From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals – December 30, 2016
Good evening dear Thai citizens.
It has been more than 6 decades since His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX, composed the song “New Year Wishes” to wish his subjects good fortune for the New Year. And it has been almost 3 decades since His Majesty the Late King unveiled his personal New Year postcards. Not only were those cards meant to deliver messages of happiness for the New Year, but also to give sound advice for the Thai people on how to their lives meaningfully, while encouraging us all to never give up, even when things get tough.
On the occasion of this New Year, I have the honour to wish for such blessings to be bestowed upon the Thai people, for auspiciousness in your life, and with the key principles of virtuosity, honesty, having noble intentions, community service, diligence, patience, determination, frugality, sufficiency, the eagerness to learn, the ability to use wisdom to solve problems, self awareness and cautiousness, not to mention knowledge,
love, unity, reconciliation, and teamwork. All of these virtues will bring happiness and prosperity to our own lives and to the nation as a whole. If all Thais have good will and noble intentions for one another, we will all be free from our troubles, and this is a genuineness that I wish for all of us to appreciate and consider in our lives
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has expressed His concerned for the well-being of the people and has asked that the King’s Philosophy be adopted for usefulness by the government and the public servants in the tasks of national administration, and by all the Thai people in carrying out their daily lives.
On this occasion, I would like to present the 1994 Royal New Year card which contains the King’s Philosophy and has the saying that “sometimes we smile, sometimes we don’t, we’re sometimes happy, we’re sometimes not…like traffic, which sometimes flows and sometimes doesn’t…so be patient and calm and remain virtuous…because obstacles are meant to test the patience of the decent who refuse to be misguided or discouraged “. I hope that this simple truth will lift your spirits and encourage you to remain virtuous and resilient for the New Year and always.
Dear Thai people, in a bid to continue moving the country forward, it is a must that we take a look at ourselves so that we can develop and continue to make progress. We should eliminate all loopholes and not repeat the same mistakes. The government is adamant to continuously find ways to monitor and improve the administrative system and our efforts in national administration.
Despite how much effort we put into realizing our vision for stability, prosperity, and sustainability, we cannot not be successful without participation and cooperation from the public, the private sector, and civil society.
The government has thus initiated the Pracharat approach so as to harness the strengths from these sectors into chains of cooperation whereby the strength of each chain is determined by its weakest link. This leads to the saying that, “we cannot leave anyone behind but we must help each other develop together.”
There is one obstacle which may be seen as the country’s weakness, and that derives from the inability of some to understand the difference between 3 key concepts: rights, responsibilities, and liberty. As the laws define our rights, we all have our responsibilities. But we cannot demand our rights while denying our responsibilities. Doing so would only cause disorderliness in our society.
Even more so, some people view independence as the same as liberty, and think that they can do just about anything without having to care about the consequences. As a matter of fact, rights and responsibilities as defined by the laws, give scope to our independence/freedom while affording us liberty. It is the same for every country. Freedom without boundaries oftentimes leads to violations of the rights of others. Ultimately this can lead to problems, so it is fundamental that the laws are needed and applied.
Please try to understand what I’ve just said so that we can help each other to correct this weakness in our society, particularly by changing our views in how we look at the world and by building a social conscience to value community service and public service for our nation.
As for the “Thailand 4.0” policy, not only is it meant to bring stability, prosperity, and sustainability to the people and the economy, but also to our society as well.
Today, there are different groups of people who have different professions. Some professions require more knowledge while some require more experience. Some depend on natural resources. There are light and heavy industries. This shows that there are differences in our society as well as in our income chains throughout the country.
If you think about it, a society and an economy is not that different from an ecosystem in the sense of interconnectivity. In an economy, there must be producers, consumers, middlemen, the agricultural sector, the industrial sector, and the service sector. For example, in the rice sector, there are rice growers, processors, buyers, wholesalers, retailers, exporters, investors, financiers, pawnshops, banks, and mutual funds.
On top of all these elements, there are laws, and international regulations as well as agreements. An ecosystem comprises large animals, small animals, insects, all the way to small molecules. All these things should be at a harmonious equilibrium. If we are able to understand how ecosystems function, it will not be difficult to understand how a society should consist of a balance between social values and economic standards and therefore, how we must strike a balance between development and conservation.
Therefore, we aim to bring the country into a 4.0 economy, which will bring together those in the 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 levels, and this will need to start with developing our human personnel into a knowledge based society. For our economy, we may not be able to convert all industries into the 4.0 level, but we must ask how we can help the 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 sectors of the economy to develop themselves.
We must do this within the framework of the 4.0 agenda in order to create connectivity, add value, and usher in key developments. We may not be able to have all sectors adopt the use of robotics and the most advanced technologies, as we are still heavily reliant on agriculture while many industries still require human personnel as a key driver of the sector.
In summary, it may already be sufficient for some industries to merely upgrade their equipment to remain competitive while still employing the same labor force to continuously employ the people in that sector.
As I have previously stated before, we must develop our 5 traditional industries according to the S-curve model, which is to modernize these industries in order to be able to produce more valuable products and remain competitive in the market. We may employ the use of robotics as well as heavy machinery and automated systems which would greatly enhance output. These are the things that the government is pushing for according to the S-curve model.
