National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister –October 16, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
First of all, congratulations to the national football team after their victory in the World Cup qualifier. They have brought fame for the country as well as pride to all Thais. They are now closer to achieving their ultimate dream. I would like to thank the athletes and the coaching staff for bringing happiness to the people and for demonstrating unity, teamwork, commitment, and sportsmanship. They have represented Thailand very well.
The issues of priority for the government and NCPO are as follows. We are trying to lay down firm fundamentals for the country in several areas, including national security, the economy, society, legislation, the justice system, and foreign relations. Other issues that need to be addressed include suppressing narcotics, forest encroachment, adjustment of our economic structure, land allocation (which is now under the supervision of the National Land Policy Committee), the restructuring of our agricultural sector in preparation for drought and changes in weather conditions, solutions to agricultural problems, and revision of trade and investment regulations. The government will also look after the real estate sector and the SME sector. All of these matters are in the first phase of our reform plan.
We need to continue our reform efforts, which are still in the first phase, starting since 22 May 2014 until July 2017. Then there will be a clearer reform plan that will be handed down to the next elected government.
We will outline the 20-year Country Strategy and closely follow the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan.
We will support the work of the CDC and the NLA in drafting the new constitution and organic laws, so that they can be accepted internationally while also being appropriate and specific to Thailand, which will then propel Thailand to become a stable, prosperous, and sustainable country.
We will improve the justice system at all levels, be they police, prosecutors, courts, and independent organizations. In the first phase, 300 laws as well as ministerial regulations are being modernized to build trust and confidence in the laws as well as in their enforcement, so that all people will respect such laws and regulations. This will help to reduce conflicts between citizens and authorities, as the latter will also need to improve to serve the people with justice, transparency, and productivity.
The government also has to foster understanding among the public, civil society, and foreign countries regarding political developments and other developments in the country, in particular our national reform process.
As for legal cases that have incurred substantial damages to the nation and have been prolonged, the current government is adamant about not leaving any burdens behind to the people and the next government. The recent cabinet meeting summed up these cases, in which six of them the government is the plaintiff, while in another six, the government is the defendant. The cabinet was informed of these cases, so that necessary solutions can be introduced. Some of these cases have been ongoing for almost 20 years. The government will try to resolve these cases the best it can in accordance with the law and judicial procedures.
As for cases incurring huge financial losses such as fraud and corruption, all concerned should go through the judicial system and let everything run according to the process. Defendants in these cases should conduct themselves like defendants in other regular cases, as normal citizens who have been accused and therefore are defending themselves according to normal judicial procedures. The defendants of these cases should understand and not distort information nor take a position in order to hinder the justice system. Every case has to go through this process. The NCPO and the government is not doing this to bully, harass, or to be unfair in any way.
Therefore I would like to ask members of the press to refrain from escalating conflicts, while carefully studying the law so that they can create understanding with the public. We must all cooperate and abide with the law and regulations, and not condone impunity.
I would like to ask that those who are not directly involved in these cases including the public, the private sector, civil society and the ethical press, to help build stability for Thailand, and security for people and properties, so that our country can move forward in a normal way, with normal laws, and without exacerbating conflicts, especially so that we can we strengthen international confidence in Thailand.
As for those who have good intentions but may not have complete information about situations and have been unaware of the impact of their criticisms, I would like to reiterate that as the country is undergoing a situation with several vulnerabilities, it is essential that solidarity and reconciliation be reflected in the true will of the people. It is not something that happens by force or through the enforcement of laws.
This week I have a number of issues to update you. The first one concerns the water situation. I want everyone to understand the real circumstances. There is no need to be alarmed. What we need is good preparation for future problems. The government is providing you with factual information, because we only have limited water resources. However we can manage this situation when water is scarce. We all need to cooperate and stay informed. We now rely heavily on rainfalls. And when it rains, it doesn’t rain where water can be stored. In addition to that, deforestation has crippled the soils capacity to hold water. The rainy season is coming to an end while water levels in major dams are still below target. Although the government is doing all it can to maintain and store as much as water as possible, and with a certain degree of success, we still need to be on high alert.
