National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, March 11, 2016
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
March 13 of every year is National Elephant Day. The White Elephant is a symbol of our country. For the Thai people Elephants are sacred animals and their contributions have been realized since ancient times. One elephant every Thai should know is “Chao Phraya Chaiya Nu Phap”, the elephant that fought alongside King Naresuan. The Don Chedi Monument was later constructed in Suphan Buri to commemorate this. The way of life of Thai people is also connected to elephants. For example, the Thai national football team is known as “The War Elephants”. The name indicates the love and the connection between the Thai people and the elephants.
Thailand, in the past, failed to comply with the agreement known as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). But since the NCPO and this government came to office, strict laws and regulations have been enforced on the possession of ivory. We have been effectively cracking down on the ivory trade, banning all imports and exports of ivory. Thanks to the government’s effort which has been acknowledged by CITES, Thailand is able to avoid economic sanctions as we continue to earn revenue and sustain livelihoods through the proper export of agricultural products.
Her Majesty the Queen has called on the government to take care of and protect our elephants. The Zoological Park Organization, under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King, launched a “Surin Elephant Kingdom” project for both elephants and mahouts. Land within Dong Phu Din National Forest in Surin will be turned into an elephant sanctuary, with the potential to become an elephant village to promote eco-tourism in the country. It will also create jobs and extra income for the locals. We will highlight the unique connection between humans and elephants in Thailand to showcase for our visitors. We will also recycle elephant dung into paper, since we already have the materials and the skills. This is not difficult at all. In the future we may even use the People Public Private Partnership or “state of the people” mechanism in turning the elephant village into a bigger sanctuary like seen in the movie “Jurassic World”.
I believe that this measure can resolve the problem of stray elephants in a sustainable manner. It is better than only using law enforcement on them. The NCPO has now rectified this issue at the initial stage. So successive governments will need to take this matter seriously every step of the way. Please have sympathy for our elephants. They have been so important for our country, so we owe it to them to keep them happy.
Today I have several issues to talk about regarding the work in progress of the government and the NCPO. In our actions to rehabilitate forests, homes for wildlife and water resources, and allocate proper residential areas, balanced management has been necessary. Thailand now has only 102 million rai of forests left or 31% of the total land. Over the past 10 years, Thailand lost 5 million rai of forests. Agriculture is the main reason for deforestation. This policy was supported by previous governments but it lacked balance. The current government is, therefore, coming up with solutions so that people will not need to encroach upon the forests. Agriculture is the main reason forests are destroyed and burned. Some people sell the land they encroach upon to financiers. This must be tackled immediately.
The government’s initial action was to reclaim forest areas back from intruders. We enforced strict laws, based on jurisprudence and political principles, with focus on taking on influential figures who were also financiers. In 2015, we were able to reclaim more than 300,000 rai of forest areas as there were 13,000 cases of encroachment. As for a sustainable solution, related government agencies must join hands. Measures and laws will affect many, especially the poor. We will, there, consider allowing the poor to use some public space. We will bring orderliness to forest land and designate agricultural zones. The effort will be pushed through the PPPP or “state of the people” mechanism.
We will start with overlapping areas. Every sector and stakeholders will play a part in drawing a new map. We shall call it “One Map”. Because different agencies have used different maps, overlapping areas can be a problem. If it is impractical, we will find another approach.
Another measure we have in mind is to allocate 340,413 rai of encroached land to the poor living in 82 different locations in 47 provinces. We will also enforce strict laws in reclaiming public forests from influential people.
However, the most important thing is to increase forest areas for the future generation. Headwaters come from forests and become the arteries for nourishing the agricultural sector. This goal will be achieved through cooperation between the government, military, police, the public, local wise men, and the private sector, who will train and pass on the knowledge to the locals. They will be educated about wildfire and forest conservation. We will follow Her Majesty the Queen’s teaching’s on how humans can sustainably co-exist with forests and the ‘three forests, four benefits’ approach which was given by His Majesty the King. We will use these teachings in creating economically-viable forests and community forests which we can call food banks. Do not forget the saying that the ‘forest is a source of life’.
