National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, July 1, 2016
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
During my trip to the Republic of India, the cabinet ministers and I had an opportunity to pay a visit to four sacred places revered by all Buddhists. In addition, we engaged in religious ceremonies, including praying under the Bodhi Tree where the Lord Buddha attained supreme enlightenment.
So with this special setting, were able to chant the scripture “Sattati Wassa Ratchakala Waratana” in honour of two auspicious occasions this year, His Majesty the King’s 70th anniversary of accession to the throne, and Her Majesty the Queen’s 7th cycle anniversary on August 12, 2016.
After the ceremony, we were also blessed with a sprinkle of rain, a phenomenon that brought joy to all of us. We were told that the place had not seen any rainfall for a long time.
Regarding the “Sattati Wassa Ratchakala Waratana”, the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand has endorsed the idea to have Thai monks and Buddhist Thais around the world chant this holy psalm every evening as a tribute to His Majesty the King, starting 1 June 2016 to 30 June 2017. The psalm and its translated version can be downloaded from the website of the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand. The website is now appearing on the screen. http://www.onab.go.th/
The government has also asked the Sangha Supreme Council to work with various agencies in handing out psalm books to monasteries. The chanting of the hymn will be broadcast on radio and television as well on occasions.
I also want to share with you today the story about an exemplary citizen who displays his devotion and loyalty to our nation. His name is Prateep Chuangchu, a 7th grader at Angthong Pathamarot Withayakhom School, who walked through the rains to pick up our national flags scattered on the ground.
What really moved me was his statement. He said his teachers told him that the national flag represents nation, religion, and the Monarchy, and thus should be revered. Thank you to his teacher. My concern is his safety and his health. He is still a child after all.
I thank another student, Suriya Chanroen, who shared this story online. This is a good example of social media being used in a constructive way. This incident may appear to be a minor story, but for me it represents the true nature of our society and our people. We have a long history and a rich culture which we and future generations can be proud of.
For example we have the Royal Grand Palace and other palaces of the Rattanakosin era. These historical sites are an enduring symbol of our sacrosanct institutions, namely, the nation, religions, and the Monarchy. The Royal Grand Palace is world’s third most visited palace in the world, welcoming around 8 million people a year.
Moreover, our Thai culture, which is based on kindness, social service, and friendliness, is the identity of our people, which we should all be proud about.
Another exemplary individual who will represent Thailand is Montien Boonton, who was born without the ability to see. I would like to congratulate him for his appointment as a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for another 4-year term from 2017 to 2020.
He received 102 votes from 160 countries, coming in at number 4 of all 18 nominees. This indicates that the United Nations and its members recognize the commitment and the determination of Mr. Montien. With physical limitations, this son of farmers did not give up on life. He has served as president of Thailand Association of the Blind since 1998. He is also a former senator and an active member of the National Legislative Assembly.
I ask that Mr. Montien continue his outstanding work for the disabled. The government will do its best to support his role and his work in Thailand as well as in international arenas.
So far, the government has pushed for several measures in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and they are:
– Access to basic privileges such as political processes, social affairs, and cultural affairs, for instance the August 7 referendum will have special measure for the disabled to be able to exercise their rights;
– access to public utilities, transportation, information, and public services, such as the model Ko Kret community project, accessible buses to facilitate the travelling of the disabled, the elderly, pregnant women, and children;
– equal rights to education, healthcare, and employment, for instance, we have career center for the disabled, disability employment requirements, free medical care, and sign-language-enabled information kiosks at state offices, hospitals, and malls so as to assist those who lost hearing and speaking abilities;
– measures to eradicate discrimination against people with disabilities. I want to stress that human resources are the most valuable resource of any nation and if given proper support, people with disabilities will be a driving force of our nation.
An important factor in increasing the potential of our human resources is education. This past Monday, there was the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between education-related agencies. The project is called Con-Next-E-D.
This is a policy to mobilize the development of basic education under the Pracharat project, marking the first time the private sector is invited to participate in the designing of the country’s educational infrastructure, with the government’s support. All 70 million Thai’s deserve the best quality education.
Education is a responsibility that doesn’t only rest with teachers, parents and the government, but also with the private sector, while the country’s labor and production sector should have a role in our education policies. We are currently running at a 50 percent shortage of engineers required to fulfill our “Thailand 4.0” industrial agenda.