The government will closely monitor the use of water for agriculture next year, both within and outside irrigation and industrialized z ones. Salt water will be pushed back into sea to maintain ecological balance. The most important thing is drinking water and water for consumption. The government therefore seeks cooperation from all sides on:
1) Conserving water. We need everyone to use water efficiently. Statistics say Thailand uses 120 litres of water per head per day, 3rd highest in ASEAN. If everyone can change their habits on the consumption of water, it would help our country a lot.
2) Cooperation from farmers in adapting planting methods. We seek cooperation from our farmers to turn from growing rice to growing crops that require less water or to raising livestock instead. You can also move into fish farming, which helps lower the risks of damages to agricultural produce during the dry season. Or you can introduce yourself to other professions. The use of water for agriculture accounts for up to 70% of stored water. I have instructed the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Interior to educate fellow agriculturists on integrated farming. Farmers also need to be educated on marketing approaches.
As for building stability in the agricultural sector, it needs collaborative effort from the government, private sector, civic sector, and the public. Recently, the committee to promote and develop our agricultural system convened a meeting to draw up strategies to sustainably improve the country’s agriculture through joint-efforts between responsible agencies. I would like to see measures being implemented with tangible results. Many constructive ideas have been proposed by this committee, such as:
The first measure is to use a network of local ‘sages’ or learned people as a mechanism to create understanding among local farmers, by teaching them how to be successful in their career. You need to learn from those who have been successful and help build stability in your community.
The second measure concerns R&D for the betterment of farming and ranching, with a view of adding value to products. This is a priority matter. Thailand has invested substantially in R&D. We have more than 230,000 research projects in 2015. We have spent more than 20 billion baht on research, and have yielded 510 successful sustainable agricultural programmes as a result. We shall continue to pursue these research programmes so that we create and add value to agricultural crops. Thai farmers need to be modern agriculturalists that can produce quality products, so that they do not have to depend on traders or be vulnerable to fluctuating global market trends, and can be resilient in our current economic situation.
In terms of marketing promotion, we will set up community markets, local markets, organic markets, and networks for exchanging goods. We also promote wholesale marketing. The more markets there are in Thailand, the better monetary circulation Thailand will have. These markets also create income and job opportunities in communities. It also saves time and costs for the farmers.
The fourth measure pertains to the development of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), which was initiated by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), a network of producers responsible for monitoring quality of crops produced by its members. This can boost confidence of local buyers and will in the future lead to higher standards of organic produce and exporting goods.
The fifth measure concerns building network of educational institutions such as the promotion of schools or training courses for sustainable agriculture. Integrated organic farming can help produce a new generation of farmers and encourage greater innovation in agriculture.
The next topic is about solutions to the IUU problem, which is another national agenda. This problem had been overlooked for a long time, prompting international organizations to pressure Thailand to rectify the situation. The government will continue to urgently address this matter and the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) will be the main unit to tackle this issue.
So far There has been significant progress. We have to thank the CCCIF and other responsible agencies for their contribution. I also want to thank fellow fishermen for their cooperation. There are only a handful of people who still don’t understand the concept. People will always be impacted by the enforcement of new laws. Thailand’s fishing industry must be up to international standards. As for those who are affected by the enforcement of new fishing regulations, the cabinet has set aside a budget of 230 million baht, allocated from the 2015 fiscal budget, to assist and compensate entrepreneurs, fishing staff, and all individuals who were forced to stop their operations following the new laws. These people need to have legal documents, get registered, or have licenses before they can go back into the sea. I have instructed related officials to swiftly look into this matter and make sure all data is correct, and that all fishing activities are lawful and transparent.
The government – via the CCCIF – is ready progress check on the IUU problem the EU representatives’ during October 13-22. There is readiness in all aspects, including marine fishing management policy, the fishing bill, the national operation plan, the back-tracing plan, the monitoring plan and the plan for the prevention of human trafficking on vessels. I am confident that the results should turn out to be positive. Importantly, correctness should always be strived for, so that everything falls in line with the global standards. Meanwhile, fishermen will be cared for. This will allow for our marine resources to be plentiful, sustainable and usable for future generations. It will also lend toward conservation tourism.
