National Broadcast by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister – December 25, 2015
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
During this last week of 2015, I would like to congratulate “Nong Nat” Aniporn Chalermburanawong, Miss Universe Thailand 2015, for making it into the final 10 contestants at the Miss Universe 2015 in the United States of America. She also won best national costume after putting on a “Tuk Tuk” dress on stage. She has certainly brought joy to the Thai people ahead of the New Year. On behalf of the Government and the Thai people, I would like to thank her very much.
I would also like to mention how several media agencies have been reporting about 3 youngsters namely Wannakorn Khammeemul (Boss), Thaweechai Fusa (Fuse), and Thaweesak Fusa (Film) who have committed themselves to helping society. They pitched in their allowances to purchase cleaning equipment to clear up their cluttered walkway to school. For at least 2 months, these three youngsters have been cutting grass and cleansing walkways.
I find their comments very meaningful when they said “We are Thais and we want to do this as a tribute to His Majesty the King on the occasion of His Majesty’s 88th Birthday Anniversary. We will continue to clean this street and don’t want anything in return.” What do you think about this comment? I admire these youngsters as well as their parents and teachers. I hope that these children will be an inspiration for adults and the rest of the society, encouraging us to be kind-hearted and willing to do virtuous deeds with joy for society. So I remind them to lease be careful on the road while doing their activities.
Not only is 31 December 2015 the last day of the year, it also marks the official formation of ASEAN Community which comprises 10 nations in Southeast Asia. There is no need to be worried as there will not be imminent changes made overnight, especially after all sectors have been continually raising awareness of such formation. We are ready on certain matters and in preparation on other matters. What we can start will be initiated now. We have been preparing for this for the past two years.
If we can adapt, become more resilient, and cooperate based on understanding, positive changes will be realized. As you already know, there were some major changes in the past such as the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1992.
There has been a lot of development since then. Many things have to be improved. At present, ASEAN has signed free trade agreements with 6 nations – China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand.
We’re also trying to achieve the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between 10 members, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand, whose combined GDP account for one third of the world’s GDP and whose population accounts for half of the world population.
Therefore, people of all sectors should use this opportunity for the benefit of your organization and your nation, albeit through adequate awareness and self-improvement. For the government, what is essential is the improvement of human resources such as skilled workers, so that Thai workers can enter the ASEAN market with full potential, making sure that our participation is based on quality expertise.
We need to foster understanding, education, enthusiasm for language learning and technology, as well as an ASEAN solidarity, the responsibility of which falls into the hands of the Education Ministry and other related agencies.
For this, six strategies will be deployed.
1. Create understanding towards ASEAN.
2. Improve living standards and education.
3. Producing workers with skills needed in ASEAN workforce market.
4. Develop information technology and communication.
5. Enhance mechanisms for exchanges and transfers
6. Strengthen regional connectivity.
A total of 447 ASEAN study centers will be established nationwide in order to level up the Thai education system to higher international standards, paving the way for Thai and foreign students to thrive in ASEAN, which is in line with the country’s goal to become the region’s hub for education. Qualifications of Thai students will be based on qualifications in other ASEAN nations as well.
To this extent, those involved will have to reassess their roles for this strategy, be they schools, civil servants, the civic sector, the public, or businesses. This will also involve looking into what challenges can be opportunities as we are moving into the ASEAN Community. How ready are we? How much understanding do we have of ASEAN? It is not just about learning more English.
We have to acquire more knowledge, improve labor skills, prepare for movement of skilled labor, etc. Workers in many occupations may need to move location. If we do not prepare ourselves well now, don’t produce skilled workers, or don’t have better incentives, our skilled workers will move to other countries to find jobs. Thailand will then lack skilled work forces.
The Royal Thai Government has a goal to improve the English skills of certain groups such as students, teachers, executives, and the general public. There will be international schools, bi-lingual schools, elective English courses, and language schools across Thailand. Primary school and high school students will be able to improve their English language at these schools while students in rural and remote areas can learn English through distance-learning programs. They will have fewer school class hours while being able to learn more extracurricularly.
There are some other languages students need to learn such as Chinese and Japanese. This matter will be put forth in according to the needs and requirements. We ask for cooperation from the private sector and employers to lend a helping hand for the benefit of the public, the workforce, and businesses. Different businesses may require different language skills.
The English language development program for vocational system will focus on 4 groups.
1. Vocational students in 147 schools will be provided an English program (EP) and a mini English program (MEP). They will be taught technical terms often used in their professions. They will be able to communicate in English as well as convey messages.
2. English teachers in regular schools will improve their English skills while English teachers in vocational schools will improve their English communication skills.
3. School executives will be given intensive English courses. Interested personnel can register through their smart phones.
