National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, July 8, 2016
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
Today, I would like to commend the achievements of 2 Thai athletes who have brought joy and pride to our nation, thus affirming the saying that “the Thai people can compete with the best of them…and that there is nothing a Thai cannot do”.
The first athlete is Sutiya “Nee” Jiewchaloemmit, a skeet shooter, who is now ranked the world’s number 1 by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), thanks to her outstanding performance, winning two consecutive championships including the ISSF World Cup 2016 in Brazil and in San Marino. She is one of fifty Thai athletes who will be competing at the 31st Olympic Games in Brazil next month.
The second athlete is Thongchai “Pro Chang” Jaidee. He recently won the 100th Open de France. He is a former military officer. I have been told that winning this championship was also considered as a gift for his son’s birthday. He was also the oldest winner in Open de France history.
On behalf of the Thai people, I would like to congratulate them for their achievements. Their achievements came through perseverance and hard work. I would like to send a message to all Thai athletes, as Nong Nee has said, “you never walk alone, you represent the Thai people and the nation, and everyone is behind you and with you for every competition.” Our encouragement and support goes out to the students, researchers, and athletes taking part in international competitions. The Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST) led a team of students to take part in the Math-Science Olympiad. 20 students are competing in 5 categories – math, physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science. May you do the best you can, be good ambassadors for your field of expertise, and be successful in all your endeavours.
One reason behind the international success of these athletes, students, and researchers is their English language ability. English is a universal language. With this skill, you will be able to access know-how and expertise so that you are able to compete and connect with others at the global level.
The government has therefore attached importance to this issue and is advocating several projects to advance our nation’s human resources. This is being done through educational reforms, especially in the development of English language skills, as can be seen in the following efforts: can help us achieve this goal.
1 – the Con-Next-E-D project which aims to improve our education system according to the Pracharat approach (private-public collaboration)
2- a mobile phone application called “Echo English”
3 – the project “to reduce classroom hours and increase knowledge and experience” as implemented by the Ministry of Education.
In addition, the government has invested in an infrastructure project that will provide internet access to every village, so that everyone will have access to knowledge about their vocations from various expertise sources around the world, where most the information will be provided in English. So the Thai people will have to have the initiative to learn English from now. Therefore, we have to create more learning processes, in both Thai and English. This is a way to achieve a life-long learning process. We each must have the will to be inquisitive and to learn.
In our efforts to develop our nation’s human resources, we have the Thailand 4.0 policy, which requires that all sectors of society have a common understanding about how to progress the country towards the “Thai person 4.0 stage” as well. Today we have to acknowledge that within our society, there are many levels of development. Thailand has been through many eras as we called them – 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. In order to achieve 4.0, we must step past the 3.0 era. Those sectors that are still in the 1.0 or the 2.0 levels need to cross over to the 3.0 level first before reaching the 4.0. The timeframe for this progression will vary accordingly. So the government is categorizing each sector, in order to provide tailor-made and sustainable solutions. Human resources are the most important asset in mobilizing this policy. We must have innovation and competitiveness. Our economy must be strong in all dimensions. We need to add more value to our products, create value chains that connect the upstream, midstream and downstream levels, both domestically and internationally, especially with our neighbours in the CLMVT area, such as in the case of :
1- Farmers and growers: we should no longer solely use farming practices that rely on weather conditions; we must become “Smart Farmers” with modern skills, know-how and technology to increase adaptability and productivity, while using less water and land. For this, the government is investing in the “Agri Map” project to help famers be more proactive and plan their farming more effectively. It is a database map that gives out information about farming, water, soil, crop, fishing, marketing, logistics, and other important information related to land use and farmer registration.
2 – Labour: workers and labourers must improve their skills and abilities to be in tune with global changes, especially in the digital age. For this the government will integrate information from concerned agencies (the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Labor, and other responsible agencies) to create a labour database, so that Thailand is able to develop and produce skilled workers in line with domestic and international demand and market needs.
For instance in the 10 targeted industries, focus will be on education reform that gives more importance to vocational education, and giving vocational students a chance to gain a hands-on experience. There will also be a system that determines the standards of skilled labor, so that workers are paid according to their actual skills and potential. At the same time, the government will need to promote reforms in other tertiary educational sectors, along with the vocational sector, as Thailand needs a variety of workers and graduates in order to progress towards the 4.0 level. Therefore, we must undertake all the needed preparations, starting with labour, knowledge, skilled labour, so that we can effectively enter an aging society. Therefore we will need more revenue for better social welfare. We must make more use of innovation, technology, machinery, and equipment. If we can make these by ourselves, thus will also help reduce costs.
