Happy Birthday Bhichai Rattakul
Revered mentor of Democracy and Rotary in Thailand celebrates 80th birthday.
Bhichai makes a wish and
prepares to blow out the candles on his birthday cake as guests sing
Dr. Amara Pongsapich,
director of the Rotary Center for Peace and Conflict Studies,
Chulalongkorn University together with participants of the programme
present Khun Bhichai with a bouquet of flowers.
Khun Bhichai welcomes the
Pattaya Team to his birthday party. (l-r) DGN Pratheep and Vasinee
Malhotra, PP Chalaw Paranan, PDG Jin Srikasikorn, ADG Dieter Précourt
and PDG Premprecha Dibbayawan.
by Cary Silver
The Rotarian and
DGN Pratheep Malhotra Pattaya Mail
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 H.E. Bhichai Rattakul who has been confirmed as
Thailand’s first-ever President of Rotary International. He will serve
from July 2002 until June 2003. The 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, His Majesty the King.
“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 of ourselves in terms of what we can do for
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.
On September 16, the Rattakul residence was abuzz with hundreds of
well-wishers from not only around Thailand but also from many parts of
the world who came to celebrate the joyous occasion of the 80th birthday
anniversary of Bhichai Rattakul and as a bonus the wedding anniversary
of Bhichai and Khunying Charoye.
Dieter Précourt receives a gift from Khun Bhichai as Rani Malhotra looks
It was truly a carnival atmosphere around the gardens of their home. The
majority of guests were unsurprisingly Rotarians but there were the odd
business associates and more so old colleagues from the Democrat party
where he served nine terms as a member of Parliament, was the deputy
leader and also served as foreign minister and Deputy Prime Minister of
Bhichai Rattakul was born in Bangkok on September 16, 1926. His father
was an officer in the Thai police force while his mother stayed at home
to care for his eight brothers and sisters.
Rathprateep Keeratiurai, very profound and entertaining as MC for the
In 1945, Bhichai met his wife, Charoye, whom he calls his “tower of
strength.” At the time, he was making only 150 baht a month working as a
clerk. “I had only about 500 baht in my pocket when we got married,” he
says. “Because I worked during the day, I looked after the children at
night. And yes, I did change my share of diapers,” he laughs.
The couple has now been married for more than 60 years. They have three
children - two sons and a daughter - and delight in watching the antics
of their five grandchildren. “Charoye loves to cook, read, and practice
yoga,” says Bhichai. “She has always been there for me and has great
integrity and character.”
Bhichai advocates a “balanced approach to life.” He is remarkably fit
for his age, which he attributes to an active lifestyle, optimistic
outlook, and the occasional round of golf. “And I don’t drink or smoke,”
Bhichai worked in his father’s business and became its president and
chairman of the board. It was during this time that he joined Rotary,
although ironically, more by chance than by choice. The nation’s former
Minister of Commerce and family friend Phya Mahai Sawan approached
Bhichai’s father about starting a new Rotary Club. The father dutifully
delegated the task to his son.
Banthatthan and Lek Nana, veterans of the Democrat party spoke of the
goodness of their mentor and friend.
On 14 May 1958, at the relatively young age of 31, Rattakul became a
charter member of the Rotary Club of Dhonburi, Thailand’s second Rotary
Club and the first to conduct its business in Thai. He admits today that
he was less than enthusiastic about being a member. “I was a Rotarian on
paper, but not a Rotarian in spirit. Rotary was not yet in my heart.”
All that changed one day, thanks to the pleas of a desperate club
president. “The president needed someone to take a group of fatherless
children to the beach,” he says. “One of the volunteers had dropped out,
and they needed someone to take his place. I went because I felt
obligated, not because I wanted to.”
RID Noraseth Pathmanand speaks on behalf of all Rotarians.
The situation became even more uncomfortable when one young boy latched
onto Bhichai. “It annoyed me at first. But after a time, I realized this
child needed me. By the time we returned home, it was difficult to say
goodbye. When the other children got out of the car, this little boy
continued to sit next to me. Since it was dark outside, no one could see
my tears when suddenly he hugged me and whispered, ‘I wish you were my
It was at that moment that Bhichai understood the powerful impact of
Rotary. “All it took was one little boy to awaken the heart of a selfish
man,” he says. “I understood then what it meant to be a real Rotarian.”
Bhichai Rattakul strongly believes that active participation in a
service project is the most effective way to involve - and retain - new
members. “I believe in personal service, not purse service,” he is fond
Bhichai greets PDG Som Indrapayoong.
