U.S. AMBASSADOR DARRYL JOHNSON AT BANG NA CAMPUS
response to the special invitation extended by President Dr. Bancha
Saenghiran the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand H.E. Darryl
N. Johnson visited the Bang Na campus of Assumption University on
September 2,2004. A formal reception and tour of inspection was
arranged according to the following program and the administrators,
faculty, staff and students of the University are unanimous in their
perception that the visit was a huge success and that it will lead
to greater understanding and friendship between the peoples of the
United States of America and Thailand. We reproduce below the photos
of the visit and the important and memorable speech delivered by
the Ambassador for record among our archives and for the benefit
of our readers.
Program of Visit September 2,2004.
Arrival of H.E. the Ambassador and Lady Johnson at University's
VIP Lounge and welcome by University officials and representatives
Address by His Excellency to the University academic community at
John XXIII International Conference Center
Brief tour of the campus conducted by the President Emeritus and
President Bancha Saenghiran of Assumption University
THE UNITED STATES AND THAILAND - THE PEOPLE DIMENSION
Ambassador Darryl N. Johnson
Martin Komolmas; Brother Bancha Saenghiran; faculty, staff, students,
is my great pleasure to be here today in the company of so many
distinguished members of the scholarly community of this university.
Assumption University, better known in this country as ABAC, has
earned the reputation of being one of Thailand's top academic institutions
over the past few decades - a reputation that reflects the work
of those present and those who have gone before. But most of all,
it reflects the quality of the work and the contribution to society
made by those who have studied here. Ateacher can most accurately
be judged by the performance of his or her students; likewise for
an institution. I have been impressed during my three years here
by the number of senior Thai professional people I have met who
speak proudly of their education at Assumption University. I am
also certain that many of you in this audience will enhance that
reputation even further.
theme today is: The United States and Thailand - the People Dimension.
I emphasize the people dimension because institutions- government,
business, academia, NGOs - are made up of people. It is the participants
who articulate the goals and define the personality of the institution,
and who determine its success.
The Early Years
the history of this institution goes back more than 100 years to
the first schools opened in Thailand by the Brothers of St. Gabriel,
the official relationship between the United States and Thailand
goes back much further - to the Treaty of Amity and Commerce of
1833. This treaty was negotiated by American and Siamese officials
who saw the potential for a trading relationship that would benefit
the people of both societies. Later there were exchanges between
King Rama IV of Siam and two US Presidents regarding the suitability
of introducing elephants to North America. And in the era of colonial
advancement in Southeast Asia, King Rama V invited American advisers
to help balance the influence of the colonial powers from Europe.
But most Americans who came to these shores before 1940 came as
missionaries, merchants and / or adventurers. Their numbers were
not large but their influence was significant. And nearly all of
them contributed to a better understanding between these two countries
and societies, so remote from each other in geography and custom.
War II changed the nature of the relationship in two important respects.
First, because Thailand was occupied by the Japanese and its territory
was used to attack US and allied forces, the US was compelled to
attack Japanese facilities in Thai territory. But secondly, the
US supported a small number of brave guerilla fighters who were
dedicated to defeating the occupiers and their supporters. Some
of these Free Thai warriors, including Privy Counselor and former
Foreign Minister Sitthi Sawetsila, are living reminders of this
effort. In the early post-War world, the US supported the resumption
of Thailand's full sovereignty over its pre-War territories and
to the United Nations-even though some other countries opposed both.
The Strategic Pillars
years since have seen the maturing of this relationship into a full
partnership in all dimensions. We start with a fundamental strategic
relationship which has three essential pillars: military, intelligence
and law enforcement. We have been treaty allies since 1954, and
our troops have seen battle together in Korea and Vietnam. We have
also worked together to bring peace to Cambodia, to keep the peace
in East Timor, and to try to bring peace and humanitarian assistance
to Afghanistan and Iraq. Our troops work effectively together because
they train together frequently. We conduct over 40 military training
exercises each year, including Cobra Gold, the largest combined
force exercise in the Asia-Pacific region. Over 21,000 Thai military
officers have received training in the United States over the past
50 years — the largest contingent from any country. These
officers occupy many leading positions in today's Royal Thai armed
the intelligence side, we work toward common goals including the
fight against terrorism in this region and elsewhere in the world.
Our combined efforts resulted in the capture, just one year ago,
of the most wanted man in Southeast Asia, the terrorist Hambali.
the law enforcement side, we have worked together for many years
to reduce and eliminate the scourge of narcotic drug production
and trafficking—with major success. But the nature of the
problem has changed from opium and heroin to methamphetamines, and
the danger to society remains. We jointly run the International
Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, providing training and
personal connections between professional law enforcement people
throughout this region to combat transnational crime and to strengthen
the rule of law.
and Humanitarian Ties
these strategic pillars, we enjoy economic ties that are longstanding
and strong The treaty I mentioned earlier was updated in 1968 and
still forms the basis for much that we do together in trade and
investment. The US is Thailand's leading trade partner and its largest
market by far; in recent years Thailand has exported goods worth
over $15 billion to the US while importing about $6 billion worth.
US private investment in Thailand now totals about $21 billion and
is growing. And US firms are outstanding corporate citizens, serving
the interests of their employees, the communities where they are
located, and the environment we all share. The two sides have recently
launched negotiations to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (ETA),
which should have the effect of stimulating trade both ways, improving
market access and bringing a wider variety and quantity of items
at lower cost to consumers in both countries.
obvious but equally important are our partnerships in the field
of public health. Working together we have made major progress in
the research and treatment
of malaria dengue fever and HIV/ AIDS. These are programs of global
significance, as demonstrated recently by our cooperative efforts
at the recent International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Bangkok. We
also work together on programs to assist refugees from neighboring
countries, and we work to combat the terrible crime of trafficking
People Working Together
common element in all of these endeavors - the strategic, the economic
and the social or humanitarian - is relationships between people.
The successors to those missionaries, merchants and adventurers
I mentioned earlier are today's professors and doctors, bankers
and investors, officials and tourists. A generation of Thai leaders
has enjoyed the benefits of higher education in the United States
and other countries that has prepared them for the difficult tasks
of managing increasingly complex issues and institutions in this
country. And we are proud to have played a role in expanding opportunities
for study abroad through the American Field Service program, the
Fulbright program and numerous others, official and unofficial.
It is my firm belief that higher education is America's most valuable
export. You in this room can see the results in the lives of others
and of yourselves.
word about visas: despite what you may have heard, it is not more
difficult for a qualified Thai applicant to get a visa to go to
the United States to study, to do business, for tourism or for any
other legitimate purpose. I am happy to report that the number of
visa applicants has increased significantly this year compared with
last (by about 20 percent), and that the approval rate remains about
80 percent. Unfortunately,
the process takes somewhat longer now because of new rules about
interviews, the purpose of which is to keep our people safe from
those who would do us harm. Our slogan is, "safe borders, open
doors," and we mean both parts.
we look ahead in the 21st Century, we can draw on the success and
the wisdom of our predecessors as we seek to strengthen still further
the bonds of friendship and understanding they have built. This
is the task I leave with you who are studying in Thailand today,
and with your counterparts studying in America. You are a part of
the people dimension that will define the US-Thai relationship over
the coming many years.