Vol. XI No. 36
Friday September 5 - September 11 , 2003

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern





HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Past R.I. President Bhichai Rattakul comes home to a hero’s welcome

Fredi and friends take the Chaine des Rotisseurs to Italy

Past R.I. President Bhichai Rattakul comes home to a hero’s welcome

Bhichai and Khunying Charoye are showered with love and affection

Rotarians Salute RI
President Elect: H.E.
Bhichai Rattakul.
So screamed the headlines of the Pattaya Mail in December 2000. They came from near and far - from all over the Kingdom, in fact - to pay homage to HE Bhichai Rattakul who was confirmed as Thailand’s first-ever President of Rotary International. He will serve from July 1, 2002 until June 30, 2003. The then RI President-elect addressed the group, saying that he was “excited and thrilled” to see so many Rotarians from all around the Kingdom attending the evening, to support the ideals and aims of Rotary International and to honour Rotary Thailand’s Royal Patron, HM the King.

“Rather than be overwhelmed by the problems in our world, Rotarians are rising to the challenge, with a renewed sense of our mission. We have realized that there is a new urgency to our calling as Rotarians. As the voices of the intolerant grow louder, we will answer them - but not by shouting back in anger. Our answer will be in our actions.”

Khun Bhichai had once again taken upon himself another major responsibility and there was no doubt in our minds that he, like everything else that he had ever done in the service of Rotary, through this undertaking would yet again bring honour and respect not only to Thai Rotarians, but to all the people of this noble country. Not that this was going to be a glamorous posting, rather the job was going to call for a very tough and tiring year of leading one of the world’s greatest service organizations, encompassing more than 1.2 million members in over 31,000 clubs in 166 countries.

Bhichai surrounded by children of the Wat Pong School who performed some beautiful dances to welcome him and Khunying Charoye. PP Erika Keller (2nd right) and many teachers helped to organize the show.

It is with regret though that the late PDG Nelson Alexander was not with us to enjoy the triumphant moment. For years, Nelson fought hard, trying to convince the powers that be at Rotary International, that we yearned for Khun Bhichai to serve as the very first Thai President of Rotary International. Bhichai’s love and appreciation for Nelson’s dedication and dream never dwindled, for on a warm sunny day before flying off to Chicago Bhichai Rattakul and his entourage of close aides visited the final resting place of PDG Nelson Alexander.

H.E. Bhichai Rattakul prays over PDG Nelson’s final resting place joined by PDG Xanxai Visitkul, PDG Wanchai Ekbandit and PP Pratheep Malhotra.

In the peaceful and serene cemetery at St. Nikolaus Church, a gentle breeze blew as Khun Bhichai laid a bouquet of flowers at his graveside. He had come to visit and bring good tidings to Nelson, his fellow Rotarian, close friend and confidante that it had finally come to pass. He was now the first Thai national to be elected as the President of Rotary International.

PRI president Bhichai and a senior Rotarian listen attentively to the lectures during the daytime seminar.

PDG Nelson had been one of the staunchest campaigners for a Thai to be elected Rotary International President. But it could not just be anybody. It had to be his elder brother and mentor, ‘Phi’ Bhichai. He had worked tirelessly and fought endlessly with the bureaucracy in trying to make this happen. His work was not in vain and his dream had come true after all.

Past District Governor Noraseth Pathamanand, considered the professor of Rotary in Thailand, gives a talk on “Increase of memberships and Expansion of Rotary Clubs”.

We are sure he was there at the historic moment when Bhichai Rattakul received the deciding vote. Nelson will now rest more peacefully knowing that his unfinished chore is done. Though it was just one small job in the myriad of service that he could still have been doing, had he not left us so early, this one is done. All the seeds that Nelson sowed for the great cause of Rotary will by and by bear fruit and bring greater benefits to all mankind.

District governors past and present take in all the knowledge of Rotary they can get.

Bhichai reminisced about Nelson and said that the RI theme for the year 2002-03 would be based on all the advice that PDG Nelson had been giving him throughout the years.

PDG Som Indra-payoong lights up the auspicious Bai See Soo Kwan ornament.

