National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, January 8, 2016

Good evening, dear Thai citizens.

On the occasion of the New Year, His Majesty the King has graciously bestowed a New Years greeting card for the Thai people. The card reads “May all have strong physical health, a fervent spirit and always be mindful.” Allow me to re-emphasize these wishes to encourage all of us to work together for the country and to be a source of inspiration for all Thai people, to always be mindful of our actions and of the events the we deal with in our daily life.

Every second Saturday of January marks the National Children’s Day. This year’s motto is ‘virtuous children are diligent and strive to learn for a bright future.’  This is my message to our nation’s children this year, and I believe it takes all of us to mould and teach our children to be good citizens. We need to be role models for them, so that they will be the driving force of our nation, with the ethics and resolve to be able to handle any challenge. To do this we must start within families, schools, communities, and villages. I also wish for our social units, be they homes, schools, or temples, to work together based on the teachings of His Majesty and the working model of ‘a state of the people’ where communities, the private sector, and state agencies – find ways to collaborate and mould our children to be upstanding citizens who have knowledge and understanding of civic and human rights, responsibilities, liberty, and democracy, as well as the conscience to serve society and our country .

All of the National Children’s Day activities hosted by the private sector and the government are to help children to learn and think outside the box, encourage them to be inventors and scientists as well as use their imagination. They will get hands-on experience which helps them to analyse and come up with effective solutions to solve problems. These activities are also aimed to promote cultural preservation and Thainess. These are our’ gifts ‘to our children on Children’s Day, which will focus on the gift of knowledge and wisdom – the most everlasting asset one can have.

Yesterday, I met with a total of 779 children who were rewarded for being exemplary youths that have brought pride to the nation. This group of children is reflective of the many others around the country who I believe have the potential to be model citizens that uphold the highest ethics and contribute to society. I would like to commend these children as they are so determined to do virtuous deeds, excel in their studies, uphold the highest values, help other people, and always continue to learn and educate themselves. On this occasion, on behalf of the Cabinet members and the elder generation, I would like to send our very best wishes to children in all parts of Thailand. I wish you happiness, success in life, and prosperity. May you all grow up to be upstanding citizens of our nation.

Today, I would like to inform the public of the work in progress of the government, the NCPO, and state enterprises in 2016. The first group involves projects that must be completed or yield tangible results in the time frame this government has left.

Integrating the work of government agencies – state agencies must now be involved in the planning of projects and budgets on policies that are interconnected. Otherwise tangible results will be hard to come by if agency’s only work on their own.

The first phase of reforms – these started with the NCPO, the first cabinet, and was conducted under the National Reform Council under a scheduled time frame. This required understanding what the priorities were and what were secondary tasks. For this, laws and plans needed to be written clearly, while funds were used only as available. The rest will be passed on to the next government.

Urgent matters have included: encroachment of land and marine resources, forest encroachment, rehabilitation of natural resources, economic forests, community forests, food banks, and land allocation for low-income earners. Many low-income earners are forced to illegally invade public spaces. We have had to take all aspects into consideration when solving this problem. We will also bring solutions to illegal fishing, aviation problems, and human trafficking as well as other important issues. We may not be able to finish all the tasks in time. But I have a made a start and we should see to it that they are all resolved.

We have also amended laws and regulations, modernizing them so that they can be used to prevent corruption. We work to facilitate trade and investment and improve public services. We make our laws more wide-reaching, so that they are accepted by the international community. We also need laws that benefit our nation. This includes laws that pertain to the planning of the government funds. However no laws will matter if citizens don’t respect them. Therefore, raising awareness in the public is vital.

We need to lay down a firm foundation for national development in 6 areas, in co-relation to the national reform plan, the 20-year strategic plan, and the NESDB’s plans. Certain issues need an extended period of time because of constant changes. Today, our efforts must yield concrete results. I am doing everything in my capacity during my time in office. Everything else will have to be carried out by the next government.

We need to improve our communications strategy in order to create better and correct understanding inside and outside the country about what is happening. Without understanding, there will be no end to our internal conflicts. I think there are some flaws in our methodology. I have already told related units to improve their work in making known our work in progress.

