Issue No. 4, 20 June 2000
Report of 13 June 2000 Reform Process Committee (RPC) Meeting
The President welcomed Ms. Naiyana Thanawattho to the RPC and thanked her and Ms. Natnipha Vimuktanon for their assistance with the Thai translation of the AIT Gazette.
B. Follow up on the 6 June 2000 RPC Report
1. Approval of the Report
Members reviewed and approved the draft report of the 6 June 2000 RPC which will incorporate comments and suggestions made at the meeting.
2. Feedback from Constituencies / Questions / Other Comments
2.1 Starting 4 July 2000 a legal advisor will be posted at AIT every Tuesday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. AIT community members are invited and can avail of this service through their representatives on campus. Regular legal advice is of utmost importance for the Institute to safeguard against implications of certain decisions that need to be taken both internally and externally. It does not only involve the settling of labour disputes but also contracts, agreements with various donors and collaborative partners, sub-contracting of projects among others. This service would also reduce the costs and reliance on the retainer and the hiring of lawyers on an adhoc basis. The Board has discussed this matter and agreed on the need to seek legal advice as part of the reform process for e.g. to look at the legal aspects of the proposed voluntary early retirement scheme. On the concern as to the negative implications the presence of a legal advisor on campus would have it was clarified that the service is intended for the good of AIT and available both to the administration and staff to discuss legitimate AIT issues. It is not intended for the purpose of seeking legal advice either against the administration or against staff. A comment was made that the legal advisor should not be a member of any internal panels or committees.
2.2 The relationship between the Reform Process Committee (RPC) and soon to be formed Reform Steering Committee (RSC) is as follows. The RPC serves as a venue or platform for the exchange of ideas and dialogue towards ensuring a collective understanding of the reform process. The RSC on the other hand is an executive committee comprising of administrators and consultants who will look at specific tasks and report on progress made on the reform process to the Board. There will be one GTZ and another Government of France seconded expert as part of the external consultant team. The three internal consultants serve in their capacity as experts in the fields of change management and finance, not as faculty members. Representatives from the constituencies have not been included by design so as not to jeopardize their freedom to monitor and right to either question or comment on decisions being taken. On the question as to whether the composition could be enlarged, to include other representatives it was clarified that there is still flexibility in opting for additional members and that this issue could be further discussed.
2.3 On the issue of faculty representation on the Staff Appeals Panel it was clarified that the concerned unit head or Dean and immediate supervisor are members of the panel and there is also a provision of inviting members of the AIT community who are familiar with the case.
2.4 In line with the ongoing reform process, particularly on the issue of unifying the current local-hire staff and the international-hire staff categories into just one staff category, it is necessary to revisit the current medical coverage. A task force to be chaired by Professor John C Tang will be formed to review and make recommendations on appropriate Group Medical Plans, which cover all Staff and Faculty. In the beginning, the task force will focus on the Group Medical Insurance Plan currently available to Faculty and International Staff before embarking on the full issues of medical coverage.
B. Report from the Provost
The first meeting of the Implementation Committee was held with CLAIR on 12 June 2000, chaired by the Provost and attended by the CLAIR Director, Deans Chongrak and Phien, Treasurer, and Ms. Boontharee Phoonchai, Information Specialist/Reference & Information Services, CLAIR. The potential targets of the action plan were presented along with the principles agreed upon at RPC. Towards achieving the targeted reduction of the salary and operating costs of CLAIR by 30% the following measures were discussed: suitability of the existing early retirement scheme and identification of possible voluntary retirees; relocation of staff within the Institute based on qualifications and functions of staff; availability of project funds; identification of CLAIR's functions that could be devolved to Schools such as cataloguing of student research / thesis; possibility of getting technical support from AASU on web-based activities; flexibility in staffing through sharing of functions etc. Clear directions have been set and CLAIR requested to report back on the proposed measures.
The procedures used in the consultation process with CLAIR will serve as a good model and part of the learning process in similar consultations with the other concerned units. Aside from the scheduled meetings of the Implementation Committee, special meetings will also be convened whenever it is necessary. A general report of the Implementation Committee meetings will be made available to RPC for information and details provided to the Reform Steering Committee.
C. Issues for Information
1. Royal Thai Government - ASEM Initiative with AIT
The President informed members that he will be attending a meeting with H.E Mr. Chuan Leekpai, Prime Minister of Thailand, H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States as well as the Head of Delegation of the European Commission on 19 June 2000 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss Thailand's ASEM initiative of promoting cooperation between ASEM and the Asian Institute of Technology to support HRD in the Mekong Sub-region.
2. Meeting with Thai AIT Alumni / Endowment Fund
Dean Worsak informed members of his meeting with a group of Thai AIT alumni led by Dr. Subin Pinkayan on 10 June 2000 in Bangkok. The alumni were informed of the ongoing reform process and the aspect of the reform aimed at diversifying sources of income generation and the establishment of an endowment fund. It was proposed that an AIT endowment foundation be registered with the governing board members representing the Institute administration, faculty and alumni. The interest from the capital is to be used to provide scholarships for deserving students from all over Asia. The Thai alumni support this initiative and are keen on assisting in the fund raising campaign. They have requested the AIT administration to further deliberate this matter and come up with a draft concept paper, which could be proposed at the next meeting of the alumni governing board. It was stressed that a consolidated and united effort by all stakeholders of AIT is germane for the realization of these plans. The Thai alumni wish to have regular dialogue with AIT faculty members and extend their full support for the success of the ongoing reform process.
D. Next Meeting
The next meeting of RPC is scheduled for 20 June 2000 at 10:00 am, in the Board Room, Administration Building.