4. Employers will be asked to provide English language courses to their employees and staff who have high potential to become team leaders or supervisors.
The key to improving language skills is being able to understand the language. Have the courage to speak out more and you will gradually improve. Foreigners will always try to understand us. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We need to be good hosts for the tourism industry to grow. You may one day become a manager and earn higher income. You will be taught new technologies acquired from overseas.
In reference to economic measures, apart from maintaining stability through cooperative economic relations with our neighbors, the rest of ASEAN and other international friends, Thailand must seek new markets through mutual cooperation.
1. The first matter concerns the expansion of ASEAN cooperation. This past week, a cabinet retreat was held between Thailand and Cambodia. Both nations have enjoyed 65 years of strong relations based on mutual benefits. December 19th was our 65th anniversary.
Thailand and Cambodia will try to achieve progress on matters of mutual benefit. We have agreed on several matters such as our efforts to increase the values of trade and investment by 3 folds or around 5 billion US dollars in the next half decade,
the development of special economic zones, cooperation on customs and transportation, road and rail cooperation, and the promotion of higher volume of two-way trade.
At the cabinet retreat, both sides also touched on the matters of tourism, energy, labor, agriculture, public health, and medication under the concept of Thailand+1. We want to invite investors to our region, a large market with a total population of more than 600 million people.
The next matter concerns maintaining existing markets. For example, we will support trade, investment, and cooperation between Thailand and China.
We will push for concrete results and progress on trade, investment and economic cooperation. We will set up mechanisms to address obstacles in the area of trade and investment. Several agreements have been inked such as.
1) the rail development project under the country’s infrastructure development plan which will be implemented between 2015 and 2022,
2) the agreements to trade 1 million tons of rice and 200,000 tons of rubber, and
3) the promotion of tourism with a goal of 10 million Chinese tourists in 2016
We also need to penetrate new markets. This effort will succeed through cooperation with the Pacific Island countries, the Middle East, Africa, India, Russia, and in several Muslim countries, especially cooperation on agriculture, fisheries, public health, phytosanitary, agricultural development, and development in other sectors that participating nations are interested in and can exchange know-how.
We especially need to focus on sustainable development in the fishing industry as well as prevent and tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU). All documents concerning imports and exports of seafood products will be thoroughly scanned as well as other documents such as fishing licenses. These documents will also need to be verified. We will emphasize on R&D, marine resources assessment, and marine resources management.
I’m concerned about the fishery industry regarding the progress inspection that will take place around January 20th by a committee on IUU issues. We must acknowledge the faults that have existed for a long time, and establish a clear agenda regarding legislation, management, punishment, care for victims and continuous cross-the-board monitoring of the fishing industry. Let’s see what the committee wants us to focus on, especially what needs to be carried out in the early stages. We will do our best, particularly to handle all the necessary issues, especially within the short time frame given. I want people to see for themselves how we have been really committed to solving this issue.
Regarding violations in the fishing industry, I don’t want everyone to just focus on issues at sea, because the trade of fishing products is also conducted on land, especially in Thailand. There are purchases from piers, shrimp and fish processing factories in the industrial sector which requires large numbers of workers. These issues need to be addressed and I have ordered the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) to take direct responsibility in hand with the NCPO. A progress report must be made to me on a weekly basis as well as the progress report on solving land and maritime issues and necessary steps in addressing IUU fishing.
I also want to advise vessels over 60 gross tons to strictly abide by regulations. Vessels under 60 gross tons must have proper licensing and equipment. As for small-scale fishing activities of local communities, I would like to ask for cooperation in terms of the fishing equipment they are using and to not resort to confrontations with officials. I’m indeed empathizing with the concerns of those who need to earn a living but we need to be conscious of our natural resources. As for fishing in international waters, I ask all to abide by international regulations, otherwise our fishing products will not be allowed in other countries.
Today, we must expand our trade and investment with the Pacific Island states, and look for fishing resources in cooperation with other regions.
Our market consists of the upper, middle and lower markets, because we also have 3 levels of products. For example, we have jasmine rice, white rice and riceberry rice which are unique local products. Today, the price of white rice has decreased and thus has affected many. I’ve heard news that many rice mills lowering their prices. I’ve now instructed the NCPO to investigate the facts behind this. You can’t take advantage of our farmers. They are already facing many difficulties. Please cooperate with the government. I don’t want you to make a loss but you need to take care of the people too because we are working together as a “state of the people”
As for para rubber, we must expedite our production and processing efforts, whether it be in the form of mattresses, sports tracks or other things such as restroom floors for the elderly. We need to rethink the way we do things but I also need these things to be done quickly. We must make use of R&D we have conducted.