We need to reduce economic risks that cause uncertainty by building stability through the “state of the people” model of cooperation. We want people to move from the middle-income group to the higher income group. This applies to all professions and careers. We have given focus on the agricultural sector as our farmers are faced with low income and now water scarcity. Several projects need to kick started. But we won’t be able to do that if conflicts remain. We will do our best to address issues in the rubber industry. Rubber can be used in road construction and sports stadium construction. We have all these plans laid out, but they have to be studied first. But our challenge now to is allocate more funding, so please understand that we take this as a matter of our economic security.

The next matter is about the Constitution. As I have mentioned previously, we are now aiming for a constitution that is universally accepted and internationally recognised. So please refrain from needless quarrels over the charter.  The main principles will be stipulated in the charter. Other matters will be written in organic laws. Our efforts in drafting this charter are to prevent the problems we had to undergo in the past. Through the new charter, we want the people live and prosper peacefully, and not remain deeply divided as politicians fight for power like before.

Next is about solving political crisis as well as other security-related problems through the enforcement of law. For politicians – if you have noble intentions for the country, you need to step up and help us reform. Please give suggestions, and not only complaints, especially if you haven’t contributed to the reform agenda.  Many of you only talk about the government wanting to cling on to power. This creates suspicion and will lead to problematic elections. You will then blame it on me. Politicians need to think about turning a new leaf and gaining trust from the people. People are willing to forgive if you are willing to help change this country for the better and the common good. We are not enemies. Those that are being prosecuted – it’s because you have done something illegal.

As for fairness, justice and sustainability – if not necessary, we will not enforce Article 44 of the interim charter. We have enforced it so that we can fix problems in a timely manner. For instance we have also used this special law to protect lives and prevent loss. Although strict traffic laws were being enforced during the New Year holiday, a large number of people still lost their lives to road accidents. This was caused by recklessness and alcohol. Families have to be in pain. New Years should be a joyous time of the year, not time for families to grieve. If we want to utilize Article 44 on certain issues, there should be a law that is enforced in parallel. Regulations of each ministry should coincide. Everyone including officials has to understand these regulations.

Along with a constitution, we will also need laws for administration, criminal code, civil code, and corruption law, among others. This is to ensure fairness in our society. Checks and balances will be scrutinized. Justice will be provided for all.

Long term plans and strategies will be drawn up for future national development, such as the 20-year plan. I will do as much as I can now. The next administration will have to follow up. But it’s up to you whether you agree or disagree or agree to disagree. People shall select politicians whom they approve of and have them carry on this plan, only if you think it is a good plan. You can select your own plan if you think my plan is not good enough. As for long-term investments, there must be development in the country’s basic infrastructure, given that we are in the era of the AEC.

Some people have even said the government should not invest much in infrastructure. Should we take this advice, how will we cope in the future? If we spend the same way we use to spend, there will not be much development, there will not be stability, and the country’s capabilities will be diminished.  As for water management, this government has a long-term plan and will need assistance from the next administration. As for building stability in the agricultural sector, we will try to fix every problem in the first phase. We will also evaluate the results of our efforts. Hopefully, the results are sustainable ones. However, these problems will not be fixed overnight as more time is required. Problems we are fixing are deep-rooted and this is only the first phase.

We will issue necessary measures to ensure peacefulness and safety, without drugs, human trafficking, illegal activities, and other social problems such as the lack of respect for traffic law, illegal street racing, student brawls, and other forms of violence. We have to fix this. Everything can be fixed if everyone is committed to it. Families and communities have to work together in order to nurture good citizens who respect the law, who don’t cause others trouble, and who respect others’ rights. You need to be responsible for yourself, your family, and your country.

We are still in the process of amending and revising laws and regulations. Out of more than 300, 140-150 acts have been revised. The rest are going through deliberation. These new laws are benefiting for all. Some have been modernized although people still lack an understanding of these laws. In the end, you all need to understand them for your own benefit.

