From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals – January 20, 2017
Good evening dear Thai citizens.
It has been 100 days, from 13 October 2016 to 20 January 2017, since the greatest loss for Thailand and the Thai people, when His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty passed away. People from all walks of life numbering 3 million, from different backgrounds, nationalities, religions, and genders have come to express their loyalty, pay tribute, and pay their last respects to the beloved monarch.
Although King Rama IX has passed on, His honor and the King’s Philosophy that was graciously bestowed to the Thai people for the past 70 years will always be a part of our nation. On the occasion of the 100th day, I would like to invite the public to offer a virtuous deed as a tribute to His Majesty the late King, and to carry on His aspirations for the Thai people to have “understanding, love, and unity” in order to move Thailand forward with the vision of ‘stability, prosperity, and sustainable’.
Currently, the flood situation in the southern region of Thailand is still critical. His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has conveyed a message of care and support to lift the spirits of the flood victims, which reads
“With love, care and concern, I offer you my support and encouragement for your rehabilitation and development, and for your happiness, resilience, as well as spiritual and physical well-being.” His Majesty the King’s benevolence reflects the love and concern that He has for the Thai people, in particular those who are in distress. Importantly, this reflects the deep bond between the Thai monarchy and the Thai people, for over 700 years.
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn has graciously bestowed additional advice to the government, to emphasize the effectiveness of the King’s Philosophy when trying to find sustainable solutions to the flood crisis, so as to ensure concrete and effective results for the happiness of the people, as well as the stability of the nation. With this, I have issued instructions to the related agencies accordingly.
Throughout this natural disaster, the government has created several mechanisms at the national level and the implementation level in the stricken areas, to manage and expedite assistance for the victims in the most effective manner.
In addition, we have hosted a ‘Pracharat Help and Assistance to the South’ event to collect donations from thoughtful contributors, for the flood ravaged region. All donations are managed by the “Assistance for Disaster Victims” fund in a bid to ensure transparency and efficient implementation. So far, almost 500 million baht has been donated.
While monitoring the current flood situation through several official reports and the media, I have seen some stirring images depicting Pracharat cooperation between the government, the private sector, volunteers, and the people, in their relentless efforts
to work closely together to distribute donations and assistance packages to the victims in a timely manner, thus reflecting the care and generosity of the Thai people. Many agencies and businesses have since extended their helping hand to the victims, and I would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’.
At the moment, we have many more assistance measures, and I would like to ask the responsible units as well as the media to help ensure that the flood victims have adequate information to know where they can ask for help or what assistance they are entitled to.
The first measure is the individual income tax break. Those who have to spend money renovating and constructing their homes damaged by the floods will be entitled to a tax reduction of no more than 100,000 baht. Those who repair their vehicles will receive a 30,000 baht tax break. For eligibility, the transactions must occur between 1 December 2016 and 31 May 2017.
The second measure is the 6-month debt payment extension, while businesses can seek a loan of no more than 500,000 baht to liquefy their operations.
The third measure allows the farmers who owe the BAAC to postpone their debt payments for 1 year while their interest rates will not be adjusted.
The fourth measure is the Pracharat loan program offered by the Government Savings Bank. Each family is entitled to 50,000 baht. Borrowers affected by the floods can postpone their payments to 2-3 years.
The fifth measure is for the insurers of the Social Security Office. Their contributions to the program will be reduced to 3% for 3 months, from January to March. Insurers will not lose any benefits.
Next, the Vocational Education Commission has established 200 mobile repair centers to offer maintenance services for vehicles, electronics and appliances, construction, computers etc.
I wish to thank every unit and agency for their kindness and contributions. I also thank the provincial governors and local administrative offices for doing their best in carrying out the government’s assistance policies. I wish to thank everyone for their generosity and determination in coming together to demonstrate the power of the Pracharat within Thai society, particularly in coming together to get through hardships and to leave no one behind.
Dear citizens, we all appreciate and wish that one day, lingering animosities among the Thai people should dissipate, leaving only the common aspirations for brighter future for all. Today, we all call for reconciliation, which requires every side to listen to each other whether we agree or disagree. Everyone including the lawmakers, politicians, civil society, and the public should try to find common ground to move our country forward together.
Therefore, the intention of the Prime Minister and Head of the NCPO is to see every political party and political group work together and work with the people to establish a complete democracy in Thai society, and bring the nation back to peacefulness. We have wasted too much time already. We have to open our hearts and be sincere and talk to each other, and demonstrate a spirit of selflessness and devotion to the nation, which I believe, is in within every Thai person.
