The Polish Ambassador is a bit different from most of his colleagues in the Bangkok diplomatic corps in that his work experiences are quite varied. For example, in the period between his Singapore and Bangkok postings he was business development director of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Polish division. He’s also spent time in the political
realm and served on the Polish Olympic Committee. He believes these experiences are valuable when it comes to approaching and working with various sectors in Thailand.
Mr Dubaniowski also has responsibility for Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. He considers himself a cultural as well as a diplomatic emissary to the region. “It is my hobby and also my responsibility to promote the Polish culture here. Poland is the country of Chopin and we have already organized in Bangkok quite a few musical performances featuring Polish artists collaborating with Thai artists.
We are also organizing the screenings of Polish movies, and I am pretty sure this will be successful because we have some very interesting ones lined up. Being the Ambassador of a culturally rich country like Poland opens up a lot of possibilities and we want to do it in a productive
and efficient way.”
The Ambassador was fresh and full of energy when we met at Athenee Tower on Wireless Road at the Polish embassy. Designed by a Polish architect, the embassy is a marvel to behold and radiates a pleasant atmosphere for
staff and visitors alike.
“I was born in 1964 in the Polish capital of Warsaw. Everything in my early life happened there: I was born, educated and worked in Warsaw. The only thing that didn’t
happen there was my baptism. That was in Kraków, one of the oldest and the second largest city in Poland. It’s a city with a lot of culture behind it.”
In 1998, he was appointed one of the youngest Secretaries of State and then dealt with media and telecommunications. A few years later he became the Head of the Cabinet of the Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and continued to work for him until the end of the second term, which ended in December 2005. Then he started working for the business sector, but
in 2008 the next president Lech Kaczynski proposed to Mr Dubaniowski to take the post of the Ambassador to Singapore. Unfortunately, two years later, President
Kaczynski tragically lost his life in a plane crash near Smolensk airport in Russia on April 10, 2010 along with other 95 passengers and crew members.
Mr Dubaniowski said he found Singapore to be a very interesting place and inviting for innovative Polish entrepreneurs. He was happy to facilitate contacts for them. “I served almost five years in Singapore and I was a very active Ambassador there. We really did quite a few big things on the economic and cultural front,” said Mr Dubaniowski, adding that he’s pleased to see things moving in that direction in Thailand as well.
“One of the largest and most important investment funds in Singapore decided to invest in Poland, and this was thanks to our engagement and active involvement.
I know it doesn’t sound very modest, but we really put together a very successful term in the “Lion City”. This led to some really good investment opportunities and the opening of the Singaporean market to Polish goods like
meats and apples. It was really a great time and I think very productive for both sides.
“Some Polish companies decided to come to Singapore to do trade deals, and our two governments signed an agreement on taxes and some other things. It was really a
good time. One Singaporean company that showed interest in coming to Poland and invest is the GIC Investment Fund. It’s the largest Singapore-based investment fund and
the 8th largest worldwide in the Sovereign Wealth Funds category. After a long negotiation process they decided to invest in Poland and it has been very successful for all
concerned. I think my business experience was a definite plus in finalizing the deal.”
“After serving almost five years abroad I went back to
Poland, and surprisingly I got an offer to work for the big
international corporation PricewaterhouseCoopers. It was
an extremely interesting experience, but I was quite happy,
not to mention honored, to be offered the ambassadorship
here a few years later. I am very much a lover of Asia and
Southeast Asia in particular. I like the people, the climate
and lifestyle among many other things. I came to Thailand
for the first time when I was a student in 1990. I was a
backpacker and stayed in hostels in Bangkok and Phuket.
I was captivated by the Thai culture and really enjoyed the
local cuisine, especially street food. I still love it.”
The Ambassador said Singapore and Thailand are
vastly different, starting with scale. “Singapore is really just
one city, is being called “Red Dot”, and the total population is
much less than in the Bangkok metropolitan area. The traffic
jams that are typical of Bangkok aren’t really even possible in
Singapore, which makes life a little bit different. But Thailand
is so much more diverse and this makes it more colorful.
“Thailand also offers more opportunities for an active
Ambassador who is keen to promote business relations. All
in all, Thailand is a very nice country and it’s doing very well.
Economic development in Thailand and Poland is at a similar
stage. Recent statistics show both countries with close to four
percent growth in GNP. Our economies are really doing well.”
“This embassy was opened in a new and really prime location in the second part of 2016. It was designed by a Polish architect,” said Mr Dubaniowski. “Our guests are always impressed because the design is very nice. This is a very good location in our point of view because this building also houses the embassy of the EU of which Poland is one of the largest members. The embassies of Finland and Colombia and a number of other embassies are close by. Bangkok is a great city, but the unpredictability of transportation is a drawback. It makes it easier when you have so many embassies and venues nearby. Moreover, Athenee Tower is in a good strategic location to get around Bangkok.
