Australian Honorary Consul Activity – Oct 19 to Jan 2020

This Consulate blog offers updates on the activity of the Honorary Consul of Australia for Northern Thailand, who volunteers his time to operate the consulate in Chiang Mai. The 4 months from October to January 2020 involved 198 hours of consular services & public diplomacy activities. 

The consular activities currently involve: (1) taking passport applications (200 during 2019); (2) providing information & referrals regarding notarial services; (3) referring Australian visa enquirers to VFS Global; (4) supporting the Embassy consular case work in the northern region through client visits in hospital, goal or prison, etc and (5) providing other general information & assistance to the public.  The role also involves (6) undertaking some public diplomacy activities & engagements which are highlighted below.

Australian Consulate Chiang Mai

 

Consular Service Information

For general awareness:

Passports Applications Chiang Mai – Australian passport applications can be lodged with the Honorary Consul, Chiang Mai – by appointment only. Please contact the Australian Consulate Chiang Mai (Monday to Thursday 9 am to 12 noon) on 091 857 6996 or by email – ausconcm@gmail.com – to book an appointment. More information here

Consular Outreach – Visit Schedule – The next Chiang Mai Outreach by Embassy staff has not been scheduled but is expected in May or June 2020. More information here

Notarial Services – the Consulate in Chiang Mai is not authorised to provide these services. They are available at the Embassy in Bangkok, only with an appointment. More information here

Marriage in Thailand – No Impediment Certificate –  The Australian Embassy now issues a Certificate of No Impediment for Australians to get married in Thailand – these can not be obtained from the Chiang Mai Consulate. More information here 

Statutory Declarations – Please note that Australian consular or diplomatic officers are only permitted to witness an Australian Statutory Declaration being made for use in Australia by an Australian entity. More information here

Booking Appointments – Australian Embassy Bangkok – Passport and Notarial Services are provided by appointment ONLY – (subject to appointment availability and excluding Embassy public holidays). See here for booking information

Booking Appointment – Australian Consulate Chiang Mai – Please contact the Australian Consulate Chiang Mai during operating times (Monday to Thursday 9 am to 12 noon) on 091 857 6996 or by email – ausconcm@gmail.com – to discuss your questions or to book an appointment.

 

Community Outreach & Public Diplomacy Events

There are a variety of event invitations from the Thai Government, private sector and other agencies around Chiang Mai that offer opportunities for engagement in the community. The following highlights some of these public diplomacy activities during the past 4 months period.

Australian Sculpture Artist Exhibition

It was a great pleasure to participate and be invited to speak at the opening ceremony for Australian Sculpture Artist, Dr Ian Bonde’s, Exhibition at the Chiang Mai University Faculty of Fine Arts Gallery (on Campus). The opening was very well attended and supported by the Australian Embassy Bangkok. The exhibition was open to the public to October 30th. The works are the sculptors interpretation from a chance encounter with some unique buildings in Chiang Mai.

 

Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery – Remembrance Day

November 11, 2019 – a large group gathered to mark 101 years since the end of the First World War, with a range of tributes and commemorations. The Consulate joined other Consular Corps members, guests and a number of schools to pay tribute and lay a wreath of remembrance. Lest we Forget.

Consular Corps meets with CM Immigration

Participated in a meeting with CM Immigration for a briefing on new OA visa insurance requirements & implementation, alternative options, visa overstay and deportation policy. Due to individual visa circumstance and policy complexity it was recommended that visa holders with questions or problems should approach CM Immigration directly (or a visa agent) as it is not appropriate for Consulates to provide Thai Immigration visa advice.

Embassy Consular Outreach

Embassy consular staff conducted an outreach visit to Chiang Mai for notarial and passport services at the Le Meridien Hotel in November 2019 . The consulate supported the Outreach through reception duties and taking passport applications.  There were only limited clients (about 25) taking advantage of this service. The next outreach will likely be in May or June 2020, subject to the Embassy resources.

Australian Ambassador Visits 

The Australian Ambassador to Thailand, Allan McKinnon, visited Chiang Mai for meetings with a range of stakeholders. I accompanied him to a call on the Provincial Governor this week. It was a great opportunity for discussions about Chiang Mai opportunities, priorities and challenges. The Consulate also participated in a meeting with Australian Ambassador to Thailand and the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber President and Vice Presidents provided an overview of the business sector, economic environment and explored future engagement opportunities with Australia. I joined the Australian Ambassador’s delegation to meet with Chiang Mai University (CMU) President & vice president executives to explore the academic environment and perspective on a range of matters including opportunities for greater collaboration with Australia. CMU is large with a diverse range of faculties & 35,000 students. There are many existing MOUs with Australian Universities for joint research and cooperation.

