National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister – November 13, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
As the second Saturday of November marks the National Day for Persons with Disabilities, I would like to call on the public to be mindful that people with disabilities are our nation’s valuable resource. If looked after well and given opportunities, these people will be able to make important contributions to our country. The most important aspect is building an environment where people can live their lives with equal access and opportunities without discrimination. Most recently, our disabled athletes made all of us proud after having taking part in many international competitions. Furthermore, a group of disabled athletes will be taking part in the ASEAN Para Games in Singapore between Dec 3 and Dec 9, 2015. I, on behalf of all Thais, would like to wish you good luck and all the success.
On the occasion of the National Day for Persons with Disabilities, HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana had bestowed a name for an artificial flower to the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand (NCSWT) as symbol for people with disabilities. The artificial flower, which I am also wearing at the moment, is called “Kaew Kallaya”. The flower represents all people with disabilities. All the money from selling Kaew Kallaya flowers, which are made by the disabled themselves, will be used to improve their living standards. It also helps to create jobs for them. I would like to ask every individual to purchase these symbolic flowers and support the disabled every way you can.
As for preparations for the “BIKE FOR DAD” event which will be participated by Thais and foreign nationals in our country as well as in 66 cities overseas, more than 500,000 people have already registered for the event which will be co-hosted by the government and the private sector. There will also be other activities such as Khon performances, Royal exhibitions, and tourism promotion campaigns in different areas. Responsible units must make sure that these activities run smoothly and safely at all times.
As for the riders, you need to have your physical condition ready and your bicycles checked up prior to the event. You also need to study the cycling route and regularly update yourself with new information concerning the event.
Matters I would like to talk to you about today are as follows. I would like to ask all members of the press to be extra careful of the possible repercussions when presenting news. Everyone understands well that Thailand is moving towards reform and elections, therefore, defamatory remarks and deliberate distortion of information will only create more conflicts, making it difficult for the government to administer the country. It can even prevent us from achieving national reconciliation and returning to normalcy. Cases involving the possibility of misconduct, such as by government officials, are not being exempted from the justice processing in any way, but I ask that you be careful when reporting on them, as they are still being processed and, therefore, presenting them incorrectly could impact other matters.
I asked that all members of the press present news that is based on fact and truth as well as the legal precedent and judicial procedures. Of concern also is the possibility of some press being charged with defamation following the reporting of stories that are not based on truth. The government and the NCPO have asked station owners, editors, and columnists on several occasions to cooperate by checking up on this, and we have also put forth the importance of maintaining peacefulness and stability in the country through the accurate reporting of news. You are a stakeholder in the future of this country as much as the government, the NCPO, and the people.
The government and the NCPO fully understand the importance of ethics, rights, and freedom. But it is not ethical to maintain that you have the right or the freedom to violate others rights or freedoms. Please understand this fact. I am very concerned and ask for your cooperation, otherwise being sued for liable for defamation can cause further problems.
As for the matter concerning water management, we all know that the combined amount of water inside and outside reservoirs is lower than what we had last year. Therefore, we need to look at the whole picture. For instance, the government has to focus on water for consumption and for maintaining balance in the ecosystem. I beseech all farmers to heed government’s suggestions, which will come to work for your own benefit. It will also help to maintain balance for the whole system.
Suggestions given by the Interior Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Commerce Ministry, and other agencies can allow you to grow alternative crops, crops that give higher productivity, and crops that need less water. You might also want to consider raising livestock. The government also needs your cooperation to build more reservoirs.
Misunderstanding about the water situation can cause more conflicts, so I ask you to pay heed to the complete information rather than distorted and unverifiable news. We need to think of solutions that are truly sustainable and not employ the faulty methods as before.
