From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals, September 22, 2017

Good evening dear Thai citizens,

As His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has graciously consented for members of the public to pay their last respects to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall since 28 October 2016, the Bureau of the Royal Household has now announced that 30 September 2017 shall be the last day for mourners to do so, as preparations will need to be made for the Royal Cremation Ceremony in October.

I would like to express my admiration for every person, especially the volunteers, who have contributed virtuous deeds for the “Royal Father” throughout the past year. More than 10 million people have paid their respects to HM the late King at the Grand Palace.

As for the month remaining before the Royal Cremation, all of us have a number of tasks to complete, such as the planting of marigolds or other yellow flowers at homes and other venues, so that they may bloom across the country during the time of the Royal Cremation, and rehearsals for the Royal Cremation Ceremony based on Royal and ancient traditions, which will be forever remembered as an important historical event for Thailand and indeed the world.

In the meantime, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has requested the government to build replicas of the Royal Crematorium across the country, out of His Majesty’s concern that large numbers of people may not have the chance to travel to the capital city to pay their last respects to King Rama IX.
In order for everyone to be a part of this event, no matter where they are in Thailand, the Cabinet on August 29th approved the construction of 85 replicas of the Royal Crematorium, with 9 in Bangkok and its vicinity, while all the 76 provinces will have their own replicas. Details are on the screen now.

Construction has made a significant progress so far and all replicas will be finished before the Royal Cremation Ceremony. Each province will also perform a ceremony to consecrate the Nine-tiered Golden Parasol on top of their respective 85 replicas nationwide. The construction and the final touches will be finished by October 15th.
People can attend the cremation ceremony at designated areas in their respective provinces, and district and provincial officers have measures in place to facilitate people who wish to come and lay down sandalwood flowers. Other preparations include food, water, restrooms, medical units, security officers, and traffic facilitators.
The nationwide Royal Cremation Ceremony will take place on October 26th, 2017. Additional information can be obtained from http://www.kingrama9.net or Hotline 1257.

As for the volunteer work programme initiated by HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, applications are still open to the public until the end of September. I believe that we can all do good deeds for HM the late King Bhumibol every day, especially when we engage in social activities and community services.  For example, Her Royal Highness Princess Siribhachudhabhorn has expressed the intention to renovate Wat Tharathip Pradit in Chiang Mai province as a tribute to HM the late King. The Princess will paint contemporary Lanna murals about the Lord Buddha and his teachings, as well as the story of Mahajanaka or Phra Mahachanok composed by HM King Rama IX, in particular the story about people who can be likened to 7 types of water, which teaches us about conquering life’s obstacles. I would also like to invite the public to follow the King’s Philosophy through a book titled “The Visionary, knowing the King with a future vision”. We all can carry on the work of the ‘Royal Father’ by adopting His teachings and principles, all of which can be applied to our everyday lives.

My fellow citizens, national administration requires connectivity and cooperation from the local, to provincial, to regional, and the national level, despite having a number of mechanisms such as ministries, departments, bureaus, provincial and district offices, and community organizations. As well, deputy prime ministers and ministers attached to the PM’s Office have been tasked to follow up on policy implementation at the provincial level.

Nevertheless, it is still necessary for the government to attach great significance to provincial visits, in order to reach out to members of the public and better understand their problems and plights. On each visit that we have made, not only have I been able to hear people’s problems directly, but I have also asked local officers to set up complaint centers to help those who were not able to meet me in person. I have asked the Damrongtham centers to help the government collect complaints from the public and offer help accordingly. Many problems were submitted to me last time. And I have already instructed related agencies to provide assistance. This government does not visit provinces to gain popularity or win public approval. We only want to solve people’s problems and find real solutions to their plights according to approaches of the King’s Philosophy.

During the recent visit to the central region, Cabinet ministers and I were able to learn about the development of the region through the Pracharart mechanism. There are 6 regions in the country. The development of the central region has the aim of turning it into a metropolitan area, which connects the country’s infrastructure through a coast-to-coast transport system, by the following.

