Over the past couple of months the consulate was active providing consular support and undertaking public diplomacy. This bi-monthly post covers highlights of the Honorary Consul’s activity, statistics on the scope and volume of service as well as some upcoming events.
Consular & Public Diplomacy Activity Highlights
One of the roles of the Honorary Consul, who volunteers his time, is to engage in public diplomacy by representing and promoting Australia. There are many event invitations and ceremonies that provide this opportunity. While I can’t always attend every event due to diary or other conflicts the following highlights (in no particular order) some of the participation during September and October:
- Kings cremation ceremony
October saw many events that marked the one year since the passing of King Rama IX. On October 26th the Chiang Mai Governor was joined by a number of Government Officials, various invited guests and thousands of Chiang Mai citizens at the the Exhibition and Convention Center for a ceremony of remembrance and respect. The sky’s opened up with a major downpour just prior to the ceremony. It was a very nice tribute & respectful event.
- Lunch with Ambassador
During a private visit to Chiang Mai, the Ambassador and his wife took the time to enjoy a casual lunch with the Honorary Consul General of Peru, Mom Luang Preeyapun Sridhavat , who is also an Australian Teacher of Dance representative in Thailand, and the Consulate team.
- Visit Province Foreign Relations
Had the pleasure of visiting the Foreign Relations office for the Chiang Mai Provincial Governor to discuss some matters relating to up coming events and interactions with the Governor.
- Chiang Mai Immigration tribute to King Rama IX
The Consulate from time to time has dealings with Thai Immigration and seeks advice and information. I was cordially invited to attend and participate in a floral and musical tribute being held at Promenada Mall by Immigration. It was a celebration of many of the Kings musical pieces played by the Immigration band and the making artificial flowers as a contribution to the then Kings cremation service.
- Expat Club Presentation
Three consulates in Chiang Mai, the USA, British and Australian were invited to speak to the expat club General meeting in September on their role and activities. 3 presentations were followed by some question time. It was a great opportunity to share what the Australian in Thailand and the Consulate does in the North.
- Elephant Parade Land
An Australian Flag Elephant statue had been created by this social enterprise, after discussions and approval for use of the flag. I was invited to see the prototype and to learn more about their work and activities relating to Elephant conservation. You can learn more on what they do from their website – Elephant Parade
The Australian flag elephant statue will be available from their shops from mid November 2017. A visit by the Ambassador is planned for November.
- Marmara school visit
The Wichai Wittaya English Program Director and Head of Public relations for this school visited the Consulate to invite me to their International Day on 29 November. They also asked for support in providing props or decorations about Australia. The objective of the event is for students and others to see, explore and learn different culture of various countries. The consulate looks forward to helping out and attending on the day for the opening ceremony.
- Embassy & Austcham visit
A visit to Bangkok, although seldom happening, took place during this period. It provided me an opportunity to meet up with the Executive Director of the Australian Thai Chamber of Commerce (Austcham) and to liaise with my contacts at the new Australian Embassy who I deal with regularly, such as Consular Service Section, administration area, public diplomacy and a courtesy call on the Ambassador. It was also the time to arrange for the Consular license plate for my vehicle – after a 3 month process. As always nice to visit, but great to get back to Chiang Mai.
- Consular Outreach Program
The 20 October Outreach program saw two of the Consular Service team from the Embassy in Bangkok visit Chiang Mai. This bi-monthly consular outreach program provides some notarial and passport services to Australians. This visit saw 75 clients provided with various services across the day. The Outreach returns on 8 December 2017 to Le Meridien Hotel
- Planning – Australian Alumni Network & Taste Australia Promotion
The consulate got involved to support the planning for these two events that are to be held in November. It was enjoyable helping out the Public Diplomacy team from the Embassy. Getting involved with Austrade and Rimping Supermarkets for their taste Australia promotion was also great fun.
Scope of activity
Here are some numbers regarding the scope of work and scale of activities covering the two month of September and October 2017?
The month of September 17 was quiet compared to previous months with 84 contacts/activities requiring 31 service hours. The client language mix was 79% English & 21% Thai.
By comparison the month of October 17 was somewhat busier with 99 contacts/activities that involved 50 service hours with a client language mix of 86% English & 14% Thai.
The consulate work load involves such matters as providing advise and information in response to inquiries on notarial and passport services, visa inquiries and offering referrals for service as well as attending to clients.
Consular & passports: – 38% in Sept & 53% in Oct
Australian visa’s: – 45% in Sept & 18% in Oct
Information & Other: 4% in Sept & 6% in Oct
Public diplomacy: 13% in Sept & 22% in Oct
Another initiative of the Consulate is to use social media (Facebook & twitter), and dedicated websites in order to provided information that may be helpful and/or interesting. These social media platforms activities for the month of September and October 2017 involved:
Websites: 868 views – from the following two websites during September and October:
Australian Honorary Consul (tranquilinthailand.com)
Facebook pages: 906 people reached for the month of October. Facebook is where I post routine activity and this bi-monthly website posting is usually a recap of these events. Here are the Facebook sites:
Google my Business – the consulate is on google and through this platform a number of people can locate the consulate website or make contact. For October 730 people found the consulate on google search with 44 seeking directions – 27 accessed the website & 32 called.
- Australian Alumni Networking – event for registered AustralianThai Alumni – on 9 November at Le Meridien Hotel
- Taste Australia – Rimping Supermarket & Austrade promotion of food, products and education – Kad Farang Village, Hang Dong Road – 10 to 12 November. Opening ceremony on 10th from 5 to 6:30 PM
- Remembrance Day – ceremony at the Foreign Cemetery by the Royal British Legion.
- Embassy Consular Outreach – 8th December 2017 at Le Meridien Hotel – for some notarial and passport services.
The weather is now changed from the green season (rainy period) and moving into our Thai winter with cooler temperatures and dry days and blue skies. More activity ahead in November and December for the Consulate.