National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, February 19, 2016
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
February 22nd will be Maka Bucha Day, and I would like to cite a Buddhist teaching which says “performing virtuous deeds, refraining from immorality and having a pure soul”, for all citizens so that it can be a guiding way for a happier life.
I would like to invite all Thais to pledge our vows to commit virtuous deeds, have noble intentions, and maintain the five Buddhist precepts as a blessed offering to commemorate the auspicious occasion of the 70th anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne this year, 2016. In addition, Her Majesty the Queen will be celebrating her 7th cycle or 84th Birthday Anniversary this year as well. Therefore, our pledge to virtuous deeds would also be an expression of loyalty and reverence for Their Majesty’s benevolence.
I also would like to share with you topics that were discussed during the ASEAN-US Summit in California which I recently attended. We also need to strengthen our economic ties by emphasizing the facilitation of trade and investment, the reduction of trade barriers both tariff and non- tariff, and the revision of regulations. In addition, the quality of products must be enhanced and two-way investment must be encouraged. Furthermore, financial and technical cooperation must be in compliance with the sustainable development goals, with people as its center. The goal seeks to eradicate poverty and close the social and economic gaps in our societies. We must ensure sustainable growth without leaving anyone behind.
In terms of economic development on the basis on innovation and technology for sustainable growth, we must promote these following sectors. We shall improve SMEs ability to compete, as this sector is a key mechanism to driving all economies.
Success can be realized if we use technology and innovation in our production, access markets and maintain international standards, partner up with other businesses, increase business opportunities, and exchange knowledge and technology.
Also, we need to use the digital economy to mobilize our economies, opening doors for new businesses to enter new markets and giving them a chance to compete with larger enterprises.
Governments must place great emphasis on the development of a digital infrastructure, R&D, and transferring technological advancements in the production sector as well as electronic commerce.
Thailand will invite leaders in the digital industry to invest in Thailand and in the ASEAN region under Thailand +1, +2, +3, or +ASEAN concepts.
Lastly, we must build resilience in technology and innovation, especially in future industries such as information technology, clean energy, environmentally-friendly agriculture, and the satellite and space industry.
More importantly, we must keep the door open for new entrepreneurs to exchange information, paving the way for future cooperation in the form of creative partnerships, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The second matter involves development. I affirmed Thailand stance as a bridge-builder between developing and developed nations, while promoting the Sufficiency Economy philosophy of His Majesty the King, which encourages participation from all sectors and encouraging an inner drive from individuals and communities, and cooperation through a “state of people” model, to confront global challenges such as poverty, inequality, economic crises, environmental disasters, and pandemics as well as to achieve the global sustainable development agenda of 2030.
The third issue is about security. Tensions in both the South China Sea and on the Korean peninsula are delicate issues in which trust needs to be cultivated and new cooperative efforts need to be established. For regional stability and prosperity, I am in support of utilizing existing agreements while enhancing diplomatic efforts to enhance cooperation and reduce mistrust such as hotlines. ASEAN is united in playing a constructive role in the international community.
The second meeting I attended is on the preservation of peace, prosperity and security in the Asia-Pacific region discussed matters such as terrorism, climate change, public health and human trafficking. These matters are transnational issues which require cooperation between various countries.
On public health, Thailand supports and has participated in various agreements regarding personnel development and the enhancement of medical facilities in hand with the United States and ASEAN. Agreements include the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences and the establishment of an ASEAN center for medics.
On human trafficking, The Thai government has made this issue a national agenda and has invested time, personnel and resources to resolutely solve it, which has included the integration of state agencies and social organizations, and seeking cooperation with neighboring countries and international organizations, to address other related issues to human trafficking such as transnational crime, illegal fishing activities and illegal migration.
On responding to natural disasters, such phenomena have become more frequent and severe, yet predicting those remains difficult. There have been efforts to improve the logistics of relief efforts and exchanging information, including technology and innovation on disaster warning and emergency relief.
In my meeting with Thai scientists, representatives of the Association of Thai Professionals in America and Canada, and Thai creative economy professionals, I was very glad to see how Thai nationals working abroad expressed their care and thoughtfulness for their home country. They voiced their useful suggestions for our country’s problems. I call them “Group 13” of the “state of the people” way of cooperation.
