give credit to the stable political situation, which enables us to focus on infrastructure development, including a completed Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line and two upcoming MRT lines to support the existing public transport system in the Klang Valley, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) to spur economic activities in less-developed states, and a Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) right next to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to facilitate SMEs in internet economy and cross-border e-Commerce. “In addition, the Global Competitiveness Report 2019-2020, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), ranked Malaysia 25th out of 140 economies. Similarly, in the Doing Business Report 2020 published by the World Bank, Malaysia is ranked 15th worldwide for the ease of doing business, outranking countries such as Canada (22nd), Germany (24th), France (32nd), Switzerland (38th) and Japan (39th). Malaysia is also ranked second in ASEAN in the report after Singapore.”

CV of H.E. Dato’ Jojie Samuel Academic Qualifications

• B.A (Hons.), (Southeast Asia Studies, University of Malaya, Diploma in Public Administration, INTAN. Appointments • December 1992: Appointed as Administrative and Diplomatic officer and served as Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Malaysia. • April 1993: Assistant Secretary (Eastern Europe), MFA, Malaysia. • July 1995: Second Secretary, High Commission of Malaysia, Ottawa Canada. • January 1998: First Secretary, Embassy of Malaysia, Baghdad, Iraq. • July 1999: Assistant Secretary (Southeast Asia) MFA, Malaysia.

• July 2002: Counselor, Embassy of Malaysia, Ankara, Turkey. • August 2005: Deputy Head of Mission/Counselor, and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations office, Embassy of Malaysia, Vienna, Austria. • January 2009: Undersecretary (East Asia) MFA, Malaysia. • July 2011: Ambassador of Malaysia to Cuba (with concurrent accreditation to Haiti, Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua). • August 2014: Deputy Director General, ASEAN- Malaysia National Secretariat, MFA, Malaysia. • January 2016: Director General, ASEAN-Malaysia National Secretariat, MFA, Malaysia. Award • December 2017: Awarded Darjah Sultan Ahmad Shah Pahang (DSAP). TheBigChilli

81


The BigChilli

Modern History of Thailand 82

TheBigChilli


Chirayu 1987 (July) ya l na Ayuttha ku ng ra sa Is

mbat Metanee

1987 (October) So

1987 (November) Ra

ma IX Bridge

Journey through Thailand’s past: 1987-1991

By Maxmilian Wechsler

The fifth installment of our 10-part series describing newsworthy events in Thailand over the past 50 years begins with the year 1987. The September issue covered 1982-1986. 1987 is the year CentralPlaza

Chiang Mai Airport. Also known as Central Airport Plaza (established as Tantraphan Airport Plaza) was inaugurated, as were Kasem Bundit University in Bangkok and Mitsubushi Motors (Thailand). The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta was initiated to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty King

Bhumibol Adulyadej and continues to this day as a major event in the boating world. Also founded were Phayathai 2 private hospital, Raimon Land PCL real estate developers and TPI Polene PCL, a large manufacturer of cement and petrochemicals. Foreigners with HIV were banned from entering Thailand and several national parks were established including Namtok Chat Trakan in Phitsanulok province, Khao Laem in Kanchanaburi, Mae Wong in Nakhon Sawan and Kamphaeng provinces, Phu Chong-Na Yoi in

Ubon Ratchathani and Phu Toei in Suphan Buri. Januar y • ‘Visit Thailand Year’ was kicked off by an elaborate parade in a campaign to position the country as a top international tourist destination. Bangkok Governor Chamlong Srimuang issued a ban against all street vendors in the city, leading to a vendors’ protest outside Government House. Simultaneously the commissioner of the Bangkok Metropolitan Association (BMA) police force TheBigChilli

83


Feature

1987 (January) Ch

amlong Srimuan

1987 (January) Luang

g

ntre

ailand Cultural Ce

1987 (October) Th

Poo Waen Sujinno 1987 (January) Khao-I-Dang camp.

