National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister – December 18, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
Firstly, I would like join all Thai Buddhists, along with supreme patriarchs, abbots, and Buddhist monks from 13 countries in offering condolences during the funeral of His Holiness Somdej Phra Nyanasamvara.
I would like to thank the funeral organizing committee as well as those involved in the broadcasting of this funeral rite, which contained a number of important Thai traditions that have been passed on for generations.
I also would like to thank you for making sure that the funeral procession, tribute-paying ceremonies, prayer chanting ceremonies, and the cremation ceremony went smoothly and in the most honorable and traditional manner.
This week, on behalf of all Thai nationals I would like to express my sincere appreciation to athletes and coaches who participated in the ASEAN Para Games, bringing pride and joy to all Thais as well as success for our country. Thailand achieved the most gold medals at the 8th ASEAN Para Games which took place last week in Singapore.
I was able to watch some of the competitions and conveyed my encouragement to our athletes through the Minister of Tourism and Sports. As a longtime supporter, I truly admire the determination of these athletes who are so courageous and never give up. I was extremely impressed with their abilities to compete as well as the unity they had, which ultimately brought success, honor, and pride to themselves, their families, and their nation. Again, congratulations to all competitors.
During the remaining two weeks of 2015, I would like the public to take note of the government’s annual progress report which will be announced on Dec 23-25. We made such an announcement before and the upcoming one will be about our second year performance. We will inform you of past achievements as well as future plans, all of which are very crucial for the country. You will be able to understand the true problem of our nation and the solutions the government is implementing to handle them. Several matters require public cooperation under the concept of “state of the people”.
In light of this, everyone will have a chance to raise questions and share their opinions so that the government can draw up more effective solutions in a timely manner. With that being said, this participation to express opinions should be done in ways that do not break the law, deliberately incite violent conflict, or obstruct the work of government services. I would like all of you to closely follow the announcements which will be made by deputy prime ministers, cabinet ministers, and other government officials. They will answer all of your questions.
As for ‘New Year gifts’ for the people, each ministry will make known of their items through various channels. These gifts do not come only on New Year but shall also be given in the years to come. Several projects will commence. We have always followed the country’s Roadmap, especially the reform plan which will co-exist with the roadmap until the year 2017.
This past Monday, I officiated at the opening ceremony to test run the MRT Purple Line linking Bang Yai-Tao Pun. The ceremony took place in Bang Yai District, Nonthaburi Province. The purple line is the first railway that connects Bangkok to its vicinities, with an aim to reduce traffic congestion. Other rail projects that are being launched by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand are as follows.
Currently, there are 4 projects that are being implemented. The first one is the Bang Yai-Tao Pun Purple Line which will be open for service in August, 2016. The second one is the MRT Blue Line which runs Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae and Bang Sue-Tha Phra. It will be open for service in 2020. The third one is the southern Green Line from Bearing to Samut Prakarn. The last one is the northern Green Line running Mo Chit-Ku Kot and will also be open for service in 2020.
There is one rail project which is now being proposed to the Cabinet, which is the MRT Orange Line (East) linking the Thailand Cultural Center and Min Buri. It will be open in 2020. It is the first railway that connects western Bangkok and eastern Bangkok. With 17 stations, it runs a total of 21 kilometers. When completed, the route will connect 4 other lines including the red line, the blue line, Airport Rail Link, and the pink line.
I have further instructed the Ministry of Transport to revise the country’s mass transit plan and improve the transportation system, linking all transport means together such as the public bus system, rail system, electric rail system, and other means of transport. Everything must be interconnected in a way that people can commute between different regions. We must also link our system with transport systems in neighboring countries and other regions of the world. If we didn’t have this system planned out thoroughly, a larger sum of money will be need to be spent in the future. There will also be more control and maintenance centers.
By having this matter planned ahead, we will be able to spend less and allow us to understand the benefits that are to come once these projects are completed. Then, we will be able to take in profits to compensate for what we have to spend in the early stages, where deficits can be very common.
Thailand had to face a deficit during the early stage of the electric rail system which we use today. However, profits have now been realized. The only thing I’m thinking about is how to make fares lower for the low-income earners. This has led to ideas about different types of identity cards, the matter of which has yet to be concluded. I believe the Finance Ministry will give some clarification on this matter which involves financial assistance measures as well as tax matters. Rest assured any scheme considered will not violate your right to privacy or personal private information.