The first plan is to turn Bangkok into a world-class metropolis and improve the livelihoods of the people and the environment through the development of the mass transit system and ring roads, land management, protecting conservative places, landscape improvement, better care for senior citizens, making public facilities and services more universal, effective waste management, and the development of a system to prevent criminal and terrorist activities.

The second plan is to improve tourist destinations and create connectivity across the nation, for instance, the development of cultural heritage sites like the ancient city of Ayutthaya, and the preservation of our renowned tourist sites like the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, our beaches in Hua Hin and Cha-Am, and our world-class sports and golf courses.

In the west side of the region, community tourism will be promoted, such as the traditional and floating markets, natural attractions, historical sites, religious activities, health and wellness sites, and traditional medicine services. In addition, tourists will have easier access to local communities, attractions, OTOP products, and agro-tourism sites.

The third plan is to improve agricultural and industrial products through technology and innovation, in the hopes of increasing the country’s competitiveness. Furthermore, we will enhance rice research centers, encourage the use of smart farming technologies, uplift the quality of plantations, increase the quality and safety of food production to be in line with global standards, increase the competitive edge of the fishing, food, construction, auto and electronics industries by adopting high technologies that are friendly to the environment, and promoting SMEs and startups.

The forth plan is to better manage water and natural resources in order to prevent floods and droughts, and sustain the ecosystem. The objectives are to improve water sources and the irrigation system in flood-prone areas, protect economic and ancient communities from flood waters, especially places along the Chao Phraya River, dredge and enlarge canals and reservoirs, prevent coastal erosion in coastal cities, prevent forest encroachment, and rehabilitate deteriorating forests in the west coast.
The fifth plan is to connect trade, investment, and tourism between the Dawei economic zone in Myanmar and Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (ECC). To do so, many projects will be launched, such as motorway and rail development connecting Bangkok and Kanchanaburi, city development linking Dawei economic zone and the ECC, border development, and the improvement of border crossings.

And the last plan is to better connect the economy with society in order to enhance stability and reduce social gaps. Many infrastructure development projects will be undertaken including high-speed rail projects, dual rail systems, and the construction of motorways.

The joint Cabinet meeting with provincial governors, the private sector, administrative organizations in the central region, and the farmers’ network was able to solicit input on regional development through the Pracharat approach. A number of development plans were presented to the Cabinet for consideration. Many of them foster connectivity and are in accordance with the government’s policies, whereas some of them were meant to increase the area’s competitive advantage. The government is keen to support these projects.

The first one is about transportation development. The province of Ayutthaya has asked that the design of high-speed rail stations in Ayutthaya be compatible with the city’s cultural heritage. The construction blueprint will be drafted by the State Railway of Thailand and the Department of Land Transport.

The second project concerns water management. Ang Thong asked that a flood dyke be built to alleviate the impact of water discharged from the Chao Phraya Dam. Phetchaburi province asked that 36-kilometer water diversion pipeline be constructed to divert water from Kaeng Krachan Dam into Thung Kham reservoir.

The third project is about agriculture. Samut Songkhram has asked for support in the establishment of an integrated seafood processing and distribution center.
The fourth plan concerns tourism development. Chai Nat asked to be part of the targeted areas to be developed under the Chao Phraya tourism development strategies. And Ayutthaya province asked to renovate historical places, as the city is a world cultural heritage site. To do so, a Pracharat program will be initiated to improve the ancient city and archeological sites. The city will also encourage the tourists to ride a bike, and take boat and train rides to visit ancient places, as well as improve public safety.

All of the proposed projects will benefit the region and the nation. I have instructed responsible ministries to look into the details and work closely with the provinces in terms of the implementation plans, budget allocation, and timeframe. If existing plans can be revised for improvement, then that is what we will do. We will also consider the urgency of those projects, in line with the government’s development policy.

Development projects will be incorporated into the National Strategy. For example, tourist destinations will be connected through transportation infrastructure. Large and small cities are part of the development plan, which includes 1) a ferry port connecting Pattaya and Hua Hin, 2) motorways connecting Bang Pa-in and Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Pathom and Cha-Am, and Bang Yai and Kanchanaburi, 3) dual tracks from Nakhon Pathom to Hua Hin, Hua Hin to Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Lop Buri to Pak Nam Pho, and 4) high-speed projects from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok to Phitsanulok.