I need to get in touch with these people as they are knowledgeable, have great potential, well-experienced, have expertise, and most importantly have good intentions for the well-being of our nation. They are willing to help Thailand make progress and their viewpoints on how to advance the country were similar to the government’s.
The push for scientific development and a creative economy will be key to helping Thailand step out of the middle income economy trap and this can be achieved by enhancing human resources, seeking new knowledge, increasing opportunities, and promoting STEM education which includes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This aims to develop human resources and produce workers in areas which Thailand is lacking, paving the way for future industries.
We also need to invest in innovation, in line with the “4 clusters” concept of the special economic zone policy. The 4 clusters are 1) automobile and parts, 2) appliances, electronics, and telecommunications, 3) petrochemicals and green chemical products, and 4) the digital economy. There are also two other clusters, which include agro-processing and textiles.
In addition, we also need to encourage new entrepreneurs and SMEs as well as launch the “Startup Project”.
Then, we can increase opportunities in the creative economy group, comprising of software, digital content, data center, building software parks, building movie towns, and film making services. What’s important is that we need to make Thai brands recognized and valued internationally. At this initial stage, Thailand will work with the United States in organizing art and cultural exhibitions and other creative economy events. We will support Thai artists in international arenas and promote the creative economy in Thailand as well.
Next is about water management in terms of both quality and quantity. Droughts, flooding and polluted water have negative effects on people’s health and the environment. The government, in collaboration with engineers and experts, is implementing appropriate measures to tackle these issues.
We talked about enhancing the well-being of the people for the mutual growth and benefit of every nation. For this, it is essential to take into consideration the differences in economic and social statuses of the ASEAN countries and the United States. Both sides must seek each other’s cooperation in terms of economic partnership.
1. Upgrading the country’s high-speed internet network to cover all villages across the country.
2. Developing an international telecommunications infrastructure which accommodates the exchange of information in a borderless world, particularly knowledge and transactions between countries. This will be necessary so that Thailand continues to make progress, and if we can capitalize on this development by becoming ASEAN’s digital hub, this achievement will benefit all sectors in various ways.
Currently, the government is ready in all aspects, especially in investment projects that are important for the next generation. The government is ready to increase housing projects by 30,000 projects, or 40 per cent of all existing projects. The government will also reduce social inequalities by extending roads to all villages and households, including those in remote areas. Once these projects are implemented, all villages will have access to resources such as education, public health services and government assistance.
The benefits of these policies are divided into the following aspects:
1. Social aspects: in addition to reducing social inequality and expanding access to services, urbanization will reduce and all areas will have access to development, with more jobs and income, while people can work, send information, and make contact with agencies and conduct businesses right from their homes.
2. Economic aspects: villages and communities will be strengthened from within and connected to the national level by the “state of people” model which links the public, the state and the private sector. This will, in turn, attract investors and businesses from other countries who wish to utilize Thailand as a production hub due to our readiness. This readiness entails having adequate roads, railways and high-speed internet. Businesses where we lack expertise will be brought in and Thai workers will learn from more exposure to technology and know-how. This will create economic and social stability. This coincides with the government’s policy of creating a digital economy through the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
In addition, I have had the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister of Viet Nam Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung. Our 2 countries have had diplomatic relations for over 40 years. We have agreed on various measures to cultivate mutual benefits such as:
1. Security: to enhance cooperation between the 2 country’s civil, police and military units.
2. Trade: to push for a trade value of 20 billion Dollars by the year 2020.
3. Labour: to extend the deadline on registering workers and verifying the nationalities of Vietnamese workers as well as career support for them.
4. Fishing: to address illegal fishing activities by opening a fishing communication channel and to include other ASEAN nations in the dialogue to enhance cooperation in ASEAN so that our regional grouping can play a significant role internationally.
Government’s initiative where farmers can easily access information on farming that can reduce principal costs, add value to products and access new markets. This also encourages businesses to access the government’s database to find out
Also, we need to use the digital economy to mobilize our economies, opening doors for new businesses to enter new markets and giving them a chance to compete with larger enterprises.
An example is turning government services into a smart service system to provide convenient and to synthesize information from various government agencies. This is done by:
1. Creating a data center through the cloud system to create a “digital government” data system that can reduce budgetary redundancies and introduce new services to the public.