The projects to be launched under state-private cooperation are currently being deliberated by the PPP committee. These are both monorails and will be open in 2020. The first one is the Min Buri-Khae Rai Pink Line while the second one is the Lad Phrao-Samrong Yellow Line.
Another project is now under the deliberation of the EIA committee and will be launched on the Rattanakosin Island. It is an extension of the Purple Line that runs through the center of the island where tourist attractions are located. The 23.6 kilometer route links Tao Pun and Rat Burana. There are four more extension projects for the orange, blue, and green lines. They will surely be a needed addition to the mass transit system in Bangkok and vicinity areas, as well as connecting transportation means to other provinces across Thailand. These projects are now being studied.
The next matter concerns traffic congestion. Despite the existence of electric rail, parking spaces remains a common problem. I have already tasked responsible agencies to search for suitable locations for the construction of car parking garages which should be close enough to places where people go such as department stores. If all drivers park their vehicles in front of the buildings where their businesses are, there will be worse traffic congestion. We should have parking areas 300-500 meters away from the buildings, which would also be a way take on some exercise.
However, this is all up to your personal preferences. We have to admit that solving the congestion problem by simply deploying more traffic police is not a durable solution. At present, there are more vehicles than roads. We need to seek other solutions, such as more parking areas that connect with electric railways that can actually take commuters to their final destinations. We also need to make the fares lower. Everything has to be well-planned and well-thought-through. We also need to find investors who will co-invest with the government, allowing the service to be more convenient and cheaper as well as generate sufficient income.
The government does not only look at ways to resolve traffic congestion, but also ways to improve public safety, especially in commuting. We lose a number of lives to accidents each year. This is such a loss of our most valuable resources. The new system must start today. We also need to take into consideration the improvement of the country’s transport and logistics systems.
In addition, the government is looking to improve the standard of living of the people by deducting the cost and time of traveling. This is especially so for low-income earners. We must also have more funds for future investments.
We also support the expansion of the nation’s economy and society. These two things have to go in the same direction, creating balance in the system. How can we balance out the system? Nothing will move forward should conflicts remain amongst us,
which will then lead to a lack of confidence among investors and tarnish the country’s ability to compete.
We also need to provide equal opportunities to private companies looking to invest in the construction of parking garages, the renovation of pavements, construction of rest stops and shopping places within train stations.
We also need to provide equal opportunities to private companies looking to invest in the construction of parking garages, the renovation of pavements, construction of rest stops and shopping places within train stations.
The government is pushing for the revision of these laws. We want people to generate income in these areas and businesses to be able to step in for future investments. If successful, new communities will be created. However, we will also need to find investors who are willing to co-invest with the government on this matter.
Regarding the construction of rail projects, we must take into account the possibility of Thailand connecting with other nations. In the early stage of rail construction, we might have to import some necessary materials. In the second stage, only main components will be imported while the rest of necessary materials will be procured domestically. Rail stations and maintenance centers can be constructed using materials we can find in our country.
This way, we can save money and create a circle of value which includes production, employment and income generation.
There must be continual development in this area, be they human resources, technology, or production. We can no longer import every material. I have recently instructed responsible personnel to look for ways to procure new buses. I told them to figure out how we can get new public buses. The last auction didn’t yield any results.
This responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Transport Ministry. I have also given advice that we should import the first batch of new buses to replace the old ones.
Afterwards, we can produce our own buses. We should also look into the possibility of having domestic producers make the next batch. Or we could import some materials and use them with domestic materials we can find to assemble the buses.
Reaching the third phase, we will be able to produce our own from scratch. But at the moment, it might be necessary to consider the possibility of importing them, be they buses, trains, or electric trains. But we must be able to produce them in the future.
We may not be able to produce the main parts at the moment, but we should be able to produce other components. This will surely help reduce government spending and encourage domestic production in a wide range of industries such as the steel industry and the auto industry. I strongly believe that we have the capability. We just need continuity and more cooperation. The government is doing its best in this limited amount of time that we have. Consider then, that I have kick-started these things.
As for the mobilization of the country’s economy, we are implementing the “state of the people” approach. The government’s economic team and I have met with Thai business operatives, particularly large business both domestic and abroad. We’ve discussed economic restructuring and cooperation because economic reforms can’t be done by the government alone. The country’s income must increase in the future; therefore we must all work together, with the private sector and the public supporting the work of the government.
