National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister –August 21, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
This past Wednesday, I presided over the consecration ceremony at the Ratchapakdi Park honouring seven former Kings of Thailand in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Ratchapakdi Park was built to honour the Kings of Siam by commemorating their heroic deeds. Located in a 222 rai plot of land and situated in the compound of the Royal Thai Army, the Ratchapakdi Park houses the statues of seven Kings from the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Thon Buri and Rattanakosin Eras. All of the statues stand 13.9 meters tall or 7.9 times taller than a regular person. The statues were caste with bronze and placed on a platform of 90,000 square meters. The park is a historic attraction and also serves as a learning center for visitors. It is free of charge. We should all be proud of this importance place and I would like to invite parents to take their children there to learn Thai history.
Dear citizens, it is now time for all Thai people to cooperate and unite. This past week we experienced a tragic incident in the form of an abhorrent act of violence on Monday the 17th. This act was committed by ruthless people, without morals, who wanted to create a climate of fear and destroy the peacefulness of the people and discredit our country. I wish to express my deepest condolences to the families of victims and assure you that the government will, at the best of its capacity, expedite all investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice. So far, much progress has already been made on this case. I would like to call on all Thais and all sectors to be confident and remain calm and conscious.
In the past few days, many of you may have seen a number of expressions that showed the strength of the Thai people. You may have also come across a message that says “Our Country, Our Home, Stronger Together”. All of these messages are constructive so do make good use of them. From now on, we will unite and come together and carry on forward. Our solidarity will make our country strong and this will allow us to persevere through any difficulties. Not just this time, but for all time. We shall cooperate even more and help each other on all issues. As we unite, we shall build this country together. I believe Thailand’s decent, moral, and kind citizens will always prevail and overcome those who are evil.
Following the bombing incident, I would like to urge all social media users to exercise the utmost discretion when sharing information, especially images of destruction as well as pictures of casualties. Not only does it violate basic rights, it also dishonors the victims and their families.
In addition, when this kind of incident happens, make sure you are away from the perimeter and in another safe area in order for the authorities to access the scene and perform their duties in ensuring public safety, investigating the area, and collecting evidence.
One thing we should and need to do at the moment is help our country disseminate constructive information and Thailand’s good qualities, as we create understanding in the international community. Please refrain from spreading false information to create confusion, chaos, or quarrels among us. A German press agency reported the blast by showing the compassion of Thai people in times of crisis. It reported that Thai people around the blast site, without hesitation, came into the scene and helped the injured while many others rushed to donate blood. And when they needed Chinese translators, so many Chinese -Thai speakers volunteered. Furthermore, motorcycle taxis at the intersection offered free rides to passengers. This is what the German press reported and it is something that we can all be proud of as it reflected the kindness of the Thai people, and how we are able to unite and help each other in times of need.
There are still many things that we can do to affirm our solidarity and show how all of us want to see peacefulness and progress restored to our country. Whether it is how we treat our foreign guests, so that when they return home they can speak of the gentleness and kindheartedness of the Thai people, or like Australian PM Tony Abbott, who told his citizens not to stop visiting Thailand and encouraged us to stand strong against violence. We should not give in to perpetrators of violence. The main intention of bomb attacks in large cities is to strike fear and cause social chaos, therefore, people should not be afraid or succumb to these acts of violence. People should continue their daily routines as normal. However, we all need to be more vigilant and careful as well as inform authorities if there is anything that seems irregular. In many ways this is an appeal for Thailand to be a more attentive society. We need to pay more attention to what’s going on around us, not what’s going on our phones. So please pay attention to unattended items or anybody who may be engaged in suspicious activity, especially in crowded areas. If you see any dubious objects, please report it to the police right away. Do not act on your own.
As for rehabilitation and compensation, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will be the coordinator between the victims and the Justice Ministry, which will provide all possible assistance to those afflicted. Please call 1111 for more information. As for foreigners, the Tourism Ministry will assist you under the travelers’ insurance fund, established by the NCPO, under a 200 million baht budget. The Foreign Affairs Ministry will also be contacting foreign embassies on this matter as well. For more information, please contact 1155.
I would like to inform you that HM the King and HM The Queen have graciously offered to pay for medication for the injured that were not entitled to any compensation. Their Majesties the King and the Queen have also designated privy councilors to lay down royal wreaths at funerals of the deceased. As for the Thai victims, Their Majesties have offered to pay 90,000 baht to cover the expenses for each funeral.
As for foreign victims, Their Majesties have passed on their condolences through Thai ambassadors in each country, accompanied with Royal bouquets sent on their behalf.
