US Ambassador Visits Pattaya Mail Media Group

Thursday, 10 May 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 19 By  Sue K

U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney paid a visit to Pattaya Mail Publishing Co., chatting with journalists on subjects ranging from American investments in Thailand to politics, human rights and the embassy’s outreach efforts for expatriates.

Managing Director Peter Malhotra greeted the ambassador and her staff May 3. He was joined by Executive Editor Dan Dorothy, Business Manager Tony Malhotra, General Manager Prince Malhotra, Pattaya Mail on TV Director Sue Kukarja and dozens of staffers.

Pattaya Mai MD Peter Malhotra (right) presents a copy our book about HM the King’s birthday to HE Kristie Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand. Pattaya Mai MD Peter Malhotra (right) presents a copy our book about HM the King’s birthday to HE Kristie Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand.

The senior Malhotra briefed the ambassador on the Pattaya Mail’s 20-year history and presented her with a special edition of the newspaper. Dorothy gave Kenney an autographed copy of his novel “Mango Rains,” a true story set in Thailand.

Following the formalities, Kenney took a few minutes to answer questions from Kukarja, saying the future for American companies doing business in the kingdom looks bright. The country’s strong infrastructure and quality workforce and receptive public have made the country a good hub for business in the Southeast Asian region.

(L to R) Pattaya Mail on TV Director Sue Kukarja, HE Kristie Kenney, Executive Editor Dan Dorothy and MD Peter Malhotra thank the ambassador for her visit and talk.(L to R) Pattaya Mail on TV Director Sue Kukarja, HE Kristie Kenney, Executive Editor Dan Dorothy and MD Peter Malhotra thank the ambassador for her visit and talk.

Kenney said she thought her biggest achievement since taking office was strengthening ties between Thailand and the United States both economically and culturally, citing work by the U.S. Peace Corps as an example.

Opportunities for U.S. companies include cotton exports to the kingdom as well as in such fields as fashion design, movie animation, technology and music. “We also want Thai students to study in the U.S., so my job is to grow the friendship,” she said.

Dan Dorothy presents the ambassador with a signed copy of his novel, Mango Rains.Dan Dorothy presents the ambassador with a signed copy of his novel, Mango Rains.

Retaining that friendship was her first priority on taking office, Kenney said, saying the bond between nations was strong. The key now is to make it relevant with regard to security, law enforcement and technology.

A winner of many leadership awards related to inspiring and motivating people, the ambassador said learning the Thai language has not been as successful. However, she said, she continues to study.

HE Kristie Kenney takes time out from her interview with Pattaya Mail on TV Director Sue Kukarja for a commemorative photo.HE Kristie Kenney takes time out from her interview with Pattaya Mail on TV Director Sue Kukarja for a commemorative photo.

One thing that has become easier over time has been operating in the political world as a woman.

“Look at you and I, two women talking here,” Kenney said. “It’s difficult to say that women don’t have chances. My boss, (U.S. Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton, is a woman. The prime minister of Thailand is a woman.”

Of Premier Yingluck Shinawatra, Kenney said she “has a very challenging job. But she’s very good at being organized and a quick study. She has impressed President Obama. She works hard and pays a lot of attention to the issues.”

As for Thailand’s often tumultuous politics, Kenney said the kingdom is not dissimilar to many other countries.

“It’s diverse, lively and noisy,” she said. “As long as it remains non-violent and people discuss their views peacefully, it’s healthy.”

“I think you have a lively democracy,” she said. “You had a free and fair election last year, people voted as they wished and elected a government. Democracy has a lot of views, a lot of opinions, also has institutions to deal with. It’s not always easy.”

Her view hardened slightly when asked about the country’s troubled south, where Muslim separatists have waged bloody warfare with the government for seven years.

HE Kristie Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand is welcomed to the Pattaya Mail offices by nearly the entire team.HE Kristie Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand is welcomed to the Pattaya Mail offices by nearly the entire team.

“The Philippines had similar problems and they did accept help from the U.S. when offered, but Thailand has not wanted any help,” she said. “Thailand said clearly that it’s an internal problem. However, the embassy does work with the universities there and helps with education. We respect this is Thailand and the government has the right to solve its own problems.”

The country, she said is slightly more open to humanitarian aid, such as when it accepted 10 million dollars for flood-relief efforts last year.

“Officials were very specific on their needs, such as mosquito nets, pumping water, restoration, etc. They were clear with us what they needed from us of which we willingly supplied.”

Help for American expats is also continually supplied, Kenney said, even if there is no American consulate in Pattaya.

“We are very connected. There is a large community here, residents and visitors. Our consular services office comes here three or four times a year and will be here again early June,” she said.

Kenney noted American Consular Services can be reached on Twitter at @ acsbkk. She also has her own non-business Twitter account at @kristiekenney.

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4 comments

  • Comment Link Monday, 17 September 2012 04:36 posted by Frank G Anderson, Korat

    American wardens:
    As a warden here in Korat, I know that each warden has clear guidelines from the Embassy/State Department and further, that their roles are entirely voluntary for a variety of reasons, good and bad depending on the individual and whatever "situation" arises at any given time. Anyone interested in what wardens are supposed to do and expectations can refer to the public online 12 page PDF warden system explanation at http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86562.pdf
    No warden can speak for or act on behalf of the Embassy, but is a volunteer who is given strict guidelines and must comply with them. Sometimes there are questions or complaints about wardens and for the most part these should be forwarded to the embassy with the expectation that a "State Department-type" reply will follow. If anyone has any issues about a warden in his or her area, why not contact another one to sound him or her out? As expatriates here in Thailand we usually recognize the need to help someone, or at least give some friendly advice that can be taken in good stead or ignored. This is precisely what wardens often do, and any American listening to warden advice or comments should not expect magical problem solving solutions from these volunteers. As readers can appreciate, there are many sensitive issues and situations in Thailand; we are here as guests, many as residents, some as new citizens, and we should not expect things to be like they are "back home." That said, activism is also an accepted activity in Thailand, but it has significantly higher risks. Even slight altercations can get out of hand. If anyone just wants a sounding board to hear from a fellow American who is supposed to be a bit more responsible in "relationships" here, official or otherwise, they should consider getting informal advice from someone trustworthy and willing to listen. These people are sometimes wardens, sometimes lawyers, sometimes just a spouse or girlfriend. The bottom line is you, the decider, who has to make the call.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 15 May 2012 23:16 posted by C.W. Arthur

    When has Ambassador Kenney spoken out concerning the ripoffs of american tourists and those from other countries regarding the jet ski
    scams at Pattaya, Phuket, and Patong Beach.

    Many tourists from several countries have vowed to
    never return to those areas again. Yet, the scams
    continue year after year.

  • Comment Link Monday, 14 May 2012 08:19 posted by DONALEMAN

    Well Tim, there are 2, ( two ) American "wardens" in Pattaya but you probably never heard of them as their "duties " are dubious at best and both are more proficient at their money making activities.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 12 May 2012 10:24 posted by tim ross

    Opening an American consular office in Pattaya would be an excellent development.

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