Australian Alumni Association

It was a fantastic evening participating in the Australian Alumni Association Northern Thailand networking event. It began with a casual but candid chat with the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, HE Alan McKinnon, facilitated by AAA President Khun Pitchai and followed by a social networking with lovely food and refreshment. Good to catch up and chat with many Alumni from various professions and different Australian educational institutions. Looking forward to next year’s event and thanks to the AAA team for organising and Embassy for supporting.

Wichai Wittaya School International Day

International Day at the Wichai Wittaya English Program School in Chiang Mai was an opportunity to explore and celebrate different world cultures. Australia was one of the 17-country booths created by students. I had the pleasure of being a guest and to open the Australian booth. Students from M3 did a fantastic job providing information about Australia & offered some Aussie treats. With other Consular Corps members we explored various countries, enjoyed great entertainment from students and sampled too much good food. An MC for the event was a very lively & fun Australian teacher.

Fathers Day Outing

5 December – is Thailand’s National Day and Fathers Day. To celebrate the Chiang Mai Inter Religious Committee held an awards ceremony for father’s of the year from various faiths. I joined other Consular Corps members and quest for this event that was presided over by the Chiang Mai Governor. Great entertainment from local Northern Thai dancers, school bands and choir. Congratulations to all fathers & Frank Sethi of Fashion King from the Sikh community.

Consular Corps meets CM Governor

A Friday evening working dinner was hosted by the Consular Corps Chiang Mai, at Tulou Chinese Restaurant, to welcome Charoen Sanguansat, the new Chiang Mai Governor and his wife. The meeting focus was on the anticipated annual burning season, the planned mitigation management strategies and health concerns. While there appears to have been a lot of work by the Government put into reducing the causes of smoke pollution through coordination, cooperation and education of various community groups, more remains, and awareness of the health impacts & safety measures is vital.

Lanna Traditional House Museum

It was a fine Chiang Mai morning at the Lanna Traditional House Museum, CMU, for members of the Consular Corps and guests attending the Grant Ceremony for the Conservation of Traditional Lanna Architecture. The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for cultural preservation presented a $150,000 USD Grant to the Chiang Mai University museum for planned restoration and display improvements. Guests toured the museum, traditional crafts and a Lanna style lunch followed. A great initiative by the Center for the promotion of Arts and Crafts, CMU.

New Years 2020 – Sawadee Pee Mai

Off to a good start for 2020.  A few early year engagements including: (1) had the pleasure of providing a donation on behalf of the Australian Embassy Social Club to the CM Rotary Club Thin Thai Ngam, for their Children’s Sight Project, which is coordinated by Australian Peter Bell. (2) support to the Northern Consular Corp donation to Region 5 Police HQ for Children’s Day (3) hosted a visit from Witchai Wittaya English Program School to receive best wishes for the new year & thanks for our involvement. (4) hosted a new year greeting visit from representatives of the Chiang Mai Governor’s Office, Foreign Relations Department, to the Consulate and (5) hosted a visit from the vice president Maejo Univeristy for new year greetings & exchange of information.

Happy Australia Day 2020

This is the Story of Australia – the story of an extraordinary nation. The Story begins 60,000 years ago. New chapters are written every day. On Australia Day, we reflect on our history, its highs, and its lows. We respect the stories of others. And we celebrate our nation, its achievements and most of all, its people. We’re all part of the story. Australia Day – Reflect. Respect. Celebrate. Here is their Facebook page – Celebrate Australia Day –

In Bangkok the Embassy hosted an Australian Day reception event for invited guests, Austcham held the Great Australian Bash 2020 and here in Chiang Mai, I know Australian’s and their Thai friends got together to have their own celebrations. There were a couple of businesses in Chiang Mai (Yummy Pizza Restaurant & Downunder Pub) that also held Australia Day events to say G’day and have some fun.

 

Consular Corps Reception

The northern Thailand Consular Corps gathered for a social evening to farewell a couple of colleagues – the current Dean of the Consular Corp – the Consul-General of Republic of China, as well as the Consul of Republic of India. We also acknowledged the retirement of the Honorary Consul Federal Republic of Germany after nearly 20 years of service in Chiang Mai. We welcomed our new Dean of the CC – the Consul General of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. A very nice evening at Saenkham Terrace.

 

Here’s to 2020 and another year of consular assistance and support in Northern Thailand.

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