2. Creating the mobile application “Gov-Channel” which provides access to government’s database for farmers. This also encourages the “smart farmer” initiative where farmers can easily access information on farming that can reduce principal costs, add value to products and access new markets. This also encourages businesses to access the government’s database to find out about business procedures, licenses and transactions.
3. Launching an online news network called “G-News” which aims to disseminate information and introduce the public to the government’s policies and services.
However, these technological advancements can be a drawback if we don’t seize the opportunity to make good use of them by providing knowledge and understanding, especially for the younger generation, and instead use the technology just for entertainment purposes. We must, therefore, encourage the public to use technology to access useful information and acquire new knowledge which will be of benefit, so that we can build a Thai nation with stability, prosperity and sustainability.”
For instance, If you import solar roofs and sell them in the country, you cannot deny the fact that you are responsible for those roofs once they can no longer be used. These roofs cannot be thrown out like regular waste. They are as chemical as batteries. Government ministries need to enforce strict laws on this. I, for one, would like to see more solar panels in Thailand.
When I was in Sunnylands, California, USA, I saw solar panels on top of garages or in a 1-acre area. This sort of alternative energy is used for certain purpose only such as building lights. They use solar energy stored during the day at night time. Solar power is also used in garage and households.
I don’t think we should have solar panels install in a large area because we still lack an effective distribution system. The country’s energy regulations and pipelines are also problematic. It also requires a large sum of money. Solar energy is sometime too fast for some people.
People used to say that solar energy will make things better, but they never realized actual condition. I think we need to promote the use if solar energy more.
Thailand must have its own domestic companies invest in solar energy. We already have people with skills in this field. Due to free trade, I will not bar anyone from importing solar energy. Everyone can be a part in improve the country’s alternative energies. If we produce our own energy it will be cheaper. We need to make sure the quality of solar energy produced by domestic companies will be as high as that imported. This creates a fair competition. Only the public can benefit from a fair competition. This is the government’s policy for this year. I ask all responsible agencies to find ways to make the solar system work so that we can conserve more energy. I understand that it will cost load of money, but I believe every ministry has enough budget to make it come true. Please look into possibility of installing solar panels in state offices. Same goes to the Government House, it cannot keep on paying high electricity bills.
Solar roofing system is where we should start because it is more difficult to build a solar plant. It is great idea that offices can generate their own power for use. The government will see if it can help while those who can make it happen need to do it right away, so that electricity generators don’t need to increase the volume. Let this idea start now.
Let’s go back to burning. Those who ignore warnings will face harsher penalties. We will declare zones where burning is prohibited. In the past, people burn stuff at the same time. As for those areas where burning is necessary , you need to be able to control the number of burning activities. This also helps to prevent wildfires. You cannot burn simultaneously. However, the best way is to refrain from burning activities. Authorities will be stricter in an attempt to prevent forest fires. Volunteers can the public will also help the government address this problem. I feel pity for those who don’t have enough money to dispose of waste in other ways. Please lower the charges for agricultural equipment so that local farmers don’t have to burn their waste. I don’t’ want to see them in jail. The law does not give exception to anyone regardless of financial status.
Now, the Ministry of Labour will launch a project to improve human resources which will be supplied to super cluster areas if we don’t produce skilled workers, foreigners will come in and take our jobs, particularly after the formation of ASEAN. We cannot prevent them from taking the opportunity.
This is why Ministry of Education has been assigned to enhance the potential of vocational students, teaching them the skills in rail, electric rail production, medicine, and many other fields. I already gave my order. I want us to produce workers that the country is actually it need of. We need to produce workers for the future and in accordance with the 20 year strategic plan or the reform plan. This way we will be well prepared for new engines, future changes and future transportation systems.
Today we have eco vehicles that produce low carbon dioxide. In the future, we will see vehicles that are more environmentally friends than before. We have to plan this in advance. The Government supports all eco-cars. We now need to think of a way that we can produce these eco-cars by ourselves. You’d better thinking about this rather than the conflicts in society. It is a waste of your brain.