We can all help steer this country through reconciliation in all aspects, in thinking, spirit, justice, law and order and in peaceful co-existence, for the present day and the future, to show our children that every problem has a solution and not “every solution will be a problem”. We must find this solution and implement it effectively, sustainably, and with tangible results. This task will not be easy. But we have to make a start before it can be complete.
For the past two years, the government and the NCPO has worked in conjunction with the five reform bodies, in several interrelated tasks. One of the tasks is to create understanding. We must therefore coordinate between the five organizations in order to present what each body has done in various fields.
We will then summarize and organize what has been done into broad categories in order to create a sense of synchronization which will add to the effectiveness of each reform body, whether it is mobilizing reform agendas by the National Reform Steering Assembly, or drafting the National Strategy, or responsibilities of various agencies by the Constitution Drafting Commission.
All these elements will be connected into a jigsaw which represents a broad view of the country’s future. This will represent our hopes and aspirations, and will be what we will dedicate ourselves to during this time, for the sake of our children’s future.
At this time, what we have started but yet to complete or what we plan on doing but is due to commence, will be put into our National Strategy in order to ensure that they are carried on in the future, and that they are included in subsequent budgetary planning. We will list these programs according to priority and necessity in order for all agencies to understand the importance of these programs, so that systematic work can be carried out for short-term, medium-term, and long-term timelines, ensuring national stability during future governments.
In simplest terms, we will be drafting the framework for the committee on the National Strategy, which is stipulated in the new Constitution, in order to ensure a seamless transition of work between this administration and future governments.
We have established a “Committee on National Administration according to the framework for national reform, the National Strategy, and reconciliation building” as stipulated by the current constitution. These measures will serve to create a foundation for national administration policy in the future.
However, what I see as being the starting points for reconciliation is creating understanding. This will lead to cooperation and peaceful coexistence in the future. An example of the adverse effects of conflict through the lack of understanding was during the agricultural price slump when farmers took to the streets, blocked roads, and demanded solutions by the government.
Manipulating groups of people and creating public distress as leverage to make various demands, often by persons behind the scenes (whether they have good or ill intentions or are politically motivated), have not helped the government’s reconciliation efforts and have usually lead to unsustainable solutions.
A more sustainable and reconciliatory approach would be to
(1) Create understanding of the issues faced by farmers. Once there is understanding, there is forgiveness and animosities are avoided.
(2) Shutting down roads is illegal because it is a violation of other people’s rights.
Therefore, these perpetrators face legal consequences without exception. Otherwise, the authorities will be guilty of dereliction of duty should they allow such activities to continue, as these activities should not be condoned and made commonplace in Thai society.
Finally, (3) We must inform farmers of the right channels of communication. For example, the government has provided the 1567 hotline for the Damrongtham Center. This way, farmers will not fall victim to those who seek to use them as political tools.
If these three guidelines are followed, I believe that our issues will not exacerbate, people will not break the law, and authorities will be able to dedicate their time towards helping the people. These guidelines serve to encourage empathy which will lead to reconciliation in our society. In other words, reconciliation is about brainstorming together about how we can peacefully coexist once we become a complete democracy.
The military is not a party in this political conflict. It is merely a facilitator during political deadlocks, regardless of the reason. I hope that people will understand this point.
Dear Thai citizens, in this day and age when communication technology plays a key role in shaping our emotions, Thai people like to indulge in flaunting, instant gratification, or the need to follow trends. All these things can be considered normal if what people are expressing is the desire for a better life.
The government does not oppose this form of expression and is willing to support the use of such media as long as it does not violate any laws or moral codes. However, if these expressions are the source of societal problems, the governments must enforce fair and impartial laws. Certain problems are multifaceted and concern many laws and agencies.
Integrating multiple pieces of legislation will take time, as they are ultimately based on legal and political principles, as in keeping with the approach advocated by King Rama IX, known as the King’s Philosophy, which the government has undertaken as a foundation for national administration. For example, the Damrongtham Centers have been able to address over 90 percent of complaints within a short time span. The remaining 10 percent must proceed according to proper procedures and therefore requires some patience.
Solving the country’s major problems requires an open and fair dialogue. The government and the NCPO is more than willing to serve as a bridge between all sides and be an intermediary in solidifying our nation’s Pracharat movement. We are willing to do this so that the country’s aspirations can be achieved. I believe that nothing is impossible
if we can all cooperate with each other and the government in addressing our shared problems. For example,
1. The public expresses a need.
2. The government acknowledges this need by establishing guidelines and policies according to good governance.
This relationship requires conscientiousness and cooperation at its core.
At this time, I can summarize the country’s major problems as follows:
1. Creating conflict, violating the laws, distorting facts, citing democratic principles and human rights to justify impunity and self interests, dishonesty, and the lack of a social conscience and disregard for the common good.