3 – SME operators. SME operators should no longer be left on their own to deal with major obstacles. We will promote SME development and enhance their competiveness to be “Smart enterprises” or “Smart startups. “ In addition, large enterprises in the country will also lend a hand by giving advice and sharing experiences.
Given this, the government is going to provide comprehensive support in the areas of infrastructure development, transport and communications, internet access, a digital economy, e-Commerce, OSS centers, Pracharat Rak Samakee Holding Companies, business matching, access to finance, tax incentives, investment promotion, and business facilitation in Thailand.
We have targeted 10 industries and special economic zones around the country, to be in line with micro clusters at the provincial level. This is to strengthen local communities so that “4.0 provincial economic development plans” can be drawn and implemented through the Pracharat mechanism, with help from governors, chambers of commerce, federations of industries, and community leaders and therefore, “prosperity and progress can be distributed from the capital and the major cities towards the local areas”.
We are currently in a period of transition which requires everyone’s cooperation, perseverance and resolve to amend and improve things.
The key to success to creating “Thai 4.0 persons” rests on cooperation from the private sector, and the financial sector, especially educational institutions in each region, in promoting education, R&D, and development in the following technical industries:
- The food and agricultural industry, including: Kasetsart, Songkla Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai and Burapa universities.
- The health and biotechnology industry, including: Mahidol, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Chulalongkorn universities.
- The automated, artificial intelligence, digital and robotics industries, including: the Suranaree University of Technology, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and Ladkrabang, and Chulalongkorn University for instance.
Given this, at the 2nd meeting of the Investment Promotion Committee for 2016, it was reported that there have been requests for investment support from 504 projects in the first 5 months of 2016. This number marks an 80 percent increase, with a value of 230 billion Baht. This value is a 410 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Of this amount, 40 percent will be invested in Thailand’s 10 targeted industries.
If all these projects receive their investment assistance, whether from Thai or foreign companies, they would be able to produce up to 48,000 jobs for Thai people and utilize raw materials worth 219 billion Baht in the next 2-3 years, and the total export value from these projects is projected at 268 billion Baht. I also believe that there are many more opportunities to create jobs and income for the Thai people. Therefore, we have to prepare ourselves to be “Thai 4.0 persons”. At the same time, we have to take care of all persons who need assistance for this endeavour.
Regarding R&D, the government is currently developing a long-term research and development strategy which entails cooperation between government institutions, the private sector, and educational institutions in order to create a comprehensive R&D mechanism. At the same time, R&D efforts should be transferable to production, for all sizes of industries, while incentives must be created for researchers and innovators.
We have drawn up all the regulations for this. What is left is the implementation process. Once there are investments, we must enhance our capabilities and add value to products, especially the products from the agricultural industry. Another matter is the mobilization of Thailand’s targeted industries.
In the past or during the “Thailand 3.0” phase, the country’s industrial sector and our state enterprises have had to rely on imported technology. This does not match our current needs as it is an approach that is no longer stable or sustainable. The transition to “Thailand 4.0” must be based on an economic model that is sustainable and fundamentally strong.
Therefore, we need to develop technology and innovation while increasing research and invention. We need to do this in order for the SME and Start-up sector to mobilize the country’s economy. We need to create a domestic “value chain” before we connect to the regional and global levels in the future, based on a logistics and ICT infrastructure that the government is currently focusing on.
One example is to use the findings from the numerous studies that have been conducted on Thai rice to add value within the industrial sector. The recent third annual meeting of the Rice Policy and Management Committee had proposed the establishment of a “Rice Commerce Institute” which will serve as a center for advancing the facilitation of research and innovation on rice for various industries. The institute will be a place that consolidates expertise on innovation, marketing, market research, business networking, and academic work that can also mobilize the development of products and innovations in rice for the domestic and international market.
Another example is adding value to our 0.6 million tons of rice husk produced each year. Rice husk accounts for approximately 2.2 percent of our 27 million ton annual rice output. Rice husk can be turned into rice bran oil, cosmetics and health foods. We will be able to increase the value of our rice husks from 6 billion Baht to 26 billion Baht this way.
Given all these benefits, I’ve called on the meeting to expand its efforts to consider other agricultural products such as cassava, sugar cane, corn and para rubber. The recent policy by the Ministry of Commerce to solve the issue of falling para rubber prices had been able to collaborate with 147 rubber companies from 28 countries and will be able to create 20 billion Baht. In the long-term, a specific agency or institution will be established to oversee this matter, so that sustainability can be created for Thai growers.
