AITAA President Message on 23 May 2014

To: AITAA National Chapters
CC: Alumni and Friends of AIT

Firstly, I would like to apologize that this communiqué to you comes a little late.

As my term as the president of AITAA has become effective since 1st January this year, I would like to share to you notable events that have occurred since that date.

1) Sad Demises; It is sad that two of my acquaintances passed away recently.

1.1 Dr. Srisook Chandrangsu passed away on 10 March 2014. This was to my deep regrets as Dr. Srisook was a former President of AITAA-Thailand (1998–2000) when I was also a Vice President. He was also involved in AIT’s academic affairs as a Chairman of the School of Engineering & Technology (SET) Board, and also an Adjunct Faculty Member in the Transportation Engineering (TRE) Field of Study. It was during his tenure that the Thai Chapter hosted the GBM in 1999.

1.2 Mr. Kee Book Hee passed away on 11 March 2014. This was to my deep regrets as Mr. Kee was one of the greatest contributors to our society, having served as the president of AITAA Malaysia Chapter, which has hosted AITAA GBM three times, two of which were under the management of Mr. Kee, directly and indirectly. He and I have maintained personal communications all along. We will keep in touch with his sons who are also AIT graduates.

2) The changes of the presidencies of the following National Chapters: I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all the outgoing Presidents and their Executive Committee members for their valuable contributions to our society.

2.1 Dr. Ajay Pradhan is perhaps the longest serving among the outgoing presidents. He and I have been meeting regularly for more than 20 years. His Indian Chapter has excellently hosted the AITAA GBM twice (in 2000 and 2012), both under Ajay’s management. I am very thankful to him. It is good that he continues to serve as an advisor and I hope that he will continue helping the Indian Chapter.
Welcome Mr. Bitanjay Das of KIIT University which co-host the GBM in 2012.

2.2 Ms. Khin Aye Aye Mon (Alice) headed the Myanmar Chapter which is the latest host of the GBM last year (2013), another great event. I did not attend the 2011 GBM in Kuala Lumpur thus I did not meet her then but I had been meeting her regularly after that as I visited Myanmar several times when I was the President of the Thai Chapter and she had always been very kind to spare her time, together with the Myanmar Chapter’s VP during that time, to meet and discuss with me during my short stops in Yangon. My sincere thanks go to them both.
Welcome Mr. Soe Myint.

2.3 Mr. Thanongsinh Kanlagna (Sino) served for many years as the President of the Lao Chapter and hosted the GBM in 2006 excellently which I also attended. He picked me up personally from Udornthani airport in Thailand and drove me to Vientiane. We also met several times as I was traveling to Lao PDR quite often for business.
Welcome Dr. Soutsaka Bounmanith. I am glad that the previous team members continue to serve in the new Excom, i.e. Mr. Inthaneth Norasingh, Mr. Thanongsinh Kanlagna himself, and Dr. Sengamphone Chithtalath, another acquaintance of mine.

2.4 Ms. Vannaksereyraksmey (Raksmey) Var, under whose leadership the Cambodia Chapter has offered to host the GBM in 2016. Welcome Mr. Sokmuny Thao and his team who will carry on with the mission. We will continue to work hand in hand to strengthen our cooperation.

Please accept my apologies if some names are missing.

3) AIT Board of Trustees Meeting: As an ex-officio member of the AIT Board of Trustees, I attended my first meeting of the Board on 16 January 2014. The main issues are the financial situations, the road maps, and the approval of the Undergraduate (UG) Study Program to proceed.

The UG program was included in the Board meeting without a prior notice and to my big surprise. The meeting agenda distributed to the Trustees well in advance of the meeting did not include the UG program which was put in the new agenda distributed at the beginning of the meeting. The Board approved the program by overwhelming majority votes while I abstained as, without being given a lead time to study the supporting documents, I had no opportunity to learn about the pros and cons of the program thus I could not vote yes or no.

After the meeting I have been receiving a lot of messages of concerns from many members of the AIT Community.

Note that the approval was conditional upon written confirmations from two Thai government agencies on legality of the UG program.

Prof Worsak, the interim president, also provided an update on renovation of the campus facilities back to the pre-flood conditions that: (a) works on academic buildings and laboratories were mostly completed, (b) completion of renovation of the student dormitories to its original state, (c) completion of the renovation of Student Villages 1 and 2 with the assistance of the Thai Army at a very economic cost, while the Student Village 3 will be opened for bidding, etc. As a conclusion, Prof. Worsak confirmed to the Board that the only major renovation work outstanding is that for the AIT library, which would require about 25 million Baht (implying that the renovation works for the other facilities were well under control, without funding needs).

4) Friends of AIT Foundation Board Meeting: I attended the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Friends of AIT Foundation on 27 March 2014. The other founding Directors who attended were Dr. Subin Pinkayan the Chairman, Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai the Secretary, and Khun Chainarong Na Lamphun the Treasurer. The only one missing was Khun Chaovalit Ekabut who was on an overseas trip.

The important issue that I am asking for a kind attention of all the National Chapters of AITAA is the appointment of additional Directors to the Board of the Foundation as required by the Bylaws of the Foundation, in order to fulfill the international nature of the Foundation. In this respect I have circulated the letter ref AITAA-2014-003 dated 16 May 2014 asking you to help identify and nominate suitable candidates for final selection of four additional directors. Any alumni who volunteer to serve are encouraged to express your interest.

Another issue I would like to report to you is that the Foundation will be a join host with AITAA and AITAA-Thailand in the fundraising golf tournament to be held early July 2014.

After the formal meeting, Khun Chainarong Na Lamphun and I had a private conversation with Prof. Worsak. Khun Chainarong asked about the project of rebuilding of faculty housing for which he and I were requested by Dr. Subin to find a way for the alumni to help funding, i.e. to help reduce AIT’s financial burden. Prof. Worsak replied that it was no longer a problem. It was well under control and AIT was in the process of bidding for the construction. Prof. Worsak also answered my comments about the laboratories and the library, that the laboratories were in perfect conditions like they were before the 2011 flood.

5) AIT’s Executive Committee Meeting: I attended the meeting of the Executive Committee of AIT’s Board on 9 April 2014. The meeting received a report of the AIT management team on the Action Plan which explicitly indicates that all of the laboratories are still in need of significant renovation works to return to the pre-flood conditions in order to facilitate students to complete their experiments for their theses, and some labs need improvement to be in satisfactory conditions. The report points out that some students had to pay for their own lab supplies at thousands of Baht per month. AIT is short of the needed funds to bring the labs back to the pre-flood conditions and to improve them to satisfactory conditions, at a total amount of approximately 38 million Baht.

The meeting was also informed that the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ report to the Thai Government was not decisive regarding AIT’s legal status causing big a doubt about financial support from the Thai Government.

The meeting also received a recommendation from the Presidential Search Committee, nominating a selected person for consideration to recommend to the Board of Trustees for approval.

6) AITAA Executive Committee Meetings: Two meetings have been held, i.e. on 27 March and 17 May 2014. The list of AITAA Executive Committee members was circulated to you on 1 May.

7) Preparation for AITAA GBM No. 43: The host, i.e. the Philippines Chapter, has scheduled the GBM for 21-24 November 2014. I will meet with the chapter president, Mr. Joseph Paul Sianghio, in Bangkok on Saturday 24th inst. to discuss the preparation details.

8) Preparation for AITAA GBM No. 44: The Srilankan Chapter has already started to collect basic information in connection with their offer to host the GBM in 2015.


Thanin Bumrungsap
AITAA President