The government has been using up-to-date information to develop integrated solutions based on principles, rationality, and ethics for addressing the countries urgent problems. We have been informing you regarding these measures on a regular basis, such as
1) the farming occupation development plan (2015-2016) in line with the needs of each community,
2) through collaborative effort by people in all levels and all regions under the idea of “state of the people”,
3) handbooks will be given out to farmers as a guideline to what crops would be suitable for what kinds of weather conditions. The guideline must reflect the real environmental conditions in each area. Some problems are more complicated than other. We don’t want the farmers to lose their income or have more debts.
4) the next measure concerns the quality of seedlings.
And 5) we need to assist the farmers in promotional marketing. We must look into all aspects of this. Farmers need to educate themselves from the information provided by government authorities in their respective areas.
I would like to ask members of the public to purchase agricultural produce from farmers who have been affected by the drought disaster. We want them to earn sufficient income, so that they can get through this crisis.
The distribution of rice stocks is a major issue. Should we set the price too high, no one will buy. Should we set it too low, we will see no profit. The problem is that there is too much rice in our warehouses, both good and bad rice. The longer it sits in the warehouse, the more damage it will do to the rice. Bad quality rice will be a burden on the government. Therefore, it is important that the rice committee study all possibilities to sell the stockpile of rice. We need cooperation from the private sector as well.
Criminal cases need to go through normal procedures under the justice system. The government has acted in accordance with the law. As for the compensation for civil damages, the government has no intention to damage any politicians or any party, but matters need to proceed according to the law. As for the use of Article 44, I have already explained this and how it is important for the clearing of rice stocks in a transparent manner and for obtaining a clearer picture on these cases in order to regain confidence in the country’s rice production and rice distribution. We must build awareness and confidence within the country and internationally on this matter.
As for the matter concerning the draft constitution and national reforms, the government and the NCPO wish to see Thailand become stronger and have a prominent place in the international arena, so that all Thais can be proud. I would like all citizens to participate in moving our country forward with “stability, prosperity, and sustainability”. From what we’ve experience, it is not an easy task. However, we are doing our best given the current circumstances. We cannot repeat the same mistakes or condone any illegal practices like we have in the past. Otherwise, we will not be able to step out of the same old trap.
As for politicians and political parties, I would like to ask you all to make changes and prepare for the upcoming general elections. Please be ready. Once in charge of national administration, you need to exercise good governance and uphold the best interests of the public. People need to understand that Thailand needs to have a democratic system where politicians work together to administer this country for the well-being and happiness of all 70 million people, not only certain groups of people. All politicians need to help me think about what the country can do to fix problems at hand while refraining from escalating conflicts in society. The country has to move forward. What can we do to prevent future conflicts or past conflicts from reoccurring? These problems have impact on all of us. We are trying to resolve problems in a sustainable way. If we only think about elections or how to retain power, the country will not be going anywhere. How can we solve the problems that have been dragging on for a long time? In the meantime I wish to maintain stability for the country, so that we can have an election.
As for the government and the NCPO’s effort to maintain peacefulness and orderliness, we need to do it through the principles of jurisprudence and political science. It must start with the jurisprudence. From there we can work on solving our problems so that peacefulness and orderliness is returned. Some people question why the government hasn’t taken certain actions, given all the power it has. It is because I don’t want to cause any distresses for the people. When there is a problem, a conflict rises. So we need to look back at the causes of these problems. These problems have been ignored for a long time. This is why a lot of people, both low-income and high -income earners, lack a basic understanding of what is legal and what is not. The reasoning to allow anything to happen that leads to more money will not suffice anymore.
In the capital city of Bangkok, I want all responsible units to propose your implementation plans, be they the BMA or agencies under the Interior Ministry. Every measure should proceed in the same direction. We cannot enforce the law without assistance measures in place. I am particularly concerned about the people, especially those involved in public space encroachment. There must be proper measures to assist these people. I don’t want to use the word “compensate” because an illegality has occurred. But what we can do is assist. We will find another location for you. However, we will no longer allow anyone to encroach into public areas. If encroachment is allowed, the impact will be on everyone involved. We need to know how to address this problem while respecting the law. I understand that it can be problematic during this initial phase. I am empathetic to your situation and would like everyone to have a future. But if you continue to break the law, this will lead to more problems. Please be patient.
