National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister –November 6, 2015
Good evening, dear fellow Thai citizens.
It is very delightful that a large number of people have expressed their interests in the upcoming “BIKE FOR DAD” activity. In the capital city of Bangkok, a total of 99,999 cyclists have already registered. 234,137 people registered outside Bangkok and the number of overseas cyclists is recorded at 9,623. Overall, a total of 343,759 people will be participating in this cycling event. In preparation for the event, routes inside and outside Bangkok have already been designated; as riders will be traveling pass several landmarks. These landmarks will be renovated, especially for safety, and beautified prior to the activity. The activity will be held to celebrate the auspicious occasion of HM the King’s Birthday Anniversary, and for all to express our devotion to our Monarchy, and His Majesty, the Father of the Land. This will be a historical and memorable event that will capture the attention of people around the world. The event also aims to raise awareness about road safety while encouraging commuters to abide by traffic regulations. I call on the public to take precautions and help keep an eye out for unexpected incidents so that everyone will be safe.
Today I have several matters I wish to inform you about.
The first issue concerns a general election. All things are being prepared according the Roadmap. There have been a lot of suggestions about the electoral which I have closely been keeping up with. People have the right to express themselves about the election, regardless of which party wins or loses. What I am particularly concerned about is how we elect proficient representatives that are competent and are trusted by the people. In this case, voters should learn from our experiences, especially from our previous problems, and review all the lessons so as to avoid the return of unscrupulous politicians to government.
I still stand by the 6-4-6-4 formula to general elections as I have mentioned before. There are a number of things that need to be done in national administration and in tending to remaining urgent matters. Nevertheless every step is vital to this formula, so due time is required. All the five “rivers” or channels driving national reform should go in the same direction. At the same, everyone is free to propose their opinions on this issue, while a conclusion will reflect the will of the majority. We must all take it upon ourselves not to further damage the country through words and actions that instigate conflicts. We need to accept our mistakes and the real problems our nation is facing.
Regarding my comment made during the latest “Five Rivers” meeting about ‘closing our country’, I was merely embellishing the point that if we didn’t try to work together, then we will not be able to reach our goal. I have to apologize for causing any confusion or alarm. My only intention was to remind everyone that if we slip back into conflict and peacefulness is broken, then we will not be able to break free from this situation and move towards general elections. This is what I am concerned about. I want everything to move forward in accordance with the Roadmap. We need to have everything prepared and make sure that Thailand will not go back to the way in was in the past. In order for Thailand to become a fully democratic country, people must truly understand the concept, know how to solve existing problems, and understand the importance of cooperation. Otherwise, we will not be able to reform anything. The key thing for us now is political reform, so that other vital reforms can be achieved.
Regarding recent political movements, I apologize for being upset at times and for being impatient with some media. It’s a habit of mine, so sorry about that. Actually, I do not hold anything against anyone. As we are handling many issues and complexities, there are still those who provoke and deliberately spread distorted information. Some members of the press, despite having been warned about reporting untruths, have not made the corrections to their material. Nevertheless, I will not violate the freedom of the press. But please be more careful in verifying the information.
Regarding movements to wear coloured shirts – I have not taken any action whatsoever. The people have been cooperating with each other and conflicts were not instigated or escalated. So in this case, if everyone refrains from pressuring each other, authorities will not have to step in to enforce certain laws, which is a good thing. It is a sign that reconciliation is beginning. If people cooperate and look after each other, the government will not have to enforce special laws when a situation rises. The country will be at peace. In the meantime, there are those people who want the government to enforce strict laws so that the situation seems more intense and that the government seems to be abusing its power. The distortion of the truth can cause misunderstanding in the international community. Where are we going to stand then?
If you want to help me, help the country, then please urge and explain to those who are intent on breaking the law to refrain from doing do. The law does not give special treatment to anyone. Everyone has to abide by it. Some people have commented that some laws are unjust, but this is because the country has not been a normal situation. Everything has to move forward so that we can have a general election. As I mentioned before, if you want to make suggestions or complaints about urgent issues, please do so through the channels provided and we shall address these matters. Thailand now has a law on public gatherings so please be aware of its stipulations.
The government is currently addressing the lottery ticket problem. The problem does not derive from the law itself or the NCPO or the government. But everyone has to understand the regulations and cooperate with them. The problem was fixed, but has resurfaced due to middlemen selling at the price of 79 baht to retailers, who can only sell the tickets at 80 baht each. Low-income earners who sell lottery tickets should learn how to fix the problem together rather than blocking roads every time you have a problem. It is illegal and violates others’ rights. As I told you before, laws are enforced to ensure fairness and equality. We treat everyone the same way and are not bullying low income earners as some have accused.
