National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister –October 2, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
This tape was recorded while I was on an official visit to New York. My team and I have been here for several days. My participation at the 70th session of the United Nation’s General Assembly is an important opportunity for Thailand, as member of the international community, to confirm its stance on international issues and to inform others of the developments, including progress in our Roadmap. On behalf of all Thai people, I have completed the following missions:
On the 24th of September I met with Thai delegates and officials stationed in the US. On this occasion, I gave policy guidelines to officials of the Royal Thai Government coming from 13 agencies. I asked them to foster understanding among foreigners regarding the current situation in Thailand, informing them that we are currently in the process of reform. Although time is required, the process is going according to plan, with achievements reflected in a peaceful atmosphere over the country. I told them to maintain and protect the interests of the Thai people abroad and highlighted the importance of Thainess for the Thai people residing in a different country.
Also during this meeting, I informed them of the government’s efforts to 1) invest in education, 2) encourage research and development as well as innovation, 3) increase the competitiveness of the country, 4) introduce integration in national administration, and 5) promote the concept of a “state of the people” which aims to achieve sustainable development and cooperation between the state, the private sector, and the general public.
I was briefed by Team Thailand working in the US that foreigners especially Americans still see Thailand as a safe place and that their confidence in our country remains intact. American people particularly enjoy Thai food and culture and the generosity of the Thai people.
I told these officials what the government was looking to do, which includes 1) the preparation for revisions of laws and regulations pertaining to the environment, labour, food safety and the production sector, and 2) increasing our capacity in tourism to accommodate newcomers like new graduates.
On 25 September 2015, I had the opportunity to hear His Holiness Pope Francis’s speech which focused on many issues that correlated to His Majesty the King’s guidelines that have been bestowed upon the Thai people, and applied by the government. The Pope highlighted sustainable development which he believes should develop in a step by step manner. He also said all sides should join hands in combating human trafficking, the matter of which has been declared national agenda by the Thai government.
As for the Summit on the Post 2015 Development Agenda and a seminar entitled “Ending Poverty And Hunger”, I was able to make known of Thailand’s sufficiency economy approach to the international community. We are pleased that the world places importance on the formulation of development policies to bring sustainable solutions to various problems as well as eradicate poverty and social inequality, both of which are major obstacles to sustainable development.
This is the development goal every country, including Thailand, is trying to achieve. A society with balance and equality must be maintained while poverty and disparity must be removed.
Thailand understands and realizes that although poverty rates had decreased from 42% in 2000 to 10.53% in 2014, that social gap still exists and remains one of the most pivotal issues for Thailand. This is due to an imbalanced economic structure, concentration of land ownership, and inefficient use of natural resources.
The current administration attaches great significance to building equal opportunities and equal access to resources. I can assure you that this is being implemented at the moment.
Regarding the country’s development plans, the government has adhered to His Majesty’s sufficiency economy philosophy, which emphasizes thorough and sustainable development on the basis of sufficiency, prudence, and resilience. All of these are believed to help us overcome future changes and risks, both internal and external.
The government has adopted this Philosophy as the guideline for our national economic and social development plan, which will be the 12th of its kind. This principle can be applied at all levels and in all countries. The government constantly encourages sustainable agriculture, organic farming, chemical-free practices, community markets, and promotion of social businesses. We also look forward to enhancing the potential of Thai SMEs, linking small, medium, and large businesses together while helping to connect these businesses to the world. We’re also pushing to establish a mechanism that helps manage water, land, and forest resources without destroying the balance between the community and the environment.
The next issue concerns the management of labor force with a hope of creating jobs and incomes for those with low income. Following the establishment of smart job centers, the employment rate in Thailand has surged to 98.7 percent.
In reference to building stability in the country’s economy, I believe it must start at the community level by promoting “local wisdom” or so called “OTOP”, which is also in line with Their Majesties the King and Queen’s guidelines to development. For this members of the agricultural sector will be further educated at learning centers. Furthermore, low-income earners will have greater access to funds such as the village fund, nano-financial loans, etc.