As for our efforts for the reduction of social disparities, there are many issues involved. We will fix people’s problems concerning private land. We have formed the national land policy committee to assist people affected by the new land management policy. We have approved an allocation of land in targeted areas where 300,000 rai across the nation will be granted. It will be in the form of joint plantations. These lands will not be owned, but can be used by the public to generate income. Lands approved for use will be based on different circumstances. The government has issued instructions on land management to every agency. They will be used as guidelines in accordance with existing laws. The management of the land must be transparent and open for scrutiny. I empathize with the poor and low-income earners. Therefore, the government will also give support for career development. All 76 provinces have different conditions. Therefore, we must act in accordance with these conditions. Farming and ranching must be conducted in the most appropriate way. We will also build a mechanism to disperse funds for every community and check up on the downstream level of production, where we can also find new markets. One thing we cannot overlook is the evaluation process. We can no longer look at economic indicators alone, but we need to look at the degree of well-being and the level of sufficiency within the communities.
In terms of equal access to the justice system, everyone in the country is entitled to voice their grievances and have their rights protected. The government is adamant about removing the sayings of “prison is only for the poor” and “double standards” from Thai society. We will help people with the justice system, from upstream to downstream. For instance, we will educate people more about the law. We will establish a justice fund to help people defend themselves in court. We will compensate victims and those whose rights have been violated. Everyone is equal under the law regardless of financial status.
Almost 6,000 people have already requested for help from the justice system, 2,552 of which have received government’s assistance. At present, we are developing this fund in 76 provinces through the decentralization of the fund. Every province will receive the same benefits and related personnel will be trained. Regulations for the entitlement to the justice fund will be reconsidered and clearly spelled out.
One of the most important issue’s at the moment is assistance for drought-hit farmers. We need to focus on effective solutions – not just education or behavioural change, but also different ways of farming, so that our farmers can transform into Smart Farmers. Farmers can no longer practice the same farming techniques and continue such highs risk in times of disasters. This is why the government has to step in. We, therefore, need to adhere to the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in our land allocation policy. In this framework, the land will be divided into 4 sections. The ratio of how you use the land is 30/30/30/10. This means 30% is used for water retention, so that you have enough water all year round. You also need to grow vegetables like morning glory or you can do fish farming. Another 30% of your land should be used to grow rice for consumption, so that you don’t have to buy it. If you have more than enough water, you can grow rice for sale. With less water, you then only grow for consumption. This also helps you save money. The next 30% should be used to grow fruits, perennial plants, herbs, and vegetables. Basically, it is a mixed plantation where you grow different plants and crops. Keep some for consumption and the rest can go to the market for selling. The remaining 10% of the land should be used for residing. This part of land can also be used for raising cattle, a plant nursery, and granary. This is how you can stand on your own feet and take less punishment from drought or from economic uncertainties. However we must adopt this technique varyingly due to less water and land deterioration at the moment. If this can be done at the household level, you can expand it to the community level and so on. Here, we can adopt His Majesty the King’s teachings and guidelines and then adapt them to today’s circumstances. For example, communities, villages, and farmer groups can apply the 3/3/3/1 technique to their daily operations. The first 3 is for locations where plenty of water can be supplied. The second 3 is for locations with water scarcity, where you need to grow drought-tolerant crops. The third 3 involves other professions such as crop processors. This can also help you earn higher income. The last number, 1, means it belongs to the whole group, be they village or community. This is how you use the conditions of your land to best determine your farming activities. This can be applied in Tambons, provinces, and farmer groups. If we do this right, effectiveness will occur at all levels. The 3/3/3/1 approach should start within a household and move into a community, which of course must be in line with the condition of that particular area, based on soil, water, and weather. Different areas have different conditions, different fertility levels, and different altitudes.
If we can designate agricultural zones according to water sources and the amount of water each area has, coupled with the “New Theory” approach and a combined plantation policy, the agricultural sector can be successful.
In the meantime, the government and the NCPO have derived many other measures and incentives to support the farmers.
The government is educating farmers about new farming techniques, trying to help them switch from off-season rice farming to growing drought-tolerant crops and raising livestock.
The second measure concerns funds, access to capital, postponement of debt payments, and compensation.
