National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, July 29, 2016

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Good evening dear Thai citizens.

 

July 29th of every year marks National Thai Language Day, since more than 5 decades ago, His Majesty the King presided over an academic conference on the Thai language. The conference, held at Chulalongkorn University, was participated by many Thai language experts, and it was here that His Majesty showed great interest in Thai language and also offered ideas on to how the language can be preserved. He urged Thai people to understand the importance of the language as it is considered Thailand’s heritage.

The Thai language belongs to all Thai people. We should be proud of the fact that we have had our own national language for more than 700 years. Thai is one of the oldest languages in Southeast Asia. It has both spoken and written languages and the Thai alphabet was developed by King Ramkhamhaeng. It was also engraved on a stone inscription, which was later inscribed into the Memory of the World Register by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The stone inscription conveys messages through the written language, enriched with the mentioning of values in many areas such as jurisprudence, political science, geography, history, linguistics, economics, social science, literature, theology, and cultural studies.

I would like to ask every Thai citizen to realize the importance and the value of Thai language, and how the Thai people should use the language with correctness in grammar and style, both written and spoken. This involves the use of the phrases “Khrub” and “Kha” at the end of sentences, along with other customs. The Thai language is our country’s cultural heritage that must be preserved. I have previously mentioned this and how Her Majesty the Queen once remarked that all Thais should be able to learn about their ancestors, as Thailand has a history that goes back a long way, enriched with our own language, culture, and traditional practices. To move forward into the future successfully, we must appreciate our past and our heritage.

I’ve been following up on news about the education of our children. In July, a number of Thai students took part in many international academic competitions, many of which were about STEM education which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These students were successful in several events, such as:

The first group took part in the 27th International Biology Olympiad in Vietnam and won one gold medal and 2 silver medals.

The second group, which comprises 63 students, took part in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Malaysia and was able to claim 27 gold medals and other prizes numbering 57 in total. We should be very proud of these youngsters.

The third competition was the International Mathematical Olympiad 2016 in Hong Kong. Six students from Thailand won 2 gold medals, 2 silver medals, and their combined score was the 12th highest among 109 participating countries. 602 students attended the competition.

The fourth competition was the international scientific invention contest in China. Twelve students in Prathom Suksa and Mathayom Suksa from Thailand won two goal medals and 6 prizes. One of the inventions was a machine that picks chili peppers. The students wanted to help their parents, so they came up with this idea. By hand, it would take one hour to pick 5 kilograms of peppers. But with this machine, 13 kilograms of peppers can be collected within the same amount of time. I would like to offer my congratulations to these students, their parents, and their teachers. The most important factor behind learning is the family. Parents, therefore, must realize the importance of learning.

STEM education is related to all the industries currently targeted for growth and development by the government. There are: the 5+5 approach, the old S Curve, and the new S Curve. This marks the start of Thailand becoming a high-income country under the “Thailand 4.0” policy. In the future, Thai students should be proficient in academic training as well as in general knowledge, which involves learning about a variety of things that we can see or experience in everyday life. For example, polymer polycarbonate is innovation that is currently in global demand. There are many industries that benefit from this innovation, such robotics, vehicle bumpers, motorcycles, safety helmets, electronic equipment, IT, sports, smartcards, and medical equipment, such as dialysis machines and other robotic tools.

Everything here starts with plastic beads or polymer polycarbonate. This is why we need STEM education, so that we can turn this knowledge into useful items. This will help to create employment and job opportunities. Thailand is the eighth biggest and one of the most advanced polymer polycarbonate producers in the world. The production site is in Map Ta Phut in Rayong Province. During the past year, Thailand produced nearly 300,000 metric tons of plastic beads. Unfortunately, the processing and value-adding procedures were not conducted in the country. This is a loss of opportunity to generate income and increase employment, given that other production processes for this product take place outside Thailand.

The reason I mention these examples is because I want teachers and students to put STEM education into good use, while also being aware about what goes on inside the country and overseas. Youngsters should have a particularly interest in this as the purpose of studying is not just to get a diploma, but to develop real skills and qualifications that will get you through your career path, so that you will be able to support yourself and your family. If you look further, you will also see that this about developing our country.  Therefore, our human resources must be enhanced. We must continue to educate our children and get them to realize the importance of lifelong learning.