These are the benefits of mobile Cabinet visits, in which all central and local governments to work together, likened to a band where musicians play different instruments and to create harmonious music. Given this, the government and the NCPO wish to get all their tasks done within a set timeframe and make sure that they actually benefit the public. Results will be concrete and tangible. We do not just do enough to get by, but we aim for achievements for both in quantity and quality. What we do will have a far-reaching impact. It is impossible for the government to complete these tasks alone due to certain restrictions, thus the mechanism of Pracharat will be utilized.
The collaborative effort between the government, the private sector, the public, and academic sector, and the media is considered a new relationship that needs time to fortify and adapt. The key to success is the commitment to work together to serve the nation and the Thai people. As you can see, I have met politicians from many parties who were willing to talk with the current government and I regard this as “reconciliation.”

It does not mean that we will become allies or support one another. We only talk about how we can work with each other. Those politicians are very professional and have served the nation on several occasions. We are willing to meet with all politicians, even though there may be parties that do not want to talk with us.
My goal is to reduce conflicts. Many parties have accused the government of not listening to opposing views. I guarantee you that we listen to all sides. But once we listen, we’re often accused of forming allies. This is not the case. All we want is to let everyone know about what the current government is doing.

When the next government is elected, it should then consider continuing with the current projects that are benefiting the country. The current administration and the NCPO cannot achieve all the tasks at hand in a short period of time. We have only been here 3 years. Some problems have dragged on for more than a decade.
For example, the problems of floods and droughts were the focus in the first few years. We are building reservoirs in various provinces for agriculture and future use. These reservoirs can also alleviate flood impacts. Waterways will be dredged, enlarged, and fixed. You may have already heard about this. There have been several statistics showing significant improvement. To combat the annual floods, the whole prevention system must be overhauled, which requires a large amount of money. So everything is being done step by step.

We have a plan to divert floodwater in the central plain especially areas along the Chao Phraya River, diverting it into the ocean through Bang Ban and Bang Sai. It does not matter whose plan it was, but it has to be modified. We are not abandoning the existing plans. We consider their practicality and suitability. However, these plans have to be approved by the public as well. We cannot implement these plans without public cooperation. It takes time to get people’s approval, to jot down the details of these plans. Then we can enter the implementation process. The public should render their cooperation in this regard.

Many existing plans cannot be implemented because they lack the details, though some do not understand this. The current government has spent the past 3 years trying to create better understanding among the people about projects concerning water retention areas, ‘monkey’s cheek’ reservoirs, and canal dredging. This is because everything is inter-related, be it the legislation, environmental impact assessment, and sustaining the larger ecosystem.

Therefore, the government will continue to assist the people to understand the issues. Many people asked why these projects were not done in the first year. I want to take this opportunity to explain it to you. Many other things had to be done along the way. We implement our plans according to the urgency of the matter. This too will need more than 10 billion baht to complete. The faster these projects can be launched, the better. We will start explaining these projects to the public and surveying the locations. We want them to be finished ahead of schedule.

I ask you to help foster public understanding that reservoirs do not only divert flood waters, but also stores water for future use, with sluice gates controlling the water. If the amount of water is low, we will shut the gate down. If the amount is high, we will discharge the water. We also need freshwater to push saltwater away.
The government hopes to support your plans. But without public approval, nothing can be done. Consequently, people will remain impacted by the annual floods and droughts. If we can do this, if there are concrete results to demonstrate, other regions will follow suit. The upper part of the northern region discharges water from the sides and stores water in large dams in Sukhothai province. The water travels down to the central region through the Chao Phraya River. It is the upstream water that runs through all areas, coupled with water in agricultural zones, rains, and storms, causing widespread inundation. We have to look at the big picture, not only particular provinces or regions, because the impact is on all 25 major waterways.