In his speech to the gathering at the birthday party, Rotary
International Director Noraseth Pathmanand said, “2549 years ago Lord
Buddha preached that there are 38 righteous and sacred principles in
life to follow that will bring true contentment and happiness. Today I
have the opportunity to fulfill two of them. One is to be associated
with a wise guru and the other is to worship and pay homage to someone
who is worthy of that highest honour of love and respect.
“There is no doubt whatsoever in our Rotarian hearts that Khun Bhichai
is considered by Rotarians in Thailand and around the world to be a
learned man and a champion in all aspects of Rotary work and
“Bhichai Rattakul served as RI President in 2002-03 and even today
Rotarians the world over proclaim that ‘Past President Bhichai is
probably the best president of Rotary International that we have ever
The incumbent RI President William B. Boyd proudly says, “I have two
heroes in my life and one of them is Bhichai Rattakul. I would like to
be as good a president as he was.”
Noraseth continued by saying, “In all your wisdom, you have shared your
knowledge of Rotary openly and at length to all of us as if we were your
very own children. We are privileged to be here on this auspicious
occasion to worship and pay homage to you, who we consider to be worthy
of that highest honour of love and respect. On behalf of all your
children we sincerely wish you excellent health, so that you may
continue to bless us with your benevolence and wisdom in Rotary matters
and that we may be able to honour you for all your goodness and
compassion for ever and ever.”
The mission continues…
(l-r) Raweewan and PDG
Niwet Khunawisarut, PDG Xanxai Visitkul and PDG Krit Indhewat enjoy good
Rotary Anns join in
singing songs of praise to Rotary and Khun Bhichai.
PDG Somphob Sooksing, RID
Noraseth Pathmanand, DG Peera Potipipith and their spouses enjoy the
PDG Dr. Saowalak
Rattanavich (2nd right) flanked by her fans.
DGE Dr. Anond Chirajavala,
PP Chalaw Paranan, PDG Jin Srikasikorn and PDG Premprecha Dibbayawan
discussing Rotary matters.
BCCT organises Thai-UK 2006 Exhibition
(From left) Sudjit
Intornthaiwongse, deputy secretary general of the Office of the Board of
Investment (BOI); Steve Buckley, director of UK Trade & Investment
British Embassy; Mark Fraser, chairman of the British Chamber of
Commerce Thailand (BCCT); Guest of Honour Ampol Sena-Narong, Privy
Councillor; Pramon Sutivong, chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce Board
of Investment; and David Aitken; general manager of Bangkok Exhibition
Services Ltd. (BES) prepare to cut the ribbon to start the event.
(From left) David Aitken,
Mark Fraser, Ampol Sena-Narong, Steve Buckley, Ms Salinla Seehapan, vice
president branding and communications of HSBC, and HSBC staff exchange
pleasantries at the HBSC booth.
Thailand and the United Kingdom have shared a history
of close friendship and partnership for more than 400 years, beginning
with the early trading routes of the late 1500s. Today, examples of
Thai-UK Partnership stretch across all facets of business, education,
culture and philanthropy. As a major partner and investor, the United
Kingdom continues to play a significant role in the Thai economy.
‘Thai-UK 2006’ at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from
7-9th September 2006, was a celebration of this partnership and a
landmark for future co-operation. It was a great success and was
well-received by the Thai and UK business communities alike.
Fraser, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT)
makes his opening address.
Participants included British, Thai and joint venture companies,
institutions and organisations from all sectors of trade, industry,
service and investment including: Boots, Tesco, HSBC, Central (Tops),
Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, Jaguar, British Airways, Unilever, Grampian
Foods, AB Foods, Property Care Services, Prudential, Thai Industrial
Gases (BOC) and a large education presence (including Harrow,
Bromsgrove, Regents, British International School Phuket, Bangkok
International Prep and Bangkok Patana international schools). Thai-UK
2006 was supported by: Thailand Board of Investment, British Chamber of
Commerce Thailand (BCCT), Thai Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Thai
Industries, British Embassy Bangkok, British Council Thailand and UK
Trade & Investment.
Crier Philip Rowley expertly announces the event happenings.
The United Kingdom is one of the largest foreign investors in Thailand.
From January to June 2006, BOI certificates were issued to 16 UK
companies for a total investment of THB 3,755 million placing UK fourth
behind Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan. In addition, for the same period UK
had 10 applications approved worth THB 656 million - more applications
approved than any other EU investor in Thailand.
