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Asean Secretary General Dr Surin Pitsuwan on Phuket yesterday

Phuket's Students Deserve Bright Futures, Says Asean Leader on Phuket

Thursday, July 5, 2012
PHUKET: Students on Phuket and in Thailand needed to aim high and to learn English as the main language of tourism and the region, Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said on Phuket yesterday.

He was addressing students and Muslim community leaders at Phuket City's Muslim Wittaya Phuket School, where most of Phuket's Muslim children are educated.

In the last year of his five-year term as the Asean secretary-general, Dr Surin had some important messages to impart to the young students - and to their parents and mentors.

''Language will be very important when the Asean economic community begins to operate in 2015,'' he said. ''If language skills are not improved, an important opportunity will be lost.''

Dr Surin has visited Krabi and Phuket in advance of the 72nd anniversary of the Pondok Bantan gathering, scheduled in Bangkok on July 18, regarded as a bridge for Muslim Thais towards the Asean community.

''Phuket will be affected in good ways and not so good ways in 2015,'' he told students and the imams from Phuket's 51 mosques.

''There will be increased competition as well as increased investment,'' he said. ''It's a great opprtunity because all of Thailand's neighbors are interested in investing in Phuket.''

Phuket was open, international and a world-class tourism contender, he said. However, standards of English could be improved on Phuket and throughout Thailand, he said.

''Languages other than Thai will become more and more important throughout the region,'' he said.

Dr Surin told the students that their generation had the opportunity to play a part in globalisation and the development of regional bodies such as Asean.

Most of the students ended their education at high school levels but Dr Surin yesterday advocated that they all look at going on to study at universities.

Muslims had an important role to play in the future of Asean, he said.

Dr Surin, who grew up in Thailand's south, is a former foreign minister.

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