The Growth Years of the Eighties & Nineties

1980, the Year of Tourism, got off to a steadier start with the installation in March of General Prem Tinsulanonda as Prime Minister, and thence followed a decade of relative stability in Thailand. The attempted coups over the decade were weak and all failed, although some received worldwide media attention. This stability provided a firm basis for the economy to develop and to attract foreign investment, which was reflected in the growth figures for the decade - starting out at around the 5-6% mark for the first few years and ending with double-digit growth. During the early part of the '80s, moves were made to link up more closely with the other foreign chambers, e.g. the various European chambers as well as the American.

The Ministry sent along two very keen and proper young civil servants to our AGMs to "observe" our proceedings, so we knew we had to follow rules carefully. Bobbie Lawson had already kidnapped one member from the hotel restaurant to ensure we had quorum. - Bernard Coe

Periodic meetings started up between these chambers and the EC representative at a time when the ASEAN/EC talks had commenced and the Thai Government looked towards the chambers for support and advice. A further benefit to this was the funding for projects to increase the flow of trade between the two bodies, for which Thailand was eligible. Along with the cooperation with the Embassy, this cooperation between the foreign chambers is another aspect of the Chamber which has grown since that time to be an integral part of Chamber operations, with representation on the Joint Chambers Committee and frequent joint events, such as luncheons with speakers. The Chamber was also dragged into the twentieth century with the first attempts in the early '80s at computerising the office.

The British Chamber, meanwhile, continued on its path of steady development, with the Executive Director making a great contribution to maintaining and improving Chamber services and relieving the load on the Committee members and especially the Chairman and allowing for a greater range of services and events to be organised.

I authorized the purchase (it was not cheap then) of the Chamber's first electronic typewriter that had ONE PAGE of memory. Farewell to the accursed Tippex! I think [Mariam] would have kissed me if decorum and culture had allowed it! - Bernard Coe

On Bobbie Lawson's return to Britain with her husband in 1987, the Chamber were fortunate to appoint Mrs Phyl Xumsai na Ayudhya to the position, under whose direction the Chamber has further developed and the range of services extended.

Six or seven years ago [late'80s] it was challenging to get the true Brits to surface in time for an early morning breakfast meeting without accusations of "Do we really want to be like the Americans?"! - Tony Rogers

The Chamber is a far cry from the gentlemen's club of the late '40s; it is a strong and vibrant representation of the British community in Bangkok which is set to go from strength to strength over the next fifty years and beyond.