1987 (April) M.R. Kukrit Pramoj

told his officers they could arrest sidewalk vendors who were obstructing pedestrian traffic. • About a half million devoted Buddhists came from all over the country to the cremation ceremony of Luang Poo Waen Sujinno held at Wat Doi Mae Pang in Chiang Mai. He was one of the most revered monks in Thailand. About 10,000 Buddhist monks also attended the nationally televised ceremony presided over by the King and Queen. The monk passed away on July 2, 1985. • One of the first refugee camps for Cambodian refugees in Thailand, Khao-I- Dang, located about 20 kms from Aranyaprathet, was closed as the Thai government started preparations to start repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Cambodians who had crossed over the border in the previous decade. The refugees at Khao-I-Dang were transferred to temporary camps before being sent to Cambodia. April • Dozens of Thai Army rangers 84

TheBigChilli

gathered outside the home of elder statesman M R (Mom Rajawongse) Kukrit Pramoj to demand an apology from him for implying that General Chavalit Yongchaiyudt, Commander-inChief of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), was a ‘communist’. During a speech about the future of Thai politics at Chulalongkorn University, Kukrit claimed that Chavalit had been ‘sort of brainwashed by some communists who say there are no longer communists. They brainwashed everyone at the ISOC (Internal Security Operation Command). This is the base of communist infiltration’. In the same speech Kukrit criticised Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda, saying he had accomplished nothing and become ‘a sort of gentleman of leisure’. Kukrit denied that he had accused Chavalit of being a communist. Meanwhile, House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said he believed the rangers’ protest was approved by their commanders.

PM Prem at Government House. Prem praised the King’s development projects and local and foreign dignitaries sang ‘Sadudi Maha Raja’ in praise of the King.

May • The King was conferred the title of ‘The Great’ at a party hosted by

August • Pathet Lao soldiers numbering about 200 attacked Thai rangers

July • The Ministry of Interior proposed an amendment to the Condominium Act allowing foreigners to own 25% of the units in a condominium. By relaxing the rules the government was hoping foreign investors would buy condominiums under their own names rather than company names. The move was also seen as beneficial to real estate developers. • Chirayu Issarangkul na Ayutthaya resigned as minister to PM’s office to take a post as director of the Crown Property Bureau. Chirayu said he was ‘delighted and proud’ to serve the monarchy. He was also made Grand Chamberlain and Deputy Secretary-general of the Office of the Royal Household Bureau.


along the disputed Thai-Lao border near Ban Rom Klao village. The Lao soldiers claimed that the village and strategic Phu Soi Dao hill were part of Laos. • Thai security officers arrested Tomáš Beneš, a naturalised West German of Czech origin and British national Jeoffrey Higginson. Both were believed to be members of a Soviet spy ring in Thailand and in contact with Soviet intelligence agents here. Beneš’ Thai girlfriend operated a massage parlour on Sukhumvit Road where he was allegedly meeting diplomats and other people, both locals and foreigners, who may have had sensitive information. It was rumored that some rooms in the massage parlour were wired. Beneš purportedly passed intelligence to one Soviet spy agency. According to his own testimony, Higginson was trained for five days in the Soviet Union. He said he failed some assignments the Soviets gave him so he was told to collect information on US and Chinese military installations in the region. It is not clear if Beneš and Higginson knew each other. Both men were deported from Thailand within two weeks of their arrests.

October • The Thailand Cultural Centre opened in Huay Kwang district of Bangkok. The opening was part of the King’s 60th birthday celebration. Among other facilities the cultural centre boasts a 2,000-seat auditorium, a 500-seat auditorium and an outdoor stage. Construction of the centre was funded by a grant from Japan. • Famous Thai actor Sombat Metanee made the Guiness Book of World Records for most film appearances – 600 in total. Sombat was a leading actor in action movies, romances, dramas, comedies and musicals during a career that peaked in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1980s he still appeared in TV soap operas, talk shows and commercials. November • Rama IX Bridge was officially opened to traffic to mark the King’s upcoming 60th birthday on December 5. PM Prem gave opening remarks and led a candle-light ceremony presided over by Her Royal Highness Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Around 85,000 runners helped to inaugurate the bridge by participating in the ‘Royal Marathon’.

Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities was formed to prevent child exploitation and prostitution and defend the rights of minors. A Christian NGO known as Rahab Ministries Thailand was also founded to provide outreach services to sexually trafficked women and children. The government decided to shelve the Nam Choan Dam in western Thailand because of local and international opposition. Safari World was opened in Khlong Sam Wa district of Bangkok. The Buddhist-inspired Palang Dharma Party was established as a sort of political wing of the Santi Asoke sect founded by Bangkok Governor Chamlong. The party was disbanded in 2007.

Januar y • Chin Sophonpanich, one of Asia’s wealthiest people and founder of Bangkok Bank in 1944, passed away due to heart failure and complications arising from diabetes. Sophonpanich was born in China in 1910 and migrated to Siam 1988 (January) when he was 17 years Chin Sophonpanich old.

• A 25-yearold up-country • The first heart Thai woman transplant in measuring Thailand was performed on a 2.1 metres 19-year-old man in height travelled to at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok. Bangkok to 1988 Safari World A team of doctors meet with officials of the Public Health Ministry. led by Dr Chavalit Ongcharit The woman solicited government performed the successful fourassistance after being told that hour surgery. doctors could perform surgery on her to help check her growth. The saw the woman who asked that her name founding of Chaopraya be withheld said life in her village University in Nakhon was difficult for her and that she was Sawan province. treated poorly because of her size. The non-profit NGO 1988 (Jan

1988

uary) General Chavalit

• After 31 years of operation the four-storey Erawan Hotel near Rajprasong intersection was closed and demolished. In its heyday the hotel was popular with celebrities and foreign dignitaries, but with new luxury hotels popping up all over Bangkok occupancy was declining and the governmentowned hotel was forced to close. • A total of 641 separatists gave themselves up and took an oath of allegiance to the kingdom in a ceremony presided over by General Chavalit. The surrender was regarded as an important TheBigChilli

85


Feature step toward ending the bloody struggle waged by those who wanted an autonomous state in the Muslim-majority south. The mass defection was attributed by Fourth Army Commander Lieutenant General Visit Artkhumwong to the success of a pacification program launched in October 1987.

waters aboard Forbes’ yacht Highlander. The celebrities lunched with PM Prem at Government House and attended a dinner organised by Foreign Minister Siddhi Savetsila and the Rockefeller Foundation to raise funds for Thai doctors wishing to study tropical diseases at New York’s Rockefeller University.

1988 (November) Narai Bantomsin lintel

November • The 11th century Narai Bantomsin lintel arrived on a US airliner at Don Muang airport. The priceless ornamental Februar y July architectural piece • A ceasefire was signed between • General elections to depicting the Hindu Thailand and Laos after months of decide 357 seats in the god Vishnu in reclining fighting over 70 square kilometres House of Representatives position was stolen from of mountainous terrain in were held on July 24. The a temple in Buriram in Phitsanulok province. The fighting turnout was the 1960s. The lintel left more than 500 soldiers 63.6%. Chart was then sold to a New dead, most of them Lao. Thai Party led 1988 (July) York antiquities dealer Chatichai Choonhavan by Chatichai and purchased by an art • England’s Prince Charles Choonhavan won 87 collector who presented it to the and Lady Diana were granted seats, followed by the Chicago Art Institute. an audience with the King and Social Action Party • The return of the beloved Queen at Chitralada Palace. led by Siddhi Savetsila artifact was negotiated for more The prince and princess then 1988 (July) Siddhi. with 54 seats. The than a year by the Chicago flew to Chiang Mai where Democrat Party led by Bhichai museum and Thai government. Prince Charles visited the royal Rattakul won 48 seats. United Thai Many Thai residents living in the project at Huay Hong Khrai. Princess Party and Palang Dharma Party US as well as politicians, diplomats Diana toured the famous Bo Sang won 34 and 14 seats respectively. and various academic groups umbrella factory. lobbied for the return of the lintel. • After General • Customs officers at Prem turned down • After a quarter of century Klong Toey port in Bangkok an invitation from of excavations and restoration seized 1,280 kilograms of five coalition parties work, foreign and Thai experts No. 4 heroin destined for to return as head of accomplished a partial restoration the United States. It was the government, Chatichai of 193 Buddhist temples, moats and world’s largest drug haul, Choonhavan became other structures that 700 years ago worth about 180 million baht 1988 (July) the new prime formed a major part of the ancient on the streets of Bangkok General Prem minister. city of Sukhothai. The bid to and as much as 51 billion baht save Sukhothai began in 1953 once it reached the US. October and after a period of inactivity • Manookrit resumed in the mid-1960s. Efforts March Roopkachorn, leader accelerated beginning in 1978 • Just 24 hours after assembly of an unsuccessful after the Thai government and started on the Thai-Belgian Bridge coup in September UNESCO embarked on a 10-year, at the intersection of Wireless, 1985, returned to US$10 million master plan. Sathorn and Rama IV roads, the Thailand after more 1988 (October) bridge was in place and ready for Manookrit Roopkachorn than three years of is the year Total vehicle traffic. exile in Germany. He and other Access Communication PCL, coup leaders including his younger commonly known as DTAC, April brother Manas were granted was founded. Tilleke & Gibbins • Hollywood actress amnesty. One Thai woman, two law firm opened its Museum of Elizabeth Taylor and soldiers and two foreign journalists Counterfeit Goods publishing tycoon lost their lives as a result of the in Bangkok. The Malcolm Forbes coup attempt. Thai Human sailed into Thai

