National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister – August 14, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
There are two more days before we will take part in the Bike for Mom activity, which will allow all of us to express to our love and devotion to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, who is known to be the “Mother of the Land”. The event will also showcase the ingenuity, love, and unity amoung the Thai people. So, please join us this Sunday, 16 August 2015, from 3 pm onwards.
This activity will be a historic event for the country, as the Ministry of Interior in cooperation with the Guinness Book of Records, will establish a record for the Thai people in the Bike for Mom activity for Her Majesty the Queen. The event will also showcase to the world how devoted the Thai people are to their Queen.
Another activity that will be held alongside the “Bike for Mom” is organized by the Ministry of Culture. Non-riders can take part in a photo contest by taking pictures of the event under the theme of “Love, Unity, Piety, For Mother, and Determination”. Winners will receive awards from His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. The contestants can submit their pieces until 23 August 2015. For more information, please visit www.Bikeformom2015.com or on Facebook, just simply type in Bike for Mom.
As for traffic along the cycling routes during the event, there may be some traffic congestion even though it is a weekend. I am therefore asking for your patience and understanding as well as cooperation and support for the event. I therefore urge commuters to avoid using the designated cycling routes on Sunday by travelling on the Toll Way, which will be free of charge from 12 pm to 11 pm. The BMTA has also adjusted 36 bus routes. Please study these routes and plan your travel ahead of time. Please call 1348 for more detail.
Another good piece of news that all Thais can be proud of is that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will on August 27th present Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn with an award for her creative work in sustainable development.
WIPO will honour and recognise the Princess’s contribution across a wide and diverse range of creative activities of more than 354 pieces, which include: fine arts, writings (books and songs), the promotion of indigenous tribe work patenting, conservation of genetic resources,
and how Her Royal Highness is a very accomplished and gifted musician, a benefactor of traditional music, and traditional musical instruments. Her Royal Highness is the first princess ever to be awarded with such an honour. Importantly, this year marks the auspicious occasion of Her Royal Highness’ fifth cycle or 60th Birthday Anniversary.
Previously in 2009, WIPO presented His Majesty the King with an award medal to recognize His Majesty as a global leader in intellectual property.
There are some key issues I need to address today. The first one concerns the setting up of the national strategic committee according to the proposed draft constitution. The committee is believed to help guide the way for reform and reconciliation. The committee will need to have the authority and measures to facilitate reform efforts, and mechanisms to eliminate conflict and violence, if a normal government and existing laws cannot solve them, and allow the country to carry on, such as in the recent situation.
The second issue concerns the holding of a referendum which is very important. It is a matter for all citizens to decide, and is not for me or the government, but for the nation and for the next generations to come. We all need to work together to push for national reform.
The next issue pertains to laying down reform measures in 11 areas, which will be completed within the month of September, and will be forwarded to the reform mobilization committee comprising 200 members according to the interim charter.
The committee is also responsible for drafting a 3-phase operation plan. Upon completion, the draft will need approval from the National Legislative Assembly before being forwarded to the government for future implementation. The reform mobilization committee is only meant to facilitate, not interfere in a normal public administration.
This past week, I sat down with delegates and members of the US-ASEAN Business Council as well as more than 70 representatives from 29 US companies with expertise in the ICT industry, energy, finance, logistics, auto industry, construction, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages.
All of the US investors affirmed Thailand’s outstanding potential in this region and that they are willing to support our efforts for national reform. They all want to be a part of building a strong economic foundation in Thailand. From what I saw, I can inform you that foreign investors look for
certainty and political stability, policies that promote cooperation on international trade and investment, corruption and fraud prevention, and measures and laws that facilitate foreign businesses. Foreign investors want to minimize procedures and transactions in order to allow their businesses to operate as soon as possible.
Furthermore, they look for a government to have a vision and a clear national strategy, both of which can build their confidence in the nation’s economy.
The government has taken the effort to put in place many laws and measures, such as an act concerning state approval of projects, Procurement Act, Integrity Pacts, and the CoST system which focuses on ensuring efficient, comprehensive and integrated services of the government.
During the meeting, I showed the delegates Thailand’s ability to compete as well as the country’s strengths and potential to support foreign direct investments by emphasizing the following:
1) Thailand’s readiness to embrace itself as an ASEAN hub in terms of trade, investment, and other economic activities. Thailand is now setting up special economic zones and spending to improve its infrastructure, linking transport for land, air, and water as well as creating regional connectivity.
2) Thailand’s readiness for digital economy, as Thailand has put a lot of effort into developing its ICT infrastructure while the auction for 4G technology will take place within 2015.
3) Thailand is adjusting its tax structure with measures to attract the private sector as well as foreign investors, encouraging them to set up international headquarters and international trading centers in Thailand.