Therefore, all sectors should contribute to raising the quality of the Thai education system. In the past, businesses only contributed in the form of school supplies and facilities, but were never given the opportunity to utilize their capabilities in developing the country’s education system.
Today, I am grateful that schools, which are the incubators of the country’s human resources, will be included in the Pracharat approach to economic development, where the private sector helps assist the state in areas that the state is not so strong. All businesses are always welcomed to contribute to this national agenda.
A key principle in working together is emulating His Majesty the King’s strategy for development, which is based on “understanding, reaching out, and development”. Here, the private sector can act as a supporter in providing expertise, capital and personnel or ‘new age leaders’ who have the will to go directly to local communities and engage with schools, administrators, communities, parents and students to engender a collective will to develop and progress, starting with making the best use of their community’s strengths and needs.
The first phase of the project will cover 3,342 schools, with the goal of reaching 7,424 schools, at least one per district, in the next 3 years. Important activities will include:
1. Providing all schools with internet access.
2. Developing a student-centric curriculum that encourages analytical skills, research, self-motivation and life-long learning.
3. Developing the quality of school administrators and instructors.
4. Improving knowledge and competence of the English language through native-language instructors and inserting English into various subjects.
5. Establishing a “school fund” which enables parents and communities to participate in a school’s development and management.
The next step is raising the standards of Thai universities in order to become education and research centers for emerging industries such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and robotics. Another important agenda is creating a new generation of leaders that are guided by the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which purports the pursuit of knowledge with ethics. If all of us can support each other in this direction, our development will be effective and sustainable.
The government has, therefore, undertaken several measures to develop our potentials to benefit the national, regional, and international economy. For example, it has established an industrial estate for the country’s aviation industry and has expanded the capabilities of U-Tapao International Airport. This policy was proposed by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning based on studies by Kasetsart University that showed that the airport has potential to serve as a center for the aviation industry. The study concluded that:
1. Thailand now has the capability and capital to conduct airplane maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) domestically. This will save money and time that was spent sending planes abroad for MRO.
2. Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) must be conducted in the eastern industrial estate. And most importantly,
3. Raising the standards of U-Tapao International Airport to become the country’s 3rd commercial airport in addition to Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang Airport under the agenda of “One Airport, Two Missions”.
This policy was implemented in order to accommodate the increasing use of airports in the country and the region. It is also part of the agenda of developing the country’s tourism industry in the eastern coastal area by increasing connectivity with neighboring countries and supporting green tourism and clean beaches.
The project has a timeline of 13 years, divided into 3 phases, consisting of developing aircraft and engine maintenance facilities and increasing total capacity of airports to 3 million people per year by 2018 and 2020. Most importantly, all this must be done in accordance to standards set by international organizations such as the ICAO.
In addition, we need to mobilize two other agendas, which are:
1. Developing our dual track railway and medium to high-speed railway system in order to accommodate passengers and. I’ve also called for airport rail links connecting the 3 main airports mentioned earlier in order to facilitate travel between the eastern and central regions and eventually, the southern region.
2. We also need to develop training programs to accommodate the aviation industry.
Turning to our tour of inspection in the province of Rayong. Rayong has the highest GDP of any province in the country. Currently, this stands at around 1 million baht/ person/ per year. In addition, we will also be monitoring the progress of the development of the Utapao Airport, which as I’d mentioned before was to support the expansion of transportation in the future. This is also to establish a special economic zone within the 3 Eastern coastal provinces comprising Chonburi, Rayong, and Chachoengsao in order to encourage investment in target industries, in accordance with government policy. With this, we aim to enhance our national competitiveness.
From there, I traveled to meet and learn from the locals in the district of Ban Chang. I was given the opportunity to admire an exhibition based on collaboration by companies, associations, government agencies and Thammasat University according to the Pracharat model. The social enterprise displayed here will serve to help the people much the same as a social enterprise might do for villagers who want to earn a better living by adding value to their local products. For example, the Thammasat model has added value to Rice berry, which is produced by the locals of Kok Island. It accomplishes this by sharing knowledge of modern business management through working with the community. This is in order to build on local knowledge and achieve a sustainable solution.
