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interview with Anand Panyarachun

Anand Panyarachun is best known for his dedication to public service, even when he joined the private sector after 23 years of working for the government. After leaving Cambridge University in 1955, where he studied Economics and Law, Anand joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at which time he served as ambassador to Canada, the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1972 Anand was appointed as Thailand's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a job he held until 1976 when he was promoted to the highest civil service ranking as Permanent Secretary of Thailand's Foreign Ministry.

After the turbulent events of 6 October 1976, Anand retired in 1979, ending 23 illustrious years in the foreign service. But Anand, not a person to keep still for long, began his second profession in the private sector, joining the Saha-Union Group that same year and becoming its Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1991. But fate was to take another twist. Following the military take-over in February 1991, Anand was invited to serve as Thailand's Prime Minister the following month. He assumed the political position reluctantly, but determined to minimize the damage inflicted on Thailand's democratic process, eventually establishing a civilian-dominated government that ensured a smooth and peaceful transition to an open society, and bringing about much-needed economic and social reforms.

In October 1992, he resumed his business career but continued his public service work in a personal capacity. He has been called upon to assist successive civilian governments in the areas of economic and social policies, human rights and governance. In recognition of his deep commitment to public service, in 1997, he was given the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service. In the international arena, Anand is a trustee of the U Thant Institute and a board member in many foundations. He is also a member of the Advisory Group of Anti-Corruption Issues for the East Asia and Pacific Region of the World Bank and the Advisory Council of Transparency International (TI). He has also served as UNICEF Ambassador for Thailand since 1996.

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Interview with Anand Panyarachun,
Yuli Ismartono [time 27:20]

8th March, 2006

Welcome to another edition of THE LEADERS. Today we are in the Thai capital of Bangkok, where protests against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have gone on for weeks. He has called for snap elections, further placing the country in an uproar. Thailand is known as one of the most democratic nations in Asia. Is democracy at risk here in Thailand?

To discuss with us, this issue and other issues on Thailand, is the country's foremost statesman and former prime minister, Anand Panyarachun. Khun Anand, welcome the program -- THE LEADERS.

Yuli Ismartono: These are interesting times in Thailand. As a former leader, how do you assess the current political situation in the country?

Anand Panyarachun: In any society, particularly in a democratic society, you would have political crises every now and then. Perhaps in a developing world, we have more incidents of greater frequency than the others. I'd like to take a more positive perspective of the whole Thai events. I think it's definitely a political crisis, but I hope it will not lead to any disasters. I think since the last upheaval in 1991 which led to a formation of a civilian government, which led later on to the writing of the people's appeals constitution. I think that we have progressed fairly considerably. You will have noticed that the past assembly, the street protesters, they did not generate any physical force or any physical confrontation. I think the demonstrators have behaved well in terms of a peaceful demonstration. I'd like to congratulate the authorities for ensuring that the police forces are unarmed and do not use any coercive measures which could lead to actual physical confrontation. But be that as it may, I think there's still room for concern that if the two sides -- particularly if the Prime Minister persists in doing what he has been doing all along, that could generate a high degree of intense heat, this type of confrontation. But I hope that it will end well to the satisfaction of the two sides.

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Presonal Plofile
Anand Panyarachun Anand Panyarachun,
Anand Panyarachun, Thailand's illustrious statesman, is chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission and former Prime Minister of Thailand. Continuing his education Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, Khun Anand spent half his career life in the world of diplomacy, having jointed Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1955. In 1979, however, he ended his diplomatic career to start his second profession in the private sector with Saha-Union Group where he ultimately became its chairman. Following the military take-over in February 1991, he was invited to serve as Prime Minister of Thailand, at which time he initiated wide-ranging reforms to ensure general elections in May 1992. Subsequently, Khun Anand resumed his business career, prior to his appointment with the National Reconciliation Commission in 2004, which was tasked with overseeing the search for peaceful resolutions in Thailand's troubled south. Despite his retirement from many of his former activities, Khun Anand remains a deeply respected national figure in his country.
Yuli Ismartono Yuli Ismartono, [Interviewer]
Yuli Ismartono is an executive editor at Tempo, Indonesia's foremost weekly news magazine. Ms. Ismartono, who holds degrees in political science and journalism, has been with Tempo for 15 years, mostly assigned to covering events around the Asia region and interviewing national leaders - such as former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung,Cambodia's King Sihanouk and prime minister Hun Sen, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and other newsmakers. She is currently in charge of Tempo's English language edition and managing editor of AsiaViews, an online and hardcopy magazine featuring news and commentaries from the Asia region, of which Tempo is a member and coordinator of the media group that publishes it.
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