In reference to the NCPO’s order to protect government officials and related agencies responsible for managing rice stockpiles and pressing charges against responsible individuals, the government may have to explain it several times. I already explained it. DPM Wissanu already explained it. This has nothing to do with amnesty like some people have claimed. It is all about us trying to investigate the rice case. The order is not issued to accelerate legal procedures, but instead, it was meant to allow government authorities to do their work properly and without having to worry about what consequences they will face for doing their job. Authorities shall not be intimidated or fear prosecution if they are doing their job honestly. However if authorities are the ones who commit a crime, then they will duly be prosecuted. But some officials now are being threatened by an unknown group claiming that the latter’s return to power will result in consequences for those officials who are trying to do their job. Please understand this fact. I hope that the society understands the truth. As for other matters, such as contentions with some members of the press, as I mentioned before, I do not hold anything against them. But if laws were indeed broken, then legal actions will have to be taken. Then they accuse me for being short tempered with them and violating their freedoms. If the press was manipulated by me, why would they write negative stories about me? Because I have no control, the press can present whatever they want to present. What I can do is tell them to be more careful and that they may be breaking the law if they provide false information. Only a handful of them are doing this and are rejecting everything the government tries to do by presenting only one side of the story. However, I would like to thank those members of the media who have presented what the government is actually doing, so that people can learn about the real problems and how the government has been sincere in addressing them.
As for economic affairs, the government’s standpoint for working with our foreign friends is to emphasize building partnerships. We will seek to strengthen economic cooperation with others, without leaving any anyone behind. As for infrastructure development, we are now reducing all unnecessary processes and regulations in order to expedite infrastructure projects. Reducing procedures means reducing the timeframe. Some matters need to be urgently implemented while transparency is uncompromised. A lot of these projects will be implemented and will be passed on to the next administration. Meanwhile, corruption cases will be duly investigated. We should not bicker on this matter and cooperate for the benefit of the whole. When successful, the country’s economy will improve and the government will be able to spend more. This will be good for businesses and other sectors as well. People will have more income. Today, people question why they have not earned more income from these projects. How can you earn more when such projects cannot be implemented? We have policies in place, but we need to revise some regulations to allow a more efficient process. If you want extra income or to have a better profession, you need to update yourself on the government’s efforts and support our initiatives to push forward these projects.
The domestic economic situation is now showing trends of improvement after such projects have been laid out, generating extra money for communities. Although it is may not be much for low-income earners, more money is being circulated in your areas. Thailand has a large number of low-income earners; especially among farmers. We have 70 million people, out of which 30 million are farmers. The question is how we can help them grow sustainably. The overall economy has improved despite a slowdown in the export sector. We need to emphasize innovation and improving our production to be more advanced. This is not something that can be done in a day or a month, but there has to be prominent progress in the next couple of years through the granting of privileges to boost income in the agricultural sector. The prices of some Thai products are still low due to our competitiveness. Despite that, Thailand has seen better numbers than other exporters. We need to work together to build higher value to our goods. I have seen a lot of businesses being interested in R&D. New technologies have been applied in the production sector. The current government has a list of measures to support new innovative ideas.
I ask for the private sector to cooperate with the government more. I saw this show where people compete and showcase their innovations. This is a good project that inspires people about innovation and technology. So what can be applied now should be applied in the production industry. For instance, some OTOP products have been tremendously improved and their producers are earning more.
Despite these efforts, some groups have continued to reject everything we have done. But it is important to take a sound approach when comparing the current government’s performance to the previous ones’, looking at mistakes and flaws of the past as well. I want people to think about this. The government seeks to ease people’s hardships and look after fellow farmers on many issues like growing alternative plants such as crops that require small amount of water or cattle ranching in rubber plantations. This is to help you earn extra income. You cannot grow rubber alone and hope that it will lasts for the whole year. You need to look for alternatives. When rubber trees are not fruitful, you still have your cattle. You can also grow other crops. The other day, I saw on TV that many rubber farmers grow alternative crops. These farmers said they are able to make a living on other plants. They said although the trees are not producing rubber, they can feed on other vegetables they grow. Mostly, we have focused on quantity, not quality. This is why we have oversupply. But if we have other alternatives, the problem of oversupply is unlikely to occur in the first place. For those growing other crops, they can sell the crops they grow and make a decent living out of it. You can also share your crops with others like His Majesty has said about the sufficiency economy philosophy. Many measures concerning rice, rubber, and water can be categorized into urgent measures, assistance measures, and measures to build stability, agricultural zoning, and education. There are many measures out there. The government has issued many assistance measures to rice and rubber farmers. You need to see it for yourself.
