These last two months have flown by involving a couple of weeks holiday and then lots of activity. The Consulate was busy with consular assistance & support, supplying information and undertaking public diplomacy. It was notably quieter due to a holiday period with 167consular activities that involved 78 hours of participation. This consulate bi-monthly post is created to offer an insight into the highlights of my activity, some statistics on the scope/volume of service being undertaken in the north as well as upcoming events and information of general awareness.
Consular Outreach & Public Diplomacy
Among the duties of the Honorary Consul one of the functions is to engage in public diplomacy by representing and promoting Australia. There are events, ceremonies and invitation that often provide this opportunity. While I can’t attend every activity the following highlights (in no particular order) some of the engagement during July and August 2018:
Austrade Mission to Chiang Mai
Enjoyed the pleasure of working with our Embassy Austrade section to support a recent trade mission involving food product companies from Australia to Chiang Mai. In CM there was a dinner, visits and presentations involving Rimping, Northern Thai Food Valley and the Hotel F & B/tourism industry. A great group and thanks to those that supported this delegation – Office of Commercial Affairs Chiang Mai, Rimping Supermarkets, Northern Food Valley represented by the MD of Nithi Foods, F & B Director, Le Meridien Hotel and Saenkham Terrace Restaurant.
Outreach Program Visit
August 17th was Australian Embassy Consular Outreach day in Chiang Mai. A busy day with 70+ clients assisted for notarial or passport services. The Consulate supports this Outreach program by operating the client reception & queue management. Next visit to Chiang Mai will be on 5 October 2018.
Thai Mothers Day
The Consulate enjoyed attending a Chiangmai Multifaith mothersday event this week that amongst other activities saw Vanita Sethi (from the Fashion King) honoured as an outstanding Mother of the year ‘18. I am told that for three consecutive years she humbley refused (followed the Roman Empire The Great Julius Caesar who thrice refused to accept the crown). The event was attended by consuls of USA, India, Australia, Philliphine & Red Cross Vice President/ Madam of the vice governor as well as by people from different walks of life.
Early Saturday morning, July 14th there was an event to attend at Huey Tueng Tao organised by the Chiang Mai Government. Fun, wet and muddy involvement to support the resevour lake restoration project being completed by the army and tree planting and releasing fish in respect of Kings birthday. There were many events to taking place to mark the King’s birthday that the consulate was invited to. My hat seems a bit small?
Tham Luang Cave Rescue
Congratulations and “good on yay” to our Australian team that supported the successful search and rescue mission at tham luang cave. Very proud of our teams commitment to this task. Nice gesture for our Australian Ambassador to congratulate the former Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn on leading a successful rescue effort to bring the #13WildBoars home. While the consulate was not directly involved I did arrange for a supply of Australian Flag Elephants from the Elephant Parade in Chiang Mai to be shipped to the Embassy to be used as gifts for the Wild Boar team members and others.
Chiang Mai Central Prison
Had the opportunity to visit the Chiang Mai Men’s Central Prison in the Mae Tang area yesterday. I had a liasion visit with the Prison Director and his Administration Manager for introductions and discussions to learn more about the facility and rules for Consulate official visits. I provided the Director with some information on Australia and consulate activity in the North.
School Awards Day
It was with great pleasure the Consulate visited the Wichai Wittaya English Program School in Chiang Mai today. We congratulated and presented certificates to the winning teachers and students from the school who participated and won awards in the Genius Olympiad in Oswego, New York, USA and Singapore International Math Olympiad Challenge (SIMOC) recently. The school has an Australia connection through one of it’s investors/board members. It is always great to support students to grow and challenge themselves through such opportunities and it was fun to speak with them about their recent trip experiences.
Scope of Activity and Statistics; those darn statistics
Much of the consulates workload involves being contacted by Australian’s, Thai’s and others seeking consular services, visa information or some form of assistance. While we can’t share details of cases or assistance, due to privacy reasons, I can provide some data regarding the type and scale of activities of the past two months.
The month of July was routine, the consulate was closed for 2 weeks and involved 59 contacts & activities requiring 27 service hours. The client language mix was 75% English & 25% Thai. By comparison the month of August was much busier with 108 contacts & activities that involved 51 service hours. The client language mix was 86% English & 14% Thai.
The work during this two month period involved a wide variety of matters such as providing advise and information in response to inquiries for notarial and passport services, Australian visa inquiries, other assistance information and offering referral information to websites or correct contacts/place for services. As well the Consulate assisted clients requiring personal consular assistance & supported the Embassy in a variety of case managements. The breakdown of Consulate service activities for the two months are:
- Consular support & passports: – in July 56% & in August 54%
- Australian visa info: – in July 27% & in August 24%
- Other & Information: in July 2% & in August 8%
- Public diplomacy: in July 15% & in August 14%
Some of the more detailed consular support over the past few months involved matters such as support to hospitalised Australians from illness or accident, welfare of travelling Australians and deceased Australians.
The Consulate uses social media facilities (Facebook & twitter and dedicated websites) in order to disseminate & share information. Facebook pages: This is where I post routine activity on a more frequent basis – mainly the public diplomacy activity & consular information. You can check out the other FB page links here:
Upcoming Activity and General Information
- Consular Service Outreach Program Chiang Mai – Next Outreach visit at Le Meridien Hotel Chiang Mai is 5 October and then on 23 November 2018. For details and information on notarial and passport services available please see this web-page.
- Passport Changes – From 1 July 2018 new passport photos must be taken without glasses. This will further strengthen the integrity of the Australian passport. Research commissioned by DFAT has shown that glasses adversely affect passport facial matching – matching is more accurate without glasses. Other passport photo standards are unchanged, such as looking straight at the camera; neutral expression; hair off the face; no red-eye; no shadows; plain background. A limited exemption for medical reasons may apply were supported by a medical certificate. You can find more information on www.passports.gov.au
- Consular Service – Embassy Appointments – Please be aware – From 4 July 2018 – if you are going to the Australian Embassy Bangkok for notarial or passport services you will need to book an appointment online – see details below – and check out this Consular appointment webpage – http://thailand.embassy.gov.au/bkok/Appointments_Page.html