And so it came to pass. President Bhichai Rattakul’s theme came to be, Sow the Seeds of Love. “Yes, my friends let us go forth then, let us go forth to Sow the Seeds of Love. For to Sow the Seeds of Love is to find opportunities to serve every day, every moment of our lives. To Sow the Seeds of Love is to think of others first, and ourselves in terms of what we can do for others.”

Dr. Sawalak Rattavanich governor of district 3350 has a light moment with Khun Bhichai before tying the holy thread around his wrist.

Thus began another great mission in the already action-packed life of H.E. Bhichai Rattakul, Scholar, Gentleman, Loving Husband and Father, Diplomat, Politician, Poet, Philosopher, Teacher… but best of all a Great Humanitarian and a Rotarian.

PDG Noraseth Pathamanan  pay their respects to Khun Bhichai.

In the year as RI President, Bhichai travelled to almost every corner of the globe.

While on a visit to Bangladesh in August 2002, RI President Bhichai Rattakul met with Acting President Muhammad Jamiruddin Sircar with whom he discussed Rotary’s humanitarian activities. President Rattakul described the Rotary supported Concentrated Language Encounter literacy project as one of the organization’s most successful programs in the country, as an effort aimed at improving the quality of life for distressed people. “By supporting the education of young boys and girls from disadvantaged families, we help to lay the basis for development,” said President Rattakul. “I appreciate the Bangladesh government’s partnership with Rotary in the delivery of humanitarian services to those who need them most.”

PDG Premprecha Dibbayawan  pay their respects to Khun Bhichai.

Conflicts on and near Turkey’s borders lent urgency to a Quest for Peace Conference held in Izmir, last October, at which RI President Bhichai Rattakul and other Rotary leaders, prominent politicians, and others explored possibilities for peace. Reminding the audience of Rotary founder Paul Harris’s remark, “The way to war is a well-paved highway and the way to peace is still a wilderness,” President Bhichai Rattakul urged Rotarians in attendance to build a better world, from the grassroots up, through “the vital work that supports peace – work in health care, vocational training, conflict resolution, hunger alleviation.” He singled out the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution as an outstanding example of Rotary service nurturing international goodwill.

Charter President Peter Thorand of the Rotary Club of Taksin Pattaya bids Khun Bhichai a warm welcome.

RI President Bhichai Rattakul met with Pope John Paul II on October16. In his audiences with the Pope, President Rattakul explained that each year Rotary spends some US $105 million to support humanitarian activities across the world. He also pointed out that the organization has committed US $493 million toward the efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to help immunize almost two billion children in the world against the poliovirus. “This is a major financial commitment which demonstrates Rotary’s desire to improve the quality of life in its own community and the international community,” Bhichai said.

Past President Peter Malhotra of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya humbly ties the holy thread on the wrist of Khunying Charoye.

In his opening address at the presidential conference in Panama City, Panama, held in March, President Bhichai Rattakul called the Panama Canal “an engineering marvel that is a testament to the awesome power of international cooperation and humanity’s determination to find a way past the barriers that separate us. It seems most fitting that we have gathered at this international crossroads to discuss how we might navigate the barriers of culture, language, and geography so that we can help our troubled world,” he said.

Khun Bhichai and Khunying Charoye had a wonderful time at the fellowship.

Meanwhile, Rotary International and the International Reading Association, a leading literacy organization, are joining hands in their efforts to develop community service projects to promote literacy worldwide. RI President Bhichai Rattakul said, “By joining forces, the two organizations will be able to maximize resources in their worldwide literacy programs. Members of the two organizations will begin their cooperation by sharing information and resources and formal agreements will follow if members from both sides work smoothly and successfully together … At present, an estimated 900 million people - about a quarter of the world’s population - cannot read or write in any language. Many adults in both the developed and developing world lack the skills they need to hold down a job or perform basic tasks required by everyday life,” said President Rattakul, while explaining the rationale of the cooperation.

Khun Bhichai donates funds towards the alleviation of the suffering of those affected by floods in Chantaburi last month.

