National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, May 27, 2016
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
As this year and the next are auspicious for Thai citizens and the Thai nation, the government would like to encourage all to perform virtuous deeds in honour and in tribute to His Majesty the King, who is celebrating the 70th Anniversary of His accession to the throne. This celebration will be held from 9 June 2016 to 9 June 2017. Another event will be organized to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s 7th cycle Birthday Anniversary from 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016.
When organising these events in honour of Their Majesties, the government will ensure that such occasions will pay the highest tribute while involving activities that benefit society such as reforestation projects, reservoir construction, water resources development, Pracharat projects, and OTOP fairs.
I would like to call on all citizens, companies, stores, shops, including government offices, to display the Royal Flags to honour these two auspicious occasions.
Also for this special occasion, I would like to congratulate members of the “Thai Everest 2016” team who conquered Mount Everest. The moment I want to particularly mention is when they held up a portrait of His Majesty the King. The picture was held up by Dr. Napassaporn “Eem” Chamnansit at the world’s highest peak. She is the first Thai female to have done so, thus making extraordinary history. We can also recall the first Thai person to have completed this feat, Withitnan Rojanaphanich, who did it in 22 May 2008.
I would also like to send my congratulations to the Thai athletes who have continuously brought recognition and esteem for the country. The first group is the male and female rugby teams who won the Southeast Asia Sevens champion titles in Singapore. They have truly made history for Thai rugby football, and thus our status in the ASEAN region and the international community.
The second group is the Thai national volleyball team. Although they did not qualify for the finals of the 2016, Olympics they have won our hearts and made all of us proud and happy as they displayed their sportsmanship and their perseverance.
The third person is “Pro May” or Ariya Jutanugarn who won Kingsmill Championship in USA. It was her second LPGA title, winning two in a row. She is now world’s number 13.
All of their successes have shown us the great potential of Thai people, and affirms the saying that “where the effort is, therein lies the success”.
In our efforts to move Thailand forward in making progress, I believe that cooperation from all sectors is the key to success which will help us move beyond our past conflicts and make personal sacrifices for the benefit of the nation and the public as a whole.
As well, the government is considering new ways to reform our sports and athletics sector.
The first approach is to consider establishing sports universities, which will be spearheaded by the Institute of Physical Education, which has branches throughout the country. This will support the work of the NRSA in this area.
We also need to produce athletes according to their potential and make sure that we have generations of athletes including those who are disabled.
We need to make the best use of our knowledge in sports science in order to improve the skills of Thai athletes.
Regarding the recent school dormitory fire in Wiang Pa Pao district of Chiang Rai province, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and those injured. I have given orders to all responsible units to immediately improve security and safety standards while ensuring the effectiveness of the prevention and response plans. Officers must hold drills on a regular basis and respond to unexpected incidents in a timely manner. Assistance to those affected must be swift. Let this tragedy be the last lesson we learn from this. Adept preparation can prevent damage and losses. We need to be able to reduce as much risk an damage as possible.
The administrative authorities, national security agencies, police, the military, and local officers must be well prepared and know how to respond to all circumstances. Please inspect your fire suppression system, high ground heliports, and water systems in urban areas and in community areas. Please make sure these systems are accessible and ready for emergency response.
As for my visit to the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima to inspect local authorities’ efforts to assist farmers and people affected by the recent drought crisis, I have met the communities there and emphasized that the government has been trying to build community resilience, promote learning, and self-development for the people at all levels. For instance, we have many development projects for rice, cassavas, sugarcane, and rubber – so that these products fetch higher prices in the market and have added innovation. We have also promoted local fishing by helping with reproduction of shrimp and carp species.
We have given out licenses to allow locals to live and generate income within the area of the protected Khon Buri park, with an area of 3,182 rai. 199 people in two districts will benefit from this policy.
We have given out 11 land-use projects in a community forest for farmers in 3 districts, with a total land area of 21,057 rai.
There has also been a project for the development of OTOP products. Improvements can be realized incrementally, but it would be faster if we can expedite them through cooperation from all involved.
