From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals – November 25, 2016
Good evening dear Thai citizens.
The nationwide oath pledging ceremonies on Tuesday, November 22nd were a great success thanks to all sectors of society. We pledged an oath of allegiance to our country’s most revered institution, showing our loyalty to all the monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty. The ceremonies were held simultaneously countrywide and with the highest order in honour of our monarchs. The ceremonies showcased the love, unity, and the orderliness of the Thai people.
The Monarchy has been the symbol of our nation for over 800 years, as well as the fundamental institution in building our nation and the Thai people, not to mention the overarching benevolence that has propelled sustainable development and better quality of life for all the Thai people. There is an opus composed by Dr. Apichart Damdee which says “Today we have the Thai nation through the vision and resolve of the King.” This composition affirms the deep-rooted relationship between the Thai monarchy and our society throughout our history.
I would like to ask all members of the public to live up to your vows made before the portrait of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, to be forever honorable and loyal to all the monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty, to perform our duties as good and upstanding citizens under the law,
to protect our natural resources and the environment for the sustainable development of the nation, to cooperate together in reforming the country, to support a democratic government that practices good governance based on the rule of law and morality, to be unified for the nation and the monarchy, and to follow in His Majesty’s footsteps through the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and the adoption of the King’s Philosophy to our daily lives, so as to carry on His Majesty’s aspirations for the sake of the Kingdom’s stability, prosperity, and sustainability.
I’d like to thank all sectors of society and the Thai people for co-hosting these activities at government offices, workplaces, historic sites, and other significant places, as we underscored the deep spiritual connection between the Thai people and the Monarchy, including all the officials who were performing their duties at the time and thus were unable to physically attend such ceremonies.
I believe that they were able to express their loyalty to the monarchy in many other ways regardless of their whereabouts. I’d like to thank the Public Relations Department and other mainstream media for sharing and telecasting these ceremonies which took place in the country and around the world. These beautiful and meaningful images were shown to the world community as well.
Today I would like to commend the family of Police Captain Wiparat Kakkaew, as an exemplary example in following the King’s Philosophy and adopting many principles to daily life. She taught her children to live sufficiently on a 20-rai plot of farmland. The family adopted the new agricultural theory by building 1 house on the land, using 13 rai to grow crops, and the rest for fish farming, a barn, cattle raising, and mix and match agriculture.
They grow crops to feed, sell, share with neighbors, and exchange for other everyday products. Their practices are based on organic farming, and they use animal dung as fertilizers. They farm, harvest, and grind paddies by themselves. They then keep the rice paddies in the barn for year-round consumption. They also keep track of their expenditures, only spend on necessities, generate extra income, and put up to 25% of their income into savings for emergency and retirement.
The family of Police Captain Wiparat is a good example of people who have successfully adopted the King’s Philosophy. Pol Capt Wiparat works hard during the day to serve the people and then work’s on her farm as a hobby. Her family lives sufficiently and will always be satisfied with what they have. This is a good way to build stability and security for the household. Anyone can achieve this if we understand and follow the King’s Philosophy. I also believe that this is an approach that is useful overcoming our weaknesses, in particular corruption, which has been a taint in our society.
I would like to convey my encouragement to all the people and civil servants who have followed in the King’s footsteps. I wish you all the success in life. If you are doing this, you certainly are on the right path. As for some officials who are still abusing their powers and influence and soliciting favours, such as some policemen and immigration officers in tourist cities like Hat Yai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and other commercial areas around the country,
every time I hear about this kind of complaint, which involves only a few people, it upsets me. The Royal Thai Police is concerned about this as well. We must ensure that the laws are sacrosanct and that they are enforced, while offenders duly face charges. I ask these officers to change adhere to the vows they pledged in front of the portrait of His Majesty King Rama IX.Dear citizens,
for the government, we have adopted the King’s Philosophy to our national administration to ensure tangible outcomes and bring about the people’s happiness. However, we also ask for the people’s understanding and cooperation in various matters as follows.
Firstly, I call for a change in our ways of thinking, to look more outwards and at relationships and how we are all connected. We need to have a different mindset for the Thai people – that every activity in this world is interconnected. Everything is interdependent and needs connectivity and a network to achieve success and attainment of our common goals.
For example, we need to build a Pracharat mechanism, cooperatives, value chains (upstream to downstream), community markets, business matching, and micro or grassroots businesses. We must stress the importance of teamwork and instill this mindset in our youngsters and at all educational levels.
Secondly, I would like us to try to understand and analyze the effects of each activity that we do. What we do affects others both in positive and negative ways. For us to change and implement our national reforms, there will be a need to change to the way we implement things. The end goal will yield better things and sustainable development. For instance, we have solutions for small schools numbering more than 15,000, the program under the Education Ministry.
In the beginning, individuals and households may need to adapt their expenses in exchange for what they will receive, which is increased quality education and well-being of the students.