As for the IUU problem, the government is adamant about eradicating all illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing activities as well as human trafficking in the fishing industry. In order to successfully resolve the IUU problem, the cabinet has approved the Fisheries Decree which is will help the country effectively bring solutions to the fishing sector. The cabinet has also approved a marine resources management plan and a national strategic plan for eradicating the IUU problem.
I would like to reiterate that the government has been working very hard and will continue to do so until all problems in the fishing industry are completely solved. The same goes for the problem of human trafficking in this industry. There must be concrete measures and results. We have implemented many solutions such as installing a monitoring system in factories, installing the vessel monitoring system on fishing boats, improving information sharing systems between related agencies, and inspecting piers and risk-prone spots. We are trying to make migrant registration easy for migrant workers. Everyone has to lend a helping hand. I strongly believe that we will see a huge improvement in the next 3-6 months.
In the middle of next year, EU officials will pay another visit to Thailand to discuss the matter and follow up on our progress. I think this will serve as a good opportunity to exchange opinions and learn from each other’s experiences. Thailand and the European Union share the same goal of solving IUU fishing in order for the fishing industry to prosper and to eliminate a problem that only a few Thais are involved in. I repeat that only a few Thais are involved, not all Thai fishermen. These few continue to disregard the law and even engage in slave labour. We will continue to prosecute these individuals and sustain progress on this matter.
Today, we must also care of the victims of human trafficking in the fishing industry. The Thai government is sending a team to inspect various fishing vessels. However, certain ships are still at sea for several months without coming ashore. Certain ships that have violated the law are now traveling along distant or international waters and continue to conduct trade under the Thai flag. These are the ships that have caused trouble for our country. They’ve been stopping and conducting trade at foreign docks. Because of this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent officials to these docks, demonstrating our commitment to solving this problem. In addition, seafood-processing plants will also be randomly inspected to ascertain the whereabouts of their stock. These inspections are a necessary to prevent future problems. The government, related officials, port authorities and operatives will show no leniency and have zero-tolerance on IUU fishing and human trafficking activities.
I don’t want these efforts to be regarded as short term or done just to appease a certain group. Otherwise IUU fishing and human trafficking will continue to pose a threat to Thailand, as they have been longstanding problems that require swift action. Most importantly, we must ensure the preservation of our marine wildlife and allow it to prosper within our waters as well as our neighbor’s waters. Otherwise, illegal ships will conduct fishing activities with illegal equipment that will hamper the opportunity for our marine wildlife to reproduce. At the moment, there are already a low number of fish in our waters. However, after the implementation of the government’s policies, it has been reported that the income of fishermen has increased. In addition, the average size of fish caught has increased since they are no longer farmed at early ages with illegal equipment. Therefore, I would like to assure anyone who has been affected but is following the law, that the government will definitely provide assistance measures. I urge all to stay updated and for various fishing associations not to switch the nationalities of ships. The government will crackdown on violators with full measures. Violators, authorities and victims will all be treated in accordance with the law. Furthermore, I do not want these individuals to have a place in Thai society: those that cheat, violate the law or conduct human trafficking. These people have no place in Thai society, let alone any society. These people become rich at the expense of other people’s suffering.
Another important even this week was the official visit by Sri Lankan President H.E. Mr.Maithripala Sirisena. I extended to the President a message of congratulations on the progress of Sri Lanka’s political development. The country’s political situation shares certain similarities with Thailand such as a process of reconciliation among many things. For us, the major issue is political reform. Both the President and I had an opportunity to exchange opinions and agreed on many issues for moving forward. I told him of Thailand’s political progress in preparing for general elections, according to the reform Roadmap for building a strong and stable democracy and a united society. The President was able to share with me his experiences on the matter. As for national reform, all countries have their own issues and fundamental differences. Therefore I acknowledge that the country can consider other models of democracy and reforms. However, reform must be undertaken by Thais who are familiar with the country’s problems. Everyone should take part in reform in order to truly solve the country’s problems. Everyone should participate and point out what needs to be done. There may also be different conditions for different countries. I reiterate that reform must start from the will to cooperate and participate from all sectors.
