Pathom Vongsuravatana (Wongsurawat) (1934-2011)

Son of a Thai industrialist, Pathom Wongsurawat was born in Nakorn Rajasima in 1934. The eldest of a numerous brotherhood, he studies in Bangkok with the Assumptionists, then with the Jesuit fathers. Acclaimed for his exceptionnaly high aptitude he finishes his studies in France, in Bordeaux, where he presents his PhD on Law and Economy in 1957.

Married to a French woman, Martine Roy, he returns to Thailand were he takes part on the creation of the national aviation company Thai Airways International. He is in specifically in charge of the relations between the new born company and its Scandinavian crew.

He also works as a correspondent for French journals in Bangkok, translates to Thai classic French authors like Molière, and keeps a keen interest on the social movement stirring an effervescent south-east Asia (Indochinese, then Vietnamese wars).

Professor at the Bangkok University, some sources proclaim he would have had some affinities with opposition militants. Anyhow he encourages the French-based syndicate organisation of his own father’s workers.

He settles down in Bordeaux on 1964. During the following thirty years he develops what would be one of the first commercial agencies in France – first agency turnover wise -, on the wines and spirits business.

In 1972 he introduces Armagnac into Japan which becomes in 1978 the first worldwide market. His commercial agency represents then more than 50% of the Japanese market. In 1985le_le_monde.php" target="_blank">he breaks down the recognised Cognac brands monopole in Asia with a direct distribution policy which has been a revolution at this period.

Long time friends with Dr. Thanat Koman, Minister of Foreign Affairs and founder of the ASEAN, he is entitled Consul of Thailand in Bordeaux on 1994, as he retires from the business scene. He would become a very active Consul, concerned about justice and ethics as he was during his younger years.

In the 80’s he strongly criticizes general Chattichai Choonhavan, Prime Minister but also related to his father on the 30’s. As soon a being appointed Consul, he doesn’t hesitate on condemning the clientelism and « wheeling-and-dealing » of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (“red shirts”) as well as the hypocrisy of the so-called royalist circles (“yellow shirts”).

His courageous political positions, as well as the great extent of his double culture that allowed him to quote flawlessly Shakespeare as well as Sri Praj, would grant him a huge amount of admiration as well as several solid enemies.

He is also acknowledged in Thailand for his contribution on the development of a wine culture in Thailand and the acquisition of Château Saint-Lô in the early 90’s.

Even if his father was the President of the Buddhist Association of North-East Thailand, he becomes a catholic at a young age and remains a man of faith all his life.

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