Roger and I shared the in country bilateral projects with Roger handling most of the multilateral interventions.
This involved liaison with government departments for the timely input of resources in order to achieve stated development outcomes. We also were involved in measuring and monitoring and performance reporting.
The job was much like that in Indonesia where I had the prior "hands on" experience.
The major difference was that the Thais were more advanced and smarter. Hence the level of sophistication and type of assistance required was more technical and the gap was closing faster.
Also there was less corruption and the Thai counterparts rarely let you down.
From memory the projects included:
Dryland farming technology.
Thai Australia Land Development Project. Land clearing operations using bulldozers; graders and other earth moving equipment; crop establishment; grazing trials for large tracks of land in the northern and north eastern areas. Base: Lampang (expand map - above)
Upgrading the "in house" capacity of Khon Kaen university to conduct agronomy trials of grass seeds and legumes suitable for the region's cattle industry. Base: Khon Kaen (expand map - above)
Substitution for Opium Cultivation
Upgrading the "in house" capacity of Chiang Mai university to introduce suitable crop substitution programs for the Hill Tribes population so as to reduce the cultivation of opium. Base: Chiang Mai (expand map - above)
Engineering design, expertise in the form of personnel equipment and training to construct and maintain heavy traffic link roads in the country. Bases: Lampang; Tak
Integrated Rural Development
Thai Australia Integrated Rural Development Project
Base: Songkla Southern Thailand (expand map - above)
False Image Satellite Mapping
A visual tool for the Thais to plan flood mitigation measures thereby maximising agricultural development in this poor region of Thailand bordering Laos and Cambodia - countries in turmoil
Base: Khon Kaen (expand map - above)
The latter was in the form of donations to the UNHCR program.
We did, however, use Discretionary Aid Funds to build potable water facilities and other essentials within the refugee camps to lighten the load.
This involved visiting the camps located at strategic points along the Laotian and Cambodian border
The Vietnamese refugees escaped by boat. The boats hugged the southern coastline and then "ran the gauntlet" direct to the Western side of the Isthmus of Kra where camps were located.
I witnessed an arrival at a camp while on official business there siren went.
Everyone headed to the shore to help decant the exhausted "arrivals"
They were never deemed as "illegals" .
Very few boatloads evaded cases of being interception by pirates who raped and pillaged.
The "arrivals" looked so wretched.
One girl looked at me - a look which one will never forget.
I saw in her the faces of the maids, their kids, the locally engaged staff I knew during my two years in Saigon a decade earlier.
Australia was part of a humanitarian program of sponsoring refugees for settlement in Australia.
Work was done by the Immigration Section.
It was a matter of processing them at the camp; organising transfer to Bangkok and onward transport to Australia by commercial flights.
If the Australian government could do it then ... why can’t they do it now when we are a much richer a nation.
Thailand was a geographical hub for a host of multi regional cooperation projects stretching as far as Afghanistan to the Western Samoa.
Carriage and reporting was split up between the three staff members.
AIT Asian Institute of Technology
ESCAP Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
SEATO South east Asian Treaty Organisation
SEAMEO South East Asian Ministers of Education Organisation
ASEAN Association of SouthEast Asian Nations