National Broadcast by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, August 19, 2016
Good evening dear Thai citizens
The past week saw many significant events, including the celebrations on Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Anniversary, as well as Mother’s Day, which saw Thai families come together over the long weekend, as the younger generation expressed their piety and honour to our elders. There was also the referendum, in which the results reflected a mandate from the Thai people about their commitment to the future of this country. With the majority of voters accepting the draft charter, as well as the supplementary question, this was an indication that Thailand is on the verge of a new beginning, as a future direction for the country was determined. So, with this opportunity, let us move beyond our contentions that have marred our progress for the past 20 years, and move forward together.
As for the explosions that occurred in the 7 provinces, although they have caused damage to lives and property, they have not damaged the solidarity of the Thai people and the love for the country that we all share. In this case, I wish to commend a security worker by the name of Kamthorn Katekaew who worked in the Chinatown department store in Phuket, who, upon seeing a suspicious object, picked it up at his own risk and took it out of harm’s way. His priority was the safety of the people and the reputation of our country when he did this heroic act. This gesture is an example of how every citizens is able to express their dedication to their country, and how we can all cooperate to make our country safer for all, such as by reporting any unusual activity to officials, or providing information obtained through private cctv camera’s to government officials, and remaining vigilant in order to ward off any actions by those who are intent on damaging our country. I also ask security officials to provide the proper advice and recommendations to our citizens, especially for cases of emergency or any other public disturbances, so that we can all cooperate to ensure public safety and prevent the loss or risk to lives and property. As for the developments to these cases, please allow the officials to work according to proper processes while maintaining the sanctity of our judicial procedures.
As for the helicopter crash in Chiang Mai, involving an army operation to mitigate the effects of flooding in this area- those who perished made the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duties for our country, and are therefore regarded as His Majesty’s soldiers in the truest sense, as they undertook their responsibilities to serve their country, help citizens in times of distress and danger, and put themselves in danger to protect others. I wish to express my most sincere condolences to the families of victims of this tragic accident. In the light of the explosions and the helicopter crash, I have ordered all agencies concerned to provide the best available support and assistance to the victims and their families, as well as to tourists who have been afflicted by these events. In spite of this, our country will carry on and as citizens, we must all support each other while the government continues to perform its duties to the best of its abilities.
I have recently read an analysis about the conditions of a failing state, which alluded that this condition is more due to political reasons rather than economic ones, where the political factors that contribute to this failure derive from a lack of good governance from those in office, the abuse of power for vested interests, the plundering of the nation’s resources for personal profit, which then further adds to severer socioeconomic disparities, dwindles the spirit of a nation, and discourages investors. This situation, often brought on by the monopolization of political power, is the source of political instability and unsustainable development, and has been caused by politicians using populist polices and national administration based on patron-client considerations, rather than an approach to statecraft which looks after every sector and segment of society, with clear goals and a strategy.
The path to success for developed nations, has been to build a political system with an adequate balance of powers through checks and balances against the abuse of power, that also promotes the resilience of society and a nation, through inclusive politics and public participation, in order to cope effectively to global changes and challenges. Additionally, such a system should be based on the rule of law, have legitimacy, be proficient in tackling corruption, while also promoting the role of the private sector to constructively contribute to society. The important point is that following elections and a new government, we must strive for all this together.
Thailand has been ever so fortunate to have His Majesty the King bestow the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to the Thai people. The international community has also acknowledged this Philosophy as a successful approach to sustainable development, as it is based on moderation, prudence, and a people-centered approach to development that advocates resilience, knowledge, and ethics. This government has applied this Philosophy to its policy implementations for the past 2 years, and by doing do, has been able to overturn a situation of political and economic crisis, and thus preventing the country from spiraling towards a failing condition, into one where the country has made steady progress and development, despite a slow-down in the global economy.
Most recently, the National Economic and Social Development Board has forecasted continued growth in the second half of this year, bringing the country’s expected GDP growth of the year to 3-3.5 percent. This projected growth is a reflection of increased confidence in various sectors. For example, household spending has increased by 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, automobile sales have grown by 4.8 percent, marking the first time the sector has seen positive growth in 13 quarters. Government spending has also grown by 10.4 percent and will continue to grow in the second half of the year, as 1.64 trillion baht will be allocated towards government expenditures, investments in infrastructure and state enterprises. I trust that increased political stability and transparency as well clarity in the government’s policies will prompt further investment from the private sector, including from SMEs and startup businesses. Applications for investment support this year have risen by as much 419 percent. This is a reflection of increased confidence by foreign investors and the country’s private sector. To give an example of investments in special economic zones, a report by the Board of Investment has revealed that out of 39 projects worth a total estimated value of 7.5 billion baht, 12 have been approved for investment support, worth over 1.5 billion baht. This will contribute to growth in special economic zones by at least 20 percent, compared to when before this administration began.
The facts and figures I have just mentioned indicate that Thailand is moving in the right direction, with good governance thus propelling positive developments for our economy and society. I also attribute this growth to our efforts in maintaining national security.