The next topic is about the government’s effort to restore peace in the Deep South. According to reports from the ISOC and other security-related unite, the situation in the far south has improved drastically. Most importantly, the locals now cooperate more and understand more. The government will join hands with the police, the military, volunteers and members of the public in pushing for development. The government gives education to local people. The locals informed me that they were very satisfied with the government’s education policy and effort. They want their children to have good education and good professions. Everyone in Thailand regardless of race and religion will receive equal education. His Majesty the King once said that the government must look after every Thai based on the principle of equality. We are all Thais.
The most important thing is to create immunity for the people. Religions shall be connected.
Every organization should be able to fix their own problems. Problem relating to religions must be solved by law. We have ecclesiastical organizations oversee this issue. Please fix it quickly. The government’s duty is to support not to solve or create more conflicts. Please use your own mechanism to fix it. The government never wants to intervene in the administration of the Sangha. However, the government will do what is takes to ensure stability in Thailand. You are all part of Thailand and I have duties. I pledged to achieve when I took office. We all have our own responsibilities. I will not be able to perform the job for you if your conflicts continue.
Let’s go back to the situation in the Deep South. We have various projects to draw people’s attention such as the “Community of Faith” project. We’ve organized mobile forums and launched this project in various communities.
The next topics is about the mobilization of grass root economy. I mentioned this topics before. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is pushing for sustainable fishing and addressing all illegal fishing activities. I have told officials to find measures that will not affect local fishermen. The use of equipment must be in line with the regulations. I urge that fishermen respect the law. Don’t attempt to do anything illegal or any actions that can be linked to illegal, unreported and regulated fishing. Please make sure that others will not be affected by your own actions. Fishermen must cooperate with authorities and avoid breaking any law. The government dose not want to enforce additional laws to regulate fishing activities. Entrepreneurs and boat operators only think about their profits. It is never enough for them. They will do what it takes to maximize their profits even if it means to break the law. When the law is enforced, they hold demonstrations. How can the country move forward if this keeps happening?
Regarding social psychology, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Industry has supported new industries and is negotiating with other countries. Social psychology address how social inequality can be reduced by establishing a sustainable strategic development plan to provide services that ensure social equality, provide policy updated and establish a mobilization committee to follow up on various projects. I’ve talked to my ministers on how to solve the issue of admissions bribes in schools that hamper the opportunity of children from low –income facilities from entering a quality school. This therefore caused social inequality and a class system. An important issue I’ve identified is that some schools need to accept bribes to pay for their air-conditioning system throughout the school. School investing luxury amenities like this, cost will obviously be high. This is Thailand’s problem ! Think about what is sufficient. When I was a student, my school didn’t have any air-conditioning. Classes were so hot but I was able to sit through classes. I ‘ m not saying that we have to revert back to that, but there needs to be a middle ground. Cancel excessive expenditures. It is the job of Ministry of Education to think like this If everyone just think about their own interests, we will not be able to move forward and the quality of the education system will degenerate because there is no motivation to teach or learn. You need to take pride in your duties and responsibilities for the sake of the students, as if you were the student’s second parent. Children, on the other hand must reciprocate by showing respect and gratitude to the elderly and listen to their teachers.
Regarding school budgets, there need to be regulations in place to access the appropriateness of various expenses and address the gap between low-income and high –income families. The government needs to reflect on what to do with citizens both from low-income backgrounds and high-income background and how we can assist each income level.
We need to assess the readiness of our citizens and improve our economy, stability, security. Otherwise, there will only be conflict. To determine the country’s direction in the next 10 years, you need to start thinking today, whether it be regarding the private sector, society or education.
Politicians, if you put the interests of the country first, I will not be in conflict with you, as long as you have good governance. There are 6 principles to good governance. Go look it up, I ‘m sure you can do it.
The Fourth matter is regarding draft legislation. There are currently 445 pieces of draft legislation in the pipeline. 238 of these draft laws are currently being deliberated. 28 are in the process of studying various revisions and amendments. 43 out of all draft legislations are regarding reform. If there are no laws, there can be no reform. This is necessary. If people want reform, various laws and regulations need to be approved and be put in place. 104 pieces of draft legislation are being studied for appropriateness to ensure that they are in accordance to input received by various sides to figure out how to best accommodate the views of all sides and best reduce conflict. Laws are laws. I know people want freedom and civil rights. If that’s all that you want, then let’s not have any laws and live in struggle.
