Interview with Stine Klapper
New in Town: Stine Klapper, Resident Director of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Thailand Office
Since 1 April 2015 the Thailand Office of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) has a new Resident Director. Stine Klapper, formerly Resident Director of FES Macedonia in Skopje, succeeded Marc Saxer in this post. Below she tells about first impressions of her work in Thailand.
“There is something you need to learn and I also had to learn this when I first arrived in Thailand: you need to smile more!” – this was my predecessor’s advice and since I came to Bangkok as the new Resident Director of Friedrich Ebert Foundation two weeks ago I have been remembering his words. It has not been hard to do as I had been told. I have already met many nice and interesting people, including the great team at the FES office. But I have to admit that there have also been a few situations that made me smile more due to surprise and wonder.
These surprises, getting to know new places and meeting many people with very different stories is part of my job for FES and is one of the reasons why I find it incredibly interesting. It is even more interesting when it comes to identifying common goals, developing ideas how to achieve them and cooperating to make a change. In my experience I have more often than not seen that even if we come from different backgrounds we are not at all that different in the end; we share goals, needs and responsibility. In line with this are the core values of solidarity, social justice and freedom – the guidelines for FES’s commitment.
FES is one of the six German political “Stiftungen” (=foundations) which are all publicly funded and fulfill different tasks both in Germany and in other countries. FES was founded 90 years ago in the spirit of the first democratically elected German president Friedrich Ebert. Its first goals (political education for all, support of students and promotion of international understanding) have not changed much since then. Today, FES engages in political education, has a scholarship program for students, preserves and displays documents of the history of social democracy and the labor movement in one of the world’s biggest academic specialty archives and libraries, offers policy consulting and supports international cooperation. In the field of international cooperation, FES works in more than 100 countries in the world and on regional and global level. Our partners are international and national NGOs and trade unions, think tanks and universities, parliaments and ministries as well as other groups and institutions. Internationally, our aims are to promote democracy and development, to contribute to peace and security and to make globalization more socially equitable.
In Thailand, FES has been active since 1970. Today, our main objectives are to cooperate with civil society and academics striving for a sustainable and socially just economic development, to support trade unions in the social dialog, to engage in civic education and to further debates on Thailand’s future. In all our commitment we pay special attention to gender equality. Together with a broad range of partners we facilitate activities like workshops, debates and conferences, publish papers and books, offer expertise to different stakeholders and organize delegation visits from and to Germany as well as in the region. In addition to these more “traditional” formats we jointly organize a TV debate show, theatre plays and public forums. Whenever possible we use our network to share experience, give mutual advice and develop common visions on the regional level.
I am very much looking forward to being a part of these activities. After great experiences during my last posting in Macedonia, I am now excited to work in a new environment here in Thailand. It is particularly interesting for me to see that there is a German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance, and I intent to follow its research which is closely related to the foci of our work.
I hope to meet many of the CPG’s scholars and students soon. And please excuse me if I don’t smile enough – I am working on it!