6 June 2024

For the past six months, the Foreign Ministry under Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahindra-Nukara has been working day and night to raise the regional and international profile of Thailand in all dimensions and in four corners of the world.

The verdict is clear: given the limited time, he has done his job well and in a professional way, especially on pivotal issues affecting the country’s human and economic security.

His engagement with Thailand’s neighboring countries has been effective and proper.

With the broader international community, he has traveled the world to promote Thailand as the country for new investments and business opportunities. He means business.

Before he quit, Parnpree was in Paris to impress the board members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development about Thailand’s worthiness to join the organization.

The reception was extremely positive, heightening Thailand’s chances of becoming the first ASEAN nation to join the OECD in the next few years.

Were he still around, he would be attending the Council’s meeting, chaired by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, this week.

After he was appointed foreign minister, two issues topped his agenda.

First, the rescue operation for the Thai hostages and subsequently bringing back home the Thai workers stranded in Israel.

After the October 7 attack, he maintained continued dialogue with friends and allies, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to secure the release of the remaining Thai workers.
In the process, the country’s diplomatic ties have been strengthened.

In the coming days, it is hoped that the next ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, currently being brokered in Egypt, will allow the remaining Thai hostages to return home.

Parnpree has also been the country’s prime mover on Myanmar, assisted by a veteran diplomat, Vice Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangkhetkeo.

Since the ASEAN foreign ministers’ retreat in Luang Prabang at the end of January, he and his team have been pressing his country and ASEAN colleagues to be more proactive in pushing forward the Five-Point Consensus.

He recently implemented the first phase of the Thai-Myanmar humanitarian assistance plan for the affected Myanmar villagers who fled the fighting inside the country.

The second phase of the assistance is supposed to take place next month.

The Foreign Ministry recently briefed the Bangkok-based diplomats about the situation in Myanmar, especially the recent fighting inside Myawaddy, opposite Mae Sot, Tak province.

The second phase of humanitarian assistance will include additional sources of aid for more of Myanmar’s displaced persons from specialized UN agencies and the bloc’s dialogue partners.

Several other initiatives came from Parnpree during the first six months of his appointment, including the instruction to ministry officials to perform their roles professionally with the national interest at heart.

New recruits saw their monthly salaries raised. For the thousand-plus employees, his resignation was unexpected. There was a lot of empathy for their boss.

Whoever succeeds him will have to build on his initiatives, which still need time to produce tangible outcomes, especially regarding the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.

When Parnpree took up the post, he followed the country’s diplomatic path of non-alignment without taking any side.

He believed that a more proactive foreign policy, in tune with the fast-changing world, would enable Thailand to play a pivotal role in managing and shaping the regional and international environment.

by Kavi Chongkittavorn