The Ambassador said the most important role for the Embassy and for him as Ambassador is to promote trade by facilitating contacts between Polish businessmen and entrepreneurs and their Thai counterparts. Another very important duty is to look after Polish citizens in Thailand. “Sometimes we have to help them out, for example when they have accidents or health care issues. We may have to supply documents or provide other assistance. This is the responsibility of the consular section of the embassy and it is working quite effectively. The consular section is open every day but appointments are taken only three days a week because sometimes the officers need to travel to other places in Thailand to take care of issues.
“We have an Honorary Consulate in Phuket, with Mr Anuwat Burapachaisri in charge there. He has visited Poland and is very much into our culture. He is also a good photographer. He is well suited for the job. If any of our citizens have a problem in the South of Thailand we urge them to contact him.”
Taking in Thailand
Mr Dubaniowski said he’s very much looking forward to visiting all parts of Thailand. “If you want to be a real Ambassador and understand the country it is not enough just to meet the professors or businessmen in Bangkok. You have to get to know a broad spectrum of people, how they live and what is important in their lives. So far I have visited Chiang Rai, Hua Hin and Ayutthaya and I am planning more trips. I really like to visit markets in the provinces. Thailand has such diversity, that’s one of its great beauties. The culture is different in the North and in the South, and both are different from Bangkok.
“From my observations, ‘Land of Smiles’ is an appropriate description of Thailand because the people are very nice. They always try to help others, especially in the provinces. A lot of people have the impression that Thailand is just nice beaches and seaside resorts, but it is much more than that. There are also beautiful forests and mountains with a great diversity of plants and animals. I always advise my colleagues who plan to visit Thailand that they should make plans to go trekking and camping and not just stay by the sea.”
“Poland and Thailand established formal diplomatic relations in 1972. Before that we just had a trade representative here. Last year marked the 45th anniversary of the opening of our embassy here. However it is worth mentioning that cordial bilateral relations date back to the royal visit to Europe of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V) in 1897 when he visited Warsaw. These days relations between our countries are really great. Thailand is very popular in Poland because of the food and its well-known hospitality to tourists. If you have the chance to travel to Poland you will be surprised at the number of Thai restaurants and other places where you can experience Thai culture,” the Ambassador said.
“As a member of the EU we are very much interested in restarting negotiations on a free trade agreement with Thailand. Everything stopped on this front in 2014, but in December last year the European Council decided to become more active here. That’s definitely a good development and after the general election there will be more chances for participation for our companies and
entrepreneurs who wish to make alliances in Thailand.
“In my opinion, diplomacy in these times is somewhat different than it was in the past. These days an Ambassador has to understand very well how the economy works and the details of the bilateral trade picture. If you want to do something you must support every single instrument and regulation that will be helpful in promoting business and trade. Of course, it has to be a win-win situation. I am pretty sure that our Polish entrepreneurs and their Thai counterparts understand that this is the best way to go forward.
“My time in Singapore was definitely a very good experience because the country focuses very effectively on promoting a variety of business platforms. But what I see is that there are some very interesting business strategies emerging in Thailand as well. Some Thai companies, especially the big ones, are very keen to explore the European market. I have made it very clear that I will try to help them and provide them with expertise.
“Interestingly, a Polish entrepreneur began making Polish sausages in Chiang Mai about three years ago. The company name is ‘Polish Smoked’ and it is gradually becoming a success. The sausages and meats made in Chiang Mai are of very good quality and are now available at Bangkok supermarkets.”
Mr Dubaniowski said it’s quite difficult to say how many Polish nationals reside in Thailand because they are not obliged to register themselves with the Embassy. “We estimate there’s between 400-500 Poles living in Thailand. As for tourists, in 2017 the number of Polish tourists exceeded 100,000 for the first time, and this is something I am really proud of. It is interesting that in the last couple of years the number of Polish tourists visiting Thailand has increased between 8-10 percent annually. And this is despite the fact we still don’t have direct flights from Poland to Thailand. I hope that during my term our Polish airline LOT will decide to reopen direct flights between our capitals. As it is, our tourists have to fly first to cities like Munich, Frankfurt or Paris and then take a connecting flight to Bangkok.”
When he has free time the Ambassador indulges his passion for sports, especially tennis. “ I was the President of the Polish Tennis Association and I still like to play and watch the game. I am also very much interested in soccer. Here in Thailand it is not so easy to keep active because I am always busy, but I promised myself that I will make it a point once a week, on Saturday or Sunday, to play tennis with some of my colleagues. In fact, after arriving in Thailand I started jogging. Every Sunday, if I have time, I join a group of diplomats and other colleagues and jog with them in Lumpini Park. It’s an excellent exercise. After an hour of jogging I am completely wet but it is very nice because afterward I feel very much relaxed and in a good state of mind. This is what I have to do.