2. To solve the problems of the country in all aspects is something that will depend on proper budget management in both the short term and the long term. This has happened time and time again. Law enforcement can only accomplish so much and some NGOs will raise human rights issues to highlight their productivity rather than provide a complete picture of a nation’s progress. How will we move forward if there is always opposition to every policy suggestion? The government and its civil servants have the obligation to be transparent and for the people to be content with knowledge and understanding.
For example: energy problems, land use, development, updating laws for the future, all while putting more focus on “prevention” rather than “punishment” – these are the areas we must fix.
As for agricultural development and water management, we can use agri-maps to assist in control. This is accomplished through analyzing data on agriculture and commerce. These numbers tend to change over time so it’s important to take everything into consideration when balancing resources. Things like: fertile land, water, plant production, supply and demand, and end production goals. All these factors will help us manage agriculture in the present and into the future as well.
Addressing the issue of flooding will require development of infrastructure: roads, rail, electric trains etc. Many complain that a lot of natural resources must be harmed in order to make this possible. However if you truly understand the issue you’ll see that this is the only long term solution. If there are no spillways and drains, the damage will become very apparent to residences and resources alike.
We must develop physical connectivity. We must examine the solutions in conjunction with the protection of our natural resources. This must also be done as effectively and inexpensively as possible.
3. Solving the problems of poverty, in the economy, and social disparity – many sectors may not fully understand the current global economy or a large scale economy in the modern age, an instead use generic principles to apply to the grass roots economy and low-income earners as well as high income earners. This is the way for an economy in a free and democratic world. So the important task is to find the ways for connectivity and have appropriate support measures. Many sectors many not agree with this, but we cannot be stagnant or regress.
We must use the budget to assist those with low incomes, solving problems year by year. In the past, we have used a huge budget to address this. However, this wasn’t able to add additional value or create resilience. It only solved problems at face value. If the people are not resilient, the country will lack the capacity to compete.
These problems must be solved by working together. We must determine the cause, and what the government, the people, and the private sector can do about it. Are we strong enough? Some media outlets and academia have clear biases and have sought to bring conflict between these 3 sectors. Perhaps this is because they are only looking at democracy and human rights, without considering the state of our nation as a whole, while also not showing any accountability for their words.
The ones who are accountable are the government, the public, and the country. Please take a moment to consider this. You may assert that the government is not providing opportunities but that is not the case. We are always providing opportunities to hear your suggestions and advice on what can be beneficial. But if you only create conflict, especially during this period of national transition that requires peacefulness and civility, how is that right?
We all have had experiences with this. When people say things just to cause controversy, it often caused so much trouble in the past, in particular regarding various court cases and matters regarding the laws. This could be the spark for more conflict and disorderliness in our society.
Some people even want to escalate matters by creating false perceptions and giving wrong information to international organizations and the global community. They say that this government is too restrictive and is violating human rights, even though we already have in place all the necessary laws for our society. Thus, we wouldn’t need to use any special laws. But many people refuse to cooperate and continue to try and take advantage of some weaknesses within our normal laws. This type of conduct is also considered a violation of the law in other countries. Please understand that what you are doing can harm a lot of people if violence should begin.
These are the actions of a group of people who do not wish to respect the law. When law enforcement is strict and does its job, this group becomes hysterical, claiming human rights violations. Go and see for yourself whether this is illegal or not. Have you even read the law?
From now, you should not let people dissuade you for political profit, or personal gain by using the word ‘democracy’ while creating false news or false perceptions of issues, or by claiming certain rights which in the end, impinges on the rights of others.
Meanwhile, over 90 percent of the population comply with the laws, but still have to deal with the backlash from the actions of a small group that continues to damage their own country. Perhaps they know what they are doing, perhaps not. I only ask that society take a moment to consider how we should live together in peace.
Are we to allow those who are democratically elected to do whatever they want? But then you say that the military has damaged democracy. That democracy was already damaged and abused before we stepped in. I believe we have solved a lot of the nation’s problems since that time, so I ask for your understanding in this matter.
Lastly, I ask for the cooperation of those who love their country to work with the government in moving this country forward in accordance with the strategy for reform and reconciliation. We can do this without anyone being forced or by having to resort to non-legal means while claiming that reconciliation implies not having to be responsible for any previous misconduct. This is not right, whether it is for previous governments, officials, law breakers, some politicians, and some media.
In particular, to the majority of the public that is innocent and simply want stability, prosperity, and sustainably for the country, have you asked these people what they want out of this reconciliation? What are their thoughts? I want to hear every side of things, except those who say things purely for personal gain, only to create more divisions in society. The government and the NCPO will facilitate matters by holding an open stage so we can discuss this.
Thank you very much. I hope everyone has a happy weekend. Sawasdee Krup.