“One year After the end of Political Paralysis and Violence ” By Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha.
Greetings, dear citizens.
Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the NCPO’s entering into administration of the country, along with all segments of the population. Everyone is aware of the situation of political conflict and entrenched differences in thinking before May 22, 2014. These conflicts have existed for a long time – no less than 10 years. We do not need to regurgitate the causes of what has already occurred, but since it has been brought to an end, we should make sure that it and does not recur.
The political situation during late 2013 and early 2014 created a deadlock that meant national administration could not proceed. We tried to enter into an election, by the democratic system. However, this could not be achieved because one side considered it to be incorrect while the other said otherwise. It was both sides, in particular the resisting side, which was determined to make everything clearer.
The former government tried to maintain the administration of the state, which could no longer progress under the laws and stipulations of the constitution at the time. Legalities and various conditions caused interruptions that afflicted administrative affairs. It can be said that Thailand was in a deadlock at the time – a democratic trap.
Everybody will likely recall how political expressions by groups that held differing views needed to be dealt with under the law and how safety in life and assets needed to be maintained. Many such instances have occurred during the more recent administrations.
Each opposing group, especially the ill-intentioned members within each group, utilized war weapons and engaged in violent conflict. Many officials were implicated and had to fight legal cases although they carried out their orders, based on the call of duty. I have observed how other countries in the world needed to take similar measures in times of riots and when war-weapons were put to use. The safety of the public needed to be maintained, and special laws are enforced for this purpose.
We tried everything. The Internal Security Act and the Emergency Decree could not keep things at bay. How else could we have responded? This was the past, so let us make sure it does not happen again. Let us not repeat what is not good. We will make improvements to our present situation in order to usher in an improved future, while making sure that history does not repeat itself. We cannot fix the past but we can build for the future and the present.
The situation I spoke of had never occurred before in Thailand. It kept getting more intense, and it felt as if the nation would collapse. During that time, almost the entire populace did not accept the rules. Each person had his own ideas. State officials could not work. The law could not be enforced. The government could not solve the problem. Thus, the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council was created to take control of the situation through the use of special laws. The council entered into the administration of the state in order for everything to progress. The council tried to rapidly address urgent issues and problems, while sending matters of misconduct into the justice procedure for a fair trial. There were many circumstances that were not congruent with the present situation and with commitments we had with the international community. All of these had to be solved in order for Thailand to be empowered and in order for the country to regain trade and investment confidence.
Everybody is aware that during the first 5 months, the NCPO proceeded to prevent violence and maintain peace and order by seizing war weapons and contraband, dismantling gambling dens, seizing narcotics, and tackling forest encroachment. Social re-organization was undertaken and unscrupulous influential figures were curtailed. The justice system was also allowed to function unimpeded.
During the second phase, when the interim constitution of 2014 was promulgated and the
government was formed, civil servants and the government proceeded with efforts toward state administration and the empowerment of the country. There may still be some problems with confidence and lack of understanding. I am trying to ensure fairness for all sectors and parties. What is correct will continue while what is still incorrect or unclear will undergo the appropriate processes.
An important problem that we are concerned with is the economic well-being and the needs of the people. Although the drop in oil price has cushioned the effects of the global economic slowdown, it had also had the effect of diminishing state revenue gathered from excise. A drop in tax from oil meant the country’s income dwindled further – crisis and opportunity comes in tandem. IUU fishing and the illegal migrants issue present additional problems.
These are not problems that have just come into being – they have accumulated for a long time. Security agencies have been trying to tackle these issues, but now we need the combined effort of the political, security and civil society sectors as well as civilians and military personnel. The problems have to be addressed seriously, transparently and fairly.
The government has split work into 5 groups. For security affairs, the primary ministries are the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry deals with matters involving resources and people. The Ministry of Finance and other ministries – 6 or 7 in all – deal with economic affairs. There are also aspects of work in education, public health, foreign affairs, tourism and human security.
