National Broadcast by General PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, August 5, 2016
Good evening dear Thai citizens.
Her Majesty the Queen has graciously bestowed a blessing for this year’s Mother’s Day, which will be written in 2016 Mother’s Day books published by the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand under the patronage of Her Majesty. The blessing says ‘When you teach your children to walk the middle path, and approach all things with moderation and with ethics, you will have virtuous citizens for the country.’
For nearly seven decades, Her Majesty the Queen has been alongside His Majesty the King when visiting Their subjects in all different parts of the Kingdom, helping to raise the quality of life while promoting career development for all people. On this auspicious occasion of Her Majesty’s 7th Cycle Anniversary or 84th Birthday Anniversary,
I have the honour to invite all Thai citizens to express their devotion to Her Majesty by undertaking virtuous deeds and taking part in various cultural and religious activities to celebrate this special anniversary as a tribute to Her Majesty. In doing so I would like to encourage all of us to don light blue attire on August 12th, 2016, which is Mother’s day, and raise Her Majesty the Queen’s Commemorative Flag on buildings, in residential areas, and in front of government offices throughout the year 2016.
There have been more than 4,000 Royal projects initiated by His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen. One such example is the Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, where Their Majesties have emphasized the promotion of human resources development, career development, and the uplifting of the quality of life through local traditions and local wisdom, which purports an internal motivation for development among community residents.
Another project is the SUPPORT Foundation which serves to conserve Thai arts and crafts, as well as Thailand’s cultural heritage. As for bringing SUPPORT Foundation products into the ‘supply chain’, this is something that every government should focus on, in particular the systematic adoption of the many ideas and concepts behind these projects into production, processing, and value-adding procedures both inside and outside the country.
For instance, OTOP products now developed through Pracharat projects, were around for a long time but have since been further developed and modified to meet quality standards. The government has helped to improve the quality of these products, while also promoting them through new distribution channels such as airports, commercial airlines, Pracharat Suk Jai shops, PTT gas stations, and online markets. There are many similar projects like this that we would like you to take interest in.
Recently, we have just launched the “Shop Chuay Chum Chon” scheme, wherePeople buying Pracharat OTOP products throughout August will be eligible for tax reduction of no more than 15,000 baht. These products can be found at a grand OTOP fair to be organized between August 12 and August 20 at Muang Thong Thani.
Now, let’s move on to what the government undertaken this past week. These have included the following.
The first task has been the removal of weeds from our rivers and waterways, such as water hyacinth, which can grow very quickly during the rainy season. At the moment 50,000 tons of the water plants spreading 5-6 kilometers are blocking the Chao Phraya River in Chai Nat province.
I have, therefore, instructed the responsible agencies to swiftly remove these weeds from our waterways since the beginning of this month. However, the increase in rainfall has connected the waterways housing such weeds, to private properties with klongs and small streams.
As a result, the weeds from those areas move into the Chao Phraya River. Therefore, we need to address this issue at its root cause by removing the plants in residential areas or in community canals. We have to quickly address this problem now and prevent it from reoccurring in the future. We must not let these plants grow uncontrollably.
I believe there is a law about water hyacinth control that pertains here. It lists all the agencies responsible for the management of water hyacinth, so I would like to them to enforce this law. Every responsible unit must work together on this pressing issue.
Please reviews all the laws involved for this process, so we can create clear measures for better and sustainable solutions. We will need to determine the key agencies overseeing this issue, how much money should be spent, and which Pracharat projects can be undertaken. This needs to be done so that the problem does not recur next year. We must also be extra careful about our drainage systems during the rainy season and must not let the situation hinder our water transport system or our fishermen using these waterways.
At present, all government offices related to this issue have joined hands and brought together machinery, such as drill rigs or backhoes from the central plains, the east, and the northeast, numbering 7, to help dredge all clogged drains and canals.