The next measure is turning produce into agro-industrial products, meaning adding value to products so that they can be sold at higher prices. For this, you need to reduce costs, and produce and send your crops for processing somewhere else or you can do the whole process yourself. This is also up to the conditions in your area. We also need innovation in agriculture. I also want to mention about our OTOP products and the One Tambon One SME project. We need to take more serious measures to develop these products. Today, we must focus on products with real potential. We will take more serious steps in achieving this goal, and try to be successful like Her Majesty the Queen’s Special Handicrafts Project. Her Majesty has done so many things for the Thai people. It was because of Her that many people can return to their hometowns and have a decent job and this has been has been realized for decades. So we must make sure the OTOP industry is sustainable. Stability comes from grassroots economy through our ‘state of the people’ model. We must monitor every step of the way until we succeed.
So far, the government’s efforts in this area have been satisfactory. So we ask for your continued support and cooperation with local authorities. His Majesty once said that the key to development is understanding development. It means that authorities must understand the needs of their areas and have close relations with their people. If authorities understand the problem, they will be able to solve it. One solution cannot be applied to all problems concerned.
This year, we have been able to reduce the area for off-season rice farming in 22 provinces from 2.91 million rai to 1.92 million rai. However, the number of rai used for farming rice is still high while the amount of water is lessening every day. I have a lot of sympathy for the farmers now.
Between January and February of 2016, Thailand encountered many problems in terms of water scarcity. We asked the farmers to reduce or postpone their cultivation. Most of the farmers cooperated. I would like to commend them for their understanding towards the water situation. They were willing to heed government’s advice. More farmers have since joined government’s programs. Recently, the BOI had approved incentives for investments in agricultural and industrial sectors, accounting for more than 17 billion baht. This is to encourage farmers to grow other crops, instead of rice. Farmers need to enter the value chain and increase their competitiveness and the quality of their produce. The government, the private sector, and the public must be on the same page in this respect. What we need to do now is increase the production of pet food, cassava, bran, corn, and fishmeal in Lopburi. We are producing soymilk in Saraburi, producing sweeteners in Prachinburi, producing cassava ethanol in Kamphaeng Phet, and producing bleached pulp in Buriram. This is why we need to support factories at the midstream level of production.
As for other measures, I am glad to see that many sectors are lending a helping hand. The industrial sector needs a large amount of water because it involves production. Production leads to higher income. With higher income, farmers will also benefit. But if production stops, everything else will stop. There will no rice farming if the industrial sector cannot operate etc. Today, the Ministry of Industry is implementing various policies during the drought about release of treated waste water. They will only take effect until June 30th, 2016 in preparation for the upcoming rainy season. We now allow waste water that has been properly treated to be released outside factories. All waste water must be properly treated. Factories that fail to comply with the Factory Act B.E.2535 will be closed down immediately. Please cooperate with the government on this and don’t take advantage of this moment. The government will then be able to help the agricultural sector. There are more than 2,000 food factories that can release treated water into the drains. These factories don’t use hazardous substances. From this we expect to see an increase of 500,000 cubic meters of water a day, covering around 50,000 rai of agricultural areas nationwide. These factories are in various locations. I think this is a very thoughtful idea. If we can manage it properly, everything will be supportive of each other. We cannot emphasize support to one particular sector. In addition, the quality of treated waste water must be reported and examined on a regular basis. Transparency must be assured. Authorities and inspectors must make sure that all treated water released from factories is chemical free. I strongly urge factories to cooperate with the government on this matter.
For the agricultural sector, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Natural resources and Environment, and related agencies are working on the construction of people’s reservoirs or so called “Pracharat” reservoirs. We are preparing for the monsoon season. We have to build reservoirs in order to store water coming from mountains. Without reservoirs or water retention areas, our water supply will not last for the whole year. Water dries up very quickly, starting with the northern region. It then comes down to the central plain and finally to the south. With reservoirs, we will be able to store water for future use. Authorities need to ask the locals to participate in this effort, helping each other build small weirs. The Ministry of Interior will be providing necessary equipment, asking all sectors to supply construction equipment. The ministries of interior, environment, and agriculture will be collecting the equipment and lend it to the locals.
