Amarin Khoman does not tread
lightly. If he thinks that someone is taking advantage of his people or his
country, he lets them know. Mr Khoman wears so many hats, it's difficult to know
where he finds the time to met all of his many and varied responsibilities. But
meet them he does, and usually with a vengeance.
Amarin graduated with a Degree
in Law from Thammasat University in Bangkok in 1964, and then he went to the US
to obtain his Masters Degree in International Relations from the American
University in Washington D.C. Then in 1970, he took a special training course in
International Maritime Management at the Norwegian Shipping Academy in Oslo.
Later that year, he came back to
Thailand, and he had every intention of going to work for the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. But after meeting with then permanent secretary Sawett
Komolphuti, he thought his skills would be best suited for the international
business world, so he went to work for a Chinese-Thai shipping company called
Thai-Maritime Co., Ltd. as an Executive Officer. He worked there for five years,
traveled all over the world, and learned a lot.
In 1976, Amarin, while in his
early thirties, struck out on his own setting up the first 100% Thai owned
shipping company (with many shareholders in Bangkok) calling it Jutha Maritime
Co., Ltd. The company serviced routes to Japan, Europe and Africa.
Then in 1979, Amarin left
shipping for a while to become one of the directors of Thailand Tantalum, a
mineral mine located in Phuket. He also became president of a large trading
company called Atico International Co., Ltd.
In 1983, he went back into
shipping when he became the president/owner/director of Thai Star Shipping Co.,
Ltd., which is presently the GSA for various shipping companies from different
countries such as: a.) Zim Lines of Israel, which offers worldwide services; b.)
Gold Star Lines of Hong Kong serving Thailand and Africa; c.) Reefer Express
Lines of America serving Thailand, Asia and the US; d) Myanmar Five Star Lines
of Burma serving Thailand and Myanmar.
But Amarin's responsibilities do
not end there. He is also the president/owner/director of G Travel Corporation,
a tour operator and travel agent and member of IATA. He's the
president/owner/director of Star Safety Co., Ltd., an insurance broker. He's
also the president/owner/director of Thai Star Air Co. Ltd., the general sales
agent for El-Al Israeli Airlines.
And, he's the
president/owner/director of Khao-Kor Agro-Industry Co., Ltd., a canned food
products and fruit juice processing company, as well as the
president/owner/director of Thai-Star Air Freight Co., Ltd., the general sales
agent for El-Al Israel Airlines cargo, and he's also a sub-agent for TAPS Air
Amarin continually writes
articles for newspapers, both in both Thai and English, and he's interviewed at
least once a week by the media - whether it's for television, radio, newspapers
or magazines. On top of all this, he's the Honorary Consul General for the
Republic of Benin. WHERE DOES HE FIND THE TIME?
Amarin is married to Khun
Duenchai, the daughter of Dr Duen Bunnag (the former Deputy Prime Minister of
Thailand) and Khunying Yaovaman. The couple has two sons: Athidul, aged 25; and
Athada, aged 23. Both have Masters Degrees: Khun Athidul took his both in Paris
and America at the University of Hartford; while Athada took his at Long Island
University in New York as well as taking some special studies in finance at the
University of California at Berkeley. They are both currently working for their
You've probably read Amarin's
columns which regularly appear in the Bangkok Post's editorial section, bashing
the IMF, and bashing foreign land ownership in Thailand: "Many people think
I'm against foreigners, but that's not true - I have many foreign friends, and I
do not choose my friends or business partners according to their nationality. I
just want foreigners to treat Thais fairly, and I want to protect Thailand's
national interests," he says.
Amarin doesn't like the IMF
rescue package, which he says is inefficient. He also doesn't like the way the
current government is handling the matter, and he doesn't want his country sold
out to foreigners. To get his point across, he tries to evoke memories of past
great Thai leaders. In the Bangkok Post on 31 Aug 97, Amarin wrote,
"Towards the end of the Ayutthaya Period, Thai people were governed by weak
and corrupt rulers, armies, and civil servants. The happy go-lucky
characteristics of the Thais - sanuk (joy) and mai pen lai (never mind) -
prevailed. They were spoiled and did not care about the future, living on a
day-to-day existence. When the Burmese learned about the "weakness" of
the Thais, they sent troops to invade Ayutthaya and destroyed the capital city.
King Taksin and King Rama I the Great later mobilized patriotic Thais and drove
out the Burmese troops from Thai soil.
"This time, however, the
threat does not come from Burmese troops. We are facing an economic invasion by
countries with stronger economies."
What does Amarin think Thailand
needs to get out of this current crisis? "A strong, wise and capable leader
dedicated to the people and the country."
And what's he doing to help the
poor? "Well, about seven years ago General Pichit Kullavanijaya, a member
of the Privy Council to the King, invited me to Khao Kor in the Petchabun area.
It used to be an area infiltrated by communists so there had been a lot of
fighting there. But today the ex-communists and ex-soldiers work side-by-side as
"But the products they
produced for export were being transported to Rayong, about 700 km away, and
these products were sold at very low prices, so the farmers couldn't save any
money, as they barely had enough to feed their families.
"We came to the conclusion
that it was our duty to raise the standard of living of these farmers. That was
the we built a a factory there, and
make the farmers shareholders. With money from our own pockets, we set up a Thai
Fruit Canning Factory, and now all their products are being canned for export,
and their standard of living has improved dramatically."
Amarin also helps fund other
various legitimate charitable institutions in Thailand, and he helps provide
education for many poor children who would not normally have access to higher
education. "I feel happy seeing these children grow, and have something to
look forward to in the future," he says.
Amarin is also one the founders
of the Thai-Israel Chamber of Commerce and also its past president from 1990 to
1996. He has worked hard to promote an increased awareness of the country and
the people of Israel.
He has also been instrumental in
increasing trade, business and tourism from both countries. In the past, El-Al
couldn't fly to Thailand and as result the Kingdom only had about 6,000 Israeli
visitors a year. But Amarin went to work and spun his magic, and El-Al was
allowed in. Now there are about 60,000 Israeli visitors to Thailand annually.
And going the other way - there
used to be less than 1,000 Thai workers in Israel, but now there are 30,000, and
about eighty percent of those are working in the agricultural sector. These
Thais are learning new technologies in agriculture as well as efficient
wastewater management and irrigation systems.
Most Thais are masters of
conciliation, not Amarin. He doesn't mind a confrontation, and if he doesn't
like what you are doing, he will call you on it immediately. Protecting his
country is his first interest - he says it's not for sale at any price.
Thai Star Shipping
3354/44-47, 14th Floor
Rama IV Rd, Klong Toey
Bangkok, Thailand, 10110
Tel: (662) 249-8633-43,
Fax: (662) 671-6550, 249-8652