To increase our competitiveness, we must be able to first increase productivity through innovation by bringing new technologies to the production sector. At the same time, the government maintains its position on advocating cost reductions and other cost-cutting activities within the production sector.

Firstly, the government is keen to help rice farmers reduce their rental fees, hoping to lower their production costs for the 2016/2017 season. The offseason farming period, spanning from January to June 2016, has seen two measures initiated by the government for this purpose.

The first one is rent control. Rental fees must not exceed the limit set by the law, that is effective in all 4 regions. At present, 260,000 out of 350,000 farmers renting 9 million rai of farmland benefit from this rent control policy. Around 100,000 farmers were granted rent reduction. The combined value of rents reduced is about 48 million baht.

In this case, I would like to ask landlords to reduce the rent for farmers affected by natural disasters. Almost 600 farmers affected by natural occurrences have had their rents deducted. The deduction has accounted for 1 million baht. 16 farmers renting 266 rai were also exempted from rental fees. I thank these landlords for their cooperation and all the relating sectors for making this happen. We Thais should all refrain from taking advantage of one another during difficult times, and instead help each other out. We also want to see happier farmers who are able to stand on their own feet.

The second measure is the reduction of procedures in exporting. This is expected to reduce costs paid by producers and exporters. We need to facilitate their businesses. This new measure has helped to reduce procedures for rice export and is yielding concrete results. Many procedures have been quickened, such as registration and licensing processes, while 70% of all procedures have been reduced. As a result, the overall process is 83% faster and 60% cheaper. 45% of paperwork has also been reduced. We have replaced paperwork – application forms and additional documents – with an electronic system so as to allow governmental agencies to process requests faster.

We have also eliminated duplicate and unnecessary procedures. For instance, rice export is overseen by 10 different agencies. This requires a lot of effort. This measure is part of the government’s administrative development strategy which seeks to increase work efficiency in public services. The measure serves to ease convenience for business operations, promote transparency, and increase the country’s competitive edge.

Next year, we should work together   to improve productivity of other goods such as sugar, rubber, and frozen foods. I consider ‘time’ an important factor for cost reduction. The longer it takes to produce a product, the higher the cost will be. Without time being reduced, the production will be delayed.  That will make Thailand less competitive

There are also many things that we have already done, such as business registration. The process used to take a long time. Environmental impact assessments used to take years. We must work together to overhaul and improve these processes. We should meet each other half way and find common ground where everyone can agree on. The legal position on issues must also be considered first, before we can achieve real progress.

The Damrongdhama centers, via the 1567 hotline, is an example of an evolving program that this administration has placed great emphasis on. We’ve continuously improved on its service and accessibility. It serves as an important channel for the government to address the various complaints from the public and to provide various services, integrating the work from all agencies.

For over 2 years since July 18 of 2015, the public has been able to file complaints and receive services at the center. We have been able to address over 3 million complaints from the public and have reported a 96 percent case resolution rate. The remaining 4 percent is due to cases being tied up with complicated or longstanding problems that will take time to resolve.

Here are some examples of complaints that have been resolved:

  1. A group of villagers from Ayuthaya Province who had been displaced, have been assisted by related authorities, who had collaborated with the private sector and locals, the Pracharat approach, to eventually provide residents for the displaced.
  2. A community in Roi Et Province had complained of a noisy factory that also emitted foul odors. Local agencies integrated their work expertise and suggested planting trees while advocating other academic-based solutions.

I want the Damrongdhama centers to go beyond just being a communication channel between the public and the government, to becoming centers for exchanging information in order to reduce social and economic disparities.

I also want them to serve as an apparatus that can help with national administration, while also being a venue for the public to foster a social conscience. The country needs peacefulness and orderliness now. Therefore, the public can contribute to this through engagement at these centers.

It is also an important duty of the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicions activities, such as underground gambling. The authorities that receive complaints must also ensure the privacy of informants. That way, we can help each other solve issues, whether it be preserving natural resources and forest encroachment etc.

Please refrain from publicizing the images of informants on the media as it can compromise their safety. I ask all to be watchful of any dumping of garbage into public water sources. If we turn a blind eye, the problem will accumulate and communities will become polluted. I ask that we politely remind each other rather than make accusations that lead to quarrelling.