This way, the locals won’t have to spend as much. We must be able to store the water the upcoming rainy season will provide us. All the water comes from the northern region and from the mountains. Therefore, when the water comes, we must be able to store and make the best use of it. Last year, we constructed many water retention areas, but we didn’t get enough rain. But this upcoming rainy season which is expected in May, we should be able to store a large quantity of water if we get enough rainfall. The most important thing is forests must not be destroyed. Deforestation leads to severe droughts. Farmers will have to suffer should drought continues. If that happens, we will have to import rice for consumption. Thailand is currently the number one rice exporter. We don’t want to lose this position. We must protect our indigenous advantage, especially agricultural advantages. Global changes may lead to food scarcity. This is why we need to prepare. If we are ready, the country will thrive as a global food provider. We must know how to store water and grow crops according to particular conditions. You must, therefore, work together and foster unity in your community. The government has been disbursing funds to local and remote areas nationwide. I would like everyone to protect their rights to these funds, without quarrelling with each other of course.
The locals should listen to the authorities because there are rules and regulations which need to be followed. After all, it is your money that is being spent. Therefore, you must protect your own rights. You will be able to spend this money but state officials will need to make sure that the funds are being spent in the right way. You can make requests for what you think the money should be spent on. But sometimes, not all requests can be met. There are many groups asking the government to fund them. Some groups get the fund and some do not. Those who don’t receive the fund will obviously make complaints. But you must look at the majority concerns. This is basic democracy.
If you don’t respect the rights of others, nothing will get done. You must understand the concept of democracy first. You need to participate in all processes, starting with making requests and proposing projects that will strengthen your community. You will then have more income. There will be probes and scrutiny to ensure transparency, so that everyone can be assured of the process.
The next issue is about a model plan for water management which has already been implemented. As you can see, we make adjustments as time goes by. We did not ask for a single loan, but we do it step by step, because changes must be made according to different circumstances. This is the water management plan. It is different from the national strategic plan. They are two different approaches. The national strategic plans look at the big picture whereas the water management plan focuses on the details such as location and the budget. As for the long term plan, all of processes will be involved, such as the EIA.
Anything that can be put forth now will be implemented now. If you encounter problems, you can take a step back and continue other operations that you think can succeed. If we can ensure effectiveness, the whole society will be better off and everyone will gain. But if you only think about yourself, the entire system will be ineffective. The most important factor is connectivity. Just like His Majesty once said, we must have reservoirs that are connected to each other and we have to manage them according to our needs. This way, the water will last longer. If you keep water for your self without sharing others, there shall not be enough humidity in the forests. Without humidity, there will not be adequate rainfall. Reservoirs and weirs can help increase humidity in the air. And when it rains, these weirs will keep water for us. This is how the approach should be. We also need to adjust our plans according to changes that come year after year. Next year, rain may be scarce. We can never know. Therefore, we must be well-prepared by having effective water retention systems, distribution systems, and drainage systems.
Next is about water for consumption. This is very important. We must have enough fresh water for everyone in the country to consume. I am not against water celebrations during the annual Songkran festival. But please be responsible for your actions. Agriculturists have already changed their farming behaviors for the drought. They now earn less for what they have sacrificed. Everyone needs to use the water more efficiently. Regardless of the occasion, you can still have fun in a way that reflects a social conscience. Please use sparingly. I’m not saying that you cannot enjoy the festival. The government will not stop you from celebrating the occasion. Songkran is one of the most famous festivals in the world and foreigners come here to enjoy it. Now the question is how this year’s Songkran should be celebrated as the country is facing water scarcity. If we use the same amount of water we use every year for Songkran, we might regret it later. So please be mindful.
Traditionally, Songkran used water for the Rot Nam Dam Hua custom and to give each other blessings. In the past, we used to have various activities to celebrate Songkran. It wasn’t always about water. Please think about this. We have done this every year. All I ask is that everyone thinks of the way water is being used. Think of the way you can have fun while the country has water shortages. Songkran shall always be around for Thais and for foreigners to enjoy. However, everyone should help conserve the water we have too.
