National Broadcast by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, September 30, 2016
Good evening dear Thai citizens.
On the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s 70th Anniversary of Accession to the Throne, in which is His Majesty is also the world’s longest reigning monarch, the government and MCOT Public Company Limited have produced a documentary called “Sai Tharn Phra Ratcha Maitri”, portraying His Majesty’s Royal duties in advancing cordial foreign relations, how His Majesty the King introduced the Kingdom of Thailand to the world and established diplomatic relations back in 1959 with 29 countries across different continents, namely in Asia, America, Europe, and Australia. The documentary will help Thais and foreigners understand His Majesty’s virtuosity and contributions to Thailand’s foreign relations through His visits and meetings with other world leaders, who have honoured and lauded His Majesty since.
The documentary is a result of a two-year research project, in which the producer gathered images, pictures, paintings, videos, and other related information about His Majesty’s visits to other nations. The documentary contains many historical accounts and information that Thai youth should see. The video footage is very rare.
The “Sai Tharn Phra Ratcha Maitri” documentary comprises 52 episodes. Each episode is about 20 minutes long. The documentary is available for public review. MCOT HD or channel 30 every Saturday from 7.40 pm to 8.00 pm, starting 24 September 2016 to 16 September 2017. And MCOT Family or channel 14 every Friday, from 2.00 pm to 2.20 pm, starting 30 September 2016 to 22 September 2017.
His Majesty the King’s visits to other nations has yielded significant benefits to Thailand, particularly by strengthening foreign relations and subsequent cooperation with other nations in various areas including, economic development, education, arts and culture, and tourism.
At the 71st session of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, this year, many leaders partaking in the event were kind to ask about the condition of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen. Through this, I saw how many foreigners do understand what the Monarchy means to Thai people and the relationship between HM the King and his subjects. They also expressed appreciation for HM the King’s contribution to humanity. A decade ago, Kofi Annan, who was then UN Secretary -General, was granted an audience with His Majesty to present the first ever United Nations Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award. HM the King’s contribution to human development has been acclaimed since, in particular the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) on sustainable development.
The SEP has made other nations attentive to an approach to sustainable development which emphasises moderation, balance, prudence, ethics, and most importantly, building an innate resilience, which then acts as a sense of immunity to the many challenges we may face in the context of globalization.
The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy is a fundamental that has been applied by the government over the past two years in national administration. It is used to solve national and even transnational problems in a sustainable manner, such as refugees and irregular migration, global warming, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Mr. Daniel R. Russell, Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, recently commended Thailand’s role and stance in dealing with these problems.
Today, I have some good news about Thailand’s success in the field of alternative energy and energy conservation. I’d like to congratulate a group of entrepreneurs for winning the ASEAN Energy Awards 2016 during the 34th AMEM and Associated Meetings held in Myanmar, clinching 16 awards from a total of 47 awards, the most awards in the ASEAN region. This is the 12th consecutive year Thailand won the most prizes, which is reflected in the government’s policy to encourage the use of green and alternative energy in all sectors, and conserving our precious environment in different ways. It is in line with the “Green Society With Clean Energy” campaign under the ASEAN’s energy development policy, which aims to create stability and security in the energy sector by consuming efficiently, resorting to renewable powers, and becoming more environmentally friendly.
The government has already revised its alternative energy plan for 2015-2036, with an objective to increase the use of alternative energy power by 30 percent of all energy consumption by 2036. The 2015-2036 energy conservation plan also aims to reduce the country’s energy consumption by 30 percent per GDP in the next two decades. This initiative is to ensure that Thailand, as a party to the declaration at the UN Climate Change Conference Paris 2015 known as COP21, will work with other nations to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperatures to lower than 2 degrees Celsius. Along the way, Thailand will also reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in order to help the world cope with global climate change.
The MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index for the year 2016 has ranked Bangkok as the most visited city in the world, after having trailed London for the past 2 years. Last year, Bangkok welcomed over 22 million tourists, more than London and Paris, thanks to its strategic location in ASEAN as well as to its diverse attractions, such as local products, food, culture, entertainment and transportation.
This success in numbers is important, but I also want to emphasize the qualitative aspects as well, such as increasing the durations of stay, purchasing value per tourist, as well as increasing the standards of tourism services and safety. I would like to thank the residents of Bangkok, Khon Kaen, and other cities for being generous hosts for this year’s World Tourism Day from September 26 to 29. I have also received reports that industry leaders from over 157 countries have traveled to Thailand for business and leisure.
The government has a target for the country to earn 2.3 trillion baht in revenue this year from the tourism industry. However, issues such as “zero-dollar” tours still pose as a challenge for many countries, and have been an issue in Thailand for over 40 years now. These are caused by foreign tour companies bringing large numbers of tourists from their countries to Thailand, while coordinating with a local tour company here.
These foreign tour companies don’t pay various expenses such as transportation, lodging, food, and tours to local tour companies and instead bring their tourists only to shops they have a stake in, that then charge 10-100 times the market price. This has involved bringing tourists to shops that the foreign tour company owns but under a “nominee” name, then with support from influential figures, coercing tourists into buying various tour packages by using bullying tactics such as passport confiscation, turning off air ventilation, refusing services to tourists if they don’t comply, and even abandoning tourists in the end.
This sort of business undertaking jeopardizes the country’s tourism industry, as the shops under the network of these tour companies would entrap sales for only themselves, therefore depriving the host country’s industry from any tourism revenue.
At the same time, tourists aren’t serviced fairly and get scammed, giving them a bad impression of vacationing in Thailand. In addition, Thai tour companies don’t receive tour fees from these groups and are deprived of any earnings. This also poses as a potential threat to our natural resources due to the inability to control the volume of tours.