From now on, civil servants will need to work even harder. I know that the job has been harder in the last two years, but you must continue to make these sacrifices for the public. This is because I believe that the toil for civil servants is indeed, the compassion given to the people. This is especially important as we transition into Thailand 4.0

What our country needs now is a spirit of self-awareness of a social conscience, and devotion public service. These qualities are already inherent in Thai nature. It just requires some rejuvenation to be appreciated as a driving force for national development.

For example, Japan, South Korea and Germany all suffered immense post-war damage. But through perseverance and cooperation, they were able to quickly recover and prosper. It is in times of hardship that the strengths of a people are cultivated.

The same goes with our country. We may be fortunate to have been spared the worst, but we must still learn the same lessons that other countries had learned in order to overcome our own hardship. Let us not squander the opportunity we now have and revert back to squabbling amongst each other.

Our national strategy serves as an aspiration as well as a roadmap for the country’s sustainable development. It is the product of academic research, which will serve as a guideline for public administration, requiring the government to adhere to principles of good governance, which are transparency, efficiency, auditability, credibility, while also incorporating the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.

This is why we must mention our National Strategy in the country’s draft constitution. There must also be a National Economic and Social Development plan, which will prescribe policies that accomplish our national strategy. For example, the development plan which will be implemented in October in this year is called the “6-6-4 plan” which consists of 6 development aspects.

  1. Enhancing national security to develop the country towards prosperity and sustainability
  1. Creating economic resilience and enhancing competitiveness in a sustainable matter.
  1. Fostering justice and fairness and reducing social inequalities.
  1. Supporting and developing the potential of human personnel.
  1. Sustainable development in harmony with the environment.
  1. Preventing corruption in government and fostering good governance in Thai society.

 

In addition, we have 4 supporting agendas which support the success of the 6 aforementioned agents, consisting of:

  1. Developing infrastructure and logistics systems. This is an important factor in supporting economic growth, distributing wealth, developing cities and raising the standards of living of the public.
  1. Supporting the country’s scientific and technological research and innovation. This will mobilize the country’s production capabilities and also enhance competitiveness.
  1. Developing economic cities. We need to develop regions, cities and economic zones that have potential. We need to further strengthen existing sectors while also expanding growth to new locations, which will create economic and social opportunities for all regions. This will result in equal growth and prosperity for all regions across the country. Instead of concentrating development in Bangkok and the major cities, we need to develop the rural areas as well. Otherwise, our cities will be congested with traffic and pollution. Development must be distributed throughout the region. Graduates  should aim to return to their hometowns to bring their skills to their communities.
  1. Fostering cooperation with other countries. This agenda aims to create connectivity with other groups of countries such as CLMV, ASEAN and the global market. In this day and age, countries need to perform as part of the “value chain” in the global economy in order to progress together.

We have, in the past, committed to various international agreements, but we may not have been able to follow through with all of the conditions we’ve signed up on. This is because our country hasn’t been able to pass the necessary legislation to make those agendas possible.

This administration, however, has succeeded in passing many laws that were long overdue. In doing so, the process may have received much criticism, but it was necessary to comply with our international obligations and maintain credibility on the world stage.

Examples include amendments to aviation regulations according to the ICAO agreement, a trademarks Act according to the Madrid agreement, an Act on anti-laundering according to the anti-laundering agreement, an Act for customs according to the upper Mekong agreement on border transport, an Act to prevent and suppress human trafficking according to the anti-human trafficking agreement, as well as a new law on suppressing terrorism according to the anti-terrorism agreement.

 

Examples of agreements with other countries that this government has revised in the past 2 years, with notable progress and recognition include:

1.  Cracking down on the ivory trade according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES.

This was achieved through the passing of legislation regarding endangered species and ivory, and through revising the country’s action plan on ivory. This has prevented the country from a trade sanction as part of a CITES stipulation,  that would have costed the country no less than 47 billion baht in annual revenue.

2. The prevention and suppression of human trafficking activities. This was achieved through the passing of legislation against human trafficking and making the issue of anti-human trafficking a national agenda. This agenda resulted in strict case procedures, adequate compensation to victims and protection of those at risk. The United States had adjusted its 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, improving Thailand’s standing. This will also benefit the country’s efforts in addressing illegal fishing activities according to EU standards. Thailand’s fishing industry accounts for 240 billion baht in exports. I, therefore, ask all stakeholders in this sector, including fishermen, to contribute to addressing the issue of illegal fishing.

