On 22 May 2014, Thailand awoke to a new reality; the military had once again taken power in a military coup, the 12th since 1932. While international reactions condemned the return of a military government, the reactions in Thailand have been more mixed. Many people felt the political stalemate resulting in street violence between a politically divided and polarised population had to end. The military claimed it had to step in because the various factions were unable to reach an agreement. Since then we have seen a decisive government address a number of public complaints, e.g. graft, corruption, mafia influence, vested interests, vice as well as national legislative challenges such as pending laws in a number of fields ranging from international agreements, taxation, energy and the environment. The Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce is an active member of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT). Our chamber has played an active role in the organisation for many years and we feel we are being heard. Through JFCCT we have been consulted by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on a number of issues concerning foreign investments in the country. We have particularly emphasized the need for streamlining the visa and work-permit regulations to make it easier for companies and their executives to operate and live in Thailand. Through interest organisations like JFCCT and Thailand’s Board of Trade, of which we are members, we will continue to engage the government in matters of special importance to us as Norwegian investors in Thailand. It remains to be seen how long the military will stay in power. It’s my hope that we soon again will see a democratic Thailand with checks and balances introduced into the country’s legislation, making sure that all sides are heard, listened to and respected. From the Norwegian perspective, we have a new ambassador in Thailand. Although Kjetil Paulsen is new to Asia, he comes to us with a wealth of experience from previous postings in Europe, Africa and North America in addition to postings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We wish him a warm welcome to Thailand and are pretty sure that he will enjoy the “Land of Smiles” as much as we do. The previous Norwegian Ambassador to Thailand, Ms. Katja Nordgaard, developed the concept of an illustrated coffee table book showing images of modern Norway together with photos taken by King Chulalongkorn during his trip to Norway in 1907. The result is the book “Modern Norway, Then and Now”. It is an ideal as an exclusive gift to Thai partners and contacts and can be ordered through the chamber office.
Vibeke Lyssand Leirvåg President Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce