National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister –August 28, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
On August 23rd, I led a team of newly-appointed Cabinet members to be sworn in before His Majesty the King at Her Royal highness Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra’s Meeting Room, floor 14, Chalerm Phra Kiet Building, Siriraj Hospital. It was the greatest honor for all the members to be able to pledge vows before His Majesty the King.
The cabinet reshuffle was to adjust accordingly to the current situation in the country as well as to global changes. These changes exist in many sectors such as the economy, society, stability, and national security. I can assure you that the cabinet shakeup will not disrupt the government’s work or mission, and I also want to boost confidence in the work of the government. The previous 2-3 cabinet teams did outstanding jobs which have paved the way for future stability.
The previous cabinet ministers have done a great job, particularly in having laid down such a firm foundation for the country amid several problems and conflict. New policies were formed. Problems were addressed. The new cabinet will, therefore, work to ensure the execution of these policies, bolster people and investors’ confidence, formulate clear measures to bring concrete results, and work on the basis of transparency. We will do our best to assure that results are tangible in all aspects. Every project must be transparent and free of corruption.
During this week’s cabinet meeting, I reiterated to the all the ministers that we would not tolerate any form of corruption and that their ranks and powers shall not be abused in any way. I also told them to exercise the highest discretion and carefulness when recruiting advisors and other support positions. Claiming names of those in power to seek vested interests will not happen. If you are not a minister, do not issue orders you are not authorised to. You don’t have that authority. Without the presence of your minister, you need to seek advice from deputy ministers. Do not act on your own. Do not use your rank or position to gain personal benefits. Political officials should always adhere to the rule of law and ministry regulations. All civil servants as well as political officers need to put the public interest before their own. You should always behave and uphold good governance.
Furthermore, all ministries have been asked to inform members of the public about the government’s policies that have direct impact on the people. These policies pertain to energy, power plants, and waste treatment plants.
The latest cabinet reshuffle was not done in order for the government to retain power, but rather for appropriateness or to put the right person in the right job. Where should capable military officials serve? Where should capable civilian officials be? It should be in accordance with the second phase of the roadmap. The first phase focused on building stability which we now have. The second phase needs revision and adjustments in line with the currently evolving status of the country.
The appointment of new cabinet ministers was for the betterment of government administration. I have always respected every former and current minister. I am willing to heed suggestions from former ministers. I was satisfied with their performances. Please understand that the first period emphasized problem solving as well as restructuring of state affairs, and thus it had to take a bit of time. You may question why our work appears to be slow despite all the power we have. I would like you to understand that the government cannot do everything it wishes to without considering all possible consequences. We did not want to take any action that would have caused future problems. So, the first phase mainly focused on building a strong foundation for the country’s future.
We have now entered the second phase and we will place emphasis on reforms. During this phase, guidelines given by the reform council will be followed. What we can do will be implemented without delay. The plan should be set clear. Who should be the ones implementing these measures? Who will be responsible for which task? A lot of tasks have been completed. The new cabinet will be carrying on unfinished businesses. There are matters that were already done and there are matters that have just started. I have said this many times. Some issues require a revision of certain laws. In order for a law to be passed, it must go through 3 bodies. As for urgent matters, I have been utilizing Article 44 in order to address them. Article 44 is only used to speed up things and maintain orderliness.
The reform of the government’s administration is meant to achieve an integration of work by the appropriate ministry, without leading to discrimination or segregation of policy and personnel within each ministry. From now on, there will be no taking sides. Every ministry must work together. Integration in the government sector must be fostered. This is what we call real reform. This is to avoid work duplication of each ministry which has caused unnecessary loss in state funds, without yielding any public benefit. Instead of losing money to duplication of work between agencies, we can now spend prudently on something more useful. The work of each ministry must be interconnected and there must be joint meetings. There should be linkages of databases or computer systems. We cannot have everyone work separately on the same mission. As for water management efforts, personnel from every related agency and organization must join hands. Before, this matter was overseen by the military, but today, government officials are in charge, with a minister as head and officials from related agencies working as a committee. As for routine government work, we have officials working to ensure the effectiveness of daily operations. As for urgent matters, tasks will be assigned to responsible deputy prime ministers who will oversee specific operations. As for procurement processes and contracts, I am expediting all efforts, given that results were not immediately realised in the past. Everything will be improved from today. Procurement process must be done transparently, with improved scrutiny methods and investigations. Some projects need close monitoring by third parties, either Thai or foreign. Coordination between agencies must be more frequent and effective.
After the reshuffle, I will need former and current ministers to provide information that fosters public understanding. I am concerned that the public and the media may still not understand all the dimensions. The prime minister is the one to form policies and mobilises every ministry. In general I am responsible for the performance of the government. You can also tell me if what we are doing doesn’t match your way of thinking. I formulate policies and make sure that every ministry is moving in the same direction. Deputy prime ministers then need to help me push for sustained cooperation. You need to work with other ministers and carry out the policies that have been set. The policies will then be handed down to your subordinates. Provincial governors need to work harder to make sure that policies are implemented as intended. The mobilisation of issued policies is moving at a too leisurely pace, so please pick up the momentum. All tasks need collaboration between the public, civil servants, and other related personnel. We have discovered that many problems we encountered during policy implementation were the same old problems. It was like falling back into the same trap all over again. There are still those who don’t understand. Despite these problems, we have to get pass them and move forward together. We have to eliminate hindrances in the government’s work and get people involved in the solution. Think about how the problem can be addressed and what measures should be implemented. We need to do this for the sake of the nation and our people.
