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Phuket's new German Honourary Consul soon to be sworn in

Phuket's new German Honourary Consul soon to be sworn in

PHUKET: On July 18 Phuket’s German community will officially get a new Honorary Consul when Anette Jimenez Hoechstetter is sworn into the post by the German Ambassador to Thailand, Rolf Schulze.


By Alasdair Forbes

Tuesday 1 July 2014, 11:31AM


Dirk Naumann and Anette Jimenez Hoechstetter

Dirk Naumann and Anette Jimenez Hoechstetter

The swearing-in will be a highly formal affair, attended by senior Phuket figures including the Governor, the provincial police chief and the head of immigration.

Mrs Jimenez Hoechstetter – who is the daughter of the outgoing incumbent, Dirk Naumann – was chosen from a field of three candidates after a two-and-a-half-year-long process, including a year, she says, to think about whether she really wanted the post.

At the time she was working in a senior managerial position for a corporation in Germany. “It was a big decision; I would have to more or less drop everything,” she explained to The Phuket News.

Mrs Jimenez Hoechstetter was born in Bangkok 40 years ago, at a time when being born in the country conferred citizenship. She left in 1996, “but I always said that one day I would come back, I would come home. The whole situation converged to one point.”

In October last year she received the call to say that she had been chosen for the post of honorary consul, and in February this year she arrived in Phuket.

She has been helping her father in his bypass road office since then, learning the ropes.

Mr Naumann has built a reputation for his forthright, sometimes blunt commentary on what is wrong in Phuket, particularly with taxis, tuk-tuks and jet-skis, and Mrs Jimenez Hoechstetter says that she, too, can be a straight talker. “In Germany I had no qualms about making my opinion clear.”

But in her new role she will be taking things carefully at first, aware that directness can be a double-edged sword, especially in Thai culture. “I have not yet developed a clear picture of what political mantraps I intend to step into, if any.

Laguna Golf Phuket

“I’m probably more careful than my father. But I can be quite direct if I think I’m in the right, or if I see someone being wronged, especially a child – then I can become quite fierce.”

(Divorced, she has a son, Timothy, who is now studying at Headstart School in Phuket.)

Mr Naumann, who has been trying to step down for a couple of years, is delighted his daughter was chosen for the post. “I’m very happy with the choice and grateful that the ambassador chose her,” he told The Phuket News. “I will stay on as much as my daughter lets me and wants me, but I will try to disengage.”

Apart from helping her father until she takes over, Mrs Jimenez Hoechstetter is studying Thai language. She speaks German and English fluently, but admits that her Thai is “mediocre”.

She has already gained some good insights into the psychological aspects of the job. For example, she says, part of the job lies in ensuring that people feel comfortable with the bureaucracy of, for example, applying for a visa to Germany.

“The average human doesn’t deal very well with documentation,” she says. “They come here, to some extent, expecting or even demanding reassurance.”

She says that she is “very keen on social fairness”, but admits that one steep learning curve she must climb is politics. “I’m not very keenly politically minded. I follow politics because its part of the job and I have to.”

Phuket is a place where politics and social fairness can be closely intertwined, often in conflicting ways, but with her father’s 12 years of experience in the post, she has a solid source of very good advice to call on as she works her way into the job.

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