I understand the importance of the preservation of natural resources and the environment. I understand the needs of the people in rural areas. However, you can’t live the same way anymore. You must find a way to create balance between national development and the preservation of natural resources and the environment. There are many ways that we can balance both things, not do one at the expense of the other. Today it is difficult because many people are in distress. I ask you to think about what you can do to help the government. I consider this a relationship of mutual benefit as the government will also assist those with low income as well as other businesses. All sides must take care of each other and help the government to enhance our resilience.
Regarding my conversations with business people, I’ve talked about connecting various sectors as well as various scales from large, medium and small, to domestic, foreign, retail, and wholesale. Let’s figure out how everyone can work with with the government in mobilizing the country in accordance with the “state of the people” approach, with the government coming up with policies that enhance the ease of doing business.
Therefore, the business sector is asked to support the government in these things by educating the public, conducting research and developing human personnel to suit demands. What I’m also concerned about today is people graduating with a degree and being unemployed. This is because our competitiveness level is still relatively low. We must place the development of human personnel as our highest priority and teach people to be more studious, smart, thoughtful and visionary. We also need to improve on our critical thinking skills.
I myself have also been developing my critical thinking skills and trying to improve upon things. We keep thinking and talking about improvements but in terms of implementation – I don’t think it’s even 50% of what we talk about. We thus need to focus on educating the public. If we want to develop our products we should think about improving the product’s design such as the packaging and usability in order to increase our competitiveness in the market. This way we can sell these for a higher premium. All these things will create value to the product and create real income for local communities.
In the regions, what I’m very concerned of is the lack of development and failure to increase the production quality by using new techniques on old materials such as textiles. I’m not worried about silk in particular because everyone’s been focusing on this craft as Her Majesty the Queen has been the Royal Patron of silk products for a long time.
Empowering local communities is the highest priority. If people don’t have adequate income and there are no new businesses, who are the producers going to sell their products to? If this happens, you won’t be able to increase your production value and businesses will not be able to expand. Therefore today we must hasten our efforts and support new social enterprise models in order to create new business owners for the future. We need to reform the education system regarding the development of teachers, students and facilities by using the CSR activity from the business sector that I’ve just said before to support this. We must also support the reduction of school hours. For example, in the afternoon, students can do work-study go and observe work at various important businesses to motivate students and give them an interest in the work. Students can reassess what they want to learn and focus on skills development such as by vocational studies. I understand that everyone wants a university degree. But today we need degrees of many types for people to be employed and have enough income.
Regarding job training, I think today we have plenty of businesses whether it is in Thailand or abroad. I’ve mentioned that if any new investment projects provide job training, the government will accommodate them with more benefits accordingly. Companies can provide training in various places, in factories and at schools with the CSR program. Businesses can allocate their budget for education and the setting up of learning programs in order to develop the skills of their workers or incorporate 2nd or 3rd year vocational students as trainees with specific hours and school credit offers. Another way is to develop the skills of existing workers. These people may need language skills regarding specific terminologies.
Regarding the mobilization of these policies, the government will move forward in 2016 the “state of the people” model which is based on the cooperation of all business levels. The state, private sector and the public will work closely as a committee consisting of these three sectors, calling it a “state of the people’’ model. This is different from the joint committee between the government and the private sector which is more of a policy think tank.
We will also mobilize this committee as well in order to reduce inequalities, develop the quality of human personnel and enhance the competitiveness of the country. We will mobilize in accordance to the “4 pillars” consisting of (1) Good governance, which is the most important pillar; (2) Innovation and productivity; (3) Human personnel development and; finally, (4) Cooperation for national stability.
The mechanism of implementing these policies will be in the form of a committee between the government and the private sector. The committee will be tasked with the mobilization of 7 agendas which are:
(1) Encouraging innovation and productivity
(2) Supporting small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-up businesses
(3) Supporting tourism and MICE
(4) Supporting export and investment in foreign countries
(5) Developing industrial clusters of the future (NEW S-curve)
(6) Developing new agricultural practices, and,
(7) Creating income and boosting domestic spending
In addition, the committee will also support 5 business aspects, which are
(1) Encouraging investment and development of the country’s infrastructure
(2) Elevating job skills
(3) Developing economic foundations and a “state of the people”
(4) Amending laws and government mechanisms, and,
(5) Basic education and leadership development
This is something that everyone should understand. Sometimes I talk too fast and you may not be used to this. At the same time a lot of information needs to be covered, so there has been a tendency to not understand many aspects. I’m going to make a summary for you of what the government has done in the past 2 years, what we’ve finished and what needs to be passed on for completion. The “5 Rivers” of reform also will be updated on.
