National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, March 4, 2016
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
March 2nd of every year marks National Skills Standards Day. His Majesty the King has been revered as “The Father of Thai Skill Standards”, as the Thai people have drawn inspiration from His Majesty’s technical skills and abilities as an inventor. His Majesty once invented his own toys when he was little, such as gliders, miniature battleships, and wooden rickshaws. His Majesty is also known to have a preference for the skills of mechanics, which has also been inspirational for all skilled labourers in Thailand. The King’s Royal duties have allowed him to produce and craft a number of inventions that have been recognized internationally, such as the Chaipattana aerator and the artificial rainmaking technique known in Thailand as “Royal Rain-making”. All of these inventions were meant to uplift the well-being for all Thais.
I would like to send my best wishes and support to every skilled worker, inventor, and mechanic who has acquired these skills, many of which have been passed on from generation to generation. Modern inventors have adopted His Majesty’s techniques in making creative items for the development of the nation. They are committed to what they do and I would like to ask vocational students to be proud of their career paths. Furthermore, students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will one day become a driving force in the country’s agricultural sector, helping to create value to agricultural and industrial products. Thailand will one day become an industrialized country based on green technology.
The government has created a new system called “Thai Labor Standard” or TLS. It is a standard used to manage the Thai labor workforce. The system is based on laws, considers the role of all stakeholders, upholds human rights and a code of ethics, prohibits child and forced labor, ensures transparency, and regulates measures for quality control. It also serves to put in place sustainability in the labor market as the system shall go in line with the country’s labor protection laws, work safety and hygiene related laws, work environment standards, and international treaties and agreements. In this way, Thai businesses will be internationally accepted and get certified by domestic and international agencies. Thailand will be trusted among its consumers and trading partners, building their confidence in Thailand’s products, production processes, and services.
I have several matters to inform you about this week.
As for the political situation, there have been some movements by fugitives both inside and outside the country. These individuals have broken the law and continue to evade judicial procedures, opting to elude investigations and prosecution by fleeing the country. As they do this, they claim that they have been treated unfairly politically even though there is clear evidence that they have committed a crime. If they didn’t do anything wrong, nobody would be able to press legal charges against them in the first place, so I would like to ask members of the public not believe their lies just so that they can attain impunity. Everyone is equal under the law. There are thousands of people going through trials now, so judicial processes must be allowed to take their course, without any special treatment for anyone. If they didn’t do anything wrong, then they should come back and prove it in the court. If you have evidence to prove you are not guilty, then you need to come back and accept this process and the rule of law.
Such criminals should not use international organizations to coerce Thailand or challenge our sovereignty, just so that they can escape paying for their crimes. This is damaging to the country and to the people. You proclaim your care for the country and that you want to return, but at the same you don’t respect the laws that everyone is under and continue to avoid the judicial processes while everyone else has to. I believe that the Thai cannot accept this.
About the draft charter, there may have been attempts to create some misunderstanding about the upcoming public referendum. Some have distorted the truth, intentionally or unintentionally, by saying that the NCPO wants to stay in power. This is not the case, but in fact, the issue is about finding mechanisms to ensure that the progress that we have achieved, such as our successful efforts in restoring order, stability, enhancing public safety, enhancing national competitiveness, and achieving national reforms in 11 areas, can be continued. We are trying to ensure a successful reform process. I only want our reforms to go smoothly through every step. We have only set the framework for the next government to handle, not for me or for the NCPO, but so that the people’s needs can truly be met. The people’s well-being derives from effective public administration run by elected representatives. Therefore, the next government must practice good governance as the country will be administered by representatives of the people.
The framework demands that the government uphold good governance and transparency, and thus spend the nation’s money competently. We have laid down strategies covering national security, economic affairs, social affairs, legislation, the justice system, and foreign affairs. These strategies will be implemented in different phases – short term, medium term, and long term. These strategies are vital for effective public administration in correlation to the policies of all political parties. I have not seen anything in the draft charter that will allow for an attempt to cling on to power. As for the Constitution Drafting Commission, I understand the demands brought upon you.