In the second phase, the “school close to home”, which has been established to be an “education magnet” will receive support from the community as well as the government, funded by the government’s ability to make more effective use of the budget, in the particular the saving of 5 billion baht per year
by reducing the construction and maintenance budget that was previously allocated for over 7,000 small schools with less than 60 students. The money saved will be used to fund “education magnets” which will require up to 500 million baht per year.
In the third phase, once these schools are able to connect with the Pracharat model, nearby communities, as well as information and communication networks, Thailand’s problem of having too many small schools and a shortage of teachers will come to an end. As a result, the country will be able to produce higher quality human resources to develop the country in all aspects.
The 3rd issue is for us to understand that it is not possible to implement radical changes instantaneously, particularly matters that require systematic restructuring and budgetary amendments, even with the help of the private sector. The key to change is defining a clear and systematic plan with a timeline of implementation.
For example, our 13-year strategic plan on water management for the years 2014-26 must continuously assess the impacts and benefits of various programs. For example, the plan includes the target of digging up to 300,000 farm wells by the year 2016. So far we have completed digging 100,000 wells; that’s 40 percent of the plan’s goal.
By 2017, the plan aims to install plumbing in 7,500 villages. We’ve now succeeded in installing plumbing systems in over 5,700 villages; that’s 77 percent of the plan’s goal. Finally, the plan’s goal of supplying an additional 8.3 billion cubic meters of water for farming has so far yielded 1.7 billion in additional water, or 21 percent of the goal.
The timeline of the water management plan must be adjusted to coincide with the 20-year strategic national plan. Therefore, the 13-year plan from 2014-26 must be expanded to become a 20-year plan, starting from 2017-36, to coincide with our national strategy.
What I had highlighted earlier is what we’ve been able to accomplish until now and will continue to work on until the goal’s completion.
The Fourth issue is to be aware of the fact that our national development and economic growth must preserve our domestic economy, starting at various sectors and connecting them with other related industries. For example, the establishment of agricultural cooperatives must include processing plants, agricultural research institutions, community markets and export businesses.
Creating a cross-industry network will be beneficial towards addressing mutual needs and concerns. This grouping of industries will not only enhance bargaining leverage, but also increase growth potential. Most importantly, the government will provide various assistance measures to enhance efficiency, whether it is through funding or the allocation of certain resources. In addition, assisting large groups or cooperatives at a time will help reduce wasteful government spending.
Not only can this swiftly resolve short-term problems, it can also create long-term stability and enhance competitiveness. However, these measures take time and require patience for bringing about incremental changes, as changes that are too quick can often lead to unintended consequences.
The fifth issue this week regards information – we should all follow and understand the changes that are happening in the world, to ASEAN and in Thailand. Today, the world is changing in various ways, across various regions and countries. These changes have led to diversity in human resources, education levels, identities and culture. We must be able to achieve cooperation with other countries on various levels amidst various differences.
We will need to explore and enhance our common causes and mitigate our differences. This administration’s Pracharat model is an example of the country’s internal connectivity of organizations and responsibilities for the common goal of stability, prosperity and sustainability. The national strategy that this government has laid out will, therefore, serve as a “bridge” to connect with other economic groups, such as the G20 or G77 groups. We must do this in order to become mutual beneficiaries of global development and to leave no one behind.
No matter how prosperous the global economy could become, the King’s Philosophy or Sufficiency Economy Philosophy that has been acknowledged and lauded worldwide will serve as a reminder for us of a balanced approach towards development, emphasizing sufficiency in society and environmental sustainability, to enable to sustainable make the best use of our resources.
The sixth matter this week is an issue that is still a work in progress, which is fostering understanding and eliciting cooperation from public and local officials. We must learn to adapt towards changes and develop ourselves quickly. Both government officials and the public should understand each other and be able to work together.
In order to transform those who do not understand or refuse to cooperate, we should incorporate the King’s Philosophy of “understanding, reaching out, and development”. We must take into consideration historical contexts and look at common goals in order to create trust within society, reduce disparities, and ensure justice.
The principles of democracy emphasize the importance of the common good and the will of the majority, but we must also ensure that policies also benefit the minority as well. All sectors must ensure each other’s well-being and reap the benefits of development together.
Although some people have disagreed with the government’s policies, especially those that will lead to change, it is the duty of related agencies to create incentives and encourage cooperation from the public, especially to reduce confrontations.
Time must be given to everyone to listen and contemplate. The most important thing within both the public and private sectors while working together in a Pracharat model is to take on projects that will prove to be exemplary or model cases. When they are successful and yield tangible results, they can be emulated elsewhere.
This will also pave the way for those who do not yet understand. As with anything, if there is no starting point then there won’t be a finish. Some things take more time than others. Growing crops, for example, can take a long or a short time depending on the crop. Therefore, I ask for your patience at this time. We will see benefits in the future. Today, we will work towards that better tomorrow.
The 7th topic I’d like to mention is a problem within Thailand. In the past, we were rather uninterested working from a ‘structural perspective’. This has created a culture that prefers dealing only with small problems and more concerned with solving problems on the surface without addressing the underlying issues or building resilience. We must change this way of thinking if we hope to make lasting changes.