The most important factor is the development of human resources to serve as innovators, operators, as well as researchers and developers. Today, we must ask if we have enough Thai researchers that are working in the country, especially those that have received an education abroad.
If there are not enough personnel to mobilize our agenda, we must focus on supporting short and long-term measures that build on the existing innovations that we have, importing technologies from abroad, as well as enhancing our technological knowledge so that we can develop the potential of our workforce.
We must also ensure that our personnel’s knowledge in English and other regional languages are at a level that can support all economic activities ranging from 1.0 to 4.0 industries. It is necessary that we develop the value of our human personnel and support both skilled and unskilled labor.
Economic well-being is an important matter for the international community, and we have been analyzing the external and internal factors that affect our economy in order to better understand problems and challenges. We have also been listening to inputs from our various sectors, from business leaders, academics, merchants, the public at all income levels, and all social groups, both in rural and urban areas. We have been able to summarize important issues as follows,
- The issue of our social and economic structure – we must be able to clearly define groups of high, medium, and low income earners in order to better formulate policies and assistance measures that are appropriate to various targets. This requires updating both our database and survey methods to ensure accuracy in order to be able to adequately address the issues and challenges faced by all groups and to ensure the best use of state funds.This requires cooperation from all groups and sectors to mobilize our efforts. Most importantly, we should place emphasis on the agricultural sector, which must continue to be productive under the current economic challenges, price slumps and financial burdens.
- Connectivity – this entails connecting all phases of production, such as crop planting, processing, innovation, adding value, and marketing. We must present more choices for the public, merchants, and large businesses to promote alternative markets that add value. We must have the 4.0 model care for the 1.0-3.0 industries, while the value of 4.0 sectors also benefits the 1.0 grassroots level.
- Developing our knowledge base in production and marketing – we should incorporate online and digital technology in promoting self-learning, personal development, and improving convenience. The government has encouraged all to seek out the most up-to-date news sources, databases, and services in order to create awareness of new advances as well as create adaptability in a constantly changing world.
- Legislation and measures designed for facilitation that are still behind the times or are not yet at international standards must be improved. These will become barriers to investment and will limit our ability to compete. In some cases, they may even lead to corruption. Currently, these obstacles are preventing us from development at both a large and small degree. We must fix this as soon as we can by eliminating unnecessary processes and allowing for easy verification.Adopting new digital technologies, networks and online systems at a high standard as well as providing a one stop service (OSS) will provide comprehensive easy access. The government is currently pushing to accelerate this process through the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society as well as other relevant agencies.
- Various other factors related to illegal business operations include: improper tax payment, the exploitation of loopholes in the law, conflicts of interest, forest encroachment, sale of goods within prohibited areas, disrespect of the laws, traffic violations, conflict, and unprofessional behavior in terms of rights and responsibilities. These various factors are responsible for stunting our growth and inhibiting our progress. This in turn affects the well-being of the country.
If these issues continue to be propagated, possibly through social media, whether intentionally or unintentionally, without accountability or ethics, they will not serve as a good example to others. If only flawed solutions are offered, problems will not be solved and will instead lead to conflict and false truths. The propagation of such false information in society will only stop us from developing.
How will foreign countries have confidence in Thai economy? How will the Thai people earn a living? How can we begin to change for the better? I ask that we all come together and help one another. Protect the interests of our society and our nation by cooperating with the government and coming up with solutions together.
Solutions lacking in strong fundamentals, whether economic or social, will be usually carried out slowly as they suffer from a lack of understanding, lack of learning, or lack of modern information. They can also be affected by distortions, and human behavior, which often prefers convenience rather than correctness, unlimited freedom and different interests.
But in the end, people will usually strive for convenience, comfort, wealth and power. The important thing to remember is that everything must be based on a basis of legality, ethics, and morals. We are all a part of Thai society and if we help one another as best we can, with care and harmony, we can reduce our conflicts at a far faster rate than before.
Last of all, I would like to extend my gratitude to the 45,000 volunteers from agencies both public and private, associations, and the Thai people who have prepared over 3 million “sufficiency rice” bags since last October. This feat was accomplished at the Prime Minister’s Office in order to provide the bags to the people who came to pay homage to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall in the Grand Palace.
For the New Years’ festivities, I have instructed various agencies to be prepared to look after the Thai people who are making long trips across the country. Every road stop, service station, traffic sign, traffic signal, and emergency services will be maintained and up to date, and emergency hotlines will be running around the clock.
As for peacefulness and orderliness, I would like to ask everyone for their cooperation in remaining vigilant and in informing security authorities of any incident.
To the people who will be traveling these holidays by both public and private vehicles, I urge you to ensure that they are all in good working condition. It is very important to avoid drinking and driving. Traffic officers cannot be fully responsible for your safety because nobody can look after your safety better than yourself.
I would like to thank all the staff involved, police, soldiers, and the volunteers who are giving up their time to help the people during this holiday season. I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to all the officers stationed at the borders. I hope that the public will offer their thanks and encouragement to these people as well, and adhere to the laws and traffic regulations. Please avoid drinking and driving or other dangerous practices. There will be a lot of people on the roads which can be stressful. If we can remain kind and understanding to each other we will all be alright.
Thank you very much. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year’s. Sawasdee Krub.