As for water management, there are two steps. The first step concerns the preparation and development of water resources and water distribution to agricultural zones. The other step is to consider how we are going to manage water when there is an excessive amount or how can we cope when we are battered by water scarcity. This is why we need these two steps. Therefore, water management must be done in both ways. Everyone should know what to do with risk-prone areas. If you look at the Agriculture Ministry’s agri-map, you will understand all water areas in Thailand. I have asked the ministry to provide more details about this map. The agri-map is for public review.
Meanwhile in Nakhon Ratchasima province, there have been 11 districts affected by this year’s drought. It has caused damage to 467,706 rai of land. Drought-disaster zones in 2010 and 2013 had already brought damage to two major districts of the province. Therefore, I was very happy to hear about collaboration between the government, the private sector, and the people in building 170 water retention areas under the “Pracharat” approach. These areas are expected to prevent flooding and can store water for agriculture during the dry season. Farmers will have water for their garden plants as well. Another 182 water retention areas will be constructed. Furthermore, there are two more large projects regarding water resources management.
The first project is the Lamphrapleng Dam Project. This aims to renovate the dam to increase its water storage capacity, thereby preventing excessive amount of water in two districts namely Pak Thong Chai and Chok Chai.
In addition, the dam will store water for public use and ensure a sufficient amount of water for consumption in three districts which are Pak Thong Chai, Chok Chai, and Muang. We will also enhance the water drainage system by raising the dam’s height, increasing the width of earth bunds, stabilizing the dam’s foundations, improving water diversion from Lam Phra Phloeng Dam to Lam Sam Lai Reservoir, and dredging the Lam Sam Lai Reservoir in order to increase its capacity. This will allow the capacities of both dams to be compatible to each other.
The second project is the development of the lower Lam Chiang Krai river basin, which has been approved, in principle, for further implementation. This river basin has not seen any development in the past 40 years. The basin will be used to store rain water and prevent flood waters. It will also provide fresh water for residents in the area and alleviate drought in 6 major districts including Phra Thong Kham, Thepharak, Dan Khun Thot, Non Thai, Non Sung, and Muang.
It comprises of 3 subprojects. The first one is to increase the storage capacity of Lam Chiang Krai river basin by 10 million cubic meters of water.
The second project aims to impacts alleviate from drought or flood by constructing 56 sluice gates.
The third project is to dredge 122 kilometers along the Lam Chiang Krai river basin.
I have decided to issue an urgent policy directive for tangible outcomes to be achieved by the year 2017. This will require longer-term projects to be acted on immediately in order to benefit the public in a more timely matter.
What needs to be considered from now is defining appropriate areas for plantation and deciding on what plants are suitable for certain areas, while some areas may be turned into marketing channels in order to connect all production processes. This plan must also coincide with our water management policy.
Another important matter is the utilization of telecommunications technology and the latest geographical information. Farmers must study these new advancements in order to become a “smart farmer” that incorporates technology and geographical knowledge to assist their farming practices.
We will move forward with these projects with the needs of the public as the basis. This policy will coincide with our agenda to promote development based on an innate motivation, whether it is in the areas of agriculture or the economy. We will start at the individual level and then expand to the organizational level. This approach will help farmers to have more income in the end. We will not succeed in creating prosperity for all if we don’t develop connectivity between individuals and organizations, from the small to large.
As for our efforts to solve waste management issues, I have tried to expedite progress in this area for the past 2 years, but the results have not been up to pace. I have therefore tasked the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment with creating a joint action plan on waste management for June 2016 to June 2017. We will incorporate the policy of the 3 “rs” – “reduce, reuse, recycle” with the overarching agenda of reducing the country’s overall waste output by 5 percent, or approximately 2 million tons per year in order to bring the number to approximately 23 million tons per year.
I therefore ask for cooperation from Ministries, departments, state enterprises, provinces, districts, schools, religious institutions, department stores and other establishments in joining the effort to separate waste. It starts from fostering a sense of awareness on the reduction of waste that is hard to disintegrate such as plastic bags. I also have a policy on how many plastic bags we need to reduce each month.
We will also need to adjust our method of garbage collection, landfilling and recycling. The government will enact policies that will coincide with the agenda of reducing plastic bags and separating waste. I’ve seen programs at some department stores where plastic bottles and cups can be turned in for money. This is one of the examples of how to recycle and reduce waste. We need to be mindful not to be spendthrift of plastic items. Another thing to do is to dispose of food content before you throw away foam or plastic food containers, in order to be considerate to the person who is disposing of your garbage.
