Hosting events for HE Yingluck Shinawatra Prime Minister of Thailand

What a week! As National President of the Australia Thailand Business Council, I was involved in many of the events regarding the visit of HE Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand. It all kicked off with a media interview with ABC and progressed to lunch at Parliament House.  Julia Gillard was hosting, it was great to see two women leaders for a change, and equally great to see so many friends in the Australia-Thailand relationship in one place.

Next stop was Canberra airport – nearly didn’t make it back to co-host the dinner with Jennie Lang from the Asia Society.  Our plane had a broken propeller and we were all disembarked.  A highly surreal moment on the tarmac, calling the Thai delegation to see if we could get a ride on the PM’s plane, only to discover we wouldn’t make it, and chatting to the US Ambassador and other business and government reps about plan B.  Fortunately Qantas came through and the next flight was ok, a dear client provided an express lift straight to the hotel and made it with 5 mins to spare.

The dinner was a whirlwind, HE Yingluck is a dynamo, and was keen to meet lots of representatives of the Thai -Australia Business relationship.  The PM was accompanied by 70 leading Thai business people and four senior ministers, and it was a delight to meet so many strong advocates of collaboration.

On Tuesday,  I was MC for the BOI ‘Unbeatable Thailand Seminar’ with the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary General of the Thailand Board of Investment and some great speakers from business and the National Economic and Social Development Board.  Some fabulous case studies on the restructuring of Australian businesses to make the most of the ‘Asian Century’ and better position themselves to thrive in the changing economic context.  The study of the Australian Business experience in Thailand presented by John Andersen, President of AustCham Thailand was also striking for its positive outlook.

Thailand invests nearly $5 bn in Australia and we invest only $1.9 billion in reverse.  Thailand and Australia have two of the more resilient economies in the world, and it makes sense to further develop opportunities in a Southeast Asian region destined for significant future growth.  The economic turmoil and declining markets of the past day heighten the importance of focusing on our own region and the opportunities provided there.  I am looking forward to hosting a Boardroom lunch tomorrow with Asialink in Melbourne at Baker & Mackenzie to hear from Australian Ambassador James Wise regarding his insights and reflections on the visit.

What does it take to be successful in Asia?

Watch Justin Breheny, CEO Asia of IAG Insurance discuss what it takes to be successful in Asia in this brief PwC interview Positioning – investing in the future by getting in now and taking a long term view is emphasised.   I agree – perserverance, patience and building relationships the key.  The process of dedicating time to doing due diligence and ensuring your model is locally customised and appropriate to the specific dynamics of the local context is so important too.  One size does not fit all.  Getting the right partner, and having realistic expectations matters.  The board needs to also understand this is a long-term play.  If you are after short term returns go elsewhere!


Perspectives on the Thai situation

Without commenting on the accuracy or content of either, i’d like to share two wildly divergent perspectives on the current situation in Thailand.

1. Click here SMH Article 18May10 for Peter Hartcher’s op-ed piece in the Sydney Morning Herald titled “Scheming king unwilling to stop the violence on Bangkok’s streets”

2. Click here Ambassador letter in response for the full letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald (not published in the newspaper) from the Thai Ambassador in Australia Mr Kriangsak Kittichaisaree

I’ll leave it to you to interpret as you will. I’m sure you’ll agree, a highly emotive disagreement.

Media coverage of events in Thailand

Interesting watching how the media is portraying the current events in Thailand.  A complex political situation, dichotemised into red and yellow, pro and anti…the complexity of cultural, historical and political context not able to be portrayed in short sound grabs.  Fascinating also to see how twitter is keeping us more effectively informed of the latest than national newspapers.  I attended the ANU ‘Thailand on the Verge’ seminar at the ANU last week.  Podcast here The bloggers of New Mandala have been receiving complaints for their reporting of issues relating the monarchy.  We work with many different clients and groups relating to Thailand so will not comment.  Peter Warr’s presentation on the global economic realities and their impact on the political context of the Thaksin era, and of the Abhisit one is an interesting angle.  It was sad to hear a Thai student sharing his experience of being Facebook blocked by people who were once ‘friends’ as a result of his reluctance to strongly side with either red or yellow, and to ask questions of both.  The ability to question and to be questioned is so very important, and even more so in societies in transition.


Great Links and Resources

Global Perspectives




Local newspapers are often limited in their coverage of global events and perspectives. A wonderful alternate source is ‘Project Syndicate’, an NGO which is an association of newspapers around the world. Their weekly series ‘The World in Words’ aims to provide a breadth of commentaries influential ideas in politics, economics and societies. The benefit of the site is that it draws from commentators from developing and developed countries, East and West. Some recent commentators have included: Author Arundhati Roy, former US President Jimmy Carter, former Italian Prime Minister Guilano Amato, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former EU Commissioner Chris Patten, former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld; Nobel Laureates Gary Becker and Nadine Gordimer; financier George Soros; and strategic thinkers such as Germany’s Christoph Bertram, France’s Gilles Andréani, former Vice Admiral of Japan‘s Defence Forces, Hideaki Kaneda, and the Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim.


What’s happening in Thailand?

It’s a challenging time in the Kingdom of Thailand. A stand off between the government and Peoples Alliance for Democracy has resulted in the declaration of a State of Emergency. Follow these links for more information and up-to-date travel advisories:

The Bangkok Post

The Nation Newspaper

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Latest Travel Advisory

BI Update

Public Programs Coming Soon!


Beasley Intercultural are excited to announce we will be launching our first ever public programs in April this year.  In the past our programs have only been delivered in-house to our clients.  The one day programs initially offered are:

–    Intercultural Essentials:  India

–    Intercultural Essentials:  China

–    Intercultural Essentials:  Virtual and Global Teams

If you would like to be mailed details of these programs, please email.

Other Opportunities

1.  Churchill Fellowships

A Churchill Fellowship is an award of an opportunity through the provision of financial support, to enable Australian citizens from all walks of life to travel overseas to undertake an analysis, study or investigation of a project or an issue that cannot be readily undertaken in Australia. Currently the average fellowship is $25,000.  Applicants must be able to complete a minimum of four weeks overseas travel to complete their research.

2.  Australia Thailand Institute Grants

Through a competitive selection process, the Australia-Thailand Institute provides financial support to selected projects which aim to build community links between Australia and Thailand, particularly with regard to: public policy (including legal issues and education), health and science, culture and the arts.

The Executive Committee of the Australia-Thailand Institute is now calling for funding applications. Project proposals that focus on building links among youth and that have or are likely to have partner funding from other sources will be favourably considered.