As for the economic goals of Thailand and Sri Lanka, we will cooperate in products and industrial sectors that have potential, such as textiles, jewelry and tea, with comprehensive efforts. When I mean comprehensive, let’s say if you want to sell something, you sell it together. If we’re always in competition, who is going to buy our products. Let’s say for jewelry, we can discuss who has the best raw material, best expertise or market access. We can jointly sell our products and not compete and therefore share our profits. If we keep competing with each other and produce products separately, we won’t be able to sell our products due to our own shortfalls. Today, Thailand has very skilled labor in the jewelry industry but needs to import all of its raw materials. This is why we should seek partnerships and sell our products together. The jewelry industry is a very important sector valued in the trillions. If we can find a way to cooperate and share profits, we will reduce competition, increase our partners and expand our markets. Thailand and Sri Lanka has the potential to cooperate in many sectors, such as
(1) Agriculture and Fishing, both in terms of expertise and commerce. We must share our experiences with Sri Lanka regarding many projects, studies, information exchange and research. Today, Sri Lanka is very advanced in research and development. We should seek cooperation in various things such as controlling diseases in shrimp stocks in order to develop our fishing industries. Sri Lanka has a variety of marine life, being an island nation. Thailand has a very strong fishing industry but doesn’t have much marine wildlife. Therefore, we must find out how we can create a partnership like how I just indicated earlier.
(2) Investment. There are now several Thai businesses that are interested in investing in Sri Lanka, whether it is in the textiles, infrastructure or the hotel industry. The country’s tourism sector is still small but we can help them expand through exchange of information that benefits both parties.
(3) We will support tourism in various ways, such as religious tourism. The Sri Lankan President told me that Thailand has been regarded for its high quality tourism and healthcare services, including modern and traditional Thai medicine, beauty products and spas. Many Sri Lankans travel to Thailand and utilize the country’s healthcare services. If we are able to strengthen this aspect, we will be able to boost income for both countries.
In the meeting with the committee on educational development policies, I’ve instructed to the Ministry of Education, the labor market, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Industry to reassess maters in order to draft new policies on the production and use of labor to coincide with the country’s economic development under the theme “vocational studies, local skills, building the country” Examples include
(1) Having vocational schools join hands with businesses to open courses that develop special skills. The 2016 academic year will pilot programs such as aviation commerce, railway transportation, chemical petroleum, electricity production ventures, tourism and food safety. For 2017, pilot programs will commence in petroleum, automobile equipment, electronics and the hotel industry. This must take into consideration the appropriateness and potential for economic development and diversification of various industries and locations. Today we must continue to develop the skills of graduates that are unemployed and turn them into personnel that are needed in the AEC market. How can we achieve this? If we wait for 2016-17, it would take a few years for them to graduate.
(2) Another matter is cooperation with other countries in sending our vocational students to train in various courses to enhance the country’s readiness for integration.
(3) Expand “dual studies” programs between general and vocational education so that students will receive both degrees upon graduate and immediate placement in the job market. The government could provide support in the form of tuition and school supplies. I would like to invite students to participate in vocational schools but I warn against squabbles between institutions. I want to put a stop to this as this animosity does not benefit anyone.
As for the policy on “reducing school time…expanding learning time,” I see that a large number of students are unhappy with the amount of homework and the rigid style of classrooms. Despite the workload, students still lack various skills, become stressed and lack real job skills. Students don’t learn but only study in order to pass tests and earn their degrees. I don’t think this model is successful. We must ask ourselves how we can encourage Thai kids to be more analytical or “able to think.” This is a very important question. Education must give more than just knowledge; it must provide students with working skills and teamwork, as well as creativity and the ability to analyze and prioritize issues. Everyone must also prepare themselves to cope with changes in society in order to develop the country. The government has adopted several of His Majesty’s views on education:
(1) Let the teachers love the students and the students love the teachers. Has this happened yet?
(2) Let teachers teach students to be generous to their peers, to not compete with one another but to compete with themselves, to encourage fast-learning students to help out slower-learning students, and
(3) Let teachers organize various events in order to make students realize the importance of cooperation.
Policy implementation by the Ministry of Education currently upholds the following principles:
(1) It must not affect the 8 major subjects
(2) It must develop the 4H’s (Head, Heart, Hand, Heath) according to the student’s development stage. In other words, education must develop “intelligence, ethics, skills and wellbeing” which are essential to everyday living and working.
(3) Assessments must be made on policy implementations in order to adapt them for future implementation. Assessments must be qualitative and not quantitative in nature and must include assessments done my students.