We should also consider developing Pracharat projects for addressing this problem at its root cause. In this case we can first remove the weeds from community canals in order to prevent them from entering main waterways. We cannot constantly keep removing 5-6 kilometers of weeds.
I have also instructed security agencies, such as the military, to mobilize their efforts with equipment from the Engineer Department of the Royal Thai Army, to help get rid of this water hyacinth. The operation is expected to last about 3 weeks.
How can we prevent this from happening again? Like I said, we can refer to the Act and its related laws on this matter. Moreover, if we can collect some [weeds] and turn them into fertilizers, many communities could benefit from this idea. However, the quantity will not be adequate for commercial sales, but it will be enough for self-use purposes.
This is how we can address the problem sustainably. We will also look into studies to deprive the plant of its ability to grow through the use of chemicals. The chemical must not be harmful to marine animals, the quality of water itself, and the environment. We need to start reducing water hyacinth in our waterways, especially through cooperation with the public
I will ask the Ministry of Science, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to draw up a plan to remove water hyacinth which emphasizes technology and innovation, and turns the weeds into something useful such as animal food.
This past Wednesday, I inaugurated the construction of the No. 6 inter-city highway connecting Bang Pa-in with Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima. This 4-6 lane highway will connect with Bangkok’s northern outer-ring ring road at Bang Pa-in District of Ayuthaya Province, and conclude at the bypass road in Muang District of Nakhon Ratchasima Province, spanning 197 kilometers.
The purpose of this new highway is to alleviate heavy traffic in the northeastern region, especially during the holidays. As a result, we will enhance the accessibility to tourist destinations, boost logistics connectivity, and reduce shopping costs as a result of lower fuel demands. The project is slated to be completed in 2020.
The No.6 highway will connect Bangkok with major cities in the northeastern region, leading into neighboring countries. This highway will help spread prosperity to the northeastern region and create jobs for those in the northeast so that they won’t have to travel away from their families to seek their opportunities in Bangkok.
If we look back at its history, this is a project that has been 20 years in the making. Impact evaluations have been conducted since 1996, taking into consideration expropriation, contract auctioning, investment, construction, service centers and tollways. All of these things have taken time to consider. But we have now been able to expedite this project, and we will move forward at full capacity. There are many other routes that have yet to commence construction. Therefore, I will continue to accelerate the progress of 3 routes.
This is part of our strategic plan. It is something that we must invest our efforts today for the long run. This is part of a long-term systematic development project that will not adversely affect the country’s national budget.
This government has tried to mobilise progress on many issues for tangible results. We have laid the foundations for a 20-year national strategic plan that will be passed on to the next government. The National Economic and Social Development plan must also clearly state how logistical connectivity in the country will be created in the next 5 years. These development plans must complement each other.
Sunday, August 7 will be the day when we will hold a referendum for the draft constitution. This document is the product of painstaking work by the Constitution Drafting Commission. Some of you who are familiar with electing representatives may not understand what a referendum is and why it must be held.
In simple terms, it is an essential process within a democracy. Instead of asking which political party a voter prefers, it asks whether the voter agrees with the laws of governance as stipulated by the draft constitution. It is similar to asking members of a group to raise their hands in favor or in opposition of a proposal.
A constitution is very important as it serves to define the parameters of holding elections, forming governments and the laws of the land. If there is no constitution, we could thus not organize general elections, nor will we know what an alternative draft will stipulate. Therefore, we won’t be able to move forward with anything if there is no constitution.
The NCPO and this administration have made it clear since 2 years ago that we had to intervene because of the many problems that the country was facing. Before that, no one was willing to compromise and negotiations between the conflicting groups ultimately failed. Attempting to solve problems met with legal problems, social problems, political conflict, and conflicting personal interests and ideologies.
This political divide permeated into the work environment and into our homes where coworkers and family members couldn’t even come together due to their differences. We should have been able to have different viewpoints but still cooperate. Instead conflict was seen on the streets, in the provinces, and in parliament, where its dissolution did not lead to a successful election. Meanwhile, our farmers suffered financial burdens and falling prices of their crops, while payments could not be made on the rice-pledging scheme.
