National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister –July 17, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
Tomorrow (18 July) marks the remembrance of the 20th year since the passing of HRH Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother, whose sense of purpose was always greatly appreciated as she devoted herself to the Thai people in all corners of our nation, pioneering and initiating numerous projects such as the Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteer Foundation, the Prostheses Foundation, and the Doi Tung Development Project. The Princess Mother committed herself to helping the Hilltribe people in the northern region to stop slash and burn farming and switch from growing opium to growing economic plants. I would like to call on every individual to reflect on HRH’s benevolence for the Thai people. Parents should tell their children about the Princess Mother and how she was instrumental to changes in Thailand, hoping that her story will encourage our youngsters to live life in a meaningful way and follow her footsteps. The Mae Fah Luang Foundation Under Royal Patronage of Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother will hold an event commemorating the Princess Mother, which corresponds with His Majesty the King’s wishes to have everyone remember the HRH the Princess Mother. There will be activities throughout the year. Portraits of the Princess Mother will be displayed at various locations and Chiang Rai is the first province to launch such a project. A song composed by Boyd Kosiyabong in collaboration with the Mae Fah Luang Foundation will be performed. Other activities and additional information can be found on the facebook page called “สมเด็จย่า” .
I would like to praise all our Muslim brothers for their commitment to practicing their religious beliefs during the holy month of Ramadan which came to an end yesterday (16 July 2015). Yesterday marked the Eid-al-Fitr which is the feast of the breaking of fast. The predominant practice during Ramadan is fasting from dawn to sunset. Our Muslim brothers engaged in increased prayer and charity during the holy period as well as increased self-dis cipline.
On this important occasion, I would like to send my best wishes to our Muslim brothers and sisters. I wish you all the happiness, success, prosperity, good health, and spiritual resilience in your daily lives and in your devotion to your faith so that you remain as pillars of the community.
This past Wednesday (July 15), I had an opportunity to welcome a group of disabled athletes who were leaving for the US to take part in the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2015 from July 21 to August 4. Human resources are the most important asset of any nation, while sports are the foundation of physical and mental toughness. All athletes are representatives who will demonstrate the nation’s potential in sports and competition. The government places equal importance on every sport and I ask that all representatives do their best and achieve what you were set out to achieve.
Tackling corruption is a national agenda that the government and the National Council for Peace and Order are working to address. It is a chronic disease that if left untouched, will sabotage our society. Corruption reflects a social crisis and a lack of ethics as it poses a huge threat to every sector, be they government and private sectors. In order to sustainably cure this disease, awareness must be raised while good values must be instilled in the minds of our children. Corruption should be deemed as loathsome thing while corrupt people should not have a place to stand in this society. We will not tolerate any forms of corruption and fraud.
I believe that building good social values will be a key foundation that fosters ethical behavior among youths while preventing and eradicating corruption practices in the most effective way. Recently, a working committee under a project to fight corruption has initiated anti-corruption courses for 600 educators nationwide. These teachers will pass on their knowledge and raise awareness of corruption in more than 30,000 schools throughout the country.
I wish to emphasise that this government is sincere and will bring corrupt people to justice. All perpetrators will be prosecuted. If you have not done anything wrong, then you should not worry. Those who are thinking about engaging in corruption acts, please reconsider. If we all share things and stop taking advantage of others, there will be less for disputes and quarreling. Then, foreigners will want to invest and our economy will improve. Our society will be better. The money that we lost to corruption can be used to tackle inequality and disparities as well as build a stronger nation.
Today, I want to talk to you about measures the government has put in place in order to combat corruption.
The first measure is reform in public services which aims to reduce social disparities and promote greater access to state services. It also helps to prevent corruption and fraud as well as provide the people with easier access. The government has already issued an Act concerning the facilitation of public services which was announced in the government gazette on 22 January 2015 and will take effect on 21 July 2015. Government agencies need to distribute manuals and handbooks explaining and detailing the Act to the people. The information includes procedures, service fees, required documents, and the period of time that is required in order for a service to be completed. If additional documents are needed, the people must be informed immediately. Should the service fail to go according to the handbook, the public can seek assistance or make a complaint at Damrong Tham centers as well as at the One Stop Service centers. These centers will enforce law under the aforementioned Act while the Office of the National Counter Corruption Commission will work to ensure that justice is provided for all.
The next policy is to implement administrative measures to impose discipline. This is the responsibility of management officials/supervisors. Article 44 has been utilized in a bid to resolve existing problems in the work of high-ranking officials and under the investigation of 3 agencies including the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), and the Office of the Auditor General (OAG). Investigation results are reported regularly. The removal of state officials from their position is to allow investigations to take place. These officials are not considered guilty until proven guilty. If crimes are committed, they will face both disciplinary action and criminal charges. If not guilty, they will be reinstated. Investigations will be launched if evidence is found against high-ranking officers. I will take this matter seriously as I concur that enforcement of laws will help our society fend off corruption and frauds.