The government and I would like to thank all authorities for their tireless commitment – be they police, soldiers, volunteers, doctors, nurses, and most importantly volunteered medical staff, who rendered outstanding support and assistance for those affected. A lot of thanks to the public for displaying unity and generosity when our fellow Thais and international friends needed it most. I wish to convey my sincere appreciation to all the world leaders who have expressed their sympathies as well as support to the government and to the Thai people. With such gestures and with this show of unity, the government and NCPO are confident that we will be able to weather this storm together, and that we shall resolutely move forward while not letting any obstacles hinder us.
I would like to thank all members of the press as well as social media agents for their efforts in promoting unity and for their resolve in not letting anyone damage our country. Come together by showing our strength and unity as we continue promoting the “Our Home Our Country Stronger Together” campaign as a symbol of unity, generosity, and moral support we have for one another.
A key policy that the government and the NCPO give priority to, as well as declaring as a national agenda, is the prevention and suppression of fraud and corruption. Efforts in the first phase have been satisfactory. According to the Corruption Situation Index (CSI) issued by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thailand scored better in June compared to December last year, the highest jump in 6 months. This shows that the number of corruption offenses in Thailand has lowered. As a result, the state was able to save almost 200 billion baht it would have lost to corruption. This will allow state funds to truly reach the people, eventually stimulating the economy, increase productivity, and ensure maximum benefits. However, there remain some false accusations of corruption against state officials, ministers and the government. This government will never allow such collusion or scheming to occur. There will be no favors for any group on any project. Please report any suspicious acts of corruption immediately.
In the past, Thailand did not take tackling corruption seriously. People thus became too familiar with corruption. No laws were strictly enforced against misconduct. There were no regulations or effective mechanisms to monitor or scrutinize corruption. Bribery and illegal gratuity were allowed. Those who sought benefits would bribe authorities to get what they wanted. All of these have done enough damage to our nation and our people. Corruption cripples any nation. The result of this survey is a product of the government’s efforts to crack down on corruption and provide insightful information on the effectiveness of the state’s anti-corruption campaign. The government assures you that it will remove such a plague on our society, which has eroded the country for the past 10 years. I hope to retain the support of Thai people as we work together to remove corruption and fraud from Thai society.
The current administration also hopes to lay down a strong economic foundation. The government will not do anything to weaken the economy or incur any additional debts to the people. The government has initiated a number of infrastructure projects such as the Thai-Chinese medium speed railway with a speed of 160-180 kms/hr on tracks that run 873 kilometers, linking Bangkok and Kaeng Khoi (133 kms), Kaeng Khoi and Map Ta Phut (246.5 kms), Kaeng Khoi and Nakhon Ratchasima (138.5 kms), and Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai (355 kms). The project will be completed in 3.5 years. The construction of two rail tracks – Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi and Kaeng Khoi-Nakhon Ratchasima – will commence December this year.
The 6th meeting between Thai-Chinese committees in Chengdu, China, focused on several aspects as followed. The first one concerns mutual investment. Thailand and China will set up a joint venture investment firm in the form of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), with the Thai side holding 60% share and 40% is owned by the Chinese government. Economic returns of this cooperation are expected at 14.99 percent. The second aspect concerns constructions under the Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) where China will be responsible for construction designs while Thailand will make decisions on prices of materials before any contracts are inked. The third topic was about civil engineering construction. Thailand will seek investment capital while China is responsible for excavation and construction in hilly areas. China will also be the one to procure locomotives and equipment as well as be responsible for maintenance.
There are three high-speed train routes. The first is the 672-kilometer Bangkok-Chiang Mai route, which is collaboration between Thailand and Japan. Studies have commenced and joint surveying and designing are taking place. The two remaining routes include the 193.5-kilometer Bangkok-Rayong route and the 211-kilometer Bangkok-Hua Hin route. Progress on these two routes is as follows:
1) Private entities will be invited to become co-investors. The State Railway will present the findings from its studies to the Ministry of Transport and relevant agencies, in order for the Cabinet to consider approving the projects. Then, applications will be taken from interested private entities.
2) As for the benefits to be gained from the investment, the project is expected to encourage a large number of commuters to switch to the rail system. The project is also expected to contribute to no less than a 20% increase in goods shipment through rail, and the figure could rise. In addition to promoting international trade and investment, the project will augment the Thailand-Laos-China transportation linkages, allowing for a sustainable increase in Thailand’s competitiveness. Transportation costs incurred on businesses will be reduced. The project will also encourage development of areas outside of Bangkok.
I have discussed the plans for the road and rail linkages with the leader of each country. Every nation has produced a clear plan of work. What remains is to work out how the work will be carried out, how funding will be sourced and how the cooperation will take shape – details are prescribed for every aspect. It is not as if the construction can take place just because the project has been thought of. Starting construction without adequate preparation and the result could be a massive burden that lacks cost effectiveness. These matters have to be considered. Many are restless and are asking why construction has not yet started although the routes have been announced for almost two years. We have had six negotiations over the routes so far.
