From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals – February 10, 2017

Good evening dear Thai citizens.

I am glad to have the chance to talk to the public again today. I have several things I’d like to talk about. Before that, let me first talk about an aspect the King’s Philosophy.

Today’s world is filled with temptations which often lead to perplexity and distractions. Those without self consciousness might easily succumb to such desires. Therefore human beings should have moral and religious principles to constantly guide us and safeguard us.

His Majesty King Rama IX was visionary and foresaw these ‘silent dangers’ and thus graciously bestowed an approach to safeguard ourselves, our families, and our societies through the phrase of ‘baworn’, which derives from the 3 Thai words for the home, the temple, and the school –  as an approach to safeguard our spirits from “unscrupulous notions” and thereby create resilience for our people.

Dear Thai citizens, I’m certain that the King’s Philosophy will serve as a foundation for building our nation, through human resource development and the fostering of ethics, morality, and integrity – which will allow us to prevent and alleviate our social problems.

Tomorrow, Feb. 11, marks Makha Bucha Day, and I’d like to encourage every Buddhist Thai to follow the Lord Buddha’s teachings, in the similar way to how King Rama IX adhered to the 10 Virtues of the Righteous King during the 70 years of His Reign.

As for ordinary people like us, I’d like to ask you to practice Dhamma which is at the heart of Buddhism. I want you to do good, avoid immorality, and purify your spirits.” This simple way will bring peacefulness to our society and our nation, and our problems and obstacles will gradually diminish.

Dear Thai people, this past week, there were two auspicious events for the Thai people. I would like to highlight those moments again.

The first one is that His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has graciously consented for December 5th, which is the Birthday Anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, to be our National Day as well as National Father’s Day.

This is to commemorate the immeasurable benevolence that His Majesty King Rama IX had for the nation and the people. In addition, did you know that December 5th is also an important date for the international community?

December 5th is recognized as World Soil Day by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The United Nations declared December 5th World Soil Day

in dedication to the King Rama IX’s contributions to soil development, leading to various achievements that benefited the Thai people and the world, thus befitting His Royal Name of “Bhumibol” which means ‘Strength of the Land.

The second auspicious event is that His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn has graciously consented for the appointment of Somdej Phra Maha Muniwong, the abbot of Wat Rajabopit,

as the new Supreme Patriarch. His Majesty will graciously preside at the appointment ceremony on Sunday, Feb 12th, 5 pm, at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram.

I believe that these events are very auspicious as they relate to our nation, religion, and the monarchy, and therefore will be a blessing for the nation and an inspiration and source of strength for the Thai people. I believe this ‘strength’ for the Thai people is no less significant that than military power or economic power.

I believe that if this social strength can make the nation strong in unity, reconciliation, and togetherness, then our nation will be protected against any minor, major, internal, and external threats.

I wish to ask you to help me think about how we can together come up with the solutions to this country’s problems. How will we solve democratic issues, and social and economic inequality? We have to have principles and prudence. How can we improve our education system to have our citizens think more analytically while grounded in ethics? How can we foster noble intentions within our societies? How can we contribute to the nation as a whole?

Please don’t let the government come up with the solutions alone. How can we work together to better our nation without only relying on the government?

Dear Thai people, Thailand today is similar to a person who is mildly sick but keeps on taking medication and vitamins. If the medication is not taken, the symptoms reappear. Without care, the condition worsens. Without sustainable solutions, these problems grow more serious. These illnesses that we can see in our society are domestic violence, student brawls, violence in our communities, corruption, and drug abuse –

all of which correlate highly with one another. These problems cause a lot of distress on our communities as they create illegal street bikers, mafia students, street brawls, road rage, theft, and robbery. These crimes can be seen as our chronic diseases.

So, please ask yourself if you are the cause of these problems. If you understand sufficiency or having enough, the income that you receive, though perhaps not substantial, may not be such a major problem. Have you ever used rhetoric to incite conflict and controversy on social media? Have you ever been drunk to the point where you lost self-control or hurt anyone? Have your publications ever incited conflicts and clashes or breached the code of ethics?

Have you ever broken a law, violated others’ rights, seen injustice but failed to act on it? Have you ever done any of these things? All of these problems are interconnected.

To cure these chronic diseases, I would like to see everyone follow the principles of their respective religions and use them to be more conscious of your actions and more peaceful in manner, with forgiveness and tolerance so that things do not turn into something too late to stop.

Another important principle that should be adhered to is that ‘it is not right to do something wrong just because it isn’t a big deal’, and ‘just because it is a small virtuous deed, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it’. Think about the community as a whole and please do one good thing at a time. I believe it is not too difficult to try. Please help others around you. It is these small little things that will build and strengthen our communities.

I’d like to tell you a story about Jamras Sae-Ung or Uncle Dam, a Nakhon Si Thammarat native. Uncle Dam is an ordinary rubber farmer who plants banana trees at the sides of Na Bon and Kaew Saen Roads in Na Bon district, stretching 6 kilometers, with a purpose of saving lives in case a vehicle skids off the road.