1989

il) 1988 (Apr 86 TheBigChilli Elizabeth Taylor.


1989 Pattaya railway station

1989 Tilleke & Gib bins -Museum of coun terfeit goods

Imagery Museum in Nakhon Pathom province and media company Workpoint Entertainment PCL came on the scene, and travel was made easier for tourists and locals by the opening of the Pattaya railway station in Bang Lamung district in Chonburi province and Samui ui Airport 1989 Sam Airport, built by Bangkok Airways on Koh Samui. Januar y • A gunman took the life of Saleh al-Malik in broad daylight as the third secretary of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Bangkok was walking on Soi Pipat 1 Road near Sathorn Road. According to a witness, an ‘Arab looking’ man walked behind the diplomat and fired eight bullets. Malik was hit four times in the head and died instantly, leaving behind his pregnant wife, threeyear-old daughter and eight-monthold son. Following the shooting a massive manhunt for the killer began. Saudi Arabia expressed concern over the attack and urged increased security for their diplomats in Bangkok. • Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen made a ‘secret’ visit to Thailand to meet with PM Chatichai. Even Foreign Minister Sitthi Sen Hun PM ry) 1989 (Janua

originally claimed that he had no knowledge of the meeting, but a military source later confirmed it. Hun Sen reportedly stayed overnight at Bang Saen in Chonburi before meeting the PM at his Soi Ratchakhru residence. Chatichai said that the visit did not imply Bangkok’s recognition of the Hanoi-installed regime in Cambodia. Sources said Hun Sen’s visit was coordinated by army chief Chavalit. • Chalerm Thai Theatre was closed after screening 1989 (January) movies Chalerm Thai Theatre for five decades and officially returned to the Treasury Department to pave the way for construction of a royal reception pavilion and statue of King Rama III. The theatre had 53 employees, all of whom were given unemployment compensation. Most of the theatre’s equipment was donated to the National Film Archive. • PM Chatichai confirmed that foreigners were not allowed to buy ‘even one inch of Thai territory’ as the government pushed through a land bill. The PM asked the Land Department chief to brief the cabinet on the legal aspects of the bill drafted to tighten controls on land purchases by foreigners. The law allowed private companies with foreign holdings and Board of Investment support to buy land, but not individual foreigners. March • Somchai Khunpluem won an election to become the first mayor of Bang Sean municipality in Chonburi province. Better known as Kamnan Poh, 1989 (March) Kamnan Poh