However it would be useless if laws cannot be enforced. Take demonstrations for example. If nobody listens to the law, if nobody respects the law, there will be violence. It is not right if perpetrators of violence enjoy impunity or are immune to legal proceedings because of their rights. The law is still the law. It is different from the basic rights. Everyone is equal under the law. Law is the most important part of a society.

Other areas of reform that must take place include education, bureaucracy, civil servants, and state enterprise employees. Civil servants – you must start with internal reform. You need to change your work approaches. You need to have a vision and prepare for all circumstances. Don’t wait until something happens and react. The better approach is to be proactive.

As for reconciliation which has been discussed for a long time, some people think reconciliation relates to the amnesty law. I assure you that Amnesty must come with a legal precedent. We shall leave this matter to the law reform committee.

The same goes for legal and judicial procedure reforms – each ministry has to reform its own regulations. But public pressure should not be the only reason for state agencies in drawing up new regulations. At the same time if the people want reforms to regulations, you must have enough information, not just assumptions. Without adequate data, you cannot make a real suggestion.

You need a model or an example for you to look into. I want all legislature-related matters to be left in the hands of responsible agencies. We need to allow the judicial process to take course without any intervention. The government cannot manipulate this process and we cannot issue any orders. Everyone is entitled to prove their innocence and enter a legal battle.  But when doing so, please have the civility not to stir conflicts in society by distorting information.

If you are telling the truth, there should be officials who can back your comments. Officials are ready to talk with you on all matters. The question is ‘will you let us?’ Please think of the consequences of your actions.

In terms of raising public awareness, I would like to ask members of the press to present both sides of the story. Please be ethical and fair. If you let one side talk, you have to let the other side talk as well. This way we can let the people decide. If you choose to present only one side of the story, our conflicts will never go away.

I don’t want the press to fall victim to politicians who use media as a tool. This is a waste of time. What does the public get out of this fighting? Please cooperate and try to fix these problems.

Whatever the government does, it must first consult existing laws. We need to first examine various rules and regulations. If we do what we please, there will definitely be problems and people will demand fairness. I also implore others not to abuse your power or act only for your own personal gain.

We need to implement reform on all fronts. Therefore the various agencies of the government, bureaucracies and state enterprises need to do so. Offer suggestions and I will forward them to the NRSA. Give suggestions with principles and not merely demands, otherwise there will be more conflict and reforms will be hampered.

The next matter is regarding international relations. Results must be tangible. Today, I’ve called for the drafting of agreements between various regions, particularly the prioritization of countries that we wish to enhance trade with. Today, we must look towards various regions and connect with them, be they in the East, West, North-South or South-South, or superpowers, starting with the CLMV countries.

In ASEAN, we must have a clear agenda for guidelines and joint efforts to enhance efficiency. Whatever we need to sell or whoever we compete with we must boost our capabilities. We must follow through with investment projects such as the ASEAN plus one agreement as well as anything that includes Thailand in the fields of trade, investment, industry and tourism. Regarding tourism, many countries want us to provide them with information and knowledge. They have commended Thailand for our ability to provide exceptional tourism services, particularly in the past year. Regarding security, there must be cooperation on defence, anti-terrorism policies and intelligence-sharing. These things are very important.

Regarding education, we need to accelerate our reform of our education policies, particularly the development of human personnel. Our healthcare services must become more efficient. The problem is that we have focused spending cures and not enough to preventative measures and education that can reduce doctor visits and expenses. Research and development policies must also be clearer during the remaining time of this administration.

Yesterday, I was able to commend our students from Thammasat University for inventing medical equipment. These machines cost around 200,000 Baht while imported machines can cost up to 25 million Baht. Ours costs 200,000  and  is sufficient, so

I’ve already placed orders for 10 machines to be given to hospitals to try out. If we don’t support innovation like this, research will not turn into production and industries will not grow. Therefore I would like everyone to support research and innovation in the country and to turn research into production as soon as possible.