There were urgent problems in other areas as well. Foreign investors were ready to pull out because they didn’t deem the country to be safe. After suffering the devastation of a major flood, they had to deal with a splintered Thai society, in addition to rampant corruption that was going on. Therefore, we needed to bring all these problems into a process where they could be addressed systematically and legitimately, based on judicial procedures that provided opportunities for fair trials based on evidence.
The NCPO and this government therefore announced that we will work to solve issues, in order to put an end to this conflict and thereby return happiness to the Thai people. Not all have agreed with all of our actions, but at least it has been clearly shown that our happiness and prosperity must be shared among many, and not reserved for one particular group.
It is always hard, when doing something for the majority of the people, to satisfy everyone. But this is what our future entails. In order for the country to make progress, everyone must have choices and opportunities. We must lay the foundations of the solutions to our longstanding problems, while preparing ourselves to tackle new problems that may arise. This is why our national reforms must have a clear strategy and well-defined objectives, so that we can move forward with a clear-cut framework and direction for our future.
In the past 2 years, there is tangible evidence that we’ve made progress in our work, such as:
1. In the United Nations’ E-Government Survey, Thailand moved up 25 places, from 102 in 2014 to 77 in 2016, out of a total of 193 countries that were surveyed. This means that the UN acknowledges the polices and undertakings of this government, in the area of mobilsing improvements in the public sector and services in the past 2 years.
2. Japan’s Waseda University unveiled its e-Government Ranking for 2016, where Thailand moved up 2 places from 23 in 2014 to 21 in 2016, out of a total of 65 countries that were surveyed. Thailand’s advancement reflects the progress of the government’s policies, as according to these 2 main institutions that are internationally accepted.
3. International and domestic organizations have assessed that anti-corruption efforts in Thailand is at its best in 6 years, while its overall transparency is at its best in 10 years.
The NCPO and the government would like to thank the people for your cooperation over these past 2 years. You have helped to maintain peacefulness, worked towards solving problems, and developed our country further. You have helped in facilitating government work by letting us know of the situation on the ground, as I have been informed, through our Damrongdharma centers, our complaint hotlines, online media, and through direct mail sent to me every day, which I have read all of them. Even the private sector has joined hands with us in initiating the Pracharat model in order to help government projects where they can.
The government apologizes that some of your rights may have been restricted for these past 2 years and that you have not enjoyed their full use, but we assure that we have done only what is necessary and based on the rule law. We have not undertaken anything based on only impulse or for power, or for personal gain, or to create fear, or without reason. Nor have we undertaken anything to bully anyone. It is difficult to explain all of our reasons to you all in a way in which every one can accept. Many of us have preconceived notions about things and are unwilling to change.
You already know why we have come here today. The government is aware of many things that the people are not fully aware of yet. These are things that I cannot elaborate on at the moment. At this time, I believe that you understand and think the same way as we do. At the same time, on a personal note, I would also like to apologise to the public, my colleagues, the officials, and the media, for being irritable, losing my temper, and for saying some things that may have been inappropriate on several occasions. As a soldier, I have always been extremely committed to my duties, and often feel as though I’m in a race against time to do my best. So, I apologise and it was never my intention to offend any of you.
And so, in order to continue moving forward in accordance with the policies of the NCPO and the government as quickly as possible, it is imperative that we establish a constitution to provide us with a set of rules. As an example, whatever sport we might play will not work without rules. We start with a set of rules and then make the necessary adjustments and additions. A constitution works the same way as it sets about a preliminary framework, then to be followed by organic laws and other related regulations. The other laws and regulations must then fit in with one another. It doesn’t work if the constitution serves as the only structure. It is a framework that will then be supported by other laws.