This administration is, therefore, expediting efforts to address ”zero-dollar” tourism in order to create sustainability for our tourism sector by enforcing all related laws, such as the laws pertaining to tours and tour guides, standards for tourism operations as well as standards of tour guide practices.
This includes integrating the work of security, justice, foreign affairs and related economic agencies in order to efficiently tackle all aspects of this issue.
We have thus created the memorandum of understanding between the Department of Tourism, Tourism Police, Association of Thai Travel Agents, Professional Tourist Guide Association, and the Thai-Chinese Tourism Association for managing tours from China and addressing the issue of “zero-dollar” tourism.
Methods of addressing this include:
(1) Establishing market prices to provide fair pricing for Chinese tourists. An organic law under consideration will also establish minimum prices of tours by the end of this year.
(2) Quality control for tour operators such as tour bus amenity requirements, qualifications for tour guides, as well as defining the types of shops tour companies are able to bring their customers to.
(3) Establishing various standardized tour routes, detailing do’s and don’ts along the way.
(4) Inspecting the licenses of tour guides and companies, with scrutiny on the organizational structure of companies as well as on tax positions and the possibility of money laundering.
(5) in terms of strategy, building relations with various tourism source countries by creating understanding about the issues at hand, and seeking cooperation with relevant agencies such as the China National Tourism
Administration, in which there has been a positive response. Therefore our tourism sector will need to cooperate further and the MOU has been put in place to proactively address such issues in the tourism industry.
The results of such a remedy may have some short term effects on the number of tourists, in particular the tourists coming from China. However, we are doing this in order to maintain the quality and image of our tourism in Thailand. The important thing is that we will have more orderliness and regulation based on the laws that we have. This will promote sustainable tourism in Thailand that emphasizes quality over quantity.
In terms of caring for the welfare of farmers and low-income earners, the government has taken measures to provide funds to small farms through the BAAC in line with 2 key measures:
(1) Measures to increases revenue for low income farmers who have registered for welfare support from July 15th to August 15th of this year. The applicants who have been verified and approved by the government will receive funds directly from the BAAC. This amount is 3,000 baht per person to those who earn less than 30,000 a year and 1,500 baht for those who earn between 30,000 and 100,000 baht per year. Currently, the total number of claimants has reached 2.85 million.
(2) Measures to help smallhold farmers through the BAAC to alleviate debt burdens, allowing them to focus again on production. We are also promoting the use of “new generation farming” where younger farmers will take on a bigger role from their senior counterparts. The target group consists of small farms that are less than 300,000 baht in debt, which now number 3 million. This measure goes into effect November 1, 2016 to March 31, 2018.
This has been divided into 3 projects which include: the “absolving” project for debt from those that have experienced unforeseen circumstances like a disability, chronic illness, and death. The “improvement” project and the “relief” project will reward those who have a history of paying their debts on time. The BAAC will also give these people additional interest returns from November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017. This amount will be 30 percent of the amount of interest paid.
That information will be very useful to any smallhold farmers. I ask that the relevant authorities and the media help promote these measures. I want all of the smallhold farmers to know about them so they won’t miss out on all the opportunities and benefits. I also ask that people keep up to date on these government projects that are designed to help them. If not today, then perhaps tomorrow. We will also try to open new registration periods.
The Krung Kasem market over this September has had a digital market theme. This was shown to be a resounding success as the market saw its highest number of visitors thus far, bringing in 8,000 to 9,000 people every day and some days even over 10,000. The vendors sold very well and some of them were even able to pay off all their debts. Others were able to further develop their products and invest in small factories. The SME Bank was also on site to offer their expertise in providing business plans.
In addition, there were also many interesting activities, including a sarong wearing tutorial for a fashionable trendy look. On Tuesdays, many officials from Government House would shop at the market on their lunch break. Those wearing sarongs really added a touch of Thai traditional beauty. Many tourists seem to think so too as a lot of them stopped to ask for photos.
For this October, the Ministry of Transport will be introducing the “Krung Kasem canal transport linking Thailand and the world” project which will run from October 5th to 25th from 10:00 to 19:00. The market will continue to feature products from local communities and will also feature a booth from the Department of Land Transport, who will be on hand to offer various services, licenses, tax information, and discounted travel tickets for airplanes, trains, highways, and boats. They will also be organizing a safety exhibition as well as another exhibition that will focus on the development of the national transport infrastructure system.
I would like to invite the public and any other interested parties to come out and participate. For more information you can visit its Facebook page at the link below: (https://www.facebook.com/khlongphadungkrungkasem/ )
On the occasion of the 2016 annual retirement day for government officials, I would like to extend my appreciation to all those retired civil servants who have served in the name of His Majesty the King. They have been His “eyes and ears” in their work overseeing the welfare of the Thai people for many years, with their ideals, knowledge, abilities, commitment, and resolve.. I hope you are proud of the great things you have accomplished. Even though you are retiring, I hope that you will continue to use your knowledge and experience for the benefit our communities, our society and our nation. I wish you all happiness, and good health.
Lastly, next week, from the 1st to the 9th of October, there will be the a “Jae” diet or vegetarian festival, in which observers will partake in ascetic practices to cleanse the body, and other virtuous deeds and traditions for their spiritual piety.
I believe that taking part the Lent Jae Festival is beneficial in that it invigorates the body and soul. This is why I would like to invite people to join in for their health. The Jae Festival for Lent will last 9 days and nights and will encourage the consumption of vegetables and local produce from our farmers. I also ask vendors to please maintain high quality standards of foods, and to ensure that the prices are reasonable. Please be understanding during this important event so that we can all celebrate and observe this altruistic tradition together.Thank you very much. Sawasdee Krup.