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.
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.
“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.”
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