Our economic stability is in a good position, with unemployment at 1.1%, inflation at 0.3%, a balance of trade surplus of 300 billion baht, or equivalent to 8.5% of GDP. This is further corroborated by an index by Bloomberg, which lists Thailand as having the “least miserable economy”, which can be better understood by the term, “most cheerful economy” as based on their calculations of inflation and unemployment. This success has been possible by the cooperation from every sector, the power of the Pracharat approach, and national administration based on good governance.
An example of the Pracharat approach, which the government wishes to underscore, is the meeting on the Thailand 4.0 Strategy, which saw the participation of the Council of University Presidents of Thailand and the Thailand Research Organizations Network. In the past, the state and the academic sector tended to work separately, without a common strategy or any real synergy, and thus there was no resulting momentum to drive the country in making progress. In other words, our research was not put to good use, to add value to our commerce and industry, given that 90% of research work in our universities did not find their way to into our production chains, beginning from research work, to producers, developers, marketers, and the consumers.
There are examples of both progress and regrets/missed opportunities in this area. An example of real progress is the Dinsor Robot, which is the first and only commercial robot made by Thailand, which has been exported to serve food in Sweden, and to provide some aspects of elderly care in Japan. There is a target for a hundred thousand units to be produced in the next 2 years. At the same time, an example of regret or missed opportunities, is a group of engineering students as started by Mr.Chalermpol Poonnotok who are former world champions in robotics, who had not received any government support or private sector interest or investment. I’ve said on many occasions that the country must utilize innovations as much as possible. Today, the government has started to talk to them, while highlighting the importance of research. These missed opportunities should not happen again. More recently the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), ranked countries according to innovation in their economies, with Thailand coming in at 52 out 128 countries, an improvement of 3 places.
Therefore, this collaborative meeting is the first of its kind in a decade and reflects the government’s prioritization of academic research in development projects through the Pracharat approach, in order to drive Thailand towards the 4.0 era by innovation. This has resulted in cooperation in research and development through the Pracharat model, along with other research and skilled labour networks, in our universities and vocational colleges, which correlates to our national strategy and the NESDB’s development strategy. With the introduction of various innovations as well as production and sales for both internal use and export there are several related aspects. Setting standards to comply with FDI and TISI must be put on the fast track so we can begin production and distribution. In particular, we need to focus on the 5 industry groups with the highest potential by introducing better technologies. We must also look at development of the 5 new groups in line with “Thailand 4.0”. Given this, the government will oversee to supporting policy matters, legal issues, budgets, funds, tax incentives, as well as other promotional measures.
Finally, I would like to inform you about the issue of online media that has used my name, whether it has been those that have provided useful information to the public by supporting the government and the NCPO, or those that have provided false information in order to cause damage. I wish to reiterate that I have never used online media to communicate with the Thai people. I have only communicated by talking directly with the public, or through official channels such as with this programme, or official announcements on important events, or interviews on issues of public interest so as to create awareness and cooperation in society. The communication of official information from the government will come by statements from the Government Spokesman Bureau or from the spokesperson of each ministry.
By all means, report the news but don’t just spread rumors for the sake of getting more exposure. People get their news across various platforms and so there is incentive to compete with social media. Today, official news is having a lot of difficulties in reaching the people because of this trend to get news from social media. Online, people can post whatever they want. This is why many things you see are merely opinion pieces without any clear facts, or issues that are still under investigation. Please refrain from using these stories as reason to create conflict or to escalate other arguments. The people will be confused and this can diminish their confidence in the authorities. Today, the government has introduced a new channel of communication in order to create awareness of government policies among foreigners. “The Insider”, an English language news program, will be broadcast from NBT and NBT world at 11 o’clock.
As for the ongoing Olympic Games, Thailand has just won two more medals in taekwondo, a silver by Taewin Harnplarb and a bronze by Panipak Wongpattanakit. On behalf of all Thai people, I convey our congratulations and commendations to all our athletes for doing their best to represent their country most admirably, thus bringing joy to the Thai people. To all of our athletes who did not win a medal, I think I speak for all of us when I say that we will always stand behind you and offer our continuous support. Come back, train hard, and victory could be within reach next time. That said, victory can also be a result of both encouragement and luck. Those who didn’t make the podium this time should not be discouraged. Keep going. The most important thing is comradery and sportsmanship between Thai athletes and those of other countries.
Another victory that I can speak of, is our resolve to overcome our challenges together, which is something that Thailand needs to have – love, unity, understanding, and trust amongst one another.
If you understand the good intentions of this government and the NCPO, I hope you can be patient as well. We will do our best in the time we have left, to bring about genuine reforms in this country. We will endeavor to avoid things that will create future problems as best we can. In order to do this, we may be required to introduce temporary measures to maintain peacefulness and orderliness.
Without peacefulness, there will be problems. With problems, there is usually chaos and then violence. If that happens, we cannot move forward with our democracy and work towards general elections. This is a key point to consider.
I would like to assure you that everything will be in accordance with our Road Map. It’s now up to all citizens, politicians, and political who have the best intentions for our nation.
Thank you and Sawasdee krub.