On the matter of alternative energy, I want to give you an example of how people can stand on their own feet and be resilient. There are more than 100 communities we have tried to encourage this with. It is an example of building stability within the community, a principle given by His Majesty the King. I have mentioned about this before. In Sisaengtham School, Ubon Ratchathani Province, the abbot of Wat Pa Sisaengtham monastery, Phra Khru Wimon Panya Khun, who is also the founder of Sisaengtham School, introduced the King’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to the school. Sisaengtham School can now generate solar energy, using solar cells. The school’s electricity bill has gone down from 6,000 baht to 40 baht a month. In addition, the school is using solar energy with water pumping machines. But the question is, will there be enough water to pump? So, we need to go back and look at the way we are conserving water and our forests. Effectiveness should exist in all steps. Many areas have good irrigation and drainage system. What’s important is that you must teach this to youngsters. Educate high school students about the installation of solar panels. The government will always be supportive on this mattter.
The next matter is about Net Metering or purchasing electricity from households . It will create income for households that generate power. With this extra income, people can improve their living standards. You also need to consider the volume of energy being sold. As for the power development plan (PDP), we must consider gas, oil, alternative energy, and pipelines. Do we have enough pipelines to transport energy we produce? If you cannot sell it, you can then use in for your community. (Like the example I gave you earlier, Wat Pa Sisaengtham doesn’t produce power for sale, but for use. It helps save money for both the school and the government.) So we cannot look at Net Metering only from a business perspective. Investment requires a large amount of money. Solar panels are very expensive. If it is for the sake of the community, the government will be able to support you more in terms of solar energy, driving down the price of solar panels. But if want to do Net Metering only for profit, then government will not be able to assist you.
In terms of the promotion of solar energy as an alternative, I ask that it be clean energy. The same goes to wind energy. Wind energy is also considered clean. However, turbines may not work properly in some areas. This is why investment is a risk. You need to make sure the location of wind turbines is appropriate. How often does the wind come? Is the wind strong enough? We cannot copy everything from other countries as we have different conditions. Even though it seems like we have a lot of sunlight, sometimes it is not stable. Some locations don’t get enough light as seasons change. Despite this fact, solar energy is the most appropriate source of energy for Thailand now. Therefore, we must push harder for the generation of solar energy.
The next matter is about the appointment of the new supreme patriarch. I actually don’t want to talk about this matter but I’m going to talk about it anyway because there’s been a lot of bickering and movements, both for and against. Please stop this. Over 90 percent of Thais are Buddhists. We must make this 90 percent confident in the country’s Buddhist institution and the Buddha’s teachings that are meant to bring peace to society. Dharma and religion are not supposed to reasons for conflict. Principles that guide monks are meant for monks to coexist in peace. Monks are also citizens of the country and they must respect the country’s laws as well. Therefore, please separate the matters and refrain from creating further conflict. There are increasingly fewer countries with a large Buddhist following. The 90 percent of Buddhists in Thailand, therefore, should stay united and not divided.
His Majesty the King has maintained His support for all religions and faiths for Thai citizens. But everything must work under the same laws. There cannot be special treatment. Otherwise, one side will use the law to bully the other. There are specific laws that pertain to Buddhist monks but all monks must also abide by the laws of the state. If everyone is ready, the appointment can commence. If not, please don’t divide the country’s Buddhists into conflicting factions. If an issue is something that can be solved through the justice system, then that’s how it should be resolved. The country is going through reform and preparing for an election, and now there are disputes in the monkhood amongst others. So please don’t cause conflict or let people with political motives manipulate you.
The issue also involves the police force. In Thailand, all important matters tend to create conflict. It’s quite peculiar. Maybe it’s because we have so much free time on our hands that we go and create conflict. However, in the past 10 years, there’s only 1 thing that we’ve never fought over. You know which thing I mean. The law must come first before people can get along.
Regarding the buying and selling of police positions – the talk of this has resulted in much damage all-round. Those with good intentions speak of it because they don’t want it to happen. I’ve talked to the Deputy Prime Minister on this to figure out what to do with this and determine whether there are indeed buying and selling of positions. However, a grievance or complaint must be officially filed before we can reform something. You all need to first come to an agreement on how it should be reformed. We’ll take into consideration the good points of various sides in this process.
If you want to reform the police, they need to agree to the reforms as well. You should accord them due respect because they must manage and command their officials. What can we do to ensure that the police do their jobs and are punished if they don’t? I will address this matter quickly. Anyone can submit a complaint and it will be investigated.