Regarding the restructuring of the domestic market and the export market, we will commence with both policies while also mobilizing growth in communities. We still have pressing issues to address at the community level such as those involving low-income earners and struggling farmers. We should all cooperate as a “state of the people”
Economic reform consists of work in many areas. There must be increased investments that are transparent and coincide with the country’s 20-year strategic development and reform plan. I expect that we will reach economic vitality within the first 5 years and then progress even further. Furthermore, the changing of the world’s “economic landscape” in the 21st century entails the shift towards Asia. Thailand is strategically situated as a hub in the middle of ASEAN.
Therefore, if we direct our strategic plan towards developing our country into a hub for trade, investment, tourism and logistics using the latest technologies, innovation and communication methods according to the digital economy, we will be able to prosper along with world growth. What I just said is a means of elevating our country’s economy from the middle-income gap. This success depends on the work and cooperation of various agencies through a vertical and horizontal approach. The vertical approach entails cooperation from the government to the provinces and to local administrations. The next approach is the horizontal approach where each regional organization, whether they be government administrations, the public sector, NGOs and businesses coordinate with each other in implementing reform policies without causing rifts. With these forms of cooperation, policies should be met with success as expected.
This morning, I chaired the annual meeting of Thai Ambassadors and Consuls-General hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was a meeting of our ambassadors and consuls-general stationed in 96 countries under the topic “proactive diplomacy for the mobilization of Thailand’s economy.” This event also served as a venue for the officials to discuss ways to push for the implementation of Thai economic policies overseas.
Discussions covered ways of enhancing Thailand’s competitiveness; particularly for small and medium Thai businesses to find market opportunities and increase the value of Thai products and services. It also covered ways of connecting local businesses to the foreign market as well as ways to enhance cooperation with various Thai agencies in working with foreign countries under the phrase, “Team Thailand.”
I’ve urged the ambassadors and consuls-general to continue to create confidence among foreign countries regarding Thailand’s political situation. I’ve instructed them to move forward in educating and creating understanding about Thailand’s developments, while advancing Thailand’s credibility on the world stage. I also discussed the matter of economic cooperation that will be beneficial for both Thailand and our foreign friends.
In addition, I’ve stressed the importance of the mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the various embassies and consulate-generals to protect the safety of Thai people and Thai interests in foreign countries.
A very important issue at the present time is creating understanding about Thailand’s political processes, its preparation for an election and its constitution drafting process, both in the first and second phases. These issues also affect investor confidence.
This government has pioneered projects to return Bangkok’s canal to the public, which has included the expropriation of the Saen Saeb Canal, a 170-year-old canal spanning 72 kilometers. This canal has been used as a transportation route, a source of agriculture water and an important source of irrigation. The flooding of this canal will greatly impact its vicinity and therefore we must solve this problem. In the most recent Cabinet meeting, a project has been proposed involving the government’s ministries and agencies along with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in collecting waste in the canal. The issue of wastewater being dumped into the canal must also be solved with in 2 years. The main agendas consist of:
(1) Improving the quality of the water by collecting waste, weeds and disposing of wastewater.
(2) Improving the aesthetics, services and transportation safety by improving the ferry system, installing CCTVs at various gates and, most importantly:
(3) Instilling a sense of responsibility in those using the canal. Houses along the canal should be kept clean so that this site can be another important tourist attraction. If the water is clean and the waterfront community lives responsibly with the canal, the site will be a beautiful place for visitors. This is a longstanding issue that must be solved permanently.
I want this to serve as a guideline for developing canals and waterfronts across the country into an environment of mutual coexistence. I urge all sectors, whether it is the government, the private or the public sector to implement these guidelines. There are local and regional agencies involved that must implement these guidelines from today onwards. How do we refrain from destroying the environment, especially our rivers and canals which have coexisted with the Thai way of life? This is another precious cultural and tourist site.