These aspects are linked to foreign affairs as well. Most importantly, there is work in the affairs of law and justice, undertaken by the Ministry of Justice. Short-term adjustments have been implemented in every affair whereas plans for reform are being prepared for the long- term. We are striving to revamp social norms, establish collaboration with neighboring countries, and build up a network to facilitate a more concrete and universal enforcement of the law, which will allow system-wide elimination of corruption, illegal immigration, narcotics. As these vices span all countries and regions, Thailand needs to forge cooperation with our international friends while also being able to compete in the international economy.
There is a need to rely on one another and collaborate, and a need to foster trust among countries. Fair shares of the gains also need to be provided to allied countries or partners in trade and investment.
The next phase of country reform will be undertaken by the National Reform Council. I would like to reiterate that the National Reform Council will have the role of moving the reform initiatives undertaken by this government and the NCPO forward – it will not be overhauling the reform initiatives pursued by the government and the NCPO. The model has been laid down, and the NRC will see to how to further develop it. If you are going to modify any reform undertakings, then you can do it at a later time. If you start to modify them now then it means the measures now are flawed. I cannot accept such scenario. Forge continuity from the initiatives by this government and the NCPO, and find appropriate mechanisms to prevent previous problems from relapsing. These ideas will be provided by the NRC, but you have to think about them as well. Don’t let me decide on everything. You need to propose things so I can put it to the people. If everybody says that consensus cannot be reached and the NCPO should decide, then how can things be resolved, then? I do not want the problems prior to May 22, 2014 to reoccur in the future.
Today is the one year anniversary. The NCPO has continually maintained its determination to return happiness to the people in the nation. Sometimes it’s a lot, sometimes its fewer than expected, but it all depends on the scale of each problem. Bigger problems needed more time to address. I thank all citizens for their cooperation and all members of the press who have had the good intention of helping the government out. However, I would like caution to be exercised over the presentation of news. I ask that the ways to resolve our problems be presented through the media, in addition to the presentation of the problems themselves.
Sometimes, I provide rather detailed explanations and so you should be able to comprehend my words. How would Thailand be viewed by the foreign community if only the problems and violent situations are presented in the news? This is all I ask of – I am not asking to conceal anything.
Help us progress and move forwards. Inform the public as to what the government is doing.
For example, we are working on the illegal migrant issue. Permanent shelters will not be built, because we already have 9 shelters in 8 provinces that are housing 140,000 people. We used to have as many as 4 to 500,000 people. After some 20 years, 140,000 still remain. We are already meeting our obligations to the UN.
Secondly, the Thai government has been providing education and hospital services to people of neighboring countries who reside along the border. This is our responsibility under humanitarian covenants agreed with the international community. We are not likely to be able to accept more responsibilities. In addressing the problem, we start with humanitarian aid. Then, as dictated by UN rules, we ask the migrants about their intentions – what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. We have to ask them first. If they come into Thai territory then Thai law has clear stipulations that apply. They will have to be sheltered within holding areas and legal proceedings will be carried out according to law. These are not refugee shelters, they are holding areas. Please understand this is stipulated by Thai law.
Things will get out of hand if the influx of illegal migrants continue. There have been multilateral discussions this week, which will be continued on the 29th. We will discuss what to be implemented at the countries of origin, the transit country and the destination country.
Thailand will report the problem of the remaining migrants in our shelters, as well as those being detained for illegal entry – these include the illegal migrants found drifting at sea and people from other countries. We will be making expansions to the holding areas in order to afford the migrants better living conditions.
We adhere to all the human rights principles and international norms. However, we will need to consider potential new responsibilities based on reason and necessity. Some people have already forgotten that we already have 9 refugee centers.
The hope is to proceed with all matters in a way that the current peace and order is maintained in Thailand. In order to achieve future prosperity, we are making adjustments to national administration, budget use and the long-term planning of strategies. We need to make the public more happy and satisfied.
We have designated a vision calling for a ‘secure nation and sustainably prosperous people’. I ask that all members of the public provide their cooperation and give some moral support to the National Council for Peace and Order. Let us no longer tolerate acts that damage the nation. Let us also refrain from heeding misleading words. Ask me if you have any doubts, I can answer all your questions.
I ask that you continue to provide us with your cooperation. I deeply hope for a bright future for our country and happiness for all citizens.
Thank you and goodbye.