Next is about taxation measures which can be used as a proactive way to tackle corruption problem. This policy will help prevent state officials as well as the private sector from evasion of taxes and tariffs. The Revenue Department will be the main agency to monitor and inspect all accounts and documents related to tax payments by individuals and corporations in compliance with an organic law regarding corruption prevention and in accordance with the revenue code, which is the body of tax law that codifies procedures regarding tax assessment, the collection of revenue taxes, and personal and corporate income tax.
The next measure is to improve, revise and enhance a regulation concerning procurement procedures. The current regulation has been used since 1992 and it now more or less fails to gain trust from entrepreneurs and foreign investors. They have asked that this regulation be put into law so as to ensure transparency and prevent politicians and state officers from corrupt practices. The government is forging ahead with an Act regarding procurement management. The law will require all state offices at all levels – central, regional, local, state enterprises, public organizations, and independent agencies – to abide by the new procurement procedures. The law will ask these agencies to uphold 4 principles comprising worthiness, transparency, efficiency/productivity, and verifiability. There will be “integrity pacts” as a promise for corruption-free conducts while “CoST” system will be introduced to allow the public to monitor government’s procurement activities, which is expected to help reduce chances of corruption. All information will be publicized by the Comptroller General’s Department so that the public can be more confident in the government projects. The last measure will seek to bring all responsible personnel to justice, be they politicians or high-ranking authorities.
All of this is to build an effective system to fight fraud and corruption which has been a deep-rooted problem in Thai society. We need to build a strong foundation for our country. In addition, I have an idea of setting up the “Good Governance Promotion and Elimination of Corruption Fund”. I will seek support from the Government Lottery Office. The budget will be spent to raise awareness about corruption.
As for the idea to strengthen the holistic economy through the development of special economic zones and communities, I think that the development of our country’s economy must progress in the same pace as those in neighboring countries in the forms of strategic partnership and regional connectivity as well as through the country’s geographical advantage. Special economic zones will feature industrial and agricultural activities, services, logistics, transportation, warehouses, product distribution, labor, capital, and production factors. Development in these areas must coincide with the needs of the communities while the communities must directly benefit from business activities in their respective area.
Through this idea, I have instructed all related units to integrate all activities and cooperation to promote “community business” on the basis that each community has their own businesses and negotiation leverage. They will be able to invest in their own community as the profit will be reaped by community members. This is not an ordinary cooperative system.
The most important thing is that businesses that emerge in the community must be on the basis of social business, meaning all the profits must go back to the society after the deduction of labor wages, production cost, and other expenditures. Everything will go back to the community in the forms of social welfare, education, public health, and funds. This is the kind of profit that each community should get from the establishment of special economic zones.
Additionally, in order to make social business strong, there must be “social enterprises” such as community mills and community gas stations. These should be owned and managed by the community. Once bigger, these enterprises could turn into corporations and all the profits will be claimed by every member of the community.
I want to give you an example of a special economic zone in Sa Kaeo connecting with an economic zone in Cambodia’s Poipet, a center for processed agricultural goods, warehouses, and transportation. It creates business opportunities and enhances living standards of local people. The locals formed a social network with government agencies acting as coordinators such as Interior Ministry, Commerce Ministry, Social Development and Human Security Ministry, Labor Ministry, Defense Ministry, and other responsible units. The community was able to formulate principles and a framework that ensures growth and profits for its members. Most of the profits go into funds, education, and health services. Members are now less dependent on the state.
As for the drought crisis, I believe it presents an opportunity for Thai people to display their inherent generosity for one another. By understanding the causes and the whereabouts of problems, we will be able to share the successes as well as our tribulations while we wade through obstacles together. We shall be ready to share, make sacrifices, and avoid taking advantage of one another. Some things will have to be forfeited while other things will be gained. However, it is not possible for everybody to get the exact same gains, especially during this time. We have very little raw water available – rain has not been falling and there is very little water within reservoirs. There is a need for us to conserve water. Those in cities and urban communities must help save water for the farmers who currently do not have access to their water feed because of the need to retain the water for consumption. Everybody needs to use water, hence we must use water optimally and in a manner that allows a sufficient supply until expected rains in August. The problem will continue if rain still does not fall. Please listen to and heed the suggestions of the authorities. As for those afflicted by drought, we are seeking ways to assist them, and I expect more clarity on this issue next week.
This past week, I received a letter from Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, who commended the minister of public health and ministry personnel – especially personnel of the Department of Disease Control – for their efficiency and systematic approach in preventing the spread of the MERS virus. There was full collaboration between the public and private sectors. Members of the public had access to relevant information and did not panic. The spread of the disease was quickly halted. I just wanted to tell the public that this is something to be proud of. I would like to thank civil servants and all personnel for their full efforts. Aside from the Ministry of Public Health, several other ministries were involved. Especially of note was the Ministry of Transport, which implemented numerous checks of the disease for air travelers. I also extend my thanks to the members of the public who have cooperated very well.
The work of this government and the NCPO is now in phase 2. Phase 3, as stipulated within the interim charter, will be about future governments. This will come about when the constitution is ready. The referendum and the general elections are also coming along in accordance with the designated time frame.
However, I am currently accelerating the work of every ministry and agency, in order for work results to be yielded for every task assigned by the prime minister or the Cabinet. The results must be tangible and must satisfy the public or match the needs of the public.