Somchai ran uncontested. He was known as “Godfather of Chon Buri”. May • Thai and Burmese troops clashed after about 400 Burmese soldiers equipped with small arms including machine guns and mortars crossed into Thailand’s Mae Sot district. It was reported that prior to the clash the Burmese had overrun a major rebel base manned by about 1,000 ethnic Karen and Kachin rebels along with dissident students. • The Forestry Department said that encroachment from tourism-related activities posed a real danger to the Phi Phi Islands even though the archipelago was declared a national marine park in 1983. • The Thai Parliament passed a decree empowering the Agriculture Ministry to revoke logging concessions and impound cut logs until their legality was established. Agriculture Minister Sanan Kachornprasat said the action was necessary in the wake of floods that killed nearly 400 people in the South in November 1988. The flooding was blamed on logging in watershed areas. Concern over the rapid disappearance of the country forests also contributed to the cabinet ban on logging in 276 tracts of forested land covering 95.3 million rai. June • The Public Health Ministry announced that apples from the United States carried 1989 (June) dangerous amounts of Sanan Kachornprasat chemicals that could cause cancer. Minister Chuan Leekpai said apples tested at Bangkok markets showed unsafe levels of daminozide, a chemical sprayed on fruit to regulate growth. TheBigChilli

87


Feature • 7-Eleven opened its first branch in Thailand on the corner of Patpong and Surawong roads. Franchise owner Charoen Pokphand (CP) offered operating rights for the convenience stores that have since sprung up in great numbers throughout the country.

In one room a chandelier was destroyed and every lamp was smashed. A telephone receiver was left in 20 pieces.

December • An agreement between the government of Malaysia and July the Malayan • In the longest prison sentence Communist ever imposed by Party (MCP) the Criminal Court to terminate in Thai history, 1989 (December) Chin Peng hostilities was oil share queen signed and Chamoy Thipyaso and ratified by the MCP and the seven associates were 1989 (July) Malaysian and Thai governments each given 143,965 Chamoy Thipyaso at the Lee Gardens Hotel in Hat years for fraud. The Yai. The agreement marking the three court judges took two hours end of the communist insurgency to read the hand-written 186 in Malaysia from 1968-89 required page verdict that found the eight the MCP to disband its armed defendants guilty of swindling units, cease militant activities, 16,231 customers out of 4.6 billion destroy its weapons and pledge baht. They would, however, serve loyalty to His Majesty Yang di only 20 years due to an amended Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. The criminal code that stated combined Malaysian delegation included consecutive prison terms could not Wan Sidek Wan Abdul Rahman, exceed 20 years for certain crimes. Secretary General of the Ministry of Home Affairs. October Among others, the Thai side • British was represented by Anek rocker Billy Sithipresasana, Permanent Idol and his Secretary to the Minister entourage of Interior. The MCP was destroyed represented by its Secretary hotel suites General Chin Peng. during a tour 1989 (October) Bil of Thailand. ly Idol The manager of the Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya witnessed the opening said the musician and his friends of CentralWorld caused in total more than 500,000 shopping plaza and baht in damage at three different complex in Bangkok and Map hotels: Royal Cliff, Oriental Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Bangkok and Royal Orchid Rayong province. The New Sheraton in Bangkok. The police Aspiration Party was formed by were called but no legal action was General Chavalit after he retired taken because Idol made financial as Commander of the RTA. restitution. Damage at the Royal Central Group founded upmarket Cliff included a smashed TV set, ZEN Department Store, and IT several broken chairs and tables, communications conglomerate hacked teakwood furniture and True Corporation was launched as shattered sliding glass windows. a subsidiary of CP Group.