Today, the government has utilized studies in rubber to aid business operatives. However, efforts still need to be quicker. I’ve asked the economic team to work with the Ministry of Science and the National Science and Technology Development Agency on how to implement these advancements. With regards to incorporating para, we can’t just only wait for the “rubber city” project. We must implement the remaining policies now to achieve results within the 1 year and 6 month timeframe that this government is left with.
We may need to acquire additional equipment and increase our investment in production and support the labor sector by educating workers. We’ve now created a new generation of entrepreneurs and various industries and I want to help accelerate industries with high growth potential and process lots of resources in order to increase our production value and income. I also want to reduce structural issues that are still prevalent in the rubber sector.
Regarding how to increase the country’s economic potential, we’ve lacked development initiatives for a long time and we must create strength, stability and competitiveness in all areas. We must create innovation to compete with the global market. The government is also supporting the development of the country’s economic foundations in reducing poverty and social inequalities.
Everyone should understand what is inequality, what is justice, what is poverty and what are social gaps. We’ve talked about this for a long time and we need to genuinely address these issues. The government is laying out concepts and policies but it must be enacted by the civil servants. Today the government is coordinating with the private sector in the development of framework of cooperation called ‘a state of the people’. Therefore, the bureaucracy must do the same. Don’t fall back to old practices; otherwise we will not be successful or have a future because the people will not be able to help themselves. We must help the public prosper; otherwise we will not be able to compete.
We need to ensure development in all stages, be it in among adolescents, in villages, and local communities. For example, today we have the “One Tambon, One Product” or OTOP project. This has been a good example of how to create value by using local practices that has been passed on for generations and developing them into products and services that create income for communities. This project has successfully ensured the development of all stages of the economy from conception, production, all the way to distribution.
We’ve supported OTOP in ways such as the recent OTOP CITY 2015 event according to the wishes of Her Majesty the Queen who had resolved to bring local products and practices that are unique to communities to the international market.
You can see that Her Majesty had initiated The Queen Sirikit Department of Sericulture for silk, as well as other initiatives to support hand carving, lacquer ware, silverware and gold products. These initiatives have been an inspiration for the government to mobilize the OTOP project to support Her Majesty’s initiatives in a sustainable fashion. As of today, Her Majesty the Queen’s support for arts and crafts has been developing the skills of the people for over 60 years.
This is the key to success. Therefore we must utilize this practice to mobilize the framework of cooperation as “state of the people” model by synthesizing the work of the government, private sector and the public on the vertical and horizontal levels. We also need to create a society of learning where success will further motivate the public, farmers, manufacturers and businesses of this country.
As we enter the winter season, some areas get very cold. I ask all to please take care of your health, especially during the New Year festivities. Those vacationing or traveling to their hometowns should care for their health. Please get enough rest prior to long distance commutes and inspect the readiness of your vehicles. Please refrain from drinking and driving.
The government has prepared measures to service the public on their way journey back home to pay respect to their parents and reunite with their relatives. There are service stops along the road, short cuts, road signs, traffic signals and alcohol monitoring. Not drinking while driving is the most important thing to do.
You already punish yourself when you others, so do you really seek further punishment by the law? I want everyone to exercise good judgment and be cooperative with the officials. Today they are conducting their duties and servicing you during the New Year and public holidays. They want to go home as well but it is their duty to work. They’ve sacrificed their their time with their families. These people include administrators, civilians, police officers, military personnel and various foundations. Please give them your support.
I’d like to also suggest that maybe you can give the officials small tokens of appreciation. It doesn’t have to be valuable. Sometimes people need encouragement in their work. These officials face many problems of their own and you wouldn’t be able to understand or empathize you only thought about your own needs.
As for presents, I would like to emphasize to you all that giving is a virtuous circle. I invite everyone, including the public, civil servants, police officers military officials as well as all sectors in Thai society to give to each other, whether is in the form of:
1. Gifts for yourself that include the wealth of knowledge that you accumulate, through sound judgment and ethics.
2. Gifts for your family such as time, love and care. Please don’t forget to take care of your loved ones.
3. Gifts for your friends and colleagues such as sincerity and respect as well as unity and cooperation.
4. Gifts for society and the country such as generosity to others and the sacrifice of personal gain for the greater good of the public. Once you give, the things that you want will eventually find a way of coming back to, unlike someone who has never given anything to anyone and only demands and puts pressure on others. Everyone should do their duty while being kind and generous.
I don’t want you to use words like “what has this country given to me?” or “what has the NCPO and the government given to me?” Think about what you can give for the country. As we have long existed in freedom and sovereignty, I ask that you, as a Thai citizen that genuinely loves their country and our highest institution, to do something for the country and for our children.
I would like to wish everyone happiness during their vacation with their families and be ready to move Thailand forward next year along with the NCPO and the government.
Thank you very much. Sawasdee Krub.