American wardens in Thailand

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Editor;

Re: US Ambassador Visits Pattaya Mail Media Group (PM Thursday, 10 May 2012)

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.

Frank G Anderson,

Korat