I have also recommended that we can add more value by redesigning packaging to be more aesthetically pleasing and modern, to give the products more appeal; while the products themselves will remain as delicious as always.
This can be built upon further by highlighting the narrative behind the product. For example: take Thai food. It has become one of the most popular forms of cuisine worldwide. Pad Thai, Tom Yum Koong, Green Curry, Som Tam. If we can showcase their story and origins, we can make them even more appealing by talking about their standards of ingredients, their many herbs and spices, their health benefits, and their preparation process. With this, we can add value to our products, our stores, and our raw materials within this country as well as promote tourism in a good way too.
Another project I think is important is the coral reef restoration project in Khao Kwang. This is accomplished by laying down PVC piping as a base for which coral can attach to and grow much the same as they might do naturally. This method aims to restore marine ecosystems that have been destroyed by illegal fishing, which includes blast fishing, and fish finding methods that damage the ocean floor; as well as damage from global warming to name but a few. I have received reports that there have been at least 2 other research projects that have shown results in this area. I believe we need to promote them.
One is to grow new coral through breeding. This method is carried out under the Plant Genetic Conservation Project under the Royal initiative of Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn.
The other method is to promote coral growth through propagation and transplanting. This is done with ring shaped modules. Impressively, these have been developed through the award winning research of high school students at the Environmental Science Symposium 2015. I’d like the authorities and related organizations to use this idea and expand it.
Next, we visited the coastal erosion prevention project, a reinforced concrete wall in the Payoon Beach and Nam Rin Beach area. By preventing coastal erosion, this project can help mitigate the problems to the environment and ecology; as well as damage to tourist sites and local fishing areas which many depend on for their livelihood. Therefore, when the community asked for help in this matter, the government stepped up our efforts. I wish that everything could be like this…an indigenous will of the local people to advance and progress that was supported until fruition. When something like this happens, we can help fix the problem at the right source. We can tackle the issues where they need them. This in turn will truly benefit the communities. Projects such as these have been supported by the government since 2014 and are now completed in some major areas. There are still 2 more major areas we will address, and possibly more. In the past, we might not have given enough importance to this issue, but now, this government is taking real action. We will develop long term solutions and find the necessary budget to carry them out. This may take some time however, as these projects do require a very large budget.
Lastly, I’d like to touch on a major success within this country. I’d like to proudly share this with everyone, as it has been the result of collaboration across many different parties. 4 major international organizations, namely: The World Health Organization (WHO), The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the Thailand MOPH – U.S. CDC Collaboration (TUC) have recently met with me in order to congratulate Thailand on receiving a special certificate from the WHO for achieving the international goal to end transmission of HIV and Syphilis from mother to child to under 2 percent. We are the first country in Asia and only the second country worldwide to do so.
In particular, this issue has received the support of Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali, who graciously established a fund to provide support to mothers and children who have been infected with HIV. To this day, that fund is still operational and providing valuable assistance and care to the Thai people as well as to our foreign workers in Thailand. Thus, Thailand is ready to join hands with other organizations in order to build upon this knowledge and develop Thailand into a hub of skills development, best practices, and experience sharing on the implementation of AIDS prevention.
The Ministry of Public Health has set a target for ending infections AIDS in Thailand by the year 2030. It hopes Thailand will become a model of success for public health, which will require the continuous cooperation and technical support of various organizations. This is in order for Thailand to meet this target to eliminate AIDS infections in the country by reducing the number of new infections, by reducing the death rate from AIDS, and by reducing stigmatization and discrimination towards those who are infected with HIV.
The Royal Thai Government is committed to this endeavour and will provide continuous support to this public health project. Therefore, this has been included in the 20 year national strategic plan. This solution must be comprehensive. We will tackle the problem at the source, at the journey, and at the destination through legislation. We will raise awareness within society.
Awareness of social issues and a social conscience are very important. This is up to the individual. If a person does value it and use it, it will be the foundation for success in every other area. Even if we are to succeed in elevating the quality of life for our citizens, this should come with the development of a strong social conscience as well. So I encourage us all to have a role in fostering a strong social conscience, with kindness, piety, and respect for our nation, religion and the Monarchy. This is the foundation for all Thai people and our future.
Thank you very much. Sawsdee krub.