We need to understand that we need to be careful regarding the sale of marine products in the global market, which has become increasing challenging due to competition and increasing regulations. This is especially so for fishing regulations in international waters. Currently, Thailand’s products are worth hundreds of billions of baht, but they may no longer be purchased if we fail to solve the IUU problem. Who can we sell to, then? Fishermen will then have no income. We need to join hands to solve this problem together.
Onto the topic of moving Thailand forward with the Roadmap. Phase 1 of the roadmap commenced following May 22, 2014. It involved addressing urgent problems that directly afflicted the well-being and daily life of members of the public. Phase 1 also involved the reduction of disparities and the creation of fairness in society.
We are currently in phase 2, which is instrumental for establishing regulations and rules in our society. A draft charter was created based on internationalism and appropriateness for Thailand, in order to solve problems, resolve complexities, conflicts, political deadlocks and the pitfalls of democracy – all of which have accumulated over a long time. A solid and sustainable foundation was also being laid through the 11 aspects of reforms. The reforms will allow our country to transition into phase 3, when a new, elected government comes into office under a new constitution.
A reliable mechanism for the solving of political dead-ends must be put into place. I would like this military way to solve political problems to be the last of its kind for Thailand. We must also have a clear and viable framework for real reforms, which cover all aspects of national development. The 20-year Country Strategy is more than a short-term 5 year National Economic and Social Development Plan, and will steer the direction of national administration for subsequent governments. Every sector, especially the business and investment sector in and outside Thailand, wants to see clarity and reliability from the state sector. Previously, this may not have been the case. Coupled with a lack of cooperation, the country thus missed out on many opportunities.
We have the chance to make Thailand into a hub, a production base, because we have many resources. I have been trying to create an understanding among people domestically and abroad, in order for them to see Thailand’s progress and for them to become confident that we are making positive developments. As for the problems that remain unresolved, I hope that subsequent governments will administer the country based on good governance and on public participation, with a reform framework and Country Strategy based on consent and cooperation from the people.
Disseminating correct information without it being distorted is of utmost importance during the 2nd phase of the roadmap. This is true at both levels – at the policy level, which currently involves the ‘five rivers’ and the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), and at the Constitution Drafting Committee level, which will need to create a thorough understanding about objectives, roles and the work being done. The NRSA will have to base its work on the NCPO’s 11 points of reform, while assimilating the remaining points of reform by the NRC. Meanwhile, the CDC needs to have a guideline for charter drafting.
I have mentioned many times, and the chairman has also mentioned, of (1) the drafting of a charter that is internationally recognized while appropriate to Thailand’s circumstances (2) building a democracy that promotes citizens’ roles and duties and not only based on freedom, (3) the addressing of political problems from the past, the prevention of parliamentary dictatorship and corruption, the creation of check-and-balance mechanisms and the promotion of good governance (4) acceptance of a wide range of opinions in society, and the fostering of opportunities to participate.
Lastly, we turn to the matter of promoting Thailand’s image and role in the international arena. I was informed about the Thailand Pavilion at the World Expo, which is taking place between May 1 and October 31 in Milan, Italy. The familiar ‘Thai Sala’ presentation has been replaced with the ‘ngop’ hat that Thai farmers use when working on paddies through blazing sunshine and rain storms. The hat was selected to symbolize Thailand’s readiness to become the kitchen to the world, because we are an agricultural country. Our display is able to contend with the displays from some 140 countries, with major Italian media having voted it as being among the 5 most unique architectural structures at the expo. CNN has also hailed the pavilion as among the most impressive designs.
Numerous visitors queue up for hours to enter the pavilion. I was informed that the waiting time was as long as 4 hours on some days. 12,000 people visit the pavilion per day, on average. During the first week, an average of 16,000 people visited the pavilion each day. I would like to thank all relevant individuals for successfully showcasing this Thai identity to the international community, thereby reinforcing tourists’ and investors’ confidence in our country. You can see that the Thai identity is unique and something to be proud of. We must all help to promote as well as preserve this identity, as well as our culture, traditions and Thainess.
Thank you and Goodbye.