I have been studying the draft constitution and see that it includes the fundamentals mentioned in previous charters. However, it is clear that the new one focuses on anti-corruption and the composition of lower and upper houses, ensuring checks and balances. It also features national reform, the likes of which we have never seen before in Thailand. Many countries that have a thriving democracy were once in the same particular transition.
I would like the public to understand that government officials all practice democracy in our every days lives, so to say that this notion is something that does not exist in Thailand is mistaken, especially when it is being used to ignite more social conflict. I would like to ask those who are vehemently calling for an immediate return to democracy to bear in mind that our system has been abused, thus leaving the country with more than 40 percent of the population still poor and in debt, with prevailing social inequality, conflicts and a lack of development in many rural areas.
Therefore, we as Thais, have to work together to find a way so that our parliamentary representatives practice good governance. Development must be realized in all parts of the country. Plans and strategies must be formulated based on the needs of everyone in the country and not only a few, and will be implemented based on the urgency of each matter, be they basic infrastructure, water management, agriculture, agro-industry, green industry, and other professions that will be interconnected from the upstream to downstream. Linkages must exist between processes concerning crop planting and cattle ranching, and what not. It must be done through cooperatives and farmer groups without having to go through a third party like the middlemen. You then need to work with the private sector in order to stabilize prices of agricultural goods. Building connections between the public and the private sector helps to create a value chain that links to neighboring countries, to ASEAN, and to the world. We must take advantage of this integration process. We must take into consideration demand outside the country such as in ASEAN and the CLMV region as well as domestic demand. Then we can understand what we really need to do. For example, when we look at what people outside Thailand need, you can look at what people in ASEAN and the CLMV countries need, you can look at what people in other provinces need, and lastly you can look at what people in your community need, then you will be able to understand how strategies should be panned out in all areas. You need to work things out and support each other.
We must keep in mind that every region in the country is diverse in terms of people, location, soil quality, weather, natural resources, and materials. All of these factors are different in every part of the country. We must make sure that every region is strong and can stand on its own feet. Strong communities are based on stable professions. They should have access to good education and recreational activities. We will encourage upstream, midstream, and downstream activities in every area. These regional differences can then be turned into innovation. We can create value to these location differences, particularly when materials are different, and cultures and traditions are different. We should be taking advantage of these differences by making different products. A proportion of the production output will be consumed domestically while another proportion will be exported. We must have enough to consume before we sell what we produce. We must emphasize an integrated agricultural system. Farmers will grow, produce, and turn their crops into valuable products before selling to other regions. Fellow agriculturists must understand new technologies. We can call them “smart farmers” based on new technology. Please accept the fact that you will be able to earn more if you are willing to make changes. I don’t want you to be in debt any longer.
I would like you keep in mind that the country does not have enough water for rice farming if more rice is grown at the moment. We can no longer grow rice at the amount we used to. It is impossible because we now have less water. Global weather patterns are changing. And as a result, we must manage our water in accordance to the needs of each area. We must grow an appropriate amount of crops and on suitable land or on a large plantation. We must take all of these farming factors into consideration. We must not produce too much of certain crops. The produce also risks being damaged by drought. This can become a huge problem. Farmers must grow crops where water is sufficient and the soil is supportive of the crops. Rice can be grown on a large plantation or close to where it is reachable by water. Outside of the irrigation zone, you grow drought-tolerant crops. It is not feasible for every farmer to grow rice. Substandard rice will not get the best deal in the market while the production cost for growing rice is relatively high. Please consider growing other crops. You can also grow plants on highland and earn money. To solve this problem, it requires collaboration between the public and the state.
At a recent meeting between members of the G77 group which comprises 134 developing countries, I proposed a number of matters.
I told the meeting that the adoption of His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which has been known for the past 40 years, can lead a successful United Nations development agenda over the next 15 years. I also mentioned how our government will continue to incorporate this philosophy into our national strategic and management plans while also encouraging the pubic to apply His Majesty’s teachings to everyday life. I shared at the meeting how Thailand had been successful in adopting this principle.