Conflicts of interest still exists, whether it is in the form of bribes or whatnot. The police commissioner has already said he will investigate into these matters and hand out appropriate punishment. The prosecution of bribery must examine the giver and the receiver. If a person has not committed a crime, then don’t give the bribe to the person making demands or accusations. If the authorities are unjust, you can sue them. But if you yourself are breaking the law as well, you need to reconsider your position.
Today, if people persist with fighting over everything, how are we going to undergo reform? But those who want reform and talk about reform must be trusted by the people. So please start to trust each other and separate old and new matters and think about how you can gain trust in order to move forward with reform. Examine the old issues of how things have been done and how to do things in the future.
Today the government is trying to make all agencies do their work and change their work culture. Their traditions have long been distorted. Nevertheless, the police are the face of the justice system. The investigation department is the same, such as the courts. All these agencies must be linked based on the law and not through cronyism. Everyone lives under the same rule of law. Therefore there needs to be a clear management system to enhance efficiency and reform for the long term. Everything must have the phases 1-2-3 like I stated and the public must agree upon this.
However it is probably tough for the public to completely agree because it is a matter regarding the police. This because some people fear the police. They see a police officer walking and they’re scared already. Why are you scared? Act as if a soldier just walked by. You’re not afraid of soldiers but you’re afraid of the police.
Adjusting a system isn’t easy. Remember that we’ve been trying to adjust the bureaucracy ever since the reign of King Rama V and we are still not done. There has been some progress and change from within. Change needs to be gradual instead of abrupt. Stripping people of their titles will not resolve the issue.
Thai people should not be impatient on this matter. People accuse me for being slow and not reforming. I’ve been implementing reform this entire time so please trust me regarding the police’s internal management, police welfare and chain of command. Right now everything is all tied up whether it be appointments or favors. There are politics in all of these things. We need to be careful about how the Royal Thai Police can work effectively and be strong from within the organization and resistant to outside influencing. Regarding old matters – file a complaint to make a case. If you don’t, then consider it over. We need to make the police become an organization that the public can rely on. When the police come, people should respect them and count on them to ease their suffering instead of reacting with fear and suspicion.
Therefore what can we do to strengthen the police? The police take care of domestic orderliness and public safety while the soldiers take care of peace at our national borders. Today we use both the police and soldiers for domestic and external peacekeeping. This is because we are transitioning into democracy so I ask for some time during this reform period. I ask for your cooperation from all organizations and the public. How can we make happen the notion of “good water purging the bad water” in our society? We need to do this lawfully while empowering those with good intentions. We need to do this together. This government has never intended to diminish the authority of any agency. But if officials commit offences, the justice system will deal with them. That’s it. Let issues be resolved through the justice system. I don’t want there to be any external intervention into the judicial process. The police, the justice system and the courts must be in sync with regards to law enforcement and justice.
The third matter is reforming the bureaucracy. We are now in the first phase of doing this. In the past, various agencies managed their own budget and worked autonomously. Budgets each year were exhausted and sometimes did not coincide with projects, timelines and districts. Therefore the government has focused on restructuring all this. I admit that it is hard because it is something that we have never done. The views of the past governments towards reforming the bureaucracy have been stagnant. However, this is an issue that we must solve now. Various ministries and agencies must work together regarding joint projects. An example is water management. The responsibility rests with many agencies.
Today we must work together regarding water management. Various agencies must agree on a joint policy and come up with a budget proposal that it is sound. Whatever policies can be done now will be done now. Various project blueprints must coincide with each other. I’ve tasked the Deputy Prime Ministers to oversee the implementation of these reforms in order to create efficiency. There are also committees designed to mobilize various policies. Progress can be verified. For those who claim that you don’t see any real changes, this is because these are actually internal changes. These are things that will reach fruition in the future.
The internal management system of the bureaucracy must become more efficient. They must prepare for the new round of civil servants in the next 5 and 10 years. There must be a system of allocating personnel according to the needs of each ministry. If the private sector has developed itself but the government bureaucracy hasn’t, there will be no progress. There needs to be shared information between various agencies and cooperation between the government, the public and the private sector under the Pracharat “state of the people” model.
