The Head of the Thai Foreign Ministry’s ASEAN Department Nopadol Gunavibool announced that the recruitment of the next ASEAN Secretary General has begun.
The term of the current Secretary-General will expire on 31 December 2007 and the tenure of the new Secretary-General will begin from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2012.
By convention, the next Secretary-General would be a Thai. In 1990, the previous three year term of the Secretary-General was extended to five years and awarded to senior officials based on merit. A six-man committee, led by the Secretary-General of the Thai Red Cross and former Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, PhaenWannamethi (who was the ASEAN Secretary-General in 1986-1988) has been established (on 15 February) to select the candidates. According to the committee, the candidate need not necessary be from the Thai Foreign Ministry.
Three Thais have already expressed their interests in the position- the ambassador to Poland Thakur Phanit, incoming permanent secretary for foreign affairs Virasakdi Futrakul and former ambassador to the United Nations Khunying Laxanchantorn Laohaphan.
The ASEAN Secretary-General will take over at a crucial point of ASEAN with a new ASEAN Charter likely to come into effect. The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) for the ASEAN Charter has proposed that the role of the ASEAN Secretariat and its Secretary- General be strengthened. He or she will represent ASEAN as Observer at the UN and at other international, regional and sub-regional forums; and may also be mandated to conduct discussions and negotiations on behalf of ASEAN with other states or international, regional and sub-regional organizations. An astute, articulate and highly skilled person with the confidence of all member states would not be easy to find, and he or she would have to navigate the complexities of the relationships among the member states that still plagued the regional organization at 40. (12 March 2007).
Search Starts for Thai to be ASEAN Secretary-General (The Nation, 10 March 2007)
At 40, It’s Time for ASEAN to Take A Reality Check (Bangkok Post, 9 March 2007)
Next Sec-Gen Recruitment Process Begins (Bangkok Post, 8 March 2007)
Strong ASEAN Vital for Peace in Asia (The Straits Times, 6 March 2007)