We have many challenges ahead of us, be they internal or external. Internal challenges include poverty, inequality, climate change, geographic variation, social conflicts, political violence, and economic downturns. HM the King’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy thus serves as a remedy that helps us develop an effective ‘immune system’ to these complexities, thereby protecting us from external influences as well. It also gives us basic knowledge and teaches us to be self-sufficient. We use more when we have more. We use less when we have less. Everyone conducts themselves different ways based on their status. However, we must be knowledgeable and follow a code of ethics.
The Sufficiency Economy philosophy is not a fixed formula, but one that must be adapted and adopted in different manners according to the environment and geography. Thailand is willing to share this philosophy and its practices with our international friends. Many countries have already made use of this approach such as Lesotho, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Jordan, Senegal, and Mozambique. We have also sent development experts to these countries and showed them our crop growing techniques. They are now able to grow drought-tolerant crops on dry land and in deserts. They now have more food to consume. Many countries have sent representatives to Thailand to learn more about agricultural development.
There are more than 4,000 projects initiated under the patronage of His Majesty the King. These projects have helped uplift farmers’ living standards on the basis of the Sufficiency Economy philosophy. For instance,
the Huai Hong Khrai Royal Development Study Center, located in the northern region, teaches the locals how to manage forest resources and how to preserve soil and water.
The second project is the Phu Phan Royal Development Study Centre in the northeastern region.
The third one is the Phikun Thong Development Study Center in the south. It teaches the locals about soil erosion, soil deterioration, alkaline soil, and acid soil.
Next is Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Study Center in the east, which teaches about coastal development, management of marine resources, fisheries, and fish farming.
The fifth project is the Huai Sai Royal Development Study Center which teaches the locals about desertification and the rehabilitation of dry land. I see that the G77 member countries have different conditions, so they maybe be able to adopt one or two projects as previously mentioned. Some projects may need to be modified, just like how we modify these projects to meet the requirements of each area in Thailand.
I highlighted how it is essential for each country to realize that if we truly emphasize the well-being of the people, then governments will have the priority of supporting and strengthening communities. For example, our ‘state of the people’ model can serve as an idea for other countries to emulate in principal. I’ve said that this model is based on inclusiveness and integration between the state, the people, the private sector, and civil society.
I’ve demonstrated to the G77 meeting how Thailand has developed according to the Sufficiency Economy philosophy and in accordance to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Therefore, this approach can be one method for the world to achieve sustainable development, as it is a model that creates prosperity, income and higher quality of life while caring for the environment and the interests of all groups. We cannot leave anyone behind. Our country cannot leave anyone behind and neither can other countries if we want to grow stronger together. Both developed and developing countries must work hand-in-hand, with developed countries supporting the success of the goals of developing countries. If there is cooperation, there can be joint progress, like what the government is attempting to do for the country. We will then be able to enhance our potential such as in science, technology and innovation. We must also highlight the importance of the exchange of knowledge and expertise for developing countries. This is a task for all governments. We need to find common ground to serve as the foundation and an important opportunity to support each other and achieving our goal of sustainable development. We have a total of 167 goals in the next 15 years which aims to guarantee a future with economic prosperity across the world.
On to the matter of investments in basic infrastructure on land, water and sea that connects to other countries – these things need to also be developed in tandem with our sustainable development goals. This is also a way to enhance incentives for investments from abroad. We must be proactive in opening our markets and connecting to the world community. In the meantime, our cooperation with friendly nations should be on the basis of trust and mutual benefit.
Don’t forget that another important matter is education as it is the genesis of knowledge, understanding and systematic thinking. What is important is solving problems in a sustainable way based on reasoning and principles. We must elevate our education system. This is crucial for our future. However, this will take time. I think that in the next 20 years, Thailand will have a new generation of global citizens. This is because this agenda is in our 20 year development plan. People must be capable throughout all stages of their life.
I also want to make sure that all regions in Thailand are equipped with human resources, adequate land for use, occupations, public services and other matters. This will also connect our regions in the production process and to foreign countries. If you think like this, the strategies for development for each Ministry will take into consideration appropriateness and effective budget use. Each Ministry must also plan their budgets in collaboration with other ministries.
I would like all citizens to consider and lend importance to the constitution, the public referendum and the election. No one wants to intentionally write laws that create conflict or chaos.