This is what we need to do to solve our country’s problems in a truly sustainable way. We must have a process to gather information comprehensively and in a modern way so that we can incorporate that into our central database. This database will be shared among all agencies so that we can all work together towards a common goal.
The 8th topic is that our country is one that has high agricultural potential. We have the ability to produce and export a lot of crops. In the past, we did this. We used our land and turned it into good earnings. However, with our increased population and growing global demand, we have less available land to accommodate these conditions. We, therefore, need to change our approach to agriculture. Our former ‘natural farmer’ approach will have to transform into one that makes use of new technologies to plant, water, and collect. We must have mixed crop farming instead of monoculture farming in order to meet the demand and supply aspects.
This new system will build upon our existing knowledge of natural agriculture. But we need to transition from traditional “family farms” to large specialty farms, and partnerships in agricultural cooperatives. We can work together to better address cultivation, production, processing and marketing. Farmers must learn how to fully manage their business for this new era. We call this the “Smart Farmer” project.
There must be a balance between the public, traders, and the exporters so that the private sector can depend on one another. At present, the government is moving forward with several measures that will support large barns and silos distributed across many areas for the near future.
The 9th issue is that Thailand’s potential is no less viable than any other country in the world. We might be poorer or behind in some aspects, or we may have overlooked some things. We might not have the best management system or have effective integration, resulting in us not being able to make the best us of our vast lands. In the past, our rivers, land, and forests had limited access and benefits were therefore gained by only a certain portion of the population.
We didn’t use control techniques to manage our natural resources. We were not sustainable. That neglect has resulted in floods, droughts, and deforestation. The time has come for us to change our ways. We must come together and solve these important issues. We must prevent these problems from repeating and the situation from getting anymore worse. Only through sustainability will we achieve our end goal, which will be to make the best use of Thailand’s strategic location in ASEAN for maximum benefits, through connectivity, trade and investment, and the movement of ASEAN citizens.
Group investments will result in reciprocal trade within ASEAN. Thailand has the advantage of being located in the geographical center of the region. We are also a hub of many sectors including tourism, health, medicine, digital communication, markets, trade and investment, SMEs, and Pracharat products which will enhance the Thai brand such as high quality organic rice, which can be improved through new harvesting techniques. We can also become a hub for the food industry and utilize our new S-Curve investment strategy to match the trends in the global economy. We must focus on this endeavor.
In addition, we must not forget to focus on forging new physical links like roads, rail, high speed electric vehicles, shipping ports, and tourism lines. These are links between countries, cities, and for businesses within the country. This will open up new paths to our neighbors in the CLMV and ASEAN as well as other regions of the world. We need to look at the big picture. If we can’t make this happen, our GDP will not increase. How will we survive then? [If that is the case] tomorrow we will have more people, but then lower incomes, and a worse economy. So we need this change to happen.
Dear Thai people, I know we have the capacity to be unified in this nation, through an atmosphere of compassion and forgiveness. I ask you to maintain this Thai identity, and show the world why we are known as the land of smiles. Even though this might be a phrase we may not have used for a while it still holds true. This spirit that is returning today is something we need to cherish and nurture for the next generation. This is what it means to be Thai.
One of the important things I see is how we have queued in line to pay respects to His Majesty the Late King. We should maintain this mutual support, avoid division, and live together in harmony, and the same goes for how the government and the people should work hand in hand. We are all Thai people together so we should all cooperate to make a better country for all of us. I hope that this will be the turning point where we put aside our differences and change for the better.
One example of this is speaking in out in such a way that will impact a person or group of people. We must examine the intention of the speaker before we pass judgment. It is also important to show forgiveness, especially to those who may have had the best of intentions. As for issues of reconciliation and trust, we cannot of course force people to do things. These things are based on will and cannot be enforced by laws. November 25th of each year has been designated “Elimination of Violence Against Women Day” by the United Nations.
This is done every year. This year, Thailand has designated November of every year from now to be “Elimination of Violence Against Children and Women Month”. I hope that everyone will do their best to take part in this initiative. We need to protect children, women, the elderly, the disabled and the weak from all forms of violence. We must try to eliminate this from Thai society and from the hearts of those people who would use violence against others. This needs to stop.
Lastly, I ask that you consider this: while it may be a minor point, it may have large consequences -some of you may have already thought of this – how we are coming up on our “New Year’s Festival” to welcome the new year. Many people are already buying gifts for the event for their parents, relatives, friends, or work colleagues.
I hope that you will consider buying Pracharat OTOP items for some of these gifts. This includes: fruit and agricultural produce and rice directly from the farmers as well as other processed products and much more from local SMEs and Startups in Thailand. You can pick these up from the Krung Kasem market near Government House, from your community market, or even from on-line markets.
In this way we can support our farmers, our entrepreneurs, and our manufacturers in this country. This is that “value chain” you have heard of and it will be a new path for the workers of Thailand into the future.
Thank you very much. I wish you happiness for the weekend. Sawasdee Krub.