Activities that need to be reformed consist of water management, public facilities and trains. These things involve many ministries. For example, roads and railway tracks fall under the Ministry of Transport but the sidewalks fall under the Ministry of Interior. Electricity posts fall under the Ministry of Energy. Therefore, I’ve tasked a mobilization committee to coordinate these efforts. We need to do what we can, based on the needs of the people. This is an example of providing proper solutions that take into consideration the urgency and needs of others.
If things only happen in small pockets, issues will only be addressed in small areas. But if we do it slowly in a broad sense and build on it gradually, there will be progress. The regions will become stronger. I’ve called for the strengthening of various regions. We must examine the needs of the provinces and local communities.
A simple thing that we see everyday is the digging and repairing of roads. They do it for irrigation, installing phone and electricity lines. They keep on digging and don’t restore it. From now on, they must install everything at the same time. The BMA and other agencies must go find out how.
In the future, politicians are going to promise to build roads in their constituents as part of their campaign platforms.
So you [politicians] must implement your policies according to the country’s foundational blueprint and examine how you can connect with the economy, transportation, trade and logistics. Think of the big picture and bring it down to the regions into smaller roads. This way of thinking is what makes this government unique. I talk about reform. Who else talks about real reform issues? Instead a lot of the political bickering covers only the constitution and the public referendum. We need to look at all the problems we have and determine how we would like the final outcome to be, bearing in mind the public as the beneficiary of the solution. I also call for management policies that adhere to the conditions of various regions and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.
The government is drafting and also enforcing laws that are in accordance with international standards. Of the 4-500 laws that we have, half need to be updated to suite today’s trade and investment conditions as well as our 20 year strategic national plan. We must use His Majesty the King’s Development plan and the Sufficiency Economy philosophy to mobilize and follow up on policies every 5 years. Today, we also have various reform plans. Therefore you can see that we are trying to connect these things to ensure that we have progress in the next 5, 10 and 20 years ahead. We must have a future. In the past, we tended to focus on what’s in front of you and how you can best take advantage of things. That’s why we are caught merely trying to outdo each other. Today we must share the benefits and make Thailand a land of happiness for all. We have been ranked number 1 again by a foreign media agency in terms of happiest economy. This is something to be proud of. They call us the land of smiles because although there is a lot of suffering, with people having low income and in debt, we are still kind and warm hearted, not miserable. To carry one this kindliness to our international friends, we will need to be successful with our reforms and work together. I will do my best to move Thailand forward and not let things revert back to how they were. Therefore we need to create strength through the “state of the people” or PPPP model.
The last matter is about the government’s foreign policy and role in the international system. As a responsible member of the international community, we must adhere to various agreements. Agreements that need revision can be done to ensure propriety. It’s challenging because there are lots of agreements we’ve signed up to. Today we must carefully build trust, and share the benefits among all of us. Things can get tangled up in conflicts of interest and corruption, and I’ve worked every day to prevent this.
I feel troubled sometimes when I go abroad. Sometimes the agreements that we signed up to previously were brought up because we were wrong in not adhering to those agreements. I don’t know whether we will lose our friendship with these countries. So we need to see how we can cooperate with other developing countries in order to develop together. There needs to be a partnership between developing countries and developed and developing countries. Also, if developing countries can join hands, it can create a chain of development that can suit our needs.
Preserving the environment is a duty for all global citizens. If damages are done in Thailand, its effects will be felt throughout the world. Therefore we need to think of our country’s future as being tied to the wellbeing of this planet. Billions of people will be added to this planet in the very near future. Today, Thailand is defining its own future. People must refrain from fighting and instead work together and rely on the development of human personnel and research. From now on research and innovation must be practical and can be implemented in the production process.
We’re expediting our efforts on incorporating rubber to various production processes. Various SMEs and government agencies are adjusting themselves to be able to utilize rubber. This will take time as it’s never been done before. We need to create a production cycle able to compete in the market. We need to do our part by supporting various start-up businesses that incorporate rubber so that we can enhance the prices of rubber and encourage competitiveness. In the future we will be able to sell our rubber abroad. There are stations set up to test the quality of rubber.