And being a big fan of sports and knowing somewhat the region of Southeast Asia, I will share with you a “crazy idea” that came to me as a former Member of the Polish Olympic Committee. It would be a great idea to organize the Olympic Games jointly by all ASEAN countries. So if it ever happens in the future, remember that I was the
Godfather of this idea.
“I am planning to learn some Thai. I don’t want to say that I will be fluent but want to understand general meanings, verbs and basic expressions. But I must say it is not so easy to learn Thai,” said Mr Dubaniowski, who besides Polish can speak English, Russian and German.
The Ambassador remarked that it is always a bit difficult and challenging for diplomats’ wives to constantly have to adapt to a new setting. Luckily, he said, Ewa Dubaniowska “is very energetic and very engaged. She made the decision in Singapore to become involved in a few charity projects. Together with some other Ambassadors’ spouses, Ewa was very active in one charity project to collect funds for
a delicate operation on a child who was suffering from a brain tumor. The operation was successful and the life of the child was saved. In her time in previous posting my wife gained experience in how to be engaged and useful, and in Bangkok she quickly became involved with the Spouses of Heads of Mission. They are very active here and involved in all kinds of charitable and other activities.
“She is a person who likes to organize things. She is also very much interested in the local culture, so she decided to attend a special course organized by the Thai National Museum. At the end of the course you can theoretically be a cultural guide. She is continually learning about Bangkok cultural attractions, various buildings and monuments and
so on. As I have said, I am very interested in bringing Polish culture to Thailand and she actively supports this as well.
“So we are both quite happy to be in Bangkok and Thailand. An Ambassador’s term in Poland is usually three to four years, but sometimes it can be longer. So I hope that after finishing my term here Poland will be much more visible in Thailand. I want people here to know about Polish successes, Polish culture and Polish hospitality. Like Thais, Polish people are very well known for their hospitality.
That’s why I always encourage people to look at our website: www.bangkok.msz.gov.pl Facebook: Embassy of Poland in
Bangkok and Poland Embassy and Twitter: @PLinThailand.
“And finally I have to tell you the truth; it is really cool to be Polish.”
CV of H.E. Mr Waldemar Dubaniowski
2004 -2005: Postgraduate Studies in Management of Companies in the EU, Warsaw School of Economics.
1996 -1997: Postgraduate Studies in Foreign Trade Economics, Warsaw School of Economics.
1991-1993: Graduate of the Polish National School of Public Administration.
1984 -1991: Masters Degree in Social Science Studies, University of Warsaw.
1979 -1983: High school diploma (matura) Johann Wolfgang Goethe High School in Warsaw.
June 2017: Appointed by the President of the Republic of Poland as the Ambassador of Poland to Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
2014 -2016: Business Development Director, PwC Polska (PricewaterhouseCoopers).
2009 -December 2013: Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Singapore. In 2012 elected as the Dean of the whole Diplomatic Corps in Singapore.
2006 -2008: Strategic management, media and telecommunications advisor and consultant.
2005: Head of the Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Poland (Secretary of State).
2003 -2005: Vice-president strategy and management, Exatel S.A. (PSE S.A. Capital Group).
1998 -2003: Member of the National Broadcasting Council (Secretary of State level office).
1996 -1998: Director of the Group of Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Poland, Chancellery of the President.
1995 -1996: Advisor to the minister, Economic Committee of the Council of Ministers.
1993 -1995: Chief specialist, Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for European Integration and Foreign Assistance.
1993: Assistant to the Under-secretary of State, Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Courses & Training
• Internship at the European Commission’s Directorate General responsible for industrial policy, and policy towards small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
• Project Management Training organized by the German Ministry of Administration in Hannover.
• Course for Supervisory Board Members organized by the International Foundation for the Development of Capital Market
• Seminar organized by the Warsaw Stock Exchange: “Supervisory Boards’ Challenges in public-listed companies.”
Additional Professional Engagements
• Since January 2016 ‒ Member of the Innovation Council at a large, leading Polish company from chemical sector (ZAK S.A.). Member of the Board of the “Polska Innowacyjna” (“Innovative Poland”) Foundation (2015-present).
• Mentor: Global Shapers ‒ Mentor4Starters program (2015-present).
• Member of the Polish Olympic Committee, and concurrently President of the Polish Tennis Association.
• Member of Supervisory Boards of several large companies including: PZU S.A. (insurance sector), PKP S.A. (largest Polish railway company), and Polish Chemistry S.A.
• President of the Polish “Know How” Foundation, dealing with implementation of projects in the area of development aid.
• Member of The Polish Promotion Emblem Foundation “Teraz Polska” (Poland Now), nominated to the Board by successive Presidents of Poland.