In August this year RI President Bhichai was at the Presidential Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which provided an opportunity for Rotarians in Asia and the Pacific Region to promote international peace and development, exchange ideas on topics of regional importance, and establish project partnerships. “I believe it is organizations like Rotary that make the greatest contribution to world peace. It is Rotary service that relieves human want and suffering,” said RI President Bhichai Rattakul. The RI president also said that the conference’s enormous turnout was a testament to Rotarians’ commitment to the cause of peace. “We have created together a new sense of purpose,” he said. “We are committed to playing a more active role in preventing conflicts around the world.”

PRIP Bhichai is just as thrilled as these two lovely Rotarians during the Bai See Soo Kwan ritual.

In April at the annual conference of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI), Prince Charles, who is an honorary Rotarian, noted that while nobody needs reminding that water is essential for life, affluent societies easily forget that in much of the world many people do not have access to a safe, clean, and reliable water supply. “[For] many communities across the developing world, the provision of clean water is the first and most essential step out of a life of poverty,” he said. “On behalf of WaterAid and all the beneficiaries in Tanzania I would like to thank Rotarians most warmly and with heartfelt enthusiasm for their dedication and support, and for working together in partnership with WaterAid.”

PRIP Bhichai is just as thrilled as these two lovely Rotarians during the Bai See Soo Kwan ritual.

RI President Bhichai Rattakul, who also attended the conference, praised Rotarians in Britain and Ireland for fulfilling Paul Harris’s vision through their support for community and vocational service projects. “We know that peace means much more than the absence of armed conflict. Peace means freedom from fear - not just the fear that comes from violence but the fear that comes from poverty and not having food, water, shelter, education, and healthcare,” he said. “I have spent the hours of my life in a variety of roles, including as a politician. And I can say with total conviction that I believe it is organizations like Rotary that make the greatest contribution to world peace. As our world struggles to find peaceful solutions to global tensions, Rotary service nurtures international goodwill. Rotary service relieves human want and suffering. Rotary service answers hate with love, fear with hope, and distrust with cooperation.”

Khun Bhichai is unstoppable. There were numerous other tasks that he performed, but we couldn’t possibly fit them all here. The presidential term comes to an end and it’s time to go home. A battle has been won, but the war against poverty, injustices and suffering is far from over. The campaign is left to the new RI President, Jonathan Majiyagbe, to carry on the work. President Jonathan outlined his four points of emphasis for the year – poverty alleviation, health concerns, literacy and education, and promoting the family of Rotary. “Our clubs are where we find the core of our Rotary family,” he said. “I ask every club to form a Family of Rotary Committee to find more ways to create and nurture that atmosphere of warmth and caring.” Bhichai Rattakul continued to build on this theme. “I have been a Rotarian now for 45 years,” he said, “and I know that no one experiences the true magic of Rotary without personal involvement in service – without lending a hand. It is this person-to-person contact that Sows the Seeds of Love - that makes our world a better place.” He urged Rotarians to continue their work for peace and tolerance, especially in an uncertain economic and political environment.

Now that Khun Bhichai has completed his tenure as R.I. President, this remarkable Rotarian has come home after serving Rotary with the utmost of dedication and sacrifice. This great feat has earned him the highest merit and respect not only from Rotarians in Thailand but also from every citizen of this country. He is after all the very First Thai to have ever undertaken this distinguished and challenging assignment, yet accomplishing his mission with the highest distinction.

Over 400 Rotarians from District 3340 gathered at the Ambassador City Jomtien last week to welcome home our hero Bhichai and his devoted wife Khunying Charoye. Khun Bhichai talked about his experiences as RI president, saying, “I enjoyed going around the world to see first hand what Rotarians could do to help the less fortunate, but I really missed home very much.”

Rotarians performed the Bai See Soo Kwan ceremonies, as if to say, “It’s all right. You are home with us now and have nothing to fear.” We wonder what can this man of immeasurable strength have to fear. Fear of fear itself, or is it the fear that we just can’t do Rotary’s work fast enough, or are able to encompass all those who really need our attention. But we will continue to do the best we can. ‘Lend a Hand’.

by Pratheep ‘Peter’ Malhotra Past President, Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya, Excerpts courtesy of Rotary International

Fredi and friends take the Chaine des Rotisseurs to Italy

Miss Terry Diner

As a fitting finale for the last Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner to be held at the ‘old’ Bruno’s venue, owner Fredi Schaub invited his friends Chef Gianni (Gianni Ristorante) and his Sommelier Massimo from Bangkok, to join him to prepare a culinary “Journey through Italy”. For the members of the fine dining organization’s local chapter, it was to be a memorable evening.