The government has these stations as well. We need to work together to be strong from within. We need to also export and encourage trade between various countries. Strength from within comes from empowering communities, provinces and regions. The people, whether they are farmers or those with low income, are part of this process. If one group creates conflict, there will be no progress.
The most important thing today is informing the public with reliable information. It’s a hard thing to do because we are all different in how we receive information. Many people need to work when other people are resting. Therefore, information may not reach everyone. We must ask how we can create understanding with all sectors of society. We’ve created a television channel as a first measure.
Please think of how progress can happen, how income and be created and how the next generation will be. The government is doing everything it can to create understanding. Everyone has a role in contributing to the development of the country and creating strength from within. We must have modern information technology that will create growth in villages, sub-districts, districts, provinces, provincial groups, regions, the nation, our borders, the CLMV trade block, within ASEAN and ASEAN with other countries.
Today we have created many channels to disseminate information. Please also spread the word to your peers. People who keep quarrelling usually do not achieve progress. Please consider the government’s work in caring for over almost 70 million people and how various people demanding different things takes a toll on the government’s budget. We must ensure that all sectors and regions develop equally so that the whole country can move forward together.
One more thing is about the developing your own English skills. The English language is like a door to various fields of expertise in the world. It is a universal language. We must develop better job prospects by improving upon people’s English skills. We must be able to use Thai as well as other languages. This means having a working knowledge of a language, not just knowing it from songs or for your own entertainment. You should learn what is practical and useful.
Today, the government has unveiled an English language learning application for Thai people. This is a result of our PPPP or “state of the people” model between the Ministry of Education, the Foundation of Virtuous Youth and Enconcept. This will be the first time that Thai people will be able to learn English for free anytime on their mobile devices. The application develops listening, speaking, reading and writing skills without needing to have any previous foundations. The application has a total of 200 chapters with simulations of every situation, English for trade and services, and English for various professions. I invite all of you to try out the application. (“Echoenglish” is currently available on Android devices. The iOS version is expected to be available at the end of March this year)
The key to successful English learning consists of: 1. Learning from a correct English role model. 2. Having an instant feedback mechanism. (The government has already prepared these 2 factors for the public. We will have various versions of the program. Right now is the first version.) The 3rd factor is that the public, students, labourers and civil servants must continue to practice English regularly. You need to constantly be improving yourself through learning. This may require some motivation but bear in mind that it is also a social responsibility in the context of the country’s development. Other countries are engaging in bilingual learning, whether it is through watching movies or television shows. Reading subtitles is fine as long as you continue to absorb the English. This is a method that I do sometimes as well. I’m trying to improve myself while doing the job as Prime Minister.
I’m constantly concerned about water consumption not just today but in the future as well. I think about how everyone can contribute to saving water. I don’t want it to the point where everyone is only confined to a certain amount per day. I just ask that people use less water.
By doing this, we will be able to become drought resilient in the long term. This is a national agenda we must confront immediately. Agencies must campaign to create understanding about how to conserve water. I don’t want to have to impose new laws on the people of Thailand to control this.
For those that are suffering from high amounts of debt, I remind you that the government is implementing assistance measures. Measures may not be direct financial support but may come in the form of extensions or interest rate adjustments. People can contact the Ministry of Agriculture, Commerce and Interior in various regions. There are also Damrongdhama centers for people to submit their cases to the governors. I call on all governors to take this matter seriously and find ways to assist the people.
However sometimes you need to take into consideration the problems some government agencies face such as budget constraints. Many agencies are asking the central government for funding on various projects, but there is not enough money at the moment. We must increase our income by adjusting our economic structure, import export structure, technological base, and developing new industries, consisting of 5 new industries along with 5 existing industries of high growth.
We must not allow anyone to ruin our nation’s peacefulness and stability. In the end, we are the ones end up being distressed, not those living abroad. I have stopped paying attention to those who wish us ill. And the issues they denounce this government about – please remember that they had not been able to address them at all when they had a chance. If you really had, then please tell me how this government should approach each issue. You used up a lot of the national budget, but nothing was accomplished. So I ask you now, and am waiting for an explanation. But you still go to the media and claim that you actually did something for the people.
Thank you for everyone’s cooperation. I know that you all love the country, only some love themselves more. I wish you all happiness during your holiday.
Thank you. Sawasdee Krub