Rotary in Thailand
The first Rotary Club established in Thailand was the Rotary Club of Bangkok, whose Charter was granted on 28 November, 1930. After a hiatus that covered the years of the Great Depression and World War 2, the second club in Thailand was chartered on 25th June, 1958, the Rotary Club of Dhonburi.
Myth and folklore has it that The Rotary Club of Bangkok South was the next club to be chartered, and it was actually the third club in Bangkok. But in between, clubs were established in Chiangmai (October 1959) and Nakhon Sawan (May 1960). So, when it was chartered on August 6th, 1961, The Rotary Club of Bangkok South was the fifth club to be established in Thailand.
Other clubs then followed in rapid succession, and at 30th June, 2012 there were 295 clubs in Thailand in all, with a total of 7,496 members. Not all, but nearly every, province in the country has at least one club, and many, obviously, have more than one. There are 8 English-speaking clubs, as well as one each using Chinese, Japanese, French and German.
Initially Thailand was part of a Rotary District that encompassed clubs in several countries. An indication of the strength of Rotary in Thailand is that the country now has four Rotary Districts:
- Rotary International (R.I.) District 3330, covering broadly peninsula Thailand from Kanchanaburi/Nakhon Pathom down and the South;
- R.I. District 3340, covering the east/south-east and the north-east;
- R.I. District 3350, covering the central plains up to Nakhon Sawan; and
- R.I. District 3360, covering the north above Nakhon Sawan.
Other indications of the strength of Rotary in Thailand are the facts that, in 2002-03 Khun Bichai Rattakul was the President of Rotary International, the first Thai to hold the position (and the only one…so far), and that in May 2012 the annual Rotary International Convention was held in Bangkok. This brought tens of thousands of Rotarians from all around the world to Thailand and showcased the achievements of Rotary clubs here.