The richest overseas Vietnamese in Thailand

VietNamNet – Mrs. Darunee Kriboonyalai, a successful businesswoman in Thailand, perhaps the richest overseas Vietnamese there, is proud of her Vietnamese origins.

In the preface of Mrs. Darunee’s memoirs, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra writes: “Mrs. Darunee is the pride of Thailand. She is not o­nly a successful person and businesswoman, she has created a happy family and she is an example of bettering herself for others to learn”.


Mrs. Darunee’s memoirs were published in 2003 and so far, they have been re-published three times, totaling nearly 50,000 copies.


Success came at the age of 30


Mrs. Darunee, 57, is the owner of the Senator Air-conditioner group. Her parents are Hanoians who drifted to Laos and finally settled in Bangkok. After her parents divorced, little girl Darunee lived with her mother, who was a medicine retailer in Bangkok.


Living among Thai people, Darunee and her sister and brother helped their mother to earn a living. In their house, there was a picture of President Ho Chi Minh, which reminded them that they were Vietnamese and that they had to maintain the traditions of Vietnamese people.


Despite their hard life, Darunee realized her dream of becoming a student at Chulalongkorn University, o­ne of the most respected universities in Thailand. She is o­ne of the rare Vietnamese Thai people who have attended this university.


Graduating from this university with an excellent diploma in accounting, Ms. Darunee got married with a Chinese Thai. The husband founded their business career with initial capital of several tens of thousands of baht. At first, they worked as agents for the USYork air conditioner company in Bangkok. After nearly seven years, they had their own company.


Darunee became the owner of the Senator Air-conditioner Company at the age of 30. She manages the company with the assistance of her husband. Within several years, Senator became a popular brand name in Thailand with revenues of up to 500mil baht/year and thousands of workers. Darunee also holds shares in many big companies in Thailand.


A brave Vietnamese


“My mother taught me the Vietnamese language, and traditional customs and habits, especially the skills of Vietnamese women, when I was a child. She told me that those skills are the pride of Vietnamese women, and I had to always preserve them,” Mrs. Darunee said.


She said that during the Vietnam War and the time before Vietnam and Thailand established diplomatic relations, the community of Vietnamese in Thailand was afraid to admit that they were Vietnamese, fearing difficulties in life.


Mrs. Darunee was known as a ‘brave Vietnamese’ because she always recognized “I’m a Vietnamese”. Many Vietnamese Thai people advised her to not do that to avoid trouble but Ms Darunee asked why she shouldn’t recognize her origins and be proud of her intelligent and hard-working nation.


That point of view is also applied in her business. Many Thai officials and businessmen are surprised at her way of expressing her Vietnamese origins but in the end they admire and cooperate well with her.


She still manages the Senator group. Her three children are also successful businesspeople with their own companies. At home, she still cooks Vietnamese dishes for her husband and children and teaches her children Vietnamese customs and habits.


“I still remember Vietnamese folk songs and tales as well as stories about Uncle Ho that my mother told me,” she said.


Source: Tuoi Tre