Reflections on Khun
Anand as Chairman of the Council of Trustees
the Thailand Development
Dr. Snoh Unakul
Chairman, TDRI Foundation
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Snoh Unakul |
TDRI Founder and Chairman of the Foundation
24 July 2001
further information on TDRI, please visit its website at www.info.tdri.or.th.