Representing Thailand in New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa is the Ambassador of Thailand to these countries Khun Noppadon Theppitak. When Hua Hin Today interviewed Khun Noppadon at the Veranda Resort & Spa Hua Hin / Cha-Am, he was undertaking one of the more pleasurable aspects of his duties; being a VIP escort for the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants during their visit to Thailand. He is taking time out from his more formal responsibilities to introduce these 20 contestants to Thailand and ensuring that their experience will be one that has a positive effect on the relationship between the people of both countries.
Khun Noppadon is a very experienced diplomat on behalf of the Thailand Government. His last diplomatic post was in Cairo in Egypt. This was very clearly a challenging posting during a period of political instability for that country when the emergence of the ‘Arab Spring’ was imminent. He has also provided diplomatic services in Singapore and at the United Nations in New York.
Reading between the lines, his current posting in Wellington New Zealand may be regarded as recognition of his ‘service under fire’ as the New Zealand requirement has been somewhat more benign. However one of the challenges, particularly in the early period of his posting, was to communicate and explain events during Thailand’s own period of political unrest when the reaction of the New Zealand government was to reconsider diplomatic relationships with Thailand.
Khun Noppadon has now completed a four year period in New Zealand but he will soon have a one year extension before embarking on yet another diplomatic ‘adventure’. He commented on the need for international diplomats to be versatile and diverse in their areas of expertise rather than becoming specialists in particular regions or roles. He is also a former Fairbright Scholar and studied International relations in the USA. He is a native of Bangkok and a family man with his wife and two daughters.
Khun Noppadon was approached in New Zealand by the Thailand Tourism Authority to consider how Thailand could be a part of the Miss Universe Thailand finalists’ experience. Perhaps unlike diplomats other countries, he realised that this could become a great opportunity for contestants to become ‘unofficial ambassadors’ for Thailand after experiencing Thai culture and hospitality. There are currently about 8,000 Thai citizens in New Zealand including 3,000 students. About 130,000 ‘Kiwis’ visit Thailand each year. There has been considerable interest in the visit of the contestants to Thailand and he is very eager to draw on that publicity to spread the word that Thailand and New Zealand are both very desirable destinations for travellers from both countries.
One of the impacts on Khun Noppadon personally in his contact with the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants has been their certainty that they are first and foremost proud New Zealanders. The young ladies have diverse backgrounds including those with Indian, Asian and Pacific Island heritages but always reject the relevance of that background in representing their united country. His message is that these young ladies can be seen as a great example for Thai people of all political, ethnic and religious persuasions to understand that they are first and foremost Thais who must put aside any factional interests for the united future of their own country.