Address by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad
at a Farewarell Cocktail in Honour of Ambassador Bandhit
(Joe) Sotpalalit of Thailand 22 November 2000
Your Excellency Ambassador Joe,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be able to host this
function tonight. On the other hand, it is with much
sadness that we have to take leave of one of the most
popular Ambassadors in South Africa.
Ambassador Sotipalalit, affectionately known as "Joe"
leaves behind a rich legacy. In his term of office,
we have witnessed a spectacular growth in bilateral
contact and our economic relations. Thailand is South
Africas biggest trading partner in ASEAN in 1999,
and there is growing investments in South Africa.
We have also seen an increase in high-level visits
with former President Mandela paying a state visit to
Thailand in 1997 and Deputy President Zuma visiting
Thailand in April of this year to attend the UNCTAD
Conference where Thailand took over the reigns from
South Africa as the new Chair. Important Thai visitors
to South Africa have included Foreign Minister Surin
Pitsuwan, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, former
Foreign Minister Prachuab Chaiyasarn and Deputy Prime
Minister Supachai Panitchpakdi. They have been followed
by scores of other Ministers, provincial and business
leaders and other dignitaries.
People-to-people contact has equally been consolidated.
Not many here tonight are aware that the people of Bethlehem
in the Free State Province, thanks to the Ambassadors
personal intervention and participation, have managed
to establish one of the most successful and viable mushroom
industries in South Africa.
As the Dean of not only the Asian but also the ASEAN
Ambassadors, you have been a very effective representative
as this Group continues to grow. In addition, you have
also made many friends for Thailand in South Africa.
This is borne out by the fact that more than 33 000
South Africans visited Thailand in 1999.
I think that I can also speak on behalf of all your
colleagues in the diplomatic corps when I say that we
will certainly miss your presence in our midst. I may
suspect that your many golfing friends will equally
mourn your departure.
But, as one of the most travelled Ambassadors in Pretoria,
as you were accredited to ten countries in Southern
Africa, I am equally sure that you will have earned
enough frequent flyer miles to visit South Africa again
in the not too distant future.
On the occasion of bidding fond farewell to Joe and
Saijai, we also come to the end of the 1st year of the
new Millennium and it is appropriate that we take cognicance
of some key issues:
Globalisation general elaboration
Rate of UNCTAD
Positive Aspects in Africa
Free Trade Agreement in SADC & COMESA
Local Government elections
Joke about USA elections
Please allow me therefore to wish you everything of
the very best in your next assignment as the new Thai
Ambassador to New Delhi.
May I propose that we raise a glass on our bilateral
relations and wish you well.
Thank you and bon voyage!