We also need to be mindful of people in various occupations. An example is being mindful of what a waste collector must go through. The effort to reduce waste must start from creating a conscious effort to reduce the amount of waste we generate. It starts from the person who disposes of the waste, then the collector, then what we eventually do with the waste, whether we burn it or reuse it.
In the past, this has been a problem. And many have said that this government hasn’t taken much action. But how can the government adequately address the issue given that legislation regarding waste disposal hasn’t been clear? In the past, responsibility has been split between various agencies. Today we are revising laws in order to connect agencies and the waste disposal process. Today, our waste disposal system lacks effectiveness. Perhaps we can outsource the work to other agencies. The issue, however, is that fees may increase. Right now, the budget for waste disposal is very low. So, in order to further develop our waste disposal policy, we need to address our budget issue. Meanwhile, we need to all start with ourselves while various establishments need to contribute to the reduction of waste. I would like this year to be one where we can successfully reduce waste in Thailand. We can set goals of, let’s say, 30 to 50 percent for the years 2016-17. Let’s all join in and create a sense of awareness.
If we are able to reduce waste, we won’t have to increase our waste disposal budget by much and there will be fewer burdens on agencies. Meanwhile, we must also review how local agencies manage their waste and update procedures accordingly.
I also urge everyone to reduce their use of plastic bags by shopping with cloth bags.
The next matters concern international relations, natural disasters, terrorism, a borderless world, the “4.0 economy,” drought and flooding. All these matters are interconnected. I don’t want us to view our economy as stagnant because people are earning less. I would like everyone to look at the various occupations within our population and the income differentials between them. I would like you to see how our efforts have made people more resilient and how they have developed their potential. If people work hard but do not earn as much as they’d like to because of lower prices for what they produce, and we fail to innovate or add value to these products, prices will remain like unchanged this. We therefore need to create connectivity at all stages of production while also linking the public and the agricultural sector. We need to create innovation and new marketing channels both domestically and abroad.
This government is taking efforts to mobilize the economy at all fronts, particularly SMEs or startups, as these are businesses of the new generation. We need to examine how these businesses can add value and connect with existing SMEs or agricultural groups, whether they are cooperatives, social enterprises or cooperative farming. All these sectors need to move forward and make progress together. If we don’t connect large businesses with small businesses, SMEs and social enterprises, we won’t be able to raise incomes to coincide with rising costs of living.
All this I have mentioned – we still have a chance to get it right. We need to stop finding fault with each other all the time and learn how to join forces and work together. We need to strengthen the public sector through inclusiveness or according to the Pracharat model by creating connectivity among all stages of production. This will all take time but if we work together, it will succeed. I listen to all constructive suggestions.
We must look after every sector in Thai society, be they farmers, freelance workers, or employees. What is important is that the government is strengthening all these sectors by promoting the development of human personnel and by embracing the transformation into digital society. We need to push for the “Thailand 4.0” agenda. The other day, I chaired the “Digital Thailand” event. Most importantly, we need to foster a social conscience based on strong morals among individuals and organizations. We need to constantly be improving ourselves and reforming by being informed about the many global changes and developments.
This is an era where there will be increased economic activities and trade between various economic communities. We have an obligation towards ASEAN to foster connectivity amongst ourselves as well as with other economic communities. This will enhance our potential; add value, as well as the number of our businesses. This all starts from having groups of various professions, from small to large, connecting with each other within provinces, then within groups of provinces or regions, then withing the CLMV neighbours and other ASEAN nations and then worldwide. This connectivity will benefit people at all levels.
This is an agenda that this country must strive towards. Having said that, we will need to have respect for the rule law, have just laws, and instill an obligation to the highest ethic s among law enforcers so that they are impartial and transparent. We must all exist under the rule of law, and everyone is equal under the law – and all agencies must uphold this principle.
We must not allow for the saying that laws are made for the rich to bully the poor. I affirm that laws that are being passed in this administration are designed to create social justice and reduce social inequalities. Most of them are for the people and society, while the rest are for trade and investment purposes as we still need to create business incentives through various benefits. All have to benefit.
