Ian Bushnell of Mentor International joins Phairoj Phatsorpinyosakul,
President of Tantraphan Supermarket; Peter Smith of AA Insurance and head of
the new Northern BCCT discusses the BCCT, Shana Kongmun Managing Editor
shares a drink with Gai Kelly, and Rob Kelly is joined by his wife.Center:
Daniel Pruce (left) joins Graham MacDonald for the presentation.
By Shana Kongmun
The establishment of the British Chamber of Commerce of
Thailand (BCCT) first Northern group kicked off at a dinner sponsored by
Mentor International Chiang Mai at the Le Meridien on November 11, 2010 with
a visit from Deputy Head of the U.K. Mission, Daniel Pruce and Chairman of
the BCCT Graham MacDonald discussing Thai politics and the economy and its
effect on British expats.
The BCCT was established in 1946, and Mr. MacDonald noted
it is the oldest Western chamber in Thailand with 2200 representatives and
660 companies of which 18 members are in Chiang Mai. The BCCT aims to help
members develop their businesses in Thailand through marketing help and
public relations, they offer seminars in the Thai language as well. The BCCT
deals with advocacy issues on visas and work permits, property rights, the
foreign business act and U.K.-Thai trade initiatives and are in the process
of setting up regional centers to stimulate business contacts around
One of the major concerns for most expats in Thailand is
the strong baht, which Mr. MacDonald had to inform the crowd that given the
fundamentals of the Thai economy, the inflow of Asian funding and the
weakness of Western economies, that he did not see the baht getting weaker
any time soon.
Mr. MacDonald noted that while foreign direct investment
has continued to grow, doubling from the same period last year, it is from
existing companies in Thailand and that new investment has almost entirely
halted. He said, this shows that those already in Thailand understand the
situation isn’t problematic to investors but that new investors aren’t as
aware. He added that while the political turmoil has harmed Thailand in the
short term, he felt that the brand has not been damaged permanently. He
added that while western companies have balked the Japanese and Chinese
continue to grow their investments in Thailand with Japan being the largest
foreign investor in Thailand.
He noted that despite the political disturbances that
tourism is actually on the rise and that economic stability remains robust,
inflation low and the unemployment rate at a rate that western nations envy.
That, and a low public debt and a healthy savings investment on the part of
the population have led to Thailand being the second largest economy in
ASEAN. Indonesia is the first.
Deputy Head of Mission Daniel Pruce then took over the
podium to discuss the political situation, noting that the divisions present
in Thailand have proven that they can bubble up to the surface and result in
demonstrations and violence as has been seen in recent years. “The risk
remains that it will happen again unless Thailand can tackle these divisions,”
He added that in discussions with Prime Minister Abhisit,
it has been made very clear that the Prime Minister recognizes the need to
work with all the voices in Thailand. Mr. Pruce noted that while Thailand
needs to address internal issues, they also need to work to rebuild
confidence in Thailand, commit to human rights and media freedoms, noting
that Thailand had slipped dramatically in the Press Freedom Index to 153
Finally, he discussed British interests in Thailand,
noting that it is the number one long haul destination for British tourists.
“British citizens in Thailand have very high levels of deaths, injuries and
arrests, as well as more births registered than any other Embassy.” He noted
that last year the British Embassy issued 48,000 visas.
Guests questioned Mr. Pruce on travel advice given during
the unrest and he noted that while travel advice is carefully considered by
a team of experts at the Embassy, and they are mindful of the impact,
ultimately their main concern is the safety and security of their citizens.
While an hour or so of discussion, it was packed with
information and many walked away from it with a better understanding of the
BCCT and the Thai economic and political situation.
For more details of the British Chamber of Commerce
Thailand please look at their web site : www.bccthai.com or email the
Northern Thailand Chairman :
Clockwise from top left, Joe Lynch and his wife are joined by Richard Abbott
of BJC Foods; Marc Dumur, President of Skal chats with British Honorary
Consul Ben Svasti Thomson and Ben Brandeis; Phairoj Phatsorpinyosakul,
President of Tantraphan Supermarket chats with Daniel Pruce, Deputy Head of
Mission; Dave Matthews of Digital Zoo shares a drink with Ben Svasti
Thomson. Center: Speakers, sponsors and BCCT members join Daniel Pruce on
stage after the presentation.
Zonta members and guests such as Deputy Governor Chumporn Sangmanee, joined
in the festivities to celebrate Zonta’s 14th
anniversary. (Photos courtesy of CityNow!)
By Margaret Bhadungzong
The Zonta Chiang Mai Club organized its 13th annual fund
raiser October Moon Dance on October 29, 2010 at the Imperial Mae Ping
Hotel. Over 200 people attended the grand gala evening that was also the
celebration of the 14th anniversary of the charter of the Zonta Chiang Mai
Club. The charter president, Mrs. Soomboon Suprasert, was in the audience at
the VIP table. The Zonta Club President, Mrs. Jiamjit Boonsom, announced the
club was able to raise over Baht 150,000 through ticket sales, private
donations, silent auction and cash bar revenue.
Dr. Chao Duang Duen na Chiang Mai, a long time trusted
advisor of the Zonta Chiang Mai Club, graced the VIP table as well as Deputy
Governor of Chiang Mai Chumporn Sangmanee.
Entertainment by the Dang Fantastic Band kept everyone on
the dance floor. Ana Gracey and her band performed at the cocktail hour.
There were several talented singers on the stage while a waltz and tango
were performed by Aree Burchard and her partner. Two graceful hula hoop
routines were performed by Ms. Gina Guerreiri, an exchange student from the
USA currently studying at Payap University. The directors of the newly
opened Vivo Danza dance studio, Peerpapong Pongpaiboon and Paweena
Pongpaiboon performed the exciting ‘Vivo Salsa’ dance and later they led the
audience in a Latin line dance choreographed by them especially for the
Zonta event. Many very kind and talented people volunteered with
entertainment and stage control.
During the evening, Mrs. Ampai Sheehan, director of Ampai
Institute and a former Zonta member, donated a scholarship for one of the
young women in the Zonta Life Skills Leadership Program. The Zonta club
members will select the young woman to receive this education opportunity.
The scholarship is valued at Baht 40,000.
As the party was closing, Mr Jankaew Kittipanya,a long
time employee of Boonsom Spirulina Farm, turned in a ruby ring valued at
Baht 48,000. he had found on the floor after it had fallen to the carpet
during the silent auction. Anyamanee Jewelry awarded him for his good
citizenship for turning in the ring.
The amount raised will enable the Zonta Chiang Mai club
to carry on their four programs:Zonta Adopt an Orphan (ZAO), Life Skills
Leadership Training for Adolescent Girls, Zonta Health Village and financial
donation to aid abused women in the community. The Chiang Mai Zoo has come
forth as a partner to arrange a visit for the children in the ZAO group for
January 2011. Women residents who would like to know more about Zonta Chiang
Mai Club can contact the Secretary, Mrs. Margaret Bhadungzong at margaret @chiangmai-chiangrai.com.