In setting goals, think of the desired outcomes first. Don’t think about doing something or initiating a project without knowing the end date or funds required. Think long term but don’t ask for money and then not use it. Utilize funds in increments, mixed with loans or TPP funds or private funds. This is how it should be done. It’s also up to the next government if it wants to do it this way. However, we must prepare ourselves for the ASEAN community and indeed the world community. We need to finish these projects and lay down the plans for the country’s future before the election in July 2017.

About the about the public referendum – there will be no progress if people do not consider what’s actually written in the constitution and who it benefits. Does it benefit me, the NCPO or any other group? There are many misunderstandings about this, foretelling more problems. If this is the case, what if the referendum rejects the new constitution? What can we do then?

The next matter is regarding agreements with other countries. Thailand has engaged in many agreements and I have made a summary of what we’ve engaged in order to continue with our commitments. We also need to implement what we’ve signed up to do. Some agreements also take time to reach a conclusion. If it involves another country, they must also consider the agreement as well. Some negotiation processes have taken up to 3-4 years such as the FTAs, RCEP.

We’ve established our requirements and they’ve brought theirs to the table and both sides are working things out. Regarding investments, I’ve stressed that whatever agreements that were reached must be implemented within the year 2017. Sometimes middlemen come in and sell out the agreements and licenses. I urge all officials to keep a look out on this and not let anyone exploit these projects like what has happened in the past. It is the duty of the government to oversee these matters.

The next matter is Thailand’s Chairmanship in G77. I will have the honour to introduce the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty the King as a viable approach for sustainable development. We need to reduce the gap between developed and developing countries, where developed countries give support in terms of funding, knowledge, technology and research studies to developing countries.

Otherwise, the gap will continue to widen. In order to create resilience, enhance capabilities and add income to people in the country to achieve more equality, the work of the government must be “people-centric.” Each agency must consider how their projects benefit different groups, occupations and income levels of the public in order to develop the country and reduce the gap between us and rich countries.

Otherwise we will not reach our potential. We need constant support otherwise there will be no progress. The coming together of countries must yield leverage as we utilize our own potentials as well as that of ASEAN’s in order to be competitive to other association of countries. All occupations including students and laborers must develop themselves today. Don’t just ask what they’ll get from AEC without first preparing yourselves. If you don’t study or improve your skills, no one will want to hire you and there will be no competitiveness.

We need to mobilize the production process, product processing and marketing. The most important element is developing human personnel to match with the demands of a competitive market. This year marks the beginning of the AEC.

How can we cooperate with our neighbors for mutual benefit, sharing the production process, distribution channel and markets without competing with one another? Otherwise, prices will be pushed down. Leaders of ASEAN countries agree on this, but how can we implement it? These things take time and will be gradually implemented.

Regarding these matters, whether it is with the AEC or elsewhere, the government’s job is to see how we can benefit from these groupings. We must stipulate our goals and seek cooperation based on trust and to allow citizens from all countries, particularly those from low income countries to benefit. This mutual benefit will elevate incomes and enable all countries to develop alongside each other. The construction of connecting highways and railway tracks requires money. If we don’t have money, how can we connect with others? Our economies must grow strong together with trade and investment.

We will develop our products and innovations for the world stage; create brands that are made in Thailand within this year. There are many developments from what we’ve done at Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem market. There’s been business matching, information exchange, licensing and many other things. Many have been able to increase their income into the millions. If we’re determined, we will be able to do it. It requires perseverance and determination. Thai people can do this.

We must be strong from within with our “Made in Thailand” products. The next step will be smart and strong cities in all aspects. We need to observe the countries around us and how we can cooperate within the economic corridors of North – South or East – West. Today the Thai government is looking west. Many large countries are looking east. I’m also looking to see how we can cooperate with them. I’ve talked to the ambassadors of some major power countries in order to expand our ties with countries to the West of Thailand and ASEAN, towards the south of Asia. We need to develop closer ties.

We also need to create a new breed of farmers and laborers to become “smart people,” “smart farmers” and “smart laborers”. These are words that I want people to know of because these words are necessary in creating understanding because they’re easy to understand and refer to a development in the world community.