Today, everyone is attaching importance to the constitution. However, not many people are interested in the bylaws or common laws. All laws must fall under the constitution. If you respect the constitution, then you must also respect the laws that fall under it. Right now, we are in our 2nd draft. The first draft was given to the drafting committee of Prof. Borwornsak who wrote out the first set of rules. Some of those things are still within this new version. While that first draft was rejected, it is still important that we went forward with a new one, this time headed by the CDC under Prof. Meechai. Both of the drafting committees were extremely dedicated to their tasks to write an effective charter. You will see that there are many new rules. Where do these come from? They come from learning from our past mistakes in order to build a future for ourselves in this time of transition. So, we are about to have a referendum for the new constitution in just 2 days.
I would like to invite all of you who are over 18 of age and eligible, to come exercise your right to vote. It would be good to have an overwhelming turnout. Do not be afraid to express yourself freely with the ballot. If anyone tries to create chaos, hinder the referendum, or hurt you in any way, they will be held accountable and put to justice.
Whatever you decide to vote is up to your own judgement and what you are satisfied with. However, please also think about the country, about our future and our children’s future, about the stability of the government, and about the Roadmap, rather than use emotions that derive from the confusion spun by stories from others.
Mr. Meechai has already come out and spoken on behalf of the CDC on the topic of the new constitution. He answered numerous questions and as I listened to him, I formed my own opinions. We each are one person with one voice. I only have one voice the same as you. Therefore, anyone who wants to speak their opinion is more than welcome to. If we are to move this country forward, we need to play by the same rules.
Voting in this referendum is an opportunity. Please don’t let this opportunity evolve into new conflict that could lead to another crisis for our country. The government will accept whatever outcome you decide and so should you. Whatever happens next, whether it passes or not, our country must move forward and make progress while remaining peaceful.
If it does pass, there will be new legislation governing elections. We will then hold new elections by 2017 in accordance with the Road Map that I have mentioned before many times. If we do not vote to adopt this draft, then we will still have to arrange for a new one. Therefore, we will have to work quickly on this so it will not affect the Roadmap. Many people have highlighted this point. If we are unable to resolve this issue, then it will have implications for the other remaining issues. In the end, the government and the NCPO will take responsibility to sort this out.
I ask that the Thai people not worry or be anxious about the situation in the country. Everything will continue to move forward. The interests of the country come first. To get things done and work properly, there must be a framework.
So, whether this draft passes or fails, our country still has a lot to do. We can’t just sit and wait for the next government before starting to do these things, as what we used to do in the past. We have had to start improving the economy and provide sustainable support for the farmers. We still need to bring reform in many areas. We need to reduce disparities, and introduce more health care for children and the elderly. We need to make education more accessible as well as provide more healthcare. There are many things we must do and our budget is limited. We must develop all these areas and push for economic growth. We must restructure our manufacturing sector and build a foundation upon which we can develop our education and healthcare systems. We must continue to fix our laws and regulations to eliminate as much corruption as possible.
These things are not easily solved. They need structural adjustments and an overhaul of many of our systems, not to mention participation from many people. Instructions alone will not do; things need to be followed up on in order to keep track of progress. So whether the draft constitution passes or fails, we will keep our word to stand by the Thai people, given the opportunity of the timeframe we have. We will look after the peacefulness and orderliness of the country until we are able to hand over to the next elected government. Everything will be done according to democratic processes under the constitution. In addition, we will not allow those who wish create chaos, to be opportunistic and break the laws by instigating clashes or conflict, or to hinder our development and reform efforts.
Once the results of the referendum are clear, no matter the outcome, the NCPO and the government will then clarify about the course of action to be taken, so that things are kept moving forward smoothly and progress continues to be made. Citizens can rest assured that peacefulness and orderliness will continue normally, as it has been for the past 2 years. I will make an official announcement to the public through the media at the next opportunity.
Thank you again for your cooperation in all these aspects. I hope we will have a full turnout for the referendum.
Thank you very much. Sawasdee Krub.