We need to look at our problems. Whether the referendum will pass or not, we need to solve the issues that may arise. I’ve listened to you and included you into the process. What can be done, we will do. What we cannot finish now will be included in the subsequent reform agenda. Nevertheless, how do you think I would be able to influence people during the next 5 year reform phase period? I will not have any power to direct anyone because it will at that time be a democracy from an election. So, there may need to be a mechanism from parliament to do this. If so, we should include people who want to contribute and truly understand the situation of the country, as well as Thailand’s positioning in the world.
In the transitory provisions that many claim is there merely for power preservation, take a look at what the provisions really say and what organic laws say. If they are not useful, then what we’ve done in the past 2 years may have been for nothing. Don’t you care about the poor, the underprivileged and people who have been taken advantage of? Today, in the midst of efforts to help these people, there are still problems. Some things I can do for you now while some things need to wait until the next government to implement. In the mean time, you can see that this government has taken real action on many fronts, so my support goes to the civil servants and the Ministries.
For some people, the constitution is only about democracy, liberty and rights, and the way of coming into power. But they should also look at how the charter can contribute to reducing social disparities and ensuring fairness for all. I have made many comments about the charter as a citizen, about what it ought to reflect. There are many deep-rooted issues that need to be considered, whether in terms of the law, governance, and national security. Take a look back at the events that have happened in the past 80 years in this Thai democracy.
I hope that this constitution, if it passes the referendum — and it needs to go through a referendum because of our differences in opinion, leads to honest elections, and good governance for the country. At the start, we’ll have to trust one another. What happened before to Thailand can’t happen again. The problems that have brought us to this point, we should not let them plague us again. Given this, how will we achieve real reform?
It goes without saying that those who have lost power or those who have committed offenses will always make false claims against the progress we have achieved regarding the draft charter. I want this draft to pass with all these issues being considered. Whether this passes or fails, I want people to look at the results and be thoughtful in making your decisions. Because you are the ones filling out those ballots. Whether you want a referendum or an election is entirely up to you. One voice per person. This is why they call it a basic democratic principle. Everyone has a constitutional right. A right to decide matters of democracy to referendums.
So I urge everyone to get involved. Whatever the outcome of this referendum, we need to help one another. I don’t think we need to bicker with each other anymore. The things that are laid out in the constitution are in reflected in the constitutions of other countries as well.
The few things that we differ about, we can develop as we make progress with reform. There are certain things that even developed nations haven’t been able to do yet. The things that don’t work for us, the things we need to fix, to reform, that require a long term strategy – these are the items that need to be clarified in the constitution and we’ll do whatever we can to make that happen.
We need to do this for our future, especially the future of our children It’s not just about the desire or policies of political parties. Look at us. How many poor are there? How much strife is there? Are we strong enough? How is our economy? Our national revenue? These problems didn’t just happen when I became Prime Minister. These have existed for a long time now.
I’ve tried to do my best so far. At least I’ve managed to sustain our economy by taking on the necessary restructuring and replaced affected areas with new focuses. For example, when we saw agriculture prices slump, we instigated the needed changes ad focused income earning for farmers to manufacturing and value creation for their products. We hired people, and found jobs for them to do.
I ask you, who else has suggested this before? No one in the past did. It was previously done on an ad-hoc basis.
We have to decide which problems require temporary relief, short term solutions, mid-term solutions, or long term solutions.
This is how we need to allocate budget. Not just throw all of it at the situation and leave ourselves without anything in the future. How would we invest then? It wouldn’t work.
Therefore, I would like everyone to take what I have said today, and if you think I’m right, then consider it when you take future decisions.
Take a closer look at what it means to have democratic rights. Everyone has the same rights. I have 1 voice just the same as anyone else.
Therefore, in this time of change, and this isn’t some form of change to see me stay in power, it’s a form of change that this transitional government is doing for you. The key word here is transition.
Therefore, when possible, go out and elect a representative. I have already told you as per my Road Map what I would do. If it doesn’t work, then what? Everyone must consider all the factors, and understand things based on reason, the way they are, and reduce the risks. These are challenges for every Thai. Whether you can do that or not, I shouldn’t have to stand alone in having the best interests of the nation at heart.