The third thing is to tackle the issue of civil aviation with the ICAO. This has had much progression through the action plan of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT). This has been implemented and set up in accordance with a Royal decree. It is responsible for signing negotiations with EASA in the areas of scope of work and cooperation, as well as the inclusion of details on things that Thailand can work on in the long term with the European Union and the United States in this field.

 

There will be a sorting and organization of the personnel structure in accordance with CAAT in every aspect. There will be training for aviation inspectors to check for additional safety standards. There will be the commission of international organizations, that specialize in aviation, to come evaluate and help monitor our actions, in order to certify our aviation businesses. In addition, there will also be new collaboration with EASA and JICA to enhance safety within civil aviation in the long term. Currently, all of this is in the process of preparing to be assessed by the ICAO from December 2016 to March 2017.

The ICAO has much appreciated the efforts of Thailand in this endeavor. They have been impressed with how the Thai government took the matter seriously and began to solve the issues. There have been several agencies working in unison in order to achieve such results and work towards making Thailand a “civil aviation hub” in the region.

We must help each other or else progress will not be made. We are not undertaking these efforts simply because of being forced to do so. Rather, we must act in accordance with the rules because we must associate and connect with others. We must do this for safety and we must do this for the Thai people and the dignity of the Thai people. This is how the government considers the matter.

Most recently, Thai Airways, our national airline, was awarded the “World’s Most Improved Airline” award as well as being ranked first in offering a truly excellent spa lounge service. These awards were the result of traveler surveys between the months of August 2015 and May 2016 by Sky Trax. Other than this, Thai Airways is also in the top three airlines for serving the best food in economy class.

It is also considered to be an Asian airline where the staff shows “excellence”, and offers some of the best ground service. All this has been a result of working towards organizational reform, and in accordance to the personnel reform plan, which has received cooperation at all levels. I understand that everyone involved is weary from all this now, but we have accomplished many things as a result. We must continue to work together. The various unions must understand that if we don’t do this, it will fail and where will we find work after that? If we demand for more, and it is not yet possible to go it alone, we must cooperate in order to bring back revenue, which will benefit all of us. In all areas, I ask that all the unions work together. Don’t rush things or changes to the point that things start to fall apart. I’m afraid that could result in more lost jobs.

Therefore, this government has come into national administration for the past 2 years and I have already spoken on this many times. In particular, in the area of improving the effectiveness of our businesses. This has been the second revival phase for Thai Airways as well, so we have to make it all encompassing. This will strengthen its competitiveness, its excellence, and its legendary service. There are many other issues that are being addressed. The location of the plane repair center and many other businesses of Thai Airways. I would like to offer my congratulations towards Thai Airways. Whether you are a board member, an executive, or an employee, I hope that all of you will achieve success as soon as possible.

 

Lastly, I would like to leave you with something that has been on my mind. Thai people in every sector, in every career, from any income level, have been looking at their present and their future. But also, you should not forget what has happened in the past Do not forget what has happened not so long ago before May 22, 2014. We must draw lessons from our past. 2015-2017 has been a time of transition, a time in which we have laid down the foundations for years to come. It has been necessary to strengthen this country for the long term in order to give it the best future.

After 2017, in accordance with the NESDB Plans 14-17, the problems that have occurred in the past are things that we must come together and work towards preventing from occurring again. I ask that everyone be mindful of this and how we can make this happen. I’ll leave it up to the respectable politicians from every party to think aloud on this. Please don’t just talk. Think, and think out loud. In addition to the word “democracy” or the “voice of the public”,

you should consider the matter of accountability, or what will you do to make sure that these 2 things have meaning and merit for the people? Therefore, whenever you have the opportunity, go out and communicate with the public. But you do not have to tell me what you will do when you come into government. Whatever makes this country stable, prosperous and sustainable; whatever prevents conflict; whatever prevents rifts – all these have political consequences, and you need to tell the people about how you will deal with these issues. This is why in every group, you must have an open dialogue to answer all the questions from the people, like I have tried to do these 2 years.

Security, economy, education, health, ,poverty reduction, reducing inequality, strengthening our nation, and increasing our competitiveness to compete on the international stage with the other countries that are expediting their development in the ASEAN region –

I have listened to many different problems from the people. Today, they still have confidence in the work that this government does. However, they are not so confident about the work that the politicians will do. This is what I am concerned about, but I am not an enemy to any politician. But the people are concerned about what you will do. Please help build confidence in the public and earn their trust.

