The Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation recently launched its new book: Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, an album celebrating years of projects nurturing good relations between Thailand and Belgium while assisting Thai society. A new statue of Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, General Advisor to King Rama V was also unveiled.
Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz, foundation chairman, along with MR Priyanandana Rangsit, foundation vice-chairman, and other board members unveiled the album of over 700 pages that retraces 15 years of activities since the establishment of Foundation.
One chapter, written by MR Thepkamol Devakula, retraces the story of Chao Phya Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns between 1892 and 1901, when he was a trusted advisor to the King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and the government of Siam, not only in the field of law, but also in aspects related to the modernization of the administration. Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns is the only foreigner to have been bestowed with the title of Chao Phya in the Rattanakosin era.
Besides preserving the memory of Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, the foundation also aims to assist Thai society while contributing to the good relations between Thailand and Belgium. Since its creation, the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation has organized many projects and activities to help disadvantaged youngsters. These projects, detailed in the book, include the “People of the World Ceramic Project”, done in collaboration with a French sculptor, the “Hill Tribe Violin Band”, organized with a Belgian professional violinist and the construction of the Chiang Rai Hills Stadium where youth can play football and other sports.
The Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation has also organized numerous activities that have strengthened Thai-Belgian relations. This is expounded up in one chapter that retraces the 2015 visit of HRH Princess Maria-Esmeralda of Belgium to Thailand at the invitation of the foundation to participate in the Thai-Belgian Friendship Celebrations. Several events were organized at this time, including an exhibition presided over by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, a charity gala dinner hosted by the Foundation also attended by HRH Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarithana.
The first visit of HRH Princess Lea of Belgium to Thailand in 2018 to attend events celebrating the 150th anniversary of Thai-Belgium bilateral relations is also covered in the book. This chapter also includes pictures of the other activities the Foundation organized for the Princess who made a second visit to Thailand in 2019 to attend the ‘Simply Exceptional Gala Dinner’, organised to celebrate Thai-Belgium-Lesotho collaboration through their diamond and jewellery industries. Royals of no less than six countries, including the King and Queen of Lesotho as well as princes and princesses of Malaysia, Bhutan and Russia, were in attendance. On this occasion, ML Sarali Kitiyakara represented Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha. In addition to the gala dinner, HRH Princess Lea also visited the provinces of Chiang Rai and Nan.
One of the greatest symbols of Thai-Belgian friendship is the close ties between the two royal families, especially between late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and late King Baudouin of Belgium, which is also presented with articles and photographs of the commemorative events organized by the foundation.
This new book about the activities of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation is very unique in more than one aspect. It is a non-commercial, commemorative, luxury book, which will be distributed by the foundation as a gift only. Of particular note is that over one hundred members of Thai and foreign societies have contributed to its publishing by writing different passages. These include quotes, memories and feelings as well as descriptions of Thai-Belgian relations and the different foundation activities.
All contributors have played a part in the history of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation. As Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz likes to say, “This book is for everyone who has been part of the Foundation’s story as well as those who would like to know more about what it does.”