A major challenge for this agricultural sector is supply and demand balance. Today, we have an oversupply of certain products thus leading to lower prices. We therefore need to reduce the number of plantation areas and find other ways to use them in order to compensate. Otherwise, farmers will continue to suffer.
I also ask farmers to stay up to date with the latest government policy on “large-scale farming”. This is a policy that focuses on enhancing competitiveness and developing the grass roots economy by reforming the agricultural sector in a sustainable manner using the Pracharat model. Under this model, we’ve been able to utilize innovation, technology, equipment and management systems from the private sector in creating modern farming methods to assist large-scale farms.
There are currently 580 farms which total 1.34 million Rai. Over 85,000 households have participated in these farms with products such as rice, herbs, fruit, orchids, livestock, fisheries and silk.
The results of this large-scale farming policy for 2015-16 are as follows:
- Rice: 393 farms, totaling 830,000 Rai have reduced costs by 19 percent and increased output by 13 percent.
- Palm oil: 15 farms, totaling 270,000 Rai have reduced costs by 15 percent and increased output by 19 percent.
- Cassava: 34 farms, totaling 66,000 Rai have reduced costs by 25 percent and increased output by 30 percent.
- Sugar cane: 10 farms, totaling 11,000 Rai have reduced costs by 20 percent and increased output by 25 percent.
These numbers are averages for the first phase of the policy’s implementation. The goal is to reduce costs and increase output by at least 20 percent per farm for all agricultural products.
A success story of this large-scale farming program is a farm in Phak Mai Subdistrict of Sisaket Province, which was able to utilize the Pracharat model in 3,780 Rais of farmland with 297 participants. The work was managed by the Community Rice Seed Production and Support Center, which is a community level state enterprise. The project was able to reduce costs by 29 percent (from 4,620 Baht to 3,285 Baht per Rai) and was able to increase rice output by 25 percent from 400 to 500 kilograms per Rai. I would like this to be an example for others and thank all those who have cooperated.
The Ministry of Interior has delivered a progress report on policies to assist farmers as follows:
The first important policy is assistance on land leasing for farmers. The program had 360,000 tenants and 340,000 landlords participating, with a total of 9.6 million Rai of land. The program has been able to negotiate reductions in rent for over 120,000 tenants, totaling 2.2 million Rai with over 48 million Baht in reductions.
The program has also been able to negotiate exemptions for 581 tenants in locations that had suffered from natural disasters, accounting for 7,363 Rai of land with over 1.1 million Baht in reductions.
The rent for farms was lowered by over 1,100,000 baht. The rent money that was no longer collected amounted to over 2.6 million baht. The second issue is dealing with farmer’s debts. For this, We have opened a Damrongdharma center in each district. Farmers who have mortgaged their land through the non-institution financial system should contact the authorities here. There will be a bailiff and a board of directors on hand to help negotiate. There are a total of 1.6 million cases like this now.
These are divided in to two different kinds. The first kind involved urgent debts that are overdue and have been legally enforced. The second kind involves debts that have not been reported or legally enforced. We are systematically trying to resolve these issues.
A social issue that we would like for everyone to understand is that we are soon returning to a democracy. Therefore, it is imperative that peacefulness and orderliness be maintained so that Thailand can make real progress in order for
trade and investments to flourish. This is something that must be created and maintained today until we have an elected government in the future. Therefore, the cooperation we would like to ask from all of you is:
- The establishment of centers to maintain peace and orderliness – these already exist as the relevant government agencies are already involved, so it is not a matter of recruiting more people, but rather an establishment of a mechanism for the integration of cooperation between the 3 sides, with first being the government, primarily through the Ministry of Interior.
The second side is the National Council for Peace and Order or NCPO, and the third is the Election Commission or EC. These three sides must work together in order to ensure that the referendum runs smoothly, safely, and that the people’s mandate is carried out. This is a preventative measure so that the relevant agencies can act according the law and perform their duties strictly and honestly. This includes all the Acts that are related to government administrative regulations.
The Referendum on the Draft Constitution Act 2559 and The Public Gathering Act 2558 define the responsibilities and procedures of each agency clearly. The military officials from the NCPO will look after public safety and security in general only. They will not get involved, whether in locations, or in making suggestions, or in anything else that another group has been claiming or being apprehensive about. This is because the voting areas are under the responsibility of the EC. EC volunteers will look after that. This is the way it’s always been. We cannot get involved.
Therefore information on any cases in violation of referendum laws or NCPO orders will be sent through the justice system for due process.