Therefore, in this case, the Thai people should consider new ways of looking at issues, while bearing in mind that we will not allow our country to incur any disadvantages, especially as this government does not have any vested interests. We focus on the public benefit and will do whatever it takes.
If we don’t respect the law, will we be able to create social orderliness? We need to understand how certain actions, such as instigating violence, are against the law. If it is done among military officials, we will see if it is a breach of military code on top of felonies or civil cases, but we cannot use emotions in our judgment. Our credibility in the international stage also hinges on how the rule of law is respected and upheld within our country.
Therefore, our society must engender peacefulness and orderliness through adherence to the rule of law. Everyone must respect judicial procedures and the law applies equally to everyone.
We must also attempt to reduce the income gaps in our society. As I have mentioned before, we intend to take care of everyone in every sector. It depends on how we assist each sector as there will be different needs. The important thing is to develop resilience within each of them.
In terms of developing our country’s potential, one aspect that we have to work on is how state revenue can be increased. Therefore, we need to make our country more competitive. We need to maintain investment in infrastructure. There are also many social services that fall within the responsibility of the government. Some examples include education, public health, and welfare. Proper budget allocated for these items will increase revenues for the country and the people in the long run.
In the agricultural sector, I believe Thailand’s farmers have it very difficult. Therefore, we need to prioritize learning in this sector and build an understanding of the geographical and environmental conditions. Changes in the environment whether that is in the water, earth or air have become ever more problematic with each passing year. Her Majesty the Queen once instructed that: [Think of..} “His Majesty the King is as the water and the Queen is like the forest. A forest must live in harmony with the water. Hence His Majesty the King builds reservoirs while the Queen plants forests.”
This is an undeniable fact. This notion also resounds within the hearts of the Thai people and it will guide us towards practices that will protect our forests and in turn, our water. No matter how well we manage things, if we don’t have access to enough water or aren’t able to store it, or the rains won’t come, then it’s all over and our investments and efforts will go to waste. This is why we must revitalize our natural resources and our environment as soon as we can. We must use a strategy that allows people to live in harmony with the forest. If the forest is damaged, will people be able to live with it? Is there a budget for them to look after the forest? We’re building a forest, a public forest, at Hua Lon Mountain. This is an important matter that the policy committee is currently designating to various ministries to take responsibility of.
Whatever crops we intend to grow, we must use a lot of expertise and know how. For example, to try and grow crops on dilapidated forest areas in the hills, it’s not as if we can just plant whatever we want and it will flourish. We must consider the temperature and the rainfall. Once the rainy season is over, some plants would simply die. That’s why we must have a good plan. Before we plant, we need to decide on what to plant, where it should be done, and who will look after it. Once this is decided, we need to find ways in which to increase moisture. If this happens, we can grow. So what are the first crops we will plant?
At this time, crops that we should quickly try to grow are Mimosas, and Giant Mimosas. These plants have a number of useful properties. We can plant these to quickly offer shade for the other seedlings we will grow. However, we must still take the amount of water in the area into account and how that changes with the seasons. I’d like to leave that with you. I’d also like to thank all the dedicated people involved in this project that have raised funds and volunteered to plant.
The Forestry Department and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment are committed to these issues. I have given them a number of instructions 2 years ago and I have seen a lot of progress since then. Why don’t we all work together? For some groups, it is counterproductive to refuse working with government and then to say that we don’t care about you. We have done a lot, and you can see for yourself. But if you go out and on your own and grow something and it doesn’t work, then you have to take responsibility for that. However, if you grow something in partnership with us, we will take that responsibility with you. We’ll divide up the area, and come up with a detailed plan. Between your way and our way, which do you think is better? Please think about it before you start blaming one another.
I am thankful to you all, especially those who have had noble intentions in looking after the forest. I have spoken many times about the suffering of the people from this predicament. But if we really come together, persevere, and avoid being misled, we can resolve the problem. If we don’t have confidence in each other, and we become easily swayed by untruths, then we will remain vulnerable to manipulation by others. If so, you’ll no longer be able to have a voice in what happens like you do now and may end up turning to old fraudulent ways. That’s why it’s important that you don’t just demand and depend on compensation from the government.