I also had a chance to hold talks with representatives and delegates from the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) and a number of leading American companies. Actually, I meet this kind of people on a regular basis, whether in Thailand or overseas. I spoke with them about how the situation in Thailand has significantly improved after the May 2014 incident. I reiterated the government’s intentions to follow the roadmap and to protect the best interests of Thailand as well as the US. To achieve this, reforms will be introduced in all aspects so as to allow Thailand’s capacity to compete to further improve. Strong fundamentals will be laid down. FDIs will be supported through the amendment of rules and regulations. Preparation has been made for Thailand to become a regional hub for production, services, and investments, while human resources are being developed in tandem with the advancement of transportation and logistics systems.
Afterwards, I traveled to observe an exhibition entitled “Sufficiency Economy: An Approach to Sustainable Development” which was organized by the Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation. It was to disseminate the principle of a sufficiency economy, which echoes the effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and how this approach can be adapted and in other developing countries. Attendants at the UNGA as well as other visitors were appreciative of this chance to be able to learn about this approach, which will serve to bolster cooperation between Thailand and other nations. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizer.
On 26 September 2015, I held a discussion with the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime or UNODC and the head of the United Nations Office in Vienna or UNOV.
During the meeting, I assured them of Thailand’s commitment to combat and prevent transnational crimes, drug smuggling, human trade, illegal migration as well as fraud and corruption, both in Thailand and in the region. Thailand has made these issues national agendum, while related agencies have been told to revise laws and regulations in order to facilitate their operations to address these issues. Thailand understands that these issues are major threats to national security, with major regional implications.
I would like to reiterate Thailand’s sincerity in stepping up measures to fight all human trafficking activities. This matter is a national agenda. Responsible units in Thailand will take a “zero tolerance” approach against this crime. Officials in all levels should work together to make sure that human trade is removed from our society. There also should be a better migrant worker management system while the problem of forced labor in the fishing industry should be rectified immediately.
I also took part in the event celebrating 150 year anniversary of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) during which I, on behalf of Thailand, received the Global Sustainable Digital Development Award. Thailand has been chosen as ITU Headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region for the past 23 years. The ITU provides support and s assistance to member nations in this region. Its support focuses on building information based societies where people can have access and make the best use of information technology. Information technology is essential to helping international society achieve its goals for maintaining economic growth and sustainably developing communities by the year 2015.
As for ICT, I would like to inform you that His Majesty the King had initiated projects that utilized information technology 20 years ago with the Distance Learning Television broadcasts. The project has contributed to a greater understanding of subjects by students and improved coverage of access and equality in education. The project is now being utilized at a greater level. It is most pleasing to know that this initiative that His Majesty started so long ago is being continuously implemented, especially around the global community at present.
The global community is now starting to realize the dangers that can arise from the abuse of information technology. Therefore, we need to improve awareness about constructive use of this technology. Thailand has been awarded for being a leading nation in the promotion of digital infrastructure, which will allow digital systems to be used to propel the country. Thailand is also bringing to fruition a digital economy model. Thailand will become a part of the global community’s information-driven society. The country stands ready to share its experiences and successes with other nations as well as take in advice. It is willing to become a bridge that connects the various countries in the global community with one another so they can make progress together.
On September 27, I had the opportunity to deliver a speech on the topic of water management for sustainable development. Emphasis was placed on access to safe-to-use water, sanitation, water quality improvement, waste water management, and the protection and rehabilitation of water-related ecosystems. International cooperation in water management was also discussed. Thailand has a 12-year plan for comprehensive water management for 2015-2026, which will contribute to sustainability and continuity.
I have also made use of the principles of a Sufficiency Economy and of the Royally-initiated water management ideas to create balance between the aspects of the economy, society, environment and well-being. The participation of the civic sector in each locality is allowing ecosystems to be conserved. We must reduce disparities in accessing the necessities for people’s lives, and create a balance between supply and consumption. Importance must also be given to the prevention and mitigation of disasters that are related to water.
The same goes for the “monkey’s cheek” projects, which will allow water to be retained and rapid flows to be reined in. These water retention areas will mitigate floods and store water for dry season use.