My fellow citizens, the visit to the two central provinces made me see the potential of many provinces. These provinces can connect to nearby cities. This is why we need a cluster, so create your own value based on your potential and ability. I was briefed about the important projects from both provinces. Other provinces will also need to connect with the two provinces we just visited. All governors were present at the Cabinet meeting. The proposed projects could be turned into something bigger and could have a larger impact at a national level.

The first one is the farming school project in Suphan Buri. The school educates local farmers, civil servants and interested people about rice production, natural methods to deal with pests, and chemical-free practices friendly to the consumers and the environment.

In the past, the farmers were using chemicals to accelerate production and those chemicals made them ill. That is not a sustainable way for farming. Production costs were also high. The center also teaches farmers to learn by doing. For example, now farmers understand that 25 kilograms of seeds are too much for 1 rai. It decreases productivity. The paddies are too close to each other and taking each other’s nutrients.

If we grow the seeds a little bit further from one another, we will use less fertilizer. There will be fewer pests while crops have higher quality. It also lowers production costs. Most importantly, the center gives knowledge to the farmers, allowing them to produce crops more effectively from production and processing to marketing. This sustainable method can connect the producers with the market, which in accordance with the government’s policy. Farmers in other cities want such a center to be set up in their own communities, and I have already told the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

The program to let water and fish into farms of Ayuthaya Province – this was a collaborative effort between the farmers of Ayuthaya and the Royal Irrigation Department in managing and funneling water into target areas to ensure sufficient water for additional harvesting activities.

After each harvesting period, water will be released into the fields for approximately 3 months. Not only will farmers be able to utilize their inundated farmlands for breeding fish, the water will also bring in other natural elements that are beneficial to the farmlands as well.

An important principle of the policy is to use the hundreds of thousands of Rai of farmland as natural “monkey cheeks” to absorb millions of cubic meters of water from the highlands, so as to address the issue of frequent flooding in the region.

If we are able to irrigate water faster, we will be able to funnel it more effectively to our canals and floodgates. In addition, the Cabinet’s visit to the central region has been able to follow up on policies, figure out solutions, and prescribe additional policies, which has been very beneficial. The initiative has focused on a direct and integrative approach to our work, and I have continuously received reports from ministries which can be summarized as follows:

1. The Ministry of Science and Technology has followed up on its policy of raising the standards of agricultural and industrial products by using science, technology, and innovation to ensure sustainable competitiveness.

Examples include developing OTOP candied gooseberries, herbal cosmetics products from the central region, processing water chestnuts, breeding strains of centella, earthworm fertilizers, organic farming cooperatives, as well as developing the application “Museums Pool” as an aid for tourists at historical and cultural museums, presented in mobile phone and tablets. In this regard, I would like to invite students, researchers, civil servants, and anyone who is interested to attend the Thai Tech Expo 2017 on September 20-24 at BITEC Bang Na convention center.

The Expo will showcase the potential of over 700 Thai technological innovations that are eligible to receive support according to the Thailand 4.0 agenda, and take part in trade and negotiations between businesses at all levels, from community ventures, SMEs, to large corporations. I would like to invite anyone who is interested to visit the expo to experience the various research findings.

2. The Ministry of Justice has followed up on the progress of the creation of a Justice Fund, which has now allocated up to 150 million baht to assist up to 3,000 people.
It has provided over 600 million baht in compensations to victims and defendants in criminal cases, and has served as mediator in over 5,500 debt negotiation cases in the central region, so as to reduce the number of cases entering the judicial system and promote unity in society, with a success rate of 87 percent. It has also contributed towards monitoring and preventing cases of narcotics abuse in over 13,000 communities.

The issue of narcotics is prevalent in all areas and must be reduced and ultimately eliminated. I have called on the civic sector, police, and military to swiftly address this issue, which has caused much damage to the country.

3. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has followed up on the Pracharat internet program, which aims to extend internet coverage to 24,700 villages this year.
At the end of August, the program has extended coverage to over 15,000 villages, 4000 of which were implemented ahead of schedule. The central region had 1514 villages under the program, 60 percent of which now have internet access.