The country’s tourism industry is what has continuously supported our economy. Despite the global economic slowdown, over 30 million tourists have visited Thailand this year. This is a 30% increase from the same period last year. Income generated from tourism has totaled over 1 billion Baht, also a 30% increase from last year.
We are now entering the tourist high season and expect a huge influx of tourists. I’ve instructed all related Ministries and agencies to ensure safety at various tourist sites as well as risk-prone areas such as airports, bus stations and piers. They’ve been instructed to ensure safety, cleanliness, and the preservation of the surrounding environment – all of which have an impact on tourism.
As for various tourist attractions, authorities must efficiently manage the volume of tourists at one time while caring for the environment and preventing littering at places such as national parks. There must be no destruction of the environment. Excess numbers of people can degrade the beauty and appeal of a place. Authorities must care to manage the flow of people, not to let everyone in at once, which could lead to damage. However, we must also ensure that tourists are not upset with our policies. This is my concern for some officials that strictly adhere to rules, but should also also create an understanding of the situation and how solutions can be found. Tour companies as well, must coordinate time management so that the tour groups are not bunched up. Sanitation policies are also important. Last time I’ve come across places that after just one day of receiving tourists, the site was littered with a mountain of garbage. I want to stress the importance of cleanliness and the effective disposal of garbage.
Restrooms are another important matter. There must be enough clean restrooms to accommodate tourists; otherwise there will definitely be complaints. It will be unacceptable for a large crowd of tourists to be met with either unhygienic or expensive restrooms. The standard of service must be kept in line in order for this industry to progress. If people just care about making the most money while investing the least amount of capital, tourists eventually wouldn’t want to visit these sites.
We must think of how we can create positive impressions in order for tourists to want to revisit our country and pass on the good word about Thailand. For local communities, I’ve asked the Ministry of Tourism to view various areas to ascertain what each community will benefit or be affected by tourism. There may be issues of parking, cleanliness or noise. I’ve asked the Ministry and the local authorities to care for these communities and to work together to be “good hosts” by demonstrating generosity, which is already the nature of Thais.
Another thing is to remember certain phrases in English or in other languages. Remember easy phrases such as “hello” “sorry” and “thank you.” I ask all to keep practicing and be confident. I’ve seen many people, whether they are taxi drivers or motorcycle taxis, can speak a lot of English due to their experience with servicing foreigners. They all practice from real life experience. They didn’t have to take classes. We’ll all be good at it eventually. In the future, we should be able to provide directions or suggestions to help tourists who are our guests. We can then become proud hosts.
Finally, the 2nd week of the “Local heritage – from the community to the international stage” at Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem market will feature another group of businesses with new products. This week we will emphasize accessory products instead of last week’s weaving and sculpted products. I hope the event will be greeted with lots of visitors as it has been.
As for the event’s food zone, there will be a switch from Northern and Northeastern food to food from the South. I invite all to the event and to support the reasonable priced quality products. It will be the new year in a month and a half. The products you buy here are quality products made by Thais. Who hasn’t gotten gifts for their loved ones can come take a look at this event. I ask vendors to charge reasonable prices for their products.
Another thing is the Khon performance at Thailand’s Culture Center in Bangkok. I’ve heard that the tickets of continued to sell out and that they may extend the period of the show. I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to see the performance. Those who haven’t seen the performance can contact the venue for more information. If there is a shortage, then the board may try the find a way to accommodate all. I urge all to contact the venue. This is something that we should be proud of because this is a cultural performance that is known and admired across the world. We’ve had this kind of performance aboard which garnered up to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of viewers abroad.
Thank you. Thank you for your cooperation. Thank you for your understanding and for the support you’ve given to the government and the NCPO. Thank you very much. I wish you all a happy weekend and to be safe in your travels.