On 25 June 2019, Mr. Songphol Sukchan, Ambassador of Thailand to Indonesia met with Dr. Sukadiono, Rector of Universitas Muhammadiyah Surabaya (UMSurabaya), which is currently hosting 46 Thai students.
The Ambassador expressed appreciation to UMSurabaya for taking good care of Thai students, and reaffirmed his continued determination to promote more Thai students to come to study in Indonesia, an exemplary moderate Muslim country. This is in line with the Thai government’s policy which prioritises preventing Thai students from being exposed to radicalism or separatism. At present, Indonesia is the second largest overseas destination for Thai Muslim students, hosting around 2,000 Thai students. On this occasion, the Ambassador also expressed his thanks to Muhammadiyah for continuously granting scholarships for Thai students every year.
The Ambassador also informed the Rector of the Embassy’s plan to organise the annual “Thai Students’ Gathering” in Surabaya in September 2019, which 400 – 500 Thai students are expected to take part in. In this regard, the Rector expressed his readiness to support the event.
Furthermore, both sides agreed to promote more exchanges of students and lecturers between UMSurabaya and Thai universities. The Ambassador emphasised that promoting close contact between Thai and Indonesian students is like “planting seeds” for a stronger relationship between Thailand and Indonesia. Thai and Indonesian students play and will, once grown up, play a vital role in enhancing our two countries’ relations.
Both sides also discussed ways to increase collaboration between UMSurabaya and Thai universities. Presently, Khon Kaen University is the only Thai university UMSurabaya has established formal partnership with. UMSurabaya wished to renew its MOU with Khon Kaen Uninversity as well as establish cooperation with other Thai universities. The University also wished that Thailand could provide more scholarships to Indonesia.
The Ambassador also took the opportunity to invite UMSurabaya to join with Thailand and the Indonesian Government in organising activities to mark the 70th Anniversary of Thailand – Indonesia diplomatic relations next year.