1990

88

TheBigChilli

Januar y • Chamlong was re-elected Bangkok governor, winning all of the city’s 36 districts with 61 percent of the total vote. His Palang Dharma Party won a clear majority in the city council, taking 50 of 57 seats. • Kriangrai Techamong was arrested on suspicion of stealing a large quantity of precious gems and jewelry worth over 500 1990 (January) Kriangrai Techamong million baht from Saudi Arabian Prince Faisal Fahd Abdulaziz. The 29-year-old was working as a gardener at the Saudi royal palace in Riyadh. After returning to Thailand Kriangrai sold the jewelry through a middleman. Three other suspects were arrested in late December 1989. • Bangkok Airways received permission from the Transport and Communications Ministry to operate six domestic routes out of U-Tapao Airport. The airline offered flights to and from Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai and Hua Hin. Februar y • Three officials attached to the Saudi Arabian embassy in Bangkok were killed within five minutes of each other in two separate shootings as they arrived at their homes located about one kilometre apart. The dead were named as Consul General Abdullah Abdel-Rahman al-Basri, attaché Fahd Abdullah al-Bahli and telex operator Ahmed Abdullah alSeif. Saudi Arabia condemned the murders and demanded the killers be caught. March • According to studies conducted by the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) Bangkok sank 160 centimetres between


1960 and 1988 and unplanned land development was driving the city further under. The AIT said that uncontrolled expansion of residential and industrial estates on the outskirts of Bangkok, where there were no surface water supply systems, was exacerbating the city’s land subsidence problem. Subsidence had been occurring at the alarming rate of more than 10 cm per year and was at a critical level, the AIT report claimed. • Central Department Store announced plans to open stores nationwide after signing a contract to lease 16,000 square metres in the Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre in Chiang Mai. It was to be the largest retail establishment in the northern capital. Central group chief Samrit Chirathivat said they had found a local partner to set up a branch in Khon Kaen and were looking for land to build another store in the South. May • The Ministry of Education agreed to allow more international schools to open in Thailand, scrapping a cabinet resolution that banned new openings. In 1990 there were only five international schools in Thailand – four in Bangkok and one in Chiang Mai. • The government introduced a revolutionary liberalisation of foreign exchange control. PM Chatichai presided over a ceremony to announce the commitment to change the rules under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Articles of Agreement. The afternoon ceremony on May 21 was witnessed by a large gathering of locals and foreigners from the banking community. The IMF made a similar announcement in Washington DC. The liberalisation reflected Thailand’s strong economic standing and ability to clear IMF debts.

er) Banharn

1990 (Octob

October • A Ramkhamhaeng University student died at the Police Hospital four days after setting himself on fire in protest. His body was flown to his hometown in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. Nine other students who threatened to immolate themselves were arrested by the police. The extreme protests grew out of student rallies that took place amid rising tensions between students, the military and the government. Interior Minister Banharn Silpaarcha accused the obscure political organisation known as the Revolutionary Council of manipulating the students. The students said the government of PM Chatichai was totally corrupt and should resign en masse. November • A mass grave with the remains of more than 400 prisoners of war and slave workers who died constructing the ‘Death Railway’ in Burma during World War II was found in Kanchanaburi province. Excavation of the grave started just days before the annual River Kwai Bridge Festival and was carried out by the Pothipawana Songkroh Foundation, a Buddhist group wishing to provide proper burials. Several dozen workers unearthed the remains in a sugar cane field. The mass grave was about three miles from the bridge made famous in the 1957 Hollywood movie, “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which celebrated the heroism of the wartime captives.

December • The government softened censorship regulations on the Thai film industry in order to increase competitiveness with foreign productions. Movie producers asked the government to spend more time cutting censorship fees and less time cutting the films they made. 1991 Queen Sirikit Co

nvention Center

1991

was the year Queen Sirikit National Conventional Center was opened to the public in Bangkok. Jusco Rattanathibet, now CentralPlaza Rattanathibet, was opened in Nonthaburi. Thai language daily Khao Sod, meaning fresh or current news, began publication. NGO the Mirror Art Group, now known as the Mirror Foundation, was formed with the aim of helping hill tribe people and based at Mae Yao, Chiang Rai province. Thai Beverage, better known as ThaiBev was launched, as was Thaicom company, formerly Shin Satellite. Januar y • Laem Chabang Port was completed. Before the scheduled official opening, HUAL Favorita owned by Höegh-Ugland Auto Liners of Norway docked and unloaded 43 trucks for delivery to the Royal Thai Army. Februar y • A radical Muslim group distributed leaflets in Pattani province urging the locals to demonstrate against the United States, which the group said was waging a war intended to demolish TheBigChilli