In moving forward with empowering all sectors to develop with sustainability, reforming the country and solving longstanding problems, the goal is to reduce social conflicts. The intention is to solve these problems so that there is no need for conflict. The law can be enforced, but it also depends on the cooperation of the public. If people don’t cooperate and businesses and groups don’t cooperate, how can we move forward? If you don’t think to develop yourself, only think of profits and losses, don’t take responsibility for society and the environment, you’ll need to reform yourself. It starts from you and your families and various agencies. Please respect the law and rules of the country. The government, private sector and the public must cooperate in the form of a “state of the people” model. Thailand can thereby move forward with integrity, honor and sustainability.

The last matter is the Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem market which has entered its second year and has produced over 1 billion Baht in revenue. In terms of investment, market expansion for operators, the number is more. Some are able to expand overseas in countries far out or in our neighboring countries. The products sell very well and there’s an exchange of products with CLMV countries.

The other day, I inaugurated the Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem for another time between January 6 and 26 of 2016. This is the agenda of the Ministry of Social Development of Human Security to be the main body in mobilizing this project by organizing the far titled “The river market of Thainess” under the concept of “Opportunity, dignity and generosity of Thais caring for and helping each other.”

This is done by distributing products, enhancing capabilities and generating income to the public and target communities. Today there are many groups such as children, adolescents, women, the disabled, elderly and underprivileged that will join in on the activities in the event in providing services and selling various goods. These goods and services were made by them and is a mark of their identity and dignity.

The first zone features a campaign against human trafficking. I ask for the cooperation from business operatives because I’ve called for the MOU on how we can all combat human trafficking and illegal fishing activities. I’ve given orders to my deputy and I ask for your cooperation. We’ve also agreed on the construction of 8,000 sustainable homes. Related agencies must what to do from that in the long term.

Draft them into a plan and include it in the reform agenda. We need to relocate homeless persons or those living in slums and create more stability for these people. Those that will be constructing townhouses and condominiums next to canals or in crowded areas should leave some space for exercise, outdoors activities or vendors as well as support tourism while creating a safe society. Otherwise, it will just end up looking like a slum that looks dangerous and worrying. There’s also a “blue heart” booth and a social assistance booth as well.

The second zone features creativity and a demonstration of human potential, with musicians as well as blind musicians. I’ve initiated this project. We’ve gathered these people from the streets and trained them with job skills and help them generate income. They’ve formed bands and I’ve had the opportunity to listen to their music. I’ve also heard that some music companies have included them in their music training and singing courses. Congratulations to all these individuals. This is called the “From Street to Stars Show”

This is a performance that we’ve organized for them. There are also performances by creative individuals who are disabled, products made by the disabled and the elderly, products made by ethnic groups as well as wisdom of the elderly. The registration of disabled individuals has been met with good cooperation from registrants. The elderly and the disabled at this fair are very happy to be here.

The third zone is for people of all ages, consisting of the registration desk for the infant support fund, cultural performances from children and adolescents, products for children, adolescents and the family, traditional products from all 4 regions and flash sales.

The fourth zone features the joy of giving, consisting of food and processed goods from volunteers from the Ministry of Social Development and various associations.

Apart from your pleasure of visiting the market, this is an opportunity of contributing to society, particularly by supporting products made by the disabled or by those from rural areas. These were products that were made by their true skills and determination. Some people are without limbs but can produce beautiful paintings. The artist didn’t have hands and feet and had to draw while lying down.

I wish everyone happiness in their trip to support various products. Please help be a part of this story of creating value to various products. Most importantly, these stories are of national heritage that are unique to our people. These things lead to the development of new innovation that compete in the world market. If products look the same throughout all districts, how would they sell? If you develop them and adjust their shape and form and uses, the value will increase. For example, how can you make a cotton robe be worth as much as silk cloth? There are many success stories that are selling abroad.

Please help each other develop the country and to prepare for the first phase of reform along with this administration. I’d like to thank the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security as well as other related agencies, businesses, the private sector and the public. Please help each other move Thailand forward.

Thank you. Sawasdee Krub

Photo credit: Athit Perawongmetha