4) The government will also push for collaboration with the private sector through the “Public-Private Partnership” (PPP) in the aspects of investment, education, science, and innovation.
5) The government will increase the country’s capabilities in agriculture, services, tourism, eco-tourism, public health, and gem stones, all of which are the main driving forces behind Thailand’s economic growth. If supported by the state, these sectors will see long-lasting growth as Thailand becomes a hub of ASEAN region.
In reference to the past ratings for competitiveness, they showed that Thailand still lacked some advancement in science and technology, which is essential for us to be able to compete with others in the international stage. The government places importance on this issue, and has put policy and measures in place in order to adopt science-based approaches in the production sector and in the supply chain. Apart from creating added value to products and services, science and technology also increase the nation’s ability to compete as well as investors’ returns, which can be a key mechanism to drive Thai economy, and thereby progress Thailand from a medium income country to a high income nation.
The recently-held national innovation committee meeting has agreed on many terms including:
1) Business matching between demand and innovation within the country, with a combination of local wisdom.
2) The establishment of a “Trust Fund” with an aim to support science, technology and innovation based businesses, which could come in the form of either private equity or venture capital. This is to support the growth of the investment sector.
3) Creating an innovation account through the enforcement of Public Procurement Act which allows research and innovation discovered in the country to be used in the manufacturing sector.
4) The promotion of Thailand as electric vehicle production hub of this region.
As for problems concerning the cost of living and income, these may not have been caused only by economic issues or low yields in agriculture. It is worrying how materialism could prompt members of the public to incur unnecessary debts which cannot be paid. His Majesty the King has bestowed the Sufficiency Economy philosophy for the people of Thailand to use as a guideline in life. The philosophy can be applied to all levels – within families, communities, and at the national level. The current government has adopted the philosophy as a guideline for development and administration, in order to a “middle path” to be followed.
The government is currently caring for low-income farmers who owe debts to non-formal lenders. Meanwhile, we are concerned for civil servants who can be regarded as lower-income counterparts to salary men within the private sector. I believe that subordinates’ debt burdens make up part of the responsibility of the head of an agency or commanding officer, who on a daily basis, in addition to thinking about how to perform duties, how to serve the nation, and how to serve the public, should also think about how to enable subordinates to work happily.
I would like to talk about a project that has been implemented by the army for the purpose of helping personnel manage their household debts. By employing the Sufficiency Economy philosophy of moderation, reason, and risk prevention, the project has met with success. The methodology can be split into parts, as follows:
1) The creation of debt burden awareness among the individual and family members, in order for them to realize the expenses that have to be accounted for each month.
2) The keeping of a ‘household account’ as an important tool to help improve spending habits by reducing unnecessary expenses. Income is increased through side occupations that do not conflict with office hours and were not demanding to the point that they afflict health or work performance.
3) Refinancing by seeking lower-interest sources of funds, as well as choosing to pay off high-interest credit card loans first.
4) Sale of unneeded items to do away with unnecessary burden, as well as the conversion of assets into capital.
5) Importantly, the act of restraining oneself from incurring additional debts.
If a civil servant can manage his or her own debt problem at the family level, while the head of the respective agency can enable collective management of subordinates’ debt problems, then the government will be vested with human resources who possess the readiness to work to the best of their abilities to serve the public. The workforce would be freed from the burden of debt, which could otherwise hold back performance.
The current government places great importance in sustainable development and in environmental friendliness. Management of refuse has been designated as a national agenda, for which exists a main guiding idea for the creation of a ‘recycling society’ under the 3R principles (reduce, reuse and recycle). Especially of note is the campaign to lower plastic bags and foam usage, as these containers take very long to degrade. A worrying statistic is the 2.7 million tons of plastic and foam garbage being generated per year. This could have severe repercussions on human health, on other living things and the environment. They further contribute to greenhouse gases, as effects are yielded at every step, from manufacturing to disposal.
To demonstrate the shared commitment toward sustainable waste management, the government, 15 businesses and operators of department stores, shopping complexes and convenient stores would like to request the cooperation of members of the public in bringing their own bags to carry merchandise instead of accepting plastic bags. This will be done on the 15th of every month, although it can also be done every day. This campaign will commence tomorrow, on August 15. Simply by having each person turn down one plastic bag from convenient stores and shopping malls each day, Thailand can reduce the quantity of garbage from plastic bag by about 70 million bags per day.
I would like to thank the operators of all 15 businesses for addressing this joint social responsibility in advocating discipline and instilling conscience in waste management. To achieve sustainability in this, the public needs to help out by fostering understanding and knowledge among children.
I wish you happiness for the weekend. Please ready yourselves for the Bike for Mom activity, for which His Majesty the Crown Prince is dedicated to, as a tribute to the Mother of the Land on the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Anniversary this year. I would like everybody to bike happily as well as safely. Thank you and goodbye