There are 4,100 schools that have expressed readiness to participate in “reducing school time…expanding learning time” with 381 forms of activities ready to be introduced. Schools may be ready in different ways but they will all be equally assessed. In the early stages, the Ministry of Education will dispatch “Smart Trainers” to serve as counselors in drafting course and event calendars as well as troubleshoot any problems that arise. Some teachers or schools claim they weren’t notified. All the information has been provided. It is up to them to be proactive. Various educational districts must also stay informed about the policies. I urge all districts to revise their models and please follow the government’s policies.
As for the economy, the government has stimulated private investment by simplifying the process of participating in the joint government and private sector investment project called “PPP”. This simplifying policy designed for infrastructural investments is called the “PPP fast track.” The policy consolidates various agencies in order to reduce the time to approve of projects from 2 years to 9 months or as soon as possible. There are currently infrastructure projects totaling at 347 billion Baht under consideration. These projects will help stimulate the economy in the short and long term. In the past, investment from the private sector has been low, resulting in low production efficiency due to a lack of new technologies. This has negatively affected exports. I therefore think we must enhance the effectiveness of our production capabilities.
There are several projects that qualify for the “PPP fast track” policy, consisting of the MRT Pink Line (Khae Rai – Minburi), MRT Yellow Line (Lat Phrao – Samrong), MRT Blue Line extension (Bang Sue – Tha Phra), the Nonthaburi waste disposal plant, the Nakhon Ratchasima waste disposal plant and the project to develop the Maritime Business Center of the Port Authority of Thailand.
In order to ensure transparency and fairness, the “PPP fast track” policy will not include time spent auditing and selecting applicants. These procedures must be in accordance with the Private Participation in State Undertaking Act. No amendments have been made to the law. Some might say that the project will be a venue for more corruption and conflicts of interests. These things won’t happen if the rules are followed. This fast track policy is designed to develop the country’s infrastructure. If we don’t use this policy, the government will have to invest huge amounts of money it can’t afford at the moment. Therefore, the government will allow the private sector to compete for projects in a free and just setting.
Today, I have an example of a project that builds on conservation and sustainable development in the form of a social enterprise. This project is the 150-year-old Chantaboon Waterfront Community in Chantaburi Province that includes the featured exhibition of Baan Luang Rajamaitri. The project was part of a joint effort by the local community which pooled funds into preserving the architecture, history, environment and local way of life that encompassed social, cultural, economical and environmental development. This site serves as a cultural tourist attraction that creates jobs and income for the local community.
This is a good success story about strengthening local communities. I would like members in all local communities to demonstrate their potential and uniqueness. Let’s try to search for each community’s “strengths” regarding culture, traditions, crafts, traditional skills and history and turn them into value that can empower the local economy.
In only 2 months we will participate in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Therefore, the Government House’s Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem has hosted the “OTOP TO AEC…national treasures – from local to international” event between 3 -25 November, 2015 in order to showcase 3-5 star OTOP products from all regions across the country. Over 330 products with export potential have been featured at the venue. In addition, the event will provide information on business negotiations, marketing, design and finance for venders and visitors who are interested in new business. The event will also have product review sessions to aid in further development as well as product value and market expansion. The products are encouraged to focus on quality. The even consists of experts and services from the Ministry of Interior to assist those who attend the even such as national ID card applications. Those who have old or damaged ID cards can have new ones made here in the spot. The event also demonstrates housing blue prints and how to value land. I would like to invite all to attend the event and support quality products made by Thais, gain business skills and utilize the services at the location. If any questions can’t be answered, the people at the event will forward your questions and get them answered.
Finally, I would like to invite all Thais to preserve Thai art and culture by taking your children to see traditional Khon Phrommas performance “the Battle of Indrajit” under the patronage of Her Majesty the Qeen at the Thailand Culture Center between 7 November – 5 December. Those who are interested can visit www.khonperformance.com
The Cabinet and I will be attending the first performance. There are over 50 performances. The performance must be carefully viewed in terms of different costumes and mannerisms. I would like everyone to learn how to foster a sense of pride in our beautiful history and culture. Foreigners travel to our country for these things. Other countries try to provide visitors with information about their own cultures and traditions in order for them to pass it on. Other countries are good hosts and take care of visitor’s safety. It is not just about making a profit.
Thank you. I may have spoken a bit too harshly on issues or too lightly on others today, so I do apologise. Sometimes I may a bit short tempered, perhaps normal for a former soldier. I wish you all happiness and safety this weekend.