If this is the case, things will not genuinely improve. So it is essential that you develop into stronger communities and do what you can, wherever that might be. The government will support you in other areas, whether that is providing water, management know-how, or soil quality improvement. If we all look at this area of over 140 million rai of agricultural land and think about all the water that must be used, you’ll quickly realize that it’s impossible to provide water for everyone. That’s why we need to move towards large farming plots, towards lowering our costs by using natural fertilizers instead of chemicals. We also need to study the markets, the manufacturing industry, social business, and price competition between traders and merchants. We need to do all these things. The government has done things to a certain degree, but I am not satisfied with this level yet because it hasn’t matched the urgent problems faced by many people.
Therefore, we must dedicate ourselves to solving these problems for the people in the correct way. If this takes some time, I ask that you show patience. In this way we hope to achieve stability and sustainability. The reason why this may be gradual is because some things require us to rethink our approach and perhaps start over. Sometimes we need to dismantle the entire system in order to rebuild it properly. We must look at future plans and learn about the laws. We must also evaluate ourselves and ask how well we can work with government assistance programmes.
A reason the rain is not been much according to season is because of our damaged environment. Forest encroachment is a real problem. We have destroyed much of our forest and resulted in bare hill tops. Maybe this was the result of poverty or of corruption. But now must come together and fix this issue along with many others. We must solve these problems using a cooperative system; using large farming plots, using mixed farming, and support businesses for society. In this way, we can have an integrated system. When we work together like this, the government will be able to provide support to the correct channels to achieve our goals.
I believe that our country’s gross income is not very high. It has alright because we have a lot of agriculture. However, this sector has seen a large decline due to drought. There have also been floods in some cases. So to be stronger, we must develop ourselves and learn how to endure these changes in order to move ourselves in the right direction. We need to think of how will we become self-sufficient and self reliant and no longer rely on the government help all the time?
The last issue I want to talk about is conflict and divisiveness in our society. I believe anything that is not productive or constructive can prove to be a danger. In our modern world, if we make good use of various media and from social media in a constructive way, with principles, and with sound reasoning, we can determine life goals, for our families, for our nation, and for our society so that we can have safety in our lives and peacefulness in our society. Our current society is in need of this change. We must ready ourselves for Thailand 4.0, and the new age of digital economy.
New things are about to happen in the world and in Thailand as well. This will have an effect on all of us, no matter what our lifestyle might be. Therefore we must embrace the principles of His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy. For the 3+2 conditions that deal with the issue of corruption and non-transparency, corruption is the result of 2 parties. Those who seek to benefit incorrectly, and fraudulent state officials. If one side is within legal boundaries, you can’t accuse them. If you do, that would be wrong. We just can’t accuse or dispense blame without justification. It is the government’s job or that of the law to deal with these situations. State officials must improve themselves in service to the people. We have new laws and people giving bribes will be also punished now.
Go take a look at this Act and see what it says. State officials will then see that they have an obligation to the highest ethics. Everyone must practice good governance and gratefulness in Their Majesties Benevolence is sacred to all of us. This is an auspicious year, therefore, the things that His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen have initiated for the people, we must continue whether this was water management, forest conservation, or development strategy. It is said that “understanding leads to development”. We must also look to a sufficiency economy and develop new approaches to agriculture.
These things are important as they give a guiding map for both the government and the public to follow for the benefit of the nation. This will bring us forward towards a future in stability, prosperity, and sustainability.
I’d like to thank the public, the civil authorities, the police, and the military for your cooperation and understanding. We must adapt ourselves and turn to each other and reform the country in order to build confidence and reduce mistrust. If we have trust, we can all benefit equally, under the law, for our beloved country.
Thank you to the governors, as well the deputy governors for all your hard work in the region. I’d also like to thank all the officials in every office whether that is at the central, regional, or local levels; whether that is part of a council or an NGO. I have said this many times already, but I hope that we come together in order to move our nation in the right direction. If we can find a way to cooperate, without trying to sway things to the left or to the right. We can walk forward along the middle path together under one law.
We must work together as the motto says: “For nation, religions, monarchy and the people.” Everyone has their duty. Even if we have different tasks, we must strive to do our best as His Majesty the King has asked of us. Thank you. I wish you a happy weekend. Sawasdee Krub.