Another important matter is the COP21 meeting in Paris in which representatives from 195 countries took part in unanimously approving the “Paris Agreement” which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to cap the planet’s warming by no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius for the decade.
This is because an increase of more than 1.5 degrees will be problematic and likely result in melting ice caps, floods and numerous natural disasters. We need to be able to adhere to this resolution. At the same time, we must also reduce the effects of climate change.
In addition, the government’s policies must coincide with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, whether it be regarding industrial development, mass transit, reforestation efforts, the reduction of crop burning and dumping waste in waters. In particular, we must focus on the waste-to-energy policy. As for the development of special economic zones, there will be agricultural development as well. This is not a single dimension initiative. Development must include various aspects and we must consider the consequences and how we can create a balance and have a low environmental impact.
Developed countries may still be emitting more greenhouse gases than we do because we’re still developing. This new deal may have some disadvantages for developing countries, Thailand included. Therefore, we need to create understanding regarding this matter and implement our policies according to each country’s capabilities. However, if all countries work together, perhaps we can reduce our own from 2 percent to 1.5 percent.
Today, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Interior as well as other ministries have received the government’s policies. They must report how much they are able to reduce in the year 2016 and must be able to come up with a plan each and every year and a long term plan for every 15 years where Thailand must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25-30%.
Let’s all put an effort into this. I urge you to figure out how you can contribute. Farmers can refrain from burning crops. However, the clearing the fields with tractors instead of burning is expensive. But this shouldn’t be a difficult problem to solve as it relies on the understanding and cooperation of the equipment sellers. These people need to help their country. Demanding more rent on the farm or threatening farmers to plant now is not appropriate, especially as the landlord will not lose anything because he already collected the rent.
This is the problem and farmers will continue to incur debts as a result. Can we solve this? We need to reduce principal capital, reduce management, reduce the cost of seeds and use organic fertilizer, as well as reduce the costs of transportation.
Sometimes the quality of the rice is inadequate because it matures at different times, but you harvest them at the same time because that’s when the tractor comes before it must go to other places in the following week or month. When you can’t transport the crop, the price will drop because the rice is of low quality. I hope everyone understands.
I’ve tried to think of where we can fix this problem. I’ve stressed this with all ministries. The problem is that agencies must also understand the problem in order to really fix the problem. Officials must learn and do all they can as His Majesty’s public servants in aiding people that are in crisis and creating understanding among the public.
We must start using efficient and clean technologies that are environmentally friendly. We should consider these technologies when attempting to reduce Thailand’s greenhouse gas emissions. I’ve told you that this is an important factor that coincides with our agenda of national development. If we are too conservative and reduce too much, the country won’t move forward accordingly. We must therefore know how to create a balance and create an understanding with developed countries as they assist us with technologies and funds. These things go together at the international level.
I spoke at the COP21 meeting that they must also care for developing countries. We’ve just only started up, unlike developed countries with strong industrial sectors. There are some things that we haven’t been able to start because of the recent demand to stop everything. In turn, there will be no income and no development and we’ll end up being a burden to developed countries. I don’t want this country to be a burden to anyone in this world.
Therefore the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Transport and many agencies that are related to the policy of reducing global warming, I’ve given out the order that all must follow through with their agendas and plan for the future. Why are there delays? It’s because you’re still inward looking and have yet to think outside the box. You must redefine this process. Create new laws that are clearer and create understanding with the public.
Anything can be achieved if we cooperate and don’t contest each other and not avoid resorting to conflict, everything will work out. The same thing goes with reform. If people are still arguing and think that their opinions are the best and must be the way, then we will not be able to do anything. Do what we can do or compartmentalize tasks into 1-2-3 phases. Regarding the 5 Rivers, they must do this as well, otherwise it will be a waste of potential and resources. We must close the gap between each side and help each other develop Thailand. Stronger Together
Next week is an important day for Christians as it will be Christmas. For the Thai people, joyfulness can be had every day, whether it is a Thai holiday or an international holiday, we always have a sense of delight. The Thai people are nation that love peacefulness and tranquility. Do we really want to change Thai people into a nation of conflict with quarrels and fighting all the time? I don’t think so.
On behalf of the Royal Thai Government, I wish all Thai Christians as well as Christian tourists’ happiness, fulfillment and good health. Please celebrate Christmas with fun, safety and happiness.
Thank you. Sawasdee Krub.