“When you find a like-minded friend, you want your relationship to grow”
Text: Martina Hošková and M. Zisso; Photo: Archive
“…Thai cuisine, Thai massage, and the Buddhist way of life. All of these are a perfect combination for a holiday destination,” promotes her country the Ambassador of Thailand, Mrs. Phasporn Sangasubana, and I have no doubt that many of us Czech people are nodding our heads in agreement. Meet the eldest child of a diplomat’s family, who had no passion for this profession at first, but then ended up proudly serving her country for three decades.
We have briefly revealed some information regarding your background already. Can you tell us more about yourself, please?
As you said, I was born into the humble family of a diplomat. I am the eldest child of the family which means I am the boss. My parents have always encouraged me to have confidence in myself, and thanks to that I love to have adventures and challenges in my life. In the same way, due to the love and care that I received from my family, I was taught to perceive life in its fullest form. The truth is that nothing is just rosy in life. However, together with my family, I am proud to be Thai and I love to contribute as a member of Thai society.
As a child of a diplomat, I had no passion for the idea of me becoming a diplomat myself, as I had seen my father’s working life since my early childhood. In the hard times, though, my father asked me to do just that, and I gave him my promise. Voila! I passed one of the most challenging exams of my life, and became a full-fledged diplomat in 1987. Since then, three decades have passed. And in 2017, I was promoted to Ambassador of Thailand.
You have been serving in the Czech Republic for one year so far. What is your experience of a diplomat’s life in our country and elsewhere?
First, I have to say that Prague is not an unknown place to me, as I have visited this beautiful city many times as a tourist. I am certainly honored to have the opportunity to live and work in the Czech Republic. I appreciate the Czech Republic for its beauty in historical, cultural, and natural aspects, and the good and hospitable nature of the people. During my 35 years of service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, I have been posted in six countries. I am very happy that the Czech Republic is where I serve my last posting before retirement.
The professional background of 35 years of service certainly gives you the right to give advice to the young generation of diplomats. Can you share some of your experience with our readers?
As a member of a diplomat’s family, I have been groomed to the challenging and hectic lifestyle of this profession since childhood. The position of an ambassador is another honorable hat that I am wearing. In all positions, I have been committed to full responsibility and dedication.
One (piece of advice) is to do your very best every day, and with an open mind. Challenges can be changed into opportunities by this mindset. You need to be observant, to be able to have “a good story to tell” in all circumstances. It also helps if you enjoy travelling and being exposed to new people and environments, as I do.
Thailand is known as a popular holiday destination. How do you promote your country?
Thailand is fortunate to possess a treasure of natural landscapes from beaches to mountains, as well as a rich cultural heritage such as Thai cuisine, Thai massage, and the Buddhist way of life. All of these are a perfect combination for a holiday destination.
Even though you can say that a good product sells itself, we, in fact, owe a big part of our success to the efforts of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and their offices all over the world. More precisely, Team Thailand, which comprises of the Royal Thai Embassy and other government offices in a particular country, regularly collaborate on organizing events about Thailand. And what they all have in common is including tourism elements in their context.
I would also like to mention that Thailand now positions our tourism as green travel. We are the first country to implement the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge nationwide. More than 500 hotels have signed the pledge to eliminate single-use plastic and promote local culture, such as using local elements for decoration.
What is the status of Czechia – Thailand relations?
Both Thailand and the Czech Republic have enjoyed amicable relations for almost 50 years, but our connections can be dated back to the time of the royal visit of King Rama VII and Queen Rambhai Barni to Czechoslovakia in 1934, or even earlier to the historical record of the first presence of Czech missionaries to Thailand in the 17th century.
Both countries share common values, from human rights and democracy to a sustainability approach. Certainly, when you have found a good like-minded friend, you expect your relationship to grow into a partnership.
That is what is being promoted by both sides. There are more areas where we can create synergies – Thailand can provide food security, share the concept of sustainable development through the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy for development, and collaborate on cyber security and the space program. At the same time, Czechia can become another education destination for Thai students, as well as a partner in two-way tourism.
In any case, I look forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Thai – Czech diplomatic relations in 2024.
The Czech Republic started its second EU Council presidency term in July. What are you, as a representative of Thailand, an ASEAN member state, expecting in this regard?
I applaud the outward-looking perspectives of the Czech Republic. The Prague high-level dialogue on the Indo-Pacific has expanded beyond the policymakers to engage with the business and academic sectors, resulting in the well-reflected views of society in the region. I myself witnessed the Czech Republic’s approach of transforming “words” from dialogue into “actions”.
I appreciate the Czech Republic for forging practical relationships with non-EU countries like Thailand and other ASEAN member states, on contemporary agendas like environment, space technology, and cyber security. My expectation is that Czechia is able to instil many constructive initiatives, Indo-Pacific being one of them, created under its presidency into the EU agenda so that they are active and will become more meaningful under subsequent presidencies. ASEAN is a dynamic and high-potential region that has a lot to offer – for example, abundant resources (especially human capital), and growing markets.
So, I look forward to the 45th anniversary of ASEAN-EU relations, occurring under the presidency of the Czech Republic in the EU Council, at the end of this year.
You are giving this interview on the occasion of the National Day of Thailand. Do you have any wishes for your country on this special day? And maybe for the Czech Republic too?
I think I may sound like a beauty pageant contestant now, but let me share my wish for peace all over the world, including for both Thais and Czechs. Whenever a conflict arises, no matter which corner of the world, everyone is affected by its ripples.