2006 is the BCCT’s 60th Anniversary. Thai-UK 2006 was one of many events
organized to celebrate Thai-UK partnership. The BCCT is the oldest
foreign chamber and the largest non-Asian foreign chamber in Thailand in
terms of corporate membership. In addition, it is the largest and oldest
British Chamber in Asia. 2005 was a record year with membership reaching
620 by year-end. In addition, 110 companies joined the BCCT in 2005,
equalling another record. Membership, which covers a broad cross-section
of business interests in Thailand, has increased by 77% in the last nine
to R) Rodney Bain, MD of Market Edge Asia talks business with Steve
Buckley and Ampol Sena-Narong.
BCCT is also active in support of Thai charities. In 2005, THB 1 million
was donated to specific tsunami relief projects in conjunction with the
Population and Community Development Association, Rotary Club of Bangkok
South, US Special Forces Association Chapter III and Tesco Lotus.
Further six figure sums were donated to the Students’ Education Trust,
Teacher Plus Foundation and Baan Nor Giank Children’s’ Home. The BCCT
Grand Raffle at Ploenchit Fair made THB 915,000, a near record.
BCCT welcomes members of all nationalities and companies of all sizes.
More than 100 events are organised each year. For further information
please take a look at - www.bccthai.com
Traditional Thai music was
played all day.
Ampol Sena-Narong visits
with British Airways staff at the company’s stand.
(From left) Steve Buckley,
Mark Fraser and Ampol Sena-Narong visit Dan Pedley, managing director of
Rolls-Royce International Ltd. at the Rolls-Royce booth.
BCCT networking evening
drinking what Ampol Sena-Narong and Mark Frasier left over from lunch.
A brave experiment at the Royal Cliff Wine Club
Chalie Amatyakul (right),
a celebrated Thai chef and author of many books on the subject, talks
about wine as Thierry Fritsch (left) and Ranjith Chandrasiri look on.
Miss Terry Diner
The Royal Cliff Wine Club, under the presidency of Ranjith Chandrasiri
staged a very different wine dinner last week, with a tasting of
selected Alsace wines, being contrasted with Thai food. On hand to
discuss the wines from this interesting part of disputed territory
(France/Germany) was Thierry Fritsch from the “Conseil
Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alscae” (CIVA), who was ideal for the job,
with a French first name and a German surname, and incidentally knows a
lot about wine. To discuss the food was Chalie Amatyakul, a celebrated
Thai chef and author of many books on the subject. On paper this looked
like being an exhilarating evening.
Fritsch from the “Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alscae” (CIVA)
Thierry began by saying, “I will be brief. I am hungry and thirsty,” but
unfortunately he was not, and it took an hour to go through the history
of the region and the seven styles of wine produced by the 5,350 wine
growers in Alsace. By the end of the presentation the hungry Wine Club
members were starting to eat their Royal Cliff provided pencils!
The wine tasting also differed from previous formats, with five of the
six wines being dispensed at the one time, rather than one at a time
with each course, ostensibly to allow the members to try all the wines
with the different dishes. Personally I was disappointed with this, as I
believe we expected that between Chalie and Thierry, they could have
come up with the ideal complementary combinations themselves. However,
since both wine and food are pleasures that have individuality at their
core, it was interesting for the members to try and match up both the
food and wine.
Consensus in our group for the wine of the evening was the Pinot Blanc
2004, Alsace, Michel Fonne, which was matched up with baked mussels in a
clay pot, with lemongrass and basil leaves. This wine was big enough to
encompass the slightly spicy mussels, and there was a complementary
effect with this wine.
For many, the dish of the evening was the Gaeng Kua red curry with sea
scallops and pineapple served with coconut rice and brown rice, although
Chalie stated that this was probably spicier than he would have
prepared. This was supposed to be teamed with the Pinot Gris, but
personally I felt that the Pinot Blanc, or even the Gewurztraminer 2004,
Alsace Wintzenheim, Zind-Humbrecht were better suited.
It was also interesting that Thierry hand-carried the wines from Alsace
(he must have had large suitcases!), but the particular ones that he
brought were not available in Thailand, though the Alsace wine
distributor Sopexa Thailand does have similar wines from the same
It was another interesting evening for the Royal Cliff Wine Club
members. Ranjith Chandrasiri can be contacted through wineclub@royal
Wine Club members taste
test one of the many wines on offer.
Some opinions differed on
which wine was best suited for each Thai dish.
The Royal Cliff staff was
Hollywood glamour at Bruno’s as guests raise funds for Mercy Center
Charity events are stealing all the headlines recently - with the
Jesters just behind us and the PILC bazaar and charity ball looming - so
how do charities keep the public interest going?
and Dianne Doell thank guests for their help and explain a little about
the Mercy Ministries.