This has been according to the plan for village and subdistrict development, in which the grassroots economy is a strategic focus point for all development initiatives.
I would like local officials to create understanding among the local population about the benefits of such policies. Otherwise, people would not be able to reap the benefits of these programs if they are unaware or unfamiliar with them. Please do not wait until the policies are implemented, people should understand them beforehand.
My fellow Thai citizens, our development in these past decades focused much economic progress and therefore led to imbalances and lack of integration in various areas, such as:

1. Imbalances between humans and nature, leading to unsustainable development and the destruction and waste of natural resources.

2. Social disparities, which have affected respect for the rule of law and law enforcement – and this has caused conflicts between people and officials as well as the state. This is an important agenda that we must correct and there have been some improvements so far.

3. Disparities in technological access, where certain areas are left behind and underdeveloped.

Currently, this government has adopted the King’s Philosophy and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to addres these issues. I would like to stress that this government places great importance on grassroots developments at the community and subdistrict level, similar to when building a house, that we must first focus on its foundations.
Therefore, we must collaborate on matters such as:

1. Focusing on educational institutions and students to encourage participation in social, economic, and environmental development to create change makers in their communities. We must encourage communities to plan their own futures through “self-motivation” and ensure equal and extensive assistance for the needs of people in society, such as the elderly, disabled, orphans, and underprivileged. If we are able to achieve this, issues such as crime, drugs, and even waste and pollution will not be forsaken, and everyone will respect the laws. I would like to ask Rajabhat University to help develop the communities by understanding the needs of each area and encouraging the students and teachers to develop their local economies.

2. Developing infrastructure in all 3 aspects, which are the physical, consisting of public utilities, water, electricity, transportation, and telecommunications; the social, which are education, public health, culture, ethics, and democracy; and information, which are the central database, modes of access, analyzing big data, strategy and policies according to target groups.

3. Ensuring effective access and utilization of community funds in order to create a society of opportunity, to ensure that people are literate, employed, have income, and have access to public health as well as innovations that promote self-development. This requires organizing of social groups to promote unity and resilience.In addition, we must create a society of knowledge in hand with development in the legal system, finance and savings, digital technology for adding value, and public relations for proper communication and awareness.

More recently, the country’s economic conditions, according to academic and economic fundamentals have gradually improved. This past week, the price of many agricultural products has increased, such as jasmine rice paddies, fresh cassava, palm nuts, and raw rubber.

In the business sector, the number of new registered companies in August has increased by 20 percent.  This marks the largest expansion in four years due to tax incentives designed to support and facilitate business and encourage investments by the private sector.

This coincides with the U.S. News ranking that puts Thailand No.1 on the list of best countries to start a business for the second consecutive year. The government will also continue to encourage investments by the private sector so that it can become the key sector that drives the economy. We are doing our best in introducing measures to control the price of rice paddy and other agricultural products within the parameters of our trade agreements and WTO standards. Anything that is not in conflict with these agreements or WTO guidelines, we will implement. The challenge is how we can secure funding. On the other hand, we must also support public health, education, and the agricultural sector.

These are things that we must do in order to build resilience, instead of just implementing policies based on handouts, which conflict with the principles of public administration. Past administrations have differed in its view and have mostly focused on providing assistance without actually supporting income generation.
We are making improvements with our limited budget but are also faced with significant needs in certain sectors such as education. This is because various problems have been left unresolved for many years.

We must attempt to fix these persistent problems and find ways to raise additional funds instead of cutting back from other necessary programs. This is why I have stressed the importance of increasing the government’s revenue from external earnings or implementing new taxation measures. This is so that we are able to fund our essential investment programs.

Many have claimed that the government has neglected low-income citizens and have instead focused on appeasing large businesses. No country only focuses on just one sector. This government is aware of the priorities that exist and allocates its resources accordingly. Most recently, the Board of Investment has approved 3 investment projects valued at 28 billion baht, consisting of:

1. The project to support investments in the automobile industry.

2. The project to support investments in economic zones in the eastern seaboard region.

3. The project to support the expansion of fiberglass cables to accommodate increasing demands each year.

For today’s factories, the government has clearly defined how their investment parameters must be, the project timelines, related incentives, as well as punishments factories can face should they violate environmental regulations. These measures must be clear in order to effectively monitor and enforce our policies. We must also ensure the transference of technological expertise by establishing research and development foundations to facilitate these changes.