This work results from heeding all opinions and spurring collaborations. Let us no longer have disputess over large projects that affect the national economy and investment. Let us also prevent future problems for the long run. I would like the ministers and civil servants of all ministries to quickly see to implementation of these matters.
So far, we have amended various regulations, updated laws and cut down on the time and steps required for many affairs. Today, we must check the progression of the assignments that have been handed down – education, economy, investment, and technology, anything that presents a lingering problem for the country. Every ministry must yield tangible results from these activities and provide me with a summarized report within September. I will conduct evaluations based on these tangible results.
This will allow matters of state administration and the designation of additional policies to be completed within the time available. Remaining issues will be handed over to the reform council or other entities that remain. They will see that the issues are addressed in the future.
I would like to hasten this along. I ask that results be demonstrated. The conditions have already been established and the administrative hurdles have already been cleared away. Implementation is what remains. When will things get done? In which phase? Phase 1 has already been completed under the NCPO. For phase 2, I want the summary of progress up until September. This will be according to the roadmap. What remains will be further developed by the next government as things go according to the road map.
Therefore, preparations have to be made now. I am offering this reminder that I will consider matters on a ministry by ministry basis. Political-branch civil servants must also remember how they worked as they must be able to account for everything. I ask that ministers and civil servants at every ministry work on the assigned issues and provide me with answers about what has taken shape during phases 1 and 2.
Up until today, every government has known about all the nation’s problems but has been unable to address them as much as they would like. There were many hindrances – legalities, agreements and regulations. The existing hurdles have been removed. This means the problems must now be eliminated. We need to be able to answer the question of what has been dealt with. We must collaborate.
I would like to inform the people and civil society that it is difficult to drive the economy at present. Large projects will entail investments and will affect how we deal with future problems such as energy management, waste, power plants and sea ports. The projects may affect people living in the vicinity of their sites, but employment will also not be created if these projects do not materialize.
I have given orders for the benefit of people at the locations of the projects to be considered as a priority. If slight shifts or relocations are required, rehabilitation will be provided as appropriate. Locals must receive a higher share of benefits from the projects. This includes commercial activities by locals living within special economic zones.
For 2015, emphasis is placed on 2 of the 6 special economic zones. It would be satisfactory if they can all be developed. I believe, however, that the places with the most potential right now are in Mae Sot in the North and Sa Kaeo in the Northeast. The remaining zones will still be rapidly developed. People living in areas declared as special economic zones need not worry about having to relocate. The operations will be set up in whatever area within the zone that would not interfere with locals’ livelihoods. Locals must be provided with the means to make their livings. When the zones are up and running, locals will be able to take advantage of the available commercial opportunities. Accommodating businesses might include laundry business and the likes, as well as the food business. Locals in the area will have the first opportunity to carry out these activities.
For other operations, it will be necessary to involve outsiders – these will still be domestic investors. What I mean is that the opportunity will be given to local residents and businesses first. If they are capable, they will be granted incentives. The remaining activities will draw on external resources and foreign investment, while generating local employment. Investments must not negatively affect the environment or the majority of the locals.
Many matters must be pursued now; otherwise they may not happen eventually. Many are complaining about how the economy was not so good and investments are not being made. The problem did not lay only with budget. The budgets have been allocated, but the projects could not materialize because they either do not pass public hearings or EIA and EHIA. Railways, power plants, waste treatment plants and infrastructure projects need the public’s approval. I am seeing how the projects can be materialized. Although the investments entail a great amount of funds, the projects cannot be implemented simply by allocating the funds. Thus, I would like the cooperation of locals in the various areas. I have said before that everybody needs to share and be generous. It is not that the projects will cause problems to locals. They will benefit people within the areas as well as those outside, culminating in regional empowerment.
I would like everything to be quickly addressed and the country to make progress while this government is still in office. Deputy prime ministers and minister have been tasked with inspecting affairs under their jurisdiction that have been hampered by operating problems. These include projects in infrastructure, energy, mining and what not. The locality in question must be visited and the problem must be solved quickly. Can the disputes be scaled down, and compromises made? The nation’s interest must be viewed as the top priority. Meanwhile, existing arrangements and the local culture must not be threatened. The local populace must remain happy while development, prosperity and change take place.
I do not believe this to be beyond the capability of the ministers and civil servants in all provinces. If we do not do them now, then delays will ensue year after year. This is especially true for the construction of railways, power transmission lines and improvement of waterways. Many of these projects are facing hindrances. Some say the projects were ecologically damaging. We have already taken this concern into account, and the projects will not be pursued if they cause ecological damage. Progress cannot be made if there is opposition for each and every project. The budget will not be disbursed, employment will not be generated and construction will not take place. Meanwhile, everybody wants the economy to become better. Please help to find solutions. I do not want to only give orders based on my authorities, but I would like your cooperation.
I thank you again for the cooperation given so far, and for the understanding that the public has shown us. I hope we will receive more cooperation and understanding, so that we may achieve success in our work in the manner that everybody wants, which is ultimately for the good of our beloved country.
I wish you a happy weekend. Goodbye.