89


Feature Iraq. Thai security sources said the group was made up of young Muslims from Yala province who called themselves Unity of People in South Group. The US-led Operation Desert Storm began on January 16. • Army Commander General Suchinda Kraprayoon, Supreme Commander General Sunthorn Kongsompong, Air 1991 (January) Suchinda Force Commander Kaset Rojananil and members of the fifth class of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy staged a bloodless coup to depose the elected civilian government of PM Chatichai. As in previous coups the military formed a National Peacekeeping Council (NKPC) to run the country. The NKPC pledged to ‘return power to the people’ by drafting a new constitution and holding general elections within six months. The Parliament and the constitution were dissolved and Thailand was put under martial law. Chatichai was detained along with his entourage at Don Muang Airport by plain-clothes air force security men on an air force plane. The entourage included former deputy prime minister and deputy defence minister designate General Arthit Kamlang-ek. They were on their way to a swearing-in ceremony for General Arthit in Chiang Mai. March • Chatchai was released from custody by the NKPC on March arch) Anand 9 and flown to the 1991 (M United Kingdom. A few days before that Anand Panyarachun, a former ambassador and head of the Federation of Thai Industries, became the 18th Thai prime minister. A 35-member interim government consisting of 90

TheBigChilli

businessmen and technocrats was approved by the King on March 6. • PM Anand announced that unleaded petrol would be introduced in May to combat worsening air pollution and would cost slightly less than leaded petrol. • The Thai military completed withdrawal of troops along the disputed border with Laos in Phitsanulok and Uttaradit provinces. The agreement was reached during a visit to Vientiane by a Thai delegation led by Army Chief Suchinda.

in Chitralada Palace and received a key to the city from Bangkok Governor Chamlong. • Shinawatra Computer and Communications signed a 5-billionbaht contract with the government to launch Thailand’s first dedicated communications satellite system. The 30-year concession was the county’s first commercial satellite project and it committed all government agencies to using Shinawatra satellite for an eightyear protection period.

April A new law introduced by the BMA prohibited smoking in public places including parks, cinemas, buses, schools, hospitals and enclosed air-conditioned halls. The ban was set to begin March 31, 1992 and violators would be fined. According to one BMA official, about 6,000 cigarette butts were collected at Chatuchak Park every day, prompting the BMA to introduce the restrictions on smokers.

October • The World Bank(WB) conference held at the newly opened Queen Sirikit Convention Centre in Bangkok was a big success. To ease traffic congestion the two days of the meeting were declared a government holiday. In his keynote address PM Anand pointed to a lowering of political tensions and echoed mounting calls for cuts in military spending made at the WB/International Monetary Conference meeting. He urged that more investment is made in “instruments of peace” than in “instruments of war”.

• The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) launched a campaign to curb illegal wildlife trade. Dr Simon Lyster, the WWF’s senior conservative officer, described Thailand as ‘probably the worst country in the world for illegal trade in endangered wildlife…There are no laws to control the import of nonThai species and unscrupulous traders haves taken advantage by importing thousand of animals and plants from all over the world,’ said Dr Lyster.

December • Former PM Chatichai returned to a rousing welcome from a crowd in the tens of thousands when he returned to his native Nakhon Si Ratchasima province. Chatichai was forced into exile following a coup in February 1991. Upon his return Chatichai’s son Kraisak Choonhavan said the event was a ‘symbol of democracy. This is a welcome for the prime minister who was forced to step down at gunpoint at a time when those who hold the guns are still in power.’

September • Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko spent five days in Thailand. The Emperor met with the King

Note that natural and man-made disasters were reported in 2017 in earlier issues of TheBigChilli and are not recorded in this chronology.

*Sources for this story include archives of UPI, AFP, the Bangkok Post, The Nation and Wikipedia.


TheBigChilli 91


92

TheBigChilli

Profile for The BigChilli Co., Ltd.

The BigChilli October 2020  

Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. October 2020

The BigChilli October 2020  

Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. October 2020