Toast Remarks on the occasion of the 84th Birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, 2 December 2011

Your Excellency, Ambassador Tharit and Madame Vithu Charungvat
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Community
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Your Excellency and Madame
It is indeed an honour and a privilege for me to represent the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa as we celebrate the 84th birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej as well as the 65 years of his reign.  We are aware that it is a particularly auspicious year as it is the anniversary of the 7th cycle of the 9th king of the Royal House of Chakri.  We also know that King Bhumibol has worked tirelessly for the happiness of the Thai people and has dedicated his life to the upliftment of his people.

I wish to convey to His Majesty and to the Government and people of the Kingdom of Thailand our sincere congratulations and best wishes on this occasion.

Your Excellency and Madame

The past year has again been marked by a number of significant events which have had a major impact on our world.  Among these events, I specifically note the following:
  •  Fundamental socio-political changes in the Arab world;
  •  The establishment of South Sudan as the 56th state in Africa;
  •  The continuing economic downturn and financial crisis affecting most   parts of the globe; and
  • A series of natural disasters that cost the lives of thousands of people in several countries, including Thailand.

In this regard, I want to reiterate the sincere condolences of the President and the people of South Africa to Thailand with the worst flooding the country has experienced in 50 years.  No-one was left untouched.  Many families lost loved ones; others lost their livelihood; agricultural production suffered and the rice crop will be severely affected in the year to come; many industries were forced to halt production. We know that the clean-up and recovery will take a long time but we also know that the Thai people are courageous and resilient and that everyone will work together to restore the country.

Your Excellency and Madame

I am happy to announce that the South African government was able to make a modest contribution of R 1 million to the Thai Red Cross to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the flooding. Even though it is only a drop in the ocean in the face of the scale of the disaster, we sincerely hope that it will bring a measure of relief to some of the people severely affected.

This phenomenon in Thailand was not an isolated case.  Our planet is under strain.  It seems to have entered a phase of climate change that will affect the lives of all.  As we speak, South Africa is hosting the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP17, in Durban.  I am sure you share our hope, as host, that the conference will achieve a fair, ambitious and balanced outcome which would help safeguard the environment for our children and their children’s children. We count on our like-minded partners to work with us towards such an achievement.  

Your Excellency and Madame

South Africa and Thailand enjoy very warm and friendly relations. After having established diplomatic ties barely twenty years ago, we now enjoy a multi-facetted relationship with cooperation in many fields and rapid growth in people-to-people links.  In this regard, we particularly welcome the continuous growth of tourism between our two countries, to a large degree facilitated by the direct air link provided by Thai Airways.   

Our bilateral trade has grown rapidly and Thailand is today our biggest trade partner in South East Asia.  Going forward, we would like to see trade increasing even more by opening up more sectors to the mutual benefit of our two countries and people. 

Excellency, Madame, Ladies and Gentleman

Please allow me, on behalf of the President, the Government and people of South Africa to propose a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Majesty, King Bhumibol and to the continued friendship between the people of South Africa and the people of the Kingdom of Thailand.

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