Lem Morgan expresses regret and some unease at the impending loss of the British Embassy estate in Ploenchit; after all, the Nai Lert family virtually gave us the land almost 100 years ago and the British government is now selling it for megabucks. The general public has not yet been told where it is to be relocated, so there is little point speculating about a “traffic-snarled” downtown locality, and I would expect it to be at least “representational”.
But while I share Lem Morgan’s view that the loss of the current embassy is a pity, there is no question that the embassy’s role, make-up and way of doing business has changed a great deal in the 17 years since I left it. Yes, it was a marvellous and spacious place in which to work and the number of UK-derived staff was much greater than it is now. Apart from its diplomatic role as the British government’s representative in Thailand, the embassy carried out all the traditional services that expatriates had come to expect.
Fast forward a few years and reductions in budget and in staff, coupled with a “do highly paid diplomats need to do x?” approach from Whitehall, has inevitably led to the outsourcing of these services at – and I have no qualms in stating this – an extortionate price, but also the selling off of the real estate, although no doubt much of the revenue from this will be sucked up by purchasing and moving to the new location.
Like most expats here, I mourn the passing of the old embassy, but you can’t fight City Hall and you can’t turn the clock back. But much more do I mourn the loss of what might have been termed the “duty of care” by embassies for their resident expats. However, the standards are not set by them, but by the UK government and there are precious few signs of any sort of duty of care from that source.
Col Johnny Thoyts
Published : June 26, 2017