Well, the Mercy Center decided to use the glamour of Hollywood to
highlight their cause with a gourmet evening at Bruno’s restaurant on
The Mercy Center houses 19 children, all of who have a sad story to tell
and even though it opened only last January it has captured the hearts
and minds of people in and around Pattaya.
The center desperately needs help and that help can come in many forms.
Some people donate time, perhaps teaching the children; others donate
items such as bikes, wrought iron, and even concrete.
children’s performance touched everyone’s hearts.
At present the center is trying to get 100 people to donate 1,000 baht a
month - that would cover all running costs of the center on a monthly
basis to enable it to be self sufficient and continue to expand as it
helps those less fortunate than ourselves.
As ever it was a full house at Bruno’s, with a fine menu at just 2,000
baht, with all the diners dressed to the nines, providing glamour and
color. However, many of the guests hadn’t really embraced the Hollywood
theme, with one of them saying, “I came as myself,” which is fine if
your name is Rita Hayworth or James Dean, but that needn’t matter as the
real theme was to enjoy, be merry and raise funds for the Mercy Center.
‘Apinan’ Potter looks very the part with Andy Gordon by his side.
Before dinner the guests were given a performance by some of the
children from the center. As ever the children were enchanting, touching
the guests and highlighting the fact that they are the future and need
Bruno’s donated 999 baht of the 2,000 baht dinner to the Mercy Center,
so the guests were treated to a great meal and also did their bit for
There were prizes for the best-dressed guests. Six people went through
to the final round: a boy as Harry Potter, Rose from the Titanic, a lady
in an evening dress, Judy Hoppe, Bruce Hoppe, and Virginia Sorensen as a
rather stunning Marilyn Munroe.
and Judy in their glamorous outfits won the ‘Mr. And Mrs. Hollywood’
It was Judy Hoppe who won in the ladies’ category and luckily for her,
her on and off screen partner Bruce won the best male. Young Apinan
Hastanasombat aka Gun also received a prize as Harry Potter.
All in all it was a great evening with 132,000 baht going to the Mercy
Center. If you think you can help in any way whatsoever please give them
a call on 086 688 5867 or 081 945 4307 or take a look at their in
progress website www.mercypattaya.org
Better still, make the 10-minute journey from Central Pattaya and be
moved by these children whose smiles and warmth will melt your heart and
help make you realize just how you can help shape their future.
Hollywood stars live at
Cuvee opens, and several bottles consumed
Miss Terry Diner
The latest addition to the wining and dining scene in Pattaya opened
with a resounding ‘pop’ as champagne (or Methode Champenoise) flowed
freely at the glittering event.
For some time I have been noting that Jomtien has become the culinary
center of Pattaya, and the 500 meters from the top of Thappraya Hill
down to the Thepprasit T-junction has become a veritable treasure trove
for lovers of food and wine. Look at these venues: Mata Hari and
Manhattans in Nirvana Place at the top of the hill, then running down to
the Chateau Dale complex which has Bruno’s, Gian’s, Indian by Nature and
now Cuvee. There is also another steakhouse/wine bar in the construction
stages in Chateau Dale, meaning you will be able to dine out every night
of the week in a high end venue and never leave Thappraya Road!
The newest is Cuvee, and this is a totally different concept from the
others in its vicinity, asserted MD Paul Bart. For me, it is a venue
reminiscent of Bangkok’s Bed Supper Club or the Witches Tavern or even
Pattaya’s Mantra cocktail bar, and it is being promoted for those who
want to relax in stylish circumstances and enjoy wine and the company of
friends, and perhaps partake and share in platters of ‘themed’ foods,
such as a Greek or an Italian large offering.
Whilst the others in Pattaya’s culinary epicenter may have a wine or
cocktail bar associated with an up-market restaurant, Cuvee is a
combined wine bar and eatery, all within a ‘night club’ ambience,
featuring enjoyable music from the resident DJ. However, it is certainly
not a disco that sells food, or a restaurant with loud music!
Once it settles in, I can see Cuvee as being the place where the next
multi-million baht development contracts for Pattaya will be signed,
over a sparkling wine or two, and a shared platter of food.
The name Cuvee is interesting, as in viniculture terms it has many
meanings. In champagne it refers to the first two thousand liters of a
grape pressing, and from this, the vineyard’s best champagnes will be
made. However, it can also mean the blending of grapes to produce a
Pattaya’s Cuvee looks like being both a blend of the best of all worlds,
and somewhere to enjoy the best champagnes. (At the opening night,
attended by all the glitterati of Pattaya, more than two thousand liters
would have been consumed. It was certainly a wonderful opening!)