In addressing the topic of promoting gender equality and empowering women, Thailand has always upheld this vital aspect of our human rights. In Thailand, women are an important force. Young females and males have equal access to education. Everybody is protected from gender-based discrimination. Thailand has been improving many of its laws relating to the promotion of rights and gender equality, as well as the protection of women from domestic violence and sexual harassment at work. Progress was also made in the prevention and suppression of human trafficking and in assisting the victims of the trade, most of whom were women and children.
The next National Economic and Social Development Plan, known as the 12th of its kind, will promote women’s equal roles in driving the economy and society. As for discussions with other leaders, there were bilateral exchanges with the president of China and the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
There was also a bilateral meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, during which I expressed Thailand’s willingness to continue supporting the secretary-general’s work and role. Thailand has placed importance in a people-centric development approach, in line with the Sufficiency Economy philosophy. Meanwhile, we have also placed importance in the participation of the private and civil society sectors in development.
Thailand also places importance in the climate change issue, which it considers a joint responsibility of the global community. Thailand is making its framework for the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for greenhouse gas emissions. It has also created a national disaster prevention and mitigation plan, making us among the first countries to drive this aspect of work at the national level.
Thailand has held a meeting on irregular migration in the Indian Ocean, to find ways to resolve the problem sustainably. It was attended by high-ranking officials from 20 countries, and from the IOM, UNHCR, UNODC and 40 foreign missions in Thailand. The problem is a complex one that involves overlapping dimensions, and requires the sustained effort of source, transition and destination countries.
As for Thailand’s political situation, I asserted that developments are still in line with the road map time frame.
In our bid for a non-permanent membership seat at the UNSC during 2017-2018, I emphasized that Thailand has a good reputation, which has resulted from our performance in United Nations security operations, especially in peacekeeping and security.
Thailand has also received the approval of the G77 countries in holding the Groups chairmanship in year 2016. This resulted from the G77’s selection of countries that have experienced success in development. Thailand succeeded in reducing poverty by more than 40% since the year 2000. Our successful experiences that stem from the Sufficiency Economy principles were also essential in helping to achieve this result. I thank the G77 countries for approving Thailand’s chairmanship for year 2016, which demonstrates the confidence the international community has towards Thailand at the moment.
Another important meeting was the UN Peacekeeping Summit, which was attended by many member countries. There, I spoke of the need for the development aspect to be included under peacekeeping affairs, so that sustainable peace can be achieved. I spoke of how the people in conflict areas should be given the means to make a living in the future. We also expressed our willingness to help out with peacekeeping operations.
I was, as with many cases before, warmly received during this visit. I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero to pay my respects. A Thai woman was among those killed, and I have laid down flowers and a garland at the site of what was once the World Trade Center.
I would like to thank Team Thailand, our ambassador to the UN and the ambassador to Washington, DC as well as Thai officials, businesspersons and members of the general public for their support and their facilitation of my visit, which allowed my delegation to successfully complete its mission.
I would also like to thank those in Thailand who followed my visit, as well as Thais in the United States who came from New York, Boston, Chicago, Texas, Los Angeles, Indiana, Connecticut, Washington, DC and many other cities and states. I appreciate them for having made the trip to provide me with moral support. Although I was not able to meet them up close, I was able to see them during my travels to the meetings. I want to thank them for supporting my representation of Thailand at the international stage.
I consider everybody to be important contributors to our nation’s progression towards stability, prosperity and sustainability. I genuinely care for all parties and groups, including those who are on different terms. I would like us all to turn around and talk to each other. We can no longer waste time on conflicts and squabbling. All countries in the world are progressing towards the next decade where we will be returning for more discussions 15 years from now.
I would also like to inform Thais abroad that the health of Their Majesties the King and Queen have improved, and that Their Majesties have always expressed concern and care for the well-being of all Thai people. I hope that everybody will help to wish Their Majesties good health and longevity.
Thailand is currently making forward progress. I have said before that we need to join forces to develop and prosper, in order for our home, our country to become ‘Stronger Together’. Thank you and goodbye