See why Thai diplomacy packs a punch: Welcome to Thailand, with FM Don (video)

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Foreign and local media representatives attending an end-of-year gathering at Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Bangkok last week got to see a different side of the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pramudwinai, and thanks to his good humour, so too can you.

Thailand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pramudwinai, chairs the 2019 Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in January
Thailand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pramudwinai, chairs the 2019 Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in January Asean-Thailand Secretariat

A veteran Thai diplomat having served as the Thailand ambassador to Switzerland, Vatican City, Liechtenstein, China, North Korea, Mongolia, the European Union, and the United States, in addition to serving as Thailand’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, ‘Foreign Minister Don’, as he is colloquially referred, has a reputation for being able to achieve the impossible out of nothing.

Earlier this year he was directly responsible for the release of Australian refugee football player Hakeem al-Araibi and the withdrawal of an extradition request by Bahrain, after flying to Manama and meeting with crown prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. He is also reported to have played a major role in teenage Saudi runaway Rahaf al-Qunun being able to lodge an asylum application with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok in January (the first occasion of this happening) resulting in her being granted refuge in Canada.

Ahead of the Asean Ministerial Meeting (AMM) and Post Ministerial Conferences (PMCs) last August, the graduate of international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the United States’ oldest graduate school of international relations at the prestigious Tufts University, Massachusetts, wrote to his fellow foreign ministers and those of Asean’s 10 Dialogue Partners with a request: Please send a one-minute video clip of you pastime/hobby or of your typical day back at home.

The clips were shown at the PMC Gala Dinner attended by the Asean foreign ministers and their Dialogue Partners: Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States.

Hi, this is Don

Thailand Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai (r) in August 2019 with India Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar
Thailand Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai (r) in August 2019 with India Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar @DrSJaishankar Twitter feed

In the video above the sprightly 69-year-old greats delegates with a casual “Hi, this is Don. Welcome to Thailand… and to Thai boxing (Muay Thai) as well”.

In the original of the video (without the special effects we added) Foreign Minister Don limbers up with some boxing bag kicks, before demonstrating left and right punches, an elbow slash, a knee strike, and an energetic spinning elbow, before inviting his contemporaries to join him for a workout at the Sangmorakot Muay Thai gym.

Thai diplomacy has long held a solid and impressive reputation on the international stage and amongst foreign diplomats posted to Bangkok. After the screening of this video to his fellow foreign ministers we can’t help feeling that the words “Hi, this is Don” might be the last words countries involved in complex foreign affairs negotiations involving Thailand might wish to hear, lest negotiations get scheduled for the nearest Muay Thai boxing academy.

While each of the foreign ministers attending the AMM/PMCs is believed to have submitted a video clip, Thailand’s MFA said that it was not authorised to release them.

If other foreign ministers attending the 35th Asean Summits and Related Summits in Bangkok last month would like to show the world how they presented themself and their countries to their fellow Asean foreign ministers, AEC News Today will be delighted to also publish their clips and their story. Simply contact us.



Feature video & photo Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs




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John Le Fevre

Thailand editor at AEC News Today

John is an Australian national with more than 40 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer, and copy editor.

He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.

He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.

In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.

Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.

In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.

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