Viet Nam News spoke with Thai Ambassador Pisanu Chanvitan on the anniversary of the 83rd birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, which falls on Sunday, December 5.
Why is the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej so important for the Thai People?
Thai Ambassador Pisanu Chanvitan
The anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand falls on the 5th day of December. All Thai people deem this occasion the most auspicious and come together to express their gratitude and reverence to His Majesty for his benevolence and tireless dedication to the well-being of the Kingdom and its people throughout his reign.
It has been 64 years since His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's accession to the Throne on June 9, 1946, during which time His Majesty adhered to the highest virtue of the King and devoted his life and resources to aiding the development of the Kingdom and the improvement of the Thai people's livelihood without rest. His Majesty visited every province in the Kingdom, defying discomfort and inconvenience in very remote areas to do field reconnaissance and appraise local conditions by himself. More than 4,000 royal-initiated projects have been introduced, covering various fields, including education, communication, agriculture, water and natural resources, occupational promotion, public health and social welfare, with the aim to lift up the living standard of the Thai people.
The 5th day of December is also regarded as "Father Day" in Thailand to show the love and reverence the Thai people have for their King.
How do you see the development of the bilateral relations between Thailand and Viet Nam?
Thailand and Viet Nam had a long history of relations before the establishment of diplomatic ties on August 6, 1976. Our two countries have enjoyed close and cordial relations at all levels and all fields of co-operation. The accumulated Thai investment in Viet Nam has reached US$5.8 billion with more than 200 active projects, while the trade amount between our two countries will exceed $6.5 billion this year. Many top Thai companies with high professional standards and good corporate governance, such as Siam Cement Group, C.P. Group, Petroleum Authority of Thailand, Pruksa Real Estate Plc and Bangkok Bank, have strongly engaged in the economic development of Viet Nam with their respective expertise and accountability.
More notably, the exchange between our peoples has been growing rapidly and will continue to grow, thanks to the convenient land transportation that has contributed considerably to tourism and other interactions. This year both countries will see a record total of about 600,000 tourists. As members of the ASEAN family and other regional co-operation frameworks, Thailand and Viet Nam share common interests, threats and goals. It is not an overstatement to say that our relations have now developed into a strategic partnership.
The Royal Thai Embassy is planning to organise a number of activities in the next few months to celebrate 35 years of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Viet Nam.
What could be done to further promote bilateral cooperation?
Thailand is determined to expand her co-operation with Viet Nam in all areas under the existing frameworks and mechanisms, especially on the effective use of a land transportation network to further connect people and enhance development in this region. We must continue to make efforts to raise awareness of both countries' potential given our proximity and land transportation network.
Songkran is the traditional Thai new year and takes place from April 13 to 15. Families and friends visit temples and splash water on each other. — AFP/VNS Photo
Although the ASEAN Free Trade agreements already came into use, non-tariff barriers such as levies and duties still persist. These barriers not only deter the process of a single economic market but also impede the trade and investment in and between our countries. It is vital that the transportation of goods and people is economical and fast. Thus, customs formalities and immigration procedures at the border should be carried out without unnecessary delay. All these issues of cross - border facilitation need to be addressed soonest.
In terms of our people, we can build upon the friendship and cultural similarities that already exist to enhance person-to-person contact. The existing activities and projects, such as the Youth Exchange Project, Languages Teaching Programme and Royal Kathina (Bestowing the royal robe granted by His Majesty the King to Buddhist monks in Viet Nam at the end of the Buddhism lent) will be further promoted.
How do you view the development in Viet Nam?
It is clear through the robust economy and social strength that Viet Nam has made great progress. This year Viet Nam has demonstrated exceptionally her competency in carrying out a series of important functions, particularly as ASEAN Chair and the host of the 16th and 17th ASEAN Summits and other related meetings, as well as through the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi celebrations. I would like to express my sincere congratulations for these successes.
With this impressive development, I have no doubt that Viet Nam will continue to attract attention from foreign investors and businesspeople, including Thai investors, for years to come.
What do you think is the key to a successful ASEAN Community?
ASEAN is scheduled to become a full-fledged regional community based on three pillars, namely an ASEAN Security Community, an ASEAN Economic Community and an ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, in 2015. There are still a number of shortcomings and challenges awaiting actions and solutions by member states, such as finding effective means to bring to fruition all agreements and roadmaps as well as reducing overlapping co-operation frameworks, providing the right environment for development and co-operation amidst global changes, preventing and reducing severe damages caused by natural disasters, and finding ways to strengthen ASEAN's role in preventing and solving the conflicts within the region. To lead ASEAN to its goals, I think the ASEAN member countries need to assert their strong political will and look beyond their respective boundaries. — VNS