Bangkok's Nobel Laureates

Absolutely, October 29, 2007

Warning: This post is not your average Bangkok topic.

We all know how people's discipline and minds may slow down after a few years in Thailand. Living in Thailand one has to force oneself to stay on the productive side of life, for not to fall victim to the Thai sirens, the umptuous food and the easy life that are tempting around every thought and comer.

This post is about some serious brain challenge: About an upcoming series of highest quality talks in Bangkok you won't find anywhere else in the world: Talks and debates with Nobel Prize laureates, organized by the International Peace Foundation.

Let me elaborate first: BangkokDan eagerly remembers the first event series "Bridges- Dialogs Towards a Culture of Peace" the Vienna-based Foundation organized with Nobel laureates and other distinguished celebrities here.

Their presence - in Bangkok and cities all around Thailand - was made possible by Uwe Morawetz, seen above. A bald, never tired chap from Freiburg, Germany, who couldn't resist the charms of Thailand and wanted to give her something in return: After Morawetz learned to read and write Thai, he brought people such as Hans Blix to town, who to this day doesn't conceal his disgust for US President Bush's irrational decision to invade Iraq. Unforgettable as well remain the hours with the incomparable late Anita Roddick. May her soul rest in peace.

Thanks to Morawetz we became witnesses to some of the world's most intelligent people elaborating on real life issues such as The economics of peace; Science, technology and peace on earth; From matter to life: Science and technology; etc.

East Timor's Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo or ozone-researcher Paul J. Crutzen were in town - as well as Indian novelist Sir VS Naipaul. As the only disappointment so far. Naipaul drove everybody crazy with his arrogance and lordliness. Nothing was good enough for Naipaul- a good enough reason for BangkokDan though to never ever again read another word of that wannabe aristocratic loony.

Now Morawetz's Peace Foundation is back with a new round of events. Thanks to Uwe Bangkok can again promise tantalizing brain stimulations of the finest. Which is more than welcome to quite a few people in Bangkok as challenging conversations are not a main strength of the kind people of Thailand.

The Peace Foundation again invites Nobel laureates - and one other celebrity: Who would dare to question the authority of decorated former World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn.

Amongst the Nobel laureate guests will be East Timor's newly appointed President Jose Ramos-Horta, a voice of the small and oppressed who once was considered a possible candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as UN Secretary-General.

He dropped out of the race in order to serve as East Timor's Prime Minister. But he has indicated that he might run for the UN position at some time in the future.

Other high caliber invitees are Prof. David Cross, who will let us in on the promising Theay of Everything, or Prof. Robert Mundell, the father of many monetary and fiscal policies.

The event series this year will expand for the first time into the neigboring region: Namely the Philippines, where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
inaugurates the first event in Manila.

The aim of the Foundation remains all the same: It has "no concept of peace," Morawetz told, "but pursues dialog and debates,
especially among the younger generation. We want to promote dialog with people from all walks of life."

The distinguished Nobel laureate invitees are furthermore encouraged to build up bridges with their host country and its institutions, such as universities and schools. The talks shall not be a one-time affair to promote an own cause, but promote public debate and sustainability - "aims that cannot be reached over night, II says Morawetz.

Back then and now, Thailand's Privy Councilor General Surayud Chulanont \tVaS and is the Thai Chairman of the event series Bridges. Former Prime Minister H.E. Anand Panyarachun remains the Honorary Chairman of the series - with many other well respected people on board. All in itself astonishing proof what young Morawetz from Germany was able to set up.

Khun Anand remains a leading force. The Peace Foundation has become a child of his own. "We have an important message to spread around," Khun Anand said at the launch of the new event series. 'We have to know what Nobel laureates have to say and the whole of Asean can benefit from our experience."

Rightly heard: The whole of Asean: Next year the Peace Foundation expands into Malaysia, the year after that into another country. IIWe're fully booked until 2015," laughs Morawetz. ICAfter that we may expand into India."

Already confirmed for next season are Germany's former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Iranian activist Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.

All events of the International Peace Foundation - the ICNetwork for the Pro-Motion of Peace - are open to the public and free.