As for small businesses, we have categorized them within the SME group and determined how they can form relationships with larger corporations in terms of investment and research and development. Businesses should also be categorized according to sectors, target industries, and size.

We have also worked to ensure that SMEs have access to credit. In the past, clear guidelines were not established and various registration processes have been rather disorganized. The use of technology has also been limited. We have worked to address these shortcomings and are ensuring that these businesses comply with legal standards in order to qualify for funding.

The SME Bank of Thailand as adjusted the steps and procedures in approving loans in its SME development fund according to the Pracharat model. In September, the fund is expected to approve over 9.9 billion baht in loans. Cases that have yet to be approved may be due to legal restraints or for lack of readiness in terms of their potential or products. Businesses have to continuously reform themselves and adhere to legal business practices. They must also ensure that they are financially efficient and are able to pay back their loans.

In addition, the United States Department of Labor has announced its ranking of Thailand in its international child labor and forced labor reports, indicating that Thailand has made significant improvements as compared to last year where we was flagged as having problems with forced child labor in the shrimp processing and seafood industry, having restrictions in law enforcement due to inadequate manpower, and being unable to adequately communicate in local dialects. If Thailand had seriously tackled these issues previously, we would not have had to waste time doing this now.

This year, the US has indicated that Thailand has made substantial improvements in these areas by reforming laws that define the minimum working age in the agriculture and fishing industry, adding punishments to violators, and establishing a national committee to decisively mobilize policies on addressing foreign labor and human trafficking. The Royal Thai Government has also allocated funds toward the prevention and elimination of child labor and has collaborated with international labour organizations in creating statistics of child labor in the country.

In this most recent assessment, the US has provided additional suggestions to Thailand, many of which are already being implemented by Thai authorities, and will be further accelerated and expanded to cover more sectors, in order to ensure that these issues are decisively addressed swiftly. This will ensure that Thailand’s labour industry receives due credibility at the international stage, so as to not incur various trade restrictions to be imposed on Thailand in the future.

Finally, the Cabinet has resolved that September 28 of every year be observed as Thai National Flag Day to commemorate His Majesty King Rama VI for commissioning the flag design that has been used as the national flag until this day.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the commissioning of the current Thai flag. In addition, National Flag Day serves to promote a sense of national pride and an appreciation for the country’s longstanding sovereignty. I would like to invite all Thai people to come together to take pride in being Thai citizens as well as our unique way of life.

Not only are we known as the “Siamese Land of Smiles” and generosity, we must take pride in our integrity and honesty, as was demonstrated by Mr Pairote Yaemkleeb, a waste disposal personnel in Nonthaburi who picked up 200,000 baht and attempted to return it to its owner.

In addition, we must not abandon our perseverance, as demonstrated by Ms Thongbai Chaisawas of Thailand’s women’s swim team who was able to secure Thailand’s first gold medal in the category, and Mr “Dave” Abhisit Taphrom who was able to secure a gold medal as well as a new ASEAN record in the men’s 1500 meter run in the ASEAN Para Games in Malaysia this year. The same sense of perseverance and resolve can be seen among all other Thai athletes as well.

I thank all the Thai athletes, sponsors, associations, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and all related agencies. I would like to invite everyone to support and preserve these virtues in our country.

Another issue is our effort to mobilize the country towards the vision of stability, prosperity, and sustainability. The realization of this agenda also requires promoting the use of digital technology.

The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has organized the Digital Big Bang 2017 fair at IMPACT, Muang Thong Thani. I would like to invite everyone to experience this vision of the future as well as the various innovations that can be used to improve our daily lives.

The government has organized such events to lay the foundations for the people, so we can all learn from them and utilize various innovations to create value for our products and increase revenue. These events will enable startups to utilize advancements such as online platforms to grow their businesses into SMEs and then larger industries.

Thank you, and I wish everyone a joyful weekend. Sawasdee Krub.

Source : www.thaigov.go.th

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