The woman behind the prime minister
Thu, Jan 13, 2011
The Nation/Asia News Network

Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr, the newly-appointed secretary-general to prime minister, tells The Nation's Nicha Jaowattana what it is like being the first female in this job. Here are some excerpts:

Q : Do you feel pressured in your new job?

No, I don't feel like I'm under pressure. I worked under my predecessor Korbsak Sabhavasu for more than two years, serving him since he became deputy prime minister. I was also his assistant when he was in this post, so I'm very familiar with what the job entails.

How do you view your work?

I think my job is vital to making sure that the prime minister's policies get implemented in a tangible manner. I am also responsible for ensuring smooth coordination between the government and legislators.

The prime minister is very mindful about working under the parliamentary system. He has also deemed it appropriate to promote people's participation.

Therefore, one of my tasks is to push forward the development of a civil society.

I see my primary role as a mover, one who ensures that government agencies are making a concerted effort to serve the prime minister and gets the job done.

I work through the Office of the Prime Minister's Secretary General and I intend to strengthen my office by rallying every official to work in a unified manner and serve the prime minister.

The government's term will end in the next six or 10 months. What are your plans?

I don't think my colleagues will stop working just because there are six or 10 months remaining. We are professionals devoted to public service. I believe many things can still be done despite the little time left.

The government will soon go into election mode, and this might be the reason why the prime minister picked me for the job. In the face of time constraints, I can continue with the job without having to start from scratch.

What are the highlights of your work?

My priority is to put forward solutions for the environmental issues of the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate. I am in charge of coordinating between civic and environmental groups and the Industry Ministry.

I oversee the budgetary allocations on a number of projects designed to boost the economy. Over the past few years, the country faced several crises, both political and economic. The prime minister wants 2011 to be a year of hope and a time to look forward to a good future.

You studied law but turned to management.

Yes, I am a law graduate, but I picked up business management due to my family background. I think every profession boils down to how one manages man and money.

Do you think the prime minister gave you the job due to your management skills?

I think the prime minister made his decision after evaluating my overall performance. For the past two years, I have been working on the details of translating the prime minister's policies into action.

For instance, the dispute over the Rasi Salai Dam had dragged on for decades, but it was resolved under this government because I focused on the details to ensure that the measures really get implemented.

Do you see yourself as being soft on the outside, but strong on the inside?

Many see me like that. I may be seen as a soft woman because I'm rather quiet.

I'm a realist for acknowledging that I cannot possibly get on the right side of everybody. I am working to overcome my flaws.

What are the plans for your political future?

As long as I can tell myself that I am happy with what I am doing, I will carry on. As of today, I am still happy with my career in the public service. I like to serve the people, but I don't know what the future holds for me.

-The Nation/Asia News Network

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