I ask that this time around, we will have peacefulness during an election process, unlike what has occurred in the past, when we ultimately had to void an election, and citizens were hurt, and even killed. What a waste of budget… and the officials in charge were also punished. Who will take responsibility for that? This time round, I have to take that responsibility. We cannot ignore anything, especially in order to make progress and reform the country according to the Road Map.
What if there are misconducts in this case? They will have to go through the normal legal process under the justice system. So, please do not believe those who are making false claims…I am not forcing anyone to do anything, only that everyone act peacefully and that we are vigilant as good citizens. This will enhance the positive image of our country and deter situations that can cause unrest, as well as problems that may result from uncontrollable mass gatherings, like those which have happened before.
If this is the case, then I won’t need to use law enforcement to control certain situations. This is actually the second important issue, which is the rule of law. For public safety and orderliness, we have used NCPO orders. There are existing laws that govern these matters, but these orders are used to expedite them. I ask that the officials take the time to explain this to the people so that they can understand the reasoning and the necessity, and the reason why we have proceeded this way in reorganizing certain public regulations, such as for orderliness in our walkways, motorcycle taxis, in inspecting certain entertainment venues and markets.
With this, there also should be explanations on the benefits to be gained for the people in the long run, and how such actions are based on justice. We must take the time to explain this to those who have been distressed or do not understand and not merely by saying that it is just an NCPO order and if they are not happy, to go complain to the NCPO. I don’t think this is appropriate. I don’t mind if they come to complain about the NCPO at all, but I empathize with the people, the vendors, who have been distressed by being neglected and not given proper support all these years.
I would like all parties to come together and cooperate based on understanding. Together, we can instill the ability to communicate with one another based on reasoning. This will allow us, as a society, to have sound judgment and clear goals, and not just ad hoc measures to get something out of the way. Only fixing the surface of an issue won’t work. So we must be able to work on an issue and succeed. If we have the understanding from our fellow citizens, things will improve. I’d like to leave that with you, especially the officials in each district and in each ministry who must work directly with the people.
Usually, most problems arise in cases of enforcing the law by officials who have been stationed in a problem area for a long time already. Therefore, the people may not be confident or have trust in these officials. If an area has had long standing problems in the past, we should try to use impartial officers and bring them in from another area to solve the problem. We can try to prevent these events from recurring. We must also be wary of corruption. Those caught will be punished accordingly. There have been many investigations as of late.
Yesterday, I met with Mr. Monthian Boontan who was appointed to the position of Committee Member of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the United Nations for the years 2556-2563. This is his second time for him. I congratulated him and conveyed my support for him and his work. I have listened to his ideas and suggestions for how we can improve the lives of those with disabilities and I will expedite what I can. However, if something requires a large budget then they will undergo further considerations. Whether it is short term, mid-term, or long term, we have a duty to use our budget as efficiently as possible. This means doing things for the benefit of all. Currently, we have 67, almost 70 million people to look after.
Many things require a large budget, and thus some things may have not progressed as expected. Nevertheless we must work in conjunction with our Road Map and prepare what we need to hand over. The last thing I’d like to talk about is that I had ordered a revamp to programming at the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand, or NBT. They have been doing this consistently since then, and, as per policy, will serve as a television station for Thailand. They will broadcast useful and entertaining shows for the public and do what they can to make them as interesting as possible.
Whenever there is important issue, please watch this channel. It’s important that you know what’s going on, especially government issues and issues that affect doing business. On Monday the 11th of July, it will be the 28th anniversary of NBT. There will be a new line up of shows that I think are quite interesting. One of these is a news show from the Government Spokesperson, which will air on the 10th at 9 pm on NBT channel 11. The show will see the spokesperson meeting with locals in various parts of the city and answering any questions they have about the government. Whatever you’d like to know about, you can ask.
We will try to focus on answering issues that are beneficial to the people. A timeframe and a budget will be needed to approach each problem and it is important for the public to be interested. This is important. As I’ve mentioned before, if we only watch things for entertainment, we won’t learn as much. So if you make the time and watch this, it will be useful for you.
If you don’t know what’s happening or what the government is doing, you sometimes say that nothing is being done or that you have no channels to work with us. There are several funds in existence and anyone can access them or make adjustments to be able to access them. The exception is those who don’t care, but I don’t blame them. In the past, this has always been the case. Today, I will continue to explain things and correct these problems, but I prefer them to be solved more quickly. So, it is important for the public to take an interest, as it will be beneficial to you, your families, for your careers, now and in the future.
Thank you very much. I wish you all a happy weekend. Sawasdee krub.