Talking about the Thai economy, I understand that the public is worried about the current economic situation in the country as well as in other nations. Thailand has been impacted by external factors, especially the circumstances that are going on in China, Europe and USA. To make matters worse, Thai farmers are battered by decreasing prices of agricultural produce. All of these factors affect investors’ confidence and can lead to a stall in domestic investments. However, we can all be sure of the country’s solid economic foundations and our potential as the government will quickly address all weaknesses, create stability, and get us through this difficult period.
In order to maintain steady economic growth, the government has set up 5 different missions, all of which will be simultaneously implemented.
The first mission is to look after and mitigate the hardship of fellow agriculturists and low-income earners. The task is our priority. We must get through this crisis together.
The second mission concerns building stability in local and regional economies. In the past, the country’s economic growth relied heavily on exports. We need to bring balance and strengthen the economy through internal factors which rely on the growth of local and regional economies. If successful, more jobs will be created, more income will be earned by the people, more money will be circulated within the country, and sustainability will take its course. The goal can be achieved through the promotion of tourism, social activities, OTOP products, community enterprises, cooperatives, and community markets.
The third mission emphasizes on improving the quality of Thai products by the enhancement of processing and packaging of SME products as well as industrial products. These products need R&D and innovation in order to create added-value, which will in turn create more income for the people and producers, and make Thailand more competitive. It is also meant to increase the abilities of local entrepreneurs and improve the skills of workers in respective industries.
The forth mission involves promotion of mega investments, with an aim to lay down a strong economic foundation, be they special economic zones, infrastructure improvement, and regional connectivity. These projects will help to support growth and the distribution of wealth as well as the enhancement of competitiveness. Investments and industrial development will be put into clusters while each investment cluster should match the needs of local areas.
The fifth and final mission concerns foreign affairs which also has an important economic dimension. Trade and investment with other nations must be promoted while cordial diplomatic relations must be maintained and strengthened.
I would like the public to understand that the government is fully committed to the aforementioned tasks, and good governance must be applied. Economic problems are being addressed in a sustainable manner through such measures as: aid to farmers, empowerment of low-income earners, and – through regional and local investments – the creation of the foundations for future growth to strengthen all 76 provinces. The nation will be able to progress on its own with stability and sustainably once the localities are empowered, the provinces are empowered and disparity has lessened. I would like the public to have confidence in the work of the government, for both the previous period and the current period. Please have faith in Thailand’s potential, and lend us your hand so we can develop the country together.
For national security affairs, vigilance is necessary. The government and I would like to express our condolences on the bombing incident and would also like to thank members of the public for their display of solidarity in such times. It is the responsibility of every one of us to help guide Thailand through this crisis. Everybody has the capacity to help out by being good hosts to tourists, by advocating the good qualities about our country or by rebuilding the confidence of our international friends. Everybody has the capacity to help out. The private sector – companies, shopping malls, hotels and stores can help out by installing or improving monitoring devices such as CCTV cameras. I would like to thank all concerned officials, policemen and soldiers, for the progress being made in their efforts to track down the culprits. Please give the officials some time to work.
The historic Bike for Mom activity on Sunday, August 16, saw the participation of members of the public from all sectors – the public sector, private sector, civil servants, the disabled, athletes, celebrities, children, adults and the elderly. Hundreds of thousands of participants from all social circles demonstrated their loyalty and unity, which also helped generate interest among new cyclists and those who have not cycled before. Positive effects are being had on bicycle-related businesses, tourism as well as social exchanges. I call on members of the public to maintain the current cycling trend for the benefit of your health and the opportunity for family members and social circles to have exchanges. Bicycles also afford their riders the opportunity to talk with each other. Do bear in mind other vehicles, keep safe and avoid accidents.
Let us take the Bike for Mom event as a starting point and let us continue to cycle regularly. Those who already cycle should invite their friends and family to join in. The government would like the results of this event to be continually amplified and we want to promote the importance of exercise. Road expansions and bicycle lanes are being implemented so everybody will have the opportunity to exercise in a safe space. We have to encourage our society to understand and observe the relevant regulations. I have observed how drivers can sometimes be inconsiderate when encountering cyclists. This should not be so. Road users have to take care of each other. The road has to be shared by drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. Everybody is a co-owner of the roads.
Having better health will allow us to spend less on public health and health care. Events of deteriorated health can be avoided if we take preventative steps. I have warned about things such as smoking and drinking. These activities have to be reduced or ceased, in order for the body to be strong.
As for conservation-oriented tourism, our country is well-placed due to the numerous mountain, seaside and rural areas. These areas can readily be made into conservation tourism sites. I would like to see the number of tourists visiting the various provinces to increase. Hiking, climbing and trekking are currently popular throughout the world. I believe we can host these activities, but they must be made safe. The Tourism Authority of Thailand will push for this to happen. How will the 13 tourism-oriented cycling routes in the central region be linked and which tourism sites will they lead to? The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will also encourage greater development of cycling routes in each province. Implementation has taken place in many provinces but improvements are needed. Complaints have been lodged for certain provinces, and they will be looked into for the sake of transparency. It is good to take the initiative, but do implement it well and refrain from causing damage. This is how things must currently proceed.
I have said before that road users have to interact in a considerate manner and care for one another. Please do not allow tragedies to recur and cause families to grieve and the country to suffer. We must help out to prevent cases of foreigners losing their lives in Thailand while cycling.
Lastly, the Department of Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine and its partners will be hosting the 12th National Herb Expo with the objective of providing a platform for the furthering of academic knowledge and for the driving of relevant policies. It will also help with improving the capacity of existing personnel within the Thai traditional medicine field. The event will be held at Impact exhibition and convention center in Muang Thong Thani during September 2 and 6. The event is part of ongoing research and development efforts to enable Thai herbs – of which we have an abundance of – and the knowledge of Thai medicine to reach the global market. To support the production of products derived from Thai herbs and local knowledge, I would like to invite all members of the public as well as foreigners to the expo.
Thank you and goodbye