Khun Malai the ‘father’ of Skal Thailand passes away

KHUN Malai Sakolviphak, a former Skal International (SI) Thailand president, SI Bangkok president and SI Thailand councillor, has passed away.

Robert ‘Bob’ Lee, the immediate past president of SI Bangkok, shared the news with Skal members during yesterday’s AGM at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to inform Skalleagues around the world of the passing of our ‘Skal Thailand Father’ aka Khun Malai. This really came as a shock to us all. He was my teacher and Skal mentor. He was a friend to so many,” said Lee.

Sakolviphak started his career by joining Pan American World Airways in 1949, eventually becoming director for Thailand, Laos and Myanmar from 1982-1985. When Pan Am sold its transpacific route, he joined United Airlines as general manager from 1986-1992. After that, he joined the Pacific Leisure Group head office in Bangkok as senior executive director from 1993-2009.

Sakolviphak was also a former chairman of PATA Thailand chapter, past president of the Airlines Club of Thailand and World Airlines Club Association, as well as executive director of the Association of Thai Travel Agents.

Khun Somsak Kiratipanich, vice president of SI Thailand, said: “He worked hard for others for more than 40 years in Skal. He was so well respected around the world.”

Andrew Wood, past president SI Bangkok and former SI Thailand councillor, said: “Often referred to as ‘Mr. Skal’, Khun Malai travelled around the world almost single handedly promoting Thailand to 20,000+ Skalleagues and senior tourism executives.”

“He was responsible for bringing two Skal World congresses (1996, 2006) and two Asian Area Congresses to Thailand, and was very often seen waving the Thailand flag alone at congresses around the world.”

“Dedicating more than 40 years of his life to Skal, there will never be another Mr. Skal,” Wood added.

Alwin Zecha, executive chairman & founder Pan-Asia (Pacific Leisure) Travel Group, said: “Khun Malai, I first met in the 70’s through Pan Am and later with our business links with United Airlines. A man of immense integrity and honesty, it was my pleasure and honour to have been associated with Khun Malai Sakolviphak.”

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