The ambassador cites poor wi-fi, air-conditioning, acoustics and the cost of the upkeep of the buildings and gardens as some of the reasons for the move. Surely the cost of all of the aforementioned is pretty inconsequential compared to the ever increasing value of the property and the relative cheapness in Thailand of fixing same.
Unlike the US with its sprawling embassy/ residential areas and Japan and Australia with their brand new expanded centrally located embassies, the British Embassy has taken space in a poorly located secondary building hemmed in daily by some of Bangkok’s worst traffic and a long sweaty walk from the nearest BTS station......probably not that important since most of the services any of us local expats are interested in have been outsourced and it is no longer big enough to be a general social centre.
Interesting that the Ambassador is “cool to the notion that prime property is a good long term investment and that moving out of the embassy doesn’t cause any loss of prestige,” yet on a personal level he needs to move with his family at our expense to one of Bangkok’s most expensive new condominiums which I am sure most of us will never see the inside of.
I am very pleased - and I think it is only appropriate - that the War Memorial is being relocated to the British Club Bangkok, but I find it extremely offensive that “as a concession to the historical importance of the British Embassy” the Central Group is not only building a replica of the ambassador’s residence but is also retaining the embassy’s iconic statue of Queen Victoria! This statue was donated by the Bangkok British community to the embassy in 1904 and should be relocated to the British Club, where a home has been offered for it next to the War Memorial, instead of it becoming some sort of cheap Chinese tourist attraction.
It is very kind of the ambassador to take the trouble to mention the issue of frozen UK pensions to the next visiting senior government official although I am a little confused that this issue has apparently been caused by there being a reciprocal social security agreement with Thailand. Enquiries direct to the embassy have suggested that no such social security or healthcare agreements exists.
I am very happy that Mr. Davidson and his partner are expecting their third surrogate child in March, especially since he has extended his stay here for another year as he sees it to be his job to make the embassy move as efficient as possible and getting the deal right and getting it done in this year of transition. But I am a little confused on what basis he is taking three months’ parental leave. Surely the physical stress of childbirth is not quite the same as a sperm donation! Still, having seen a previous ambassador banning sausages and bacon from the embassy breakfasts nothing surprises me anymore!
There goes my Knighthood.
David Williamson. Bangkok.