Next, the aspects of EIA and a public hearing have to be considered. What will the people encroaching on areas marked as the routes do? Construction will take place almost entirely on existing rail routes. It happens that there are people who have been encroaching on these existing routes who are not letting us build in the areas. The government will find new places of accommodation for them and also provide them with privileges over commercial activities that will arise from the new rail routes. I would like to stress that they have been living there illegally.
As for the policy to stengthen SME businesses, the current government is working on all relevant aspects – the law, the grouping of SMEs, sourcing funds, provision of knowledge and business matching. Central community markets are being arranged in each locality based on the Phadung Krung Kasem Market model. Currently, there is demand for the model to be implemented in each of the ‘four corners’ of the capital city.
1) In Pak Kret, this will be arranged at the Irrigation Department in Nonthaburi province.
2) The second spot will be located at the Suvarnabhumi MOF in Prawet District of Bangkok.
3) The third spot is the cooperatives office in Khlong Luang area in Pathum Thani.
4) The fourth spot is Utthayan Rd. in Thawi Watthana District of Bangkok.
Farmers and farmer groups will have the opportunity to have their own space to market their products and popularize their quality goods. This will allow the products to directly reach the hands of consumers at fair prices. The markets will also promote sales by small and medium enterprises and provide a space to facilitate exchanges between producers, sellers, consumers and funding sources. The aim is to foster pleasantness in shopping, safe livestock products and consumer well-being.
The pilot location is the Phadung Krung Kasem Market in Pak Kret, which is being arranged from August 18 to September 16. The market opens from 10 in the morning to 7pm. In addition to livestock-derived products and general ware, the market also hosts sales of Royal Project products and items from royally-initiated handicraft projects. The Phadung Krung Kasem Market at the Suvarnabhumi MOF will be arranged from September 4-20.
There are mentions of the government not being truly committed toward assisting SMEs. This is not very fair because we have done many things. There is also a limit on the time we have at our disposal. I want to ask the SME operators who have been complaining whether they have approached state agencies and had their criteria sorted out. In the many instances that I checked, the relevant agencies have confirmed that many of the SMEs did not meet the criteria because they were not secure or did not have enough potential. Thus, any support given could be lost and end up being a flawed debt.
We must see how we can collaborate. The SMEs need to make the adjustments needed to secure the loans. Otherwise, everybody will produce whatever they want and the products will not sell. We cannot fund such endeavors. Not every SME will get the loan. The ones that do not will then cry foul. This always happens for almost every issue in Thailand. Those that do not get the privilege cry foul and cause chaos.
We have established 3-4 groups for SMEs and set priorities. If you know which group you fall into, based on the state’s evaluation criteria, and then make the appropriate adjustments so that you can be granted the privilege in the future. The state cannot procure funds for every SME and disregard each business’s potential. There are as many as 2.6 million of them.
As for the policy to strengthen the household sector and create a savings discipline, the government has set up a National Savings Fund. The fund started taking applications yesterday, August 20, and many people have expressed interest. One of the new members said he had waited 10 years for this kind of fund to be set up and was glad that this government pulled through with it. We take pride in this and are trying to make further improvements. Significant time is required because relevant laws have to be put in place.
This is a long-term savings fund for the civic sector, geared toward individuals who take up independent professions and who are not covered by a pension plan. This is especially geared toward some 25 million workers who are not in the system. The said individuals will be able to build up their retirement security. The notable points of the fund are as follows:
1) Savings are made voluntarily.
2) The manner of deposits is flexible.
3) Each and every baht saved will be returned if the member is deceased before the amount saved has been used up. The remaining savings and all topped-up amounts will be transferred to the saver’s heir.
4) The government guarantees a return no lower than the interest rate for 12-month fixed deposits.
5) The Saver will receive pension throughout their entire lifetime even if the amount they contributed has run out. More details can be acquired from the BAAC, Krung Thai Bank and Government Savings Bank. You only need your ID card to apply.
The state will shoulder the burden of topping up each deposit, based on the age of the applicant. This will involve a significant amount of money. The government is trying to improve the economy so it can receive revenue that will be used for the said contributions. All affairs will go well if everyone possesses a participatory mindset. This fund can also be used to propel the economy and reduce the state’s budget burdens.
Thailand’s continued development depends partly on the country’s research and development capabilities. For this matter, I would like to see increased collaboration between the state and private sectors. Each sector’s strengths and weaknesses should be considered, and integration for the purpose of research and development should be undertaken. Existing innovations should be improved on so they can be used for manufacturing.
I believe Thailand has enough capacity, personnel and resources to spur forth research and development in all affairs. This government is happy to provide many types of support. Regulations have been adjustment so that state agencies can better procure items that are made domestically. Clear standards have been set for almost 100 of the said items, which now can be produced and sold. Please help to utilize these products.
These are all the matters I would like to speak to you about for this week. I ask that every one focus and carry out their duties and unite to strengthen our beloved Thailand.
Thank you and goodbye