Stick to your principles. Have reasoning. Eliminate vote buying at all costs. Remember, at all costs. Look down on those who try to buy votes or are fraudsters. Don’t let these people run the country in our next government. We need to do this all by the law and with international recognition.
I also want everyone to shun vote buyers who won’t fix this. If this isn’t fixed, nothing will change. Everyone has a duty, whether they are at the national, regional, local, or volunteer level. All ministries. We can’t have the vote buyers run the country the way they want. Please understand this.
The objective is for the country to be able to successfully manage this transition so that things will get better. If things become good in less than 5 years that would be even better. Once this system succeeds, the next government can prepare for the 5 years of reform as well, and same for the next. So the successive governments should make this happen so that we can be a country with a credible democracy.
So then how can we let our country fall into the hands of those who only seek personal benefit, and those who think they are above the law? We have had to deal with this long enough.
Turning to the Krung Kasem Canal market. On this March 5th to 27th we’ll be organizing an event called “Transforming Research into Retail”. This will be under the concept of t “100 research projects can make a sustainable Thailand”. We’ll be bringing in various products from our research projects as well as different inventions that this government is helping to move forward. We’re pushing for these things to hit the manufacturing sector so they can go on the market. These will all be on display at this event. There are also a lot of other displays in order to bring these products to the public eye and to show that we can be on par with other countries in this field.
We should not just do research and shelve it. What would be the use in that? We need to encourage the expansion of commercialism here. We need to promote our innovators, our researchers, and our inventors. Otherwise no one will have the will. Then we’ll have a shortage of these people because there is no incentive for them.
So these days, I try to grab as many of these inventions as I can. This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be able to use them to compete with other countries in producing large expensive things that are on the cutting edge of technology. Rather, the items that we use in this country – do we still need import these things? Can we make them ourselves? In particular, agricultural products.
Today, we have amended regulations to allow budget support for these products. But they still need to pass standards. We have made progress on this and have provided a solution through meetings with entrepreneurs and investors. We call this ‘matching’ – a pairing of manufacturing and invention.
Adding value to our goods, processing the product, building channels of distribution for research products, as well as the professional development of our inventors for starters – these will all be showcased. We’ll also display research projects on food and drink, crafts, jewelry, health and beauty products, and alternative energy. We have made these things and so we’ll use these things. And someday, I hope we’ll be able to export them to other countries and generate revenue for Thailand.
I would like to invite everyone to come and shop here. Please visit and take pride in the things that Thailand has been able to make.
When I see these things, I am very proud that they were made by the Thai people have made and today, were doing our part to support them.
When I was in the US, I met with a Thai scientist there who worked for NASA. He helped invent an antenna that’s probably going to Mars. He was happy to promote Thai research, ready to share his knowledge, and o bring the experience he’s gained from abroad back to Thailand to help us develop. I established a connection between our board of directors and those overseas businesses. I’d like our students to come see it,
especially those who are studying technology and doing vocational training. I hope that you’ll be inspired and realize you are capable of making these things too. This is why you need to inspire yourself and do something useful for the country. Take pride in our potential and people will take pride in you. Our vocational schools have to give their support and encouragement. As for students who keep brawling – fighting won’t solve anything and your families will be disappointed in you. Are you an action hero? What do you get by doing this? In time, you’ll have to run away from those looking for vengeance and retribution and the law. I want you to take responsibility. I want you all to come together and help this country make progress through our inclusive approach of a “state of the people”.
Finally, it’s that time of year when children finish their school terms and go one holiday. I’d like to recommend a pastime for all of you. What you experience outside the classroom can also be very educational, in particular going to various museums and applying what you have learned in history class to understand the things you see in depth. We need to study history in order to build a better future. I have said this many times. We have organized various youth events and camps that will build knowledge and educational stems. This is a mechanism by which we can move our country forward into the future and highlight the importance of ethics, such as the 12 core Thai values and faithfulness in this country’s key institutions – the nation, religion and monarchy – in our children. May all of you take pride in this and take part to reform this country today, and 20 years into the future. I’ll be a part of this with you, as I am a citizen too – one voice in the Thai democracy of the future.
Thank you. Sawasdee Krub