Reflections on Khun Anand as Chairman of the Council of Trustees
the Thailand Development Research Institute
Dr. Snoh Unakul
Chairman, TDRI Foundation

     When I was Secretary General of the National Economic and Social Development Board during 1974-1975 and 1980-1989, I felt the necessity to establish an independent policy research institute in order to provide research backup for policy formulation. The guiding principle was that the Institute must be independent, attract high quality staff, develop necessary expertise and body of knowledge, choose appropriate and timely research topics, conduct quality research, and provide accurate policy recommendations. It should also evolve as a center of learning and a center of knowledge trusted by society and from which the general public seeks views on critical issues. With such high expectations, the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) was founded in 1984 and I had the honor to serve as the first chairman of the Institute.

     In 1991, when I served in H.E. Mr. Anand Panyarachun Cabinet and in the Council of Trustees of the Asian Institute of Technology, I was invited to inaugurate the opening of the Telecommunication Center at AIT. Unfortunately, upon arrival at the ceremony, I got the stroke. Bedridden, I begged Khun Anand to please accept the chairmanship of TDRI after the successful completion of his premiership. In spite of his many duties and responsibilities, Khun Anand graciously concurred, I believe, out of sympathy with his ailing friend and colleague.

     Council of Trustees members unanimously elected Khun Anand as their chairman. Indeed, he has fulfilled all expectations anyone would have for a TDRI chairman, and beyond. He has skillfully raised the Institute's standard to an even higher level of public trust and academic excellence. Over the years, TDRI has continued to undertake streams of research projects and the media have always sought views and comments from TDRI researchers on significant issues that need clarification. On the international front, TDRI has also developed extensive networking with multilateral and regional institutions.

     During Khun Anand's chairmanship, Thailand went through a series of rapid economic and social changes. Khun Anand has correctly foreseen the changing contexts of the Thai society, and TDRI has continued to embark on research covering new emerging issues. This has maintained TDRI's relevance against backdrops of changing development paradigms.

     To me, Khun Anand's major contribution toward such relevance lies mainly in his introduction of dynamism to the Institute's approach and his regular and encouraging emphasis on institutional integrity.

     The work that TDRI conducted at the request of the government to provide policy advice after the 1997 crisis reflects Khun Anand's sense of dynamism. In response to the government's request, Khun Anand set up four working groups of experts to look into issues of macroeconomics, economic restructuring, social welfare and good governance respectively. "Good governance" was then a new concept not widely understood in our society, yet its essence is a critical foundation for a just and efficient society. It is thus important that the concept is understood and appropriately put to use. It was Khun Anand who introduced the issue both to the Institute's research agenda and the national policy agenda. This was, of course, after the promulgation of the Thai Constitution B.E. 2540 which intentionally lays groundwork for mechanisms of good governance, and of which Khun Anand himself chaired the drafting sub-committee of the Constitution Drafting Assembly.

     A sense of dynamism Khun Anand has instilled extends beyond the research agenda. As an institute of learning and knowledge, TDRI is obligated to educate the public on relevant issues and try to involve all development partners in our discussion. Our dissemination channels include publications and seminars. Of the latter, our major event is the annual Year-end Conference which serves as a forum where development partners from the public, private and people's sectors discuss their views and experiences, understand one another and, ideally, become clear of their most useful roles to be played individually yet in a coherent manner. During our early years, the majority of the Year-end Conference participants were public sector officials and academics. Khun Anand sets out as the Institute's policy to broaden the participation to include civil society representatives. In recent years, many community leaders and villagers also attend the Year-end Conference.

     From the beginning of his chairmanship, I have observed Khun Anand's careful balance between dynamism and continuity. The theme of our Year-end Conference each year, for instance, captures the topical issue of medium- to long-term impact at the particular moment. For the past three years, for example, our Year-end Conference covers "From Crisis to Sustainability" (1998), "Sufficiency Economy" (1999) and "Transparent and Uncorrupt Society" (2000). The theme of the 2001 Conference will be "Poverty Reduction Strategies."

     Neither expertise, dynamism nor meaningful continuity are sufficient for TDRI to sustain its recognition and relevance unless we place the highest importance on our institutional integrity. I have heard Khun Anand stressed time and again that never in any way shall TDRI compromise its integrity. As an independent policy research institute, TDRI needs to present views that are accurate, and those views must be based on our body of knowledge and not on any other factor nor interest. Although we are confident that integrity is a natural instinct of any TDRI researcher, having the highest persona of an organization stress this point so openly serves well as encouragement and moral support.

     During the nine years under Khun Anand's leadership, TDRI has developed and matured. This, together with Khun Anand's exceptional public service and profile, has positioned TDRI as an institution of high prestige for which all of us at TDRI pride ourselves.

     Looking back at TDRI's progress since the day Khun Anand first accepted TDRI Council of Trustees chairmanship, I am proud to say that TDRI is very fortunate to have had Khun Anand as its chairman for four consecutive terms. Khun Anand, our society's natural leader in so many ways, has made the Institute a distinctive intellectual guidance of the Thai society. As an old friend of both TDRI and Khun Anand, I am not surprised to observe how the Institute's features shaped during Khun Anand's chairmanship reflect the brilliant characteristics of Khun Anand himself-his leadership quality, dynamism, relevance, integrity and prestige.

     The high standard that Khun Anand has set forth for TDRI is a challenge to all of us at the Institute. As TDRI's founder and the first chairman of the Council of Trustees, I am indebted to Khun Anand for accepting the chairmanship and leading TDRI to higher level of success. On behalf of everyone at TDRI, let me take this opportunity to express how proud and honoured we are to have had with us such an exceptional leader as H.E. Mr. Anand Panyarachun.

 Dr. Snoh Unakul
TDRI Founder and Chairman of the Foundation
24 July 2001

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