This past week, I would like to thank those in social media for sharing the warm picture of a pregnant woman thanking her disabled volunteer rescuer, Boon Na-hom, aka Uncle Tod, from the Trikhunnatham Foundation in Chonburi. Many may think that it was such a small deed, but I view it as a deed done with great compassion. He reminds us of an important lesson – that we should never give up on life no matter what hardships we have. This demonstrates the beauty of Thainess. Every time I go aboard, I take care of the security guards, drivers that escort me. During my breaks and meals, I would invite them to join me to eat. They were really thankful, saying that no one has ever done this to them before and that they love Thailand because Thai people are generous. They say no one else in this world is this generous. This is because in Thailand, His majesty the King has taught us about generosity. So let’s please help each other. For the disabled, please don’t give up. Today, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security is working to provide more work for the disabled. However, you need to keep developing yourselves as well. Nowadays, you can work from home, whether it be from the computer or with various craftwork. The government has provided venues for products made by the disabled to be featured. This has been an agenda by the ministry of Social Development and Human Security to provide employment opportunities for underprivileged people such as the disabled and prisoners who will soon be released. These policies contribute to reducing conflict in the country. Uncle Tod in the previous example has been an outstanding volunteer and has been helping others for more than 20 years. The media should features more stories about these people, instead it featuring nonsense that leads to conflict. Find news that is of importance to the country that give inspiration to the poor and praise good deeds.
With the media, today I’ve allowed for 4 questions to be asked. In other countries, they do this as well. Sometimes, other countries don’t even allow for a single question to be asked. Therefore, these are the regulations that I will set. Regarding reciprocation, I’ve been generous keeping the press employed by giving them stories to write about. Instead of helping me, the press attacks me. I’m talking about some people. Go see for yourself who likes to create conflict.
There is a saying that the 5 fingers in a person’s hand are not of equal length, but all 5 fingers are what comprise a hand. Therefore, all fingers are equally important. For someone to be capable, they have to have a complete set of hands, a heart and a brain. I would like to quote his saying as “I am proud to be able to help other. If you have a heart of a volunteer, you will always be ready to contribute regardless of your physical condition. I feel happy and proud to assist others in need.” I want everyone to hold on to this principle and be encouraged to contribute to your community and the nation. You can contribute in your own way. Be generous to the poor. Just give what you can. This results in good karma for you. People go to the temple so often. Giving to the poor is a way of making merit as well, so is social service. As a result, we will be happy and proud of ourselves. There are plenty of poor people outside temples. Please also help them out as well. As for the government, it is revising legislation regarding how to assist the poor and the disabled that are living on the streets. However, there needs to be regulations on the streets as well. New laws will provide job training centers, such as the one at Min Buri, which has been well received by many. Once they come out of there, they will be able to be employed at various places. Every occupation wants to do good things and make an income with the best of their abilities. Don’t insult the poor for doing labor work. Everyone is equal in value and dignity. Please be proud in what you do. For example, I’m proud of that I am one who is thinking for the country and to implement things. Some things are successful and some are not. At least I’ve had a chance to do them. Whoever that has not done anything for the country. Please do so and you will feel happiness. Even though I’m met with some suffering, I’m happy because of what I’ve done. In the end, happiness will overshadow the suffering. My suffering is with how the people of the country can be happy and how the country can move forward. This is all I care about. In my personal life, I don’t have any struggles. Today, I am a retired officer. My happiness will be of rest and relaxation. I’ve served my country for 60 years. Today I am here because it is necessary. I don’t ask anyone to feel any sympathy toward me, as I am intent on doing my duties. My happiness is my ability to serve others. As a soldier, I defend my country with the best of my abilities. I’ve gone through many struggles for this cause. I’m proud that Thailand is not a colony of any other country and its institutions are in tact. Everyone has their own duties for the sake of themselves and others. His majesty the King has stated that everyone has their own duties. It may not make you that rich but it will make you happy. May this be a guiding principle to remind all to do their duties and be generous as Thais. The disabled, the rich and poor all make up Thailand and are important components to the country. Please do everything you can for the country for the sake of the country’s future. Please reduce conflict. Contention will feed into the interests of people who want to damage the country. If this happen, the country will not be able to move forward and there will be no reform, referendum or election. If this happen, who will be responsible for the consequences? Me? Don’t be so harsh to me.
Thank You. Sawasdee Krub