I don’t want you to just observe things only for pointing out mistakes. Anything that isn’t completed now is currently being worked on, but you still harp on about some minor inconsistencies. So come help fix it then. Once we have a goal, we must fix the mistakes on our way to that destination. The journey will always be strewn with obstacles. However, this becomes a problem when you try to stop us from addressing them. We must help one another. You have accomplished many things, but there are also things that you have not, and these are the ones that I am trying to solve and improve. I must also resolve a lot of the problems that you have made.

I ask that we put our minds together. Lend a hand. There should be cooperation between the politicians, the army, the government, and the NCPO. From this day forth, we must make this country better, not continuously argue amongst one another over democracy, elections, and what not. I have said this for 2 years now, and I have yet to see you say anything new on what you will do when you come into government. People are listening. Don’t just criticize the things that aren’t done.

Previously, you may not have paid much attention. You let some things fall apart, and did not have the will to address others. This is why I do not see what you do as constructive criticism. I can only see this as trying to portray our successes as failures by taking advantage of some unawareness among various sectors. The government, the NCPO, and the public have many expectations from a phrase that politicians like to use which is, “we must be a democracy”.

Therefore, I want you to explain what you will do in your democracy. What is good governance to you? What will you do for the public? Where will you find money? How will our economy be? When I came in, we didn’t have these issues. We only had issues in using our budget. So if we didn’t fix it at the moment and start to make the transition, and if there was no cooperation then things would not have been accomplished, and the people  would have been distressed.

I ask that the people understand that we have not been strong in this area. Today, we have been working on this. We have only taken 3 years. We must complete what we have started. I would like my government and the NCPO as well as the public to hear what you have to say. In addition to calling for democracy, you won’t talk about anything else. Please explain this to us. The people are confused. This has caused the issue about the referendum to become muddled which in turn may affect our stability, as the international community has expressed concern.

I assure you that I will do my best to maintain stability. However, this also depends on you, and what you will do to calm down the public using social media. I don’t want things to result in more tension conflict for everyone. I want to bring peacefulness amidst conflict and to solve the problems you have made. There have been positive developments and there have remained some problems, so I don’t want to blame anyone. If you want to criticize me, I shall accept it and I won’t get upset. Just don’t create a situation that would result in chaos again.

We need to look at what happened in 2014 where we had a coup, not to mention every other time this has happened. If everything was good the way it was and the public was happy, with transparent national administration, then there wouldn’t be protests. There wouldn’t be riots that escalated to the point where war weapons were used. There wouldn’t be such hatred and divisiveness in our society. If it was good, why would we ever have to have a coup? The public would never have allowed it. They know I would never do anything to hurt them, but have brought peace, which has made this country stronger.

Therefore, if we only have a confrontational discourse, we will never stop our squabbling. Everything must have a reason.

One more thing I would like to leave with the people is that you open your hearts and create life goals for yourselves. I know very well that the people want better lives. You want a better salary, a better career, sustainability, and orderliness within your communities. Are you ready to adapt to get these things that we are working together with you on?

No matter the type of reorganization that needs to be done, whatever issues were left to fall apart – they must be brought back together under the law. I know this will create problems for some of you, but it is necessary to achieve them for your future. We must persevere, and we will have a country that is clean and orderly, with people who have good careers, and it will operate with no corruption.

Of course things will be hard right now. You must realize that trading illegally has been going on too long. People have become used to it now. Now that we have begun to fix it, you complain. You say the vans, and the buses are too far. This is unavoidable. We need to move them while we fix up our infrastructure so we can make their service available. What else can we do? Can we introduce a shuttle service? Can we divide this into transportation to our borders and to further provinces? Find us a solution that won’t conflict with the law.

Today, I know that Deputy Prime Minister Gen.Prawit is about to discuss this in a meeting. There has already been preliminary work done. If you want the same convenience as before, that same lawlessness and disorder, then I’m afraid it’s impossible. Things need to change. We must accept that sometimes. I know it’s hard right now but it will take us towards convenience and stability in the future. The good new things that you are all waiting for are coming. So start today and cooperate rather than conflict. I ask that things go smoothly for us all.

Thank you very much. I hope that you all have a good weekend. Sawasdee Krub.

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