Chevaliers Pascal Schnyder and Hans Banziger discussing the finer points of the culinary Italian tour with Hugh Millar and Louis Noll.

With the Bailli, Louis Noll the ebullient presiding, and the Charge de Mission, Hugh Millar giving his usual witty descriptions, the evening began with much expectancy. For Fredi and friends, there would have been a certain air of anxiousness too, as many of the members of the Chaine des Rotisseurs are the epicureans of the food industry, with chefs such as Pascal Schnyder (Casa Pascal), Hans Banziger (Paradise Restaurant) and Chris Kridakorn-Odbratt (Royal Thai School of Culinary Arts in Bang Saen) amongst the awaiting diners. Wines too would be under the scrutiny of people such as Ranjith Chandrasiri, the captain of the Royal Cliff Wine Club and the driving force leading to the recent Wine Spectator Award of Excellence awarded to the Royal Cliff’s Grill Room.

Gianni and Massimo of Gianni’s Restaurant in Bangkok, Louis Noll, Fredi Schaub and Hugh Millar presented the certificates of appreciation at the end of the successful evening.

After the Amuse Bouche to refresh any jaded palates, the evening began with a tartar of veal, marinated in virgin olive oil (from exceptionally ugly olives) and lemon with a bouquet of summer leaves, complemented by the wine, an Antinori 2001 Chardonnay made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and coming from Castello della Sala in the northwestern corner of Umbria’s border with Tuscany, more famous for the wines of Orvieto.

Jeannette, Miow and Lat bring beauty and charm to the Chaine dinner

Amongst other courses, as part of the Italian evening, was a saltimbocca of prawn and scallops. Charge de Mission Hugh Millar explained that saltimbocca means basically bite sized. The prawns and scallops were wrapped in Italian bacon, seared in a pan, and then baked in the oven, then served with layers of potato chips, white beans, sun dried tomatoes and a light herb sauce.

Louis, Peter, Otto, Chris, Elfi, Steve and Hans live it up at Bruno’s.

The wine that was chosen for this was a Corvo Bianco 2001 from west central Sicily and made from the Cataratto and Grecanico grapes. Hugh described it as rich, fragrant and elegantly fruity, harmonic, joyful and vivacious, but had the good grace to admit that it sounded like a Christmas Carol!

And so the Chaine continued on its culinary excursion through Italy and through a timbale of pasta with a ragout of duck and black taggia Olives with an Avignonesi 1999 Rosso di Toscana wine, followed by the signature cuisine for all Chaine des Rotisseurs dinners - the roast, in this case, a roasted tenderloin of beef Rossini with an Italian Cabernet Sauvignon, a Tenuta Caparzo 1994 ‘Ca del Pazzo Brunello di Montalcino from Gianni’s private collection (and can you get any more Italian than that)!

After seven courses and seven wines, there was no one who was left hungry, and there was no one who had not learned something from the Italian sojourn. Appreciation was expressed to not only chefs Fredi and Gianni and the roving sommelier Massimo, but also to the kitchen brigade at Bruno’s and Nattapong, the head chef, accepted certificates on behalf of the hard working chefs behind the scenes in the kitchen, while Veerapong accepted the certificates on behalf of the exemplary service staff.

While this was the last official dinner at the ‘old’ Bruno’s Restaurant in north Pattaya, the Chaine des Rotisseurs is eagerly awaiting the opening of the ‘new’ Bruno’s in Jomtien in November, and no doubt will be arranging another culinary evening at the new venue. In the meantime, the ‘foodies’ of Pattaya will continue to enjoy Bruno’s, and all it stands for, at the current address.

The next Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner will be held at the Little Hill Restaurant on October 26. Hans and Dickie Frei, who have been stalwarts in the Pattaya food circles, will no doubt have many surprises for the members of the Chaine. Further details can be obtained from the Bailli, Louis Noll at the Mata Hari Restaurant.