In addition, Uncle Dam trims the trees himself so that the roads offer a beautiful site for commuters. His action has in fact saved many lives.

Uncle Dam also turns bananas into snacks and gives them out to the people who travel to the Grand Place to pay their respects to King Rama IX. I’d like to commend Uncle Dam for having been an exemplary citizen who cares and does good things for others. If everyone follows the way of Uncle Dam, our communities and nation will be much stronger.

Dear Thai people, in reality, many issues are easier said than done, whether they are personal issues or issues in public administration, legislative work, and law enforcement. We cannot do things arbitrarily or at free will, but must refer to the rule of law and international regulations.

We must understand what the world is thinking so that we can make progress. At the same time, we cannot go against some global developments, just as there is no ‘one size fits all’ aspect for certain global issues. Each country has its own history, identity, experience, and origin, and Thailand is no exception.

I’m sure everyone agrees with me when I say “we must adopt and adapt international principles in a way that is most fitting to the context of Thailand”. A tailored or custom-made dress is more comfortable and makes the person looks more elegant. This is how the country should move forward.

I also believe that prevention is better than curing. In this case, the enactment of many laws so far is no different. They are meant to prevent and suppress misconduct in our society. Now we have to see what punitive measures are needed to accompany these laws.  For example, traffic laws aim to prevent the loss of lives and damage to properties.

Because everyone is a valuable resource for the nation, therefore losing someone is like the nation losing an opportunity to make progress. With that said, severe punishments and strict laws do not guarantee that these bad things will not happen.

The enforcement of the law with impartiality and in accordance with judicial procedures is most important and can prevent tragedies from occurring and recurring. Every government official must uphold this while the public also needs to render cooperation.

The King’s Philosophy of HM King Rama IX teaches us that the enforcement of laws requires both legal and political principles. A take away from this is that we ought to find a balance between government officials and the private sector in order to ensure social justice. Whatever is deemed as an injustice, unreliable, double standards, or have a potential to lead to a conflict must be properly addressed.

I trust that you now understand that law enforcement is no easy task. It is like a rope that will snap when too tight and that won’t hold when too slack. There are problems everyone must help out if we were to genuinely fix them, as in the cases of corruption, drugs, transnational crime, violence, terrorism, and our destruction of natural resources.

This is something that everyone should consider and tale responsibility for. Although these are internal matters, we cannot ignore the framework or the rules adopted at the international level. There are several international organizations keeping a watchful eye on Thailand. One wrong step can have negative consequences such as trade barriers or other kinds of restrictions through trade, commerce, or cooperation.

Currently, we are in a good position. I ask that everyone maintain their determination and cooperation. The current government’s job (like other any other administration) is to foster understanding, confidence, and trust both inside the country and internationally. We must have our own stance while safeguarding the best interests of our country as well as our national identity at the international level.

We cannot say that “we don’t have to care about anyone else because Thailand already has many things going for it.” No country can stand alone. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world. In a constantly developing world in this age of globalization, we have to keep abreast of information and evaluate all risks so that we can formulate clear and equitable policies and plans compatible with those changes.  All this is important for determining the right policies and our role internationally.

I’m sure that everyone now understands the power of social media and its influences in the world. Everyone can report or create news and everyone can consume information in a matter of seconds.

What is so dangerous is that if distorted, unreliable, non-factual information has been consumed by the public, it is often difficult to change such misleading and incorrect perceptions. It all depends on how fast the news gets out. And when people immediately believe what they hear on social media, this is a problem. And when this information goes out internationally, it can have the affect of tainting and damaging the country’s credibility. So. I urge you all to be wary of this and understand this, and find reliable information and sources first. The government is willing to answer all questions. My wish is for peacefulness and orderliness in our society, so that we can spend time solving our economic and social issues. Internal problems, be they about economics or society, should always be solved through our own means.

We have to sort these things out for ourselves and be able to come to an understanding on things by ourselves. Most importantly, we will not allow let anyone else to have power over our sovereignty.

We have to have principles in our analysis. Dear citizens, those who have been monitoring the government’s work may have noticed how effective our efforts have been.

There were several matters that required urgent attention and have been completed. Some matters need time due to many unresolved disputes. Many tasks have completed while many have started. Many will be passed on to the next government. Because these matters have to be accomplished, we need to have an effective management system, budget distribution plan, and project proposals. These efforts should be integrated between ministries to ensure effectiveness and transparency. The government is keen to distribute wealth to different parts of the nation, and to rural communities.

Provincial governors should lead the effort. Everyone is a civil servant and you are here to work for the people in His Majesty’s service. Local authorities from each ministry need to lend a helping hand to the governors and let the governors guide the way because they are the ones that mobilize all our efforts in their provinces. They can cater to the needs of the locals,  in the aspects of security, the environment, as well as bringing growth to the economy and the society. It must be done from the bottom to the top. The central government will then approve and support their projects.

To distribute wealth, provincial governors will need to draft their own development plans that are in line with the aforementioned strategies, based on different clusters. For instance, we need to connect the 10 special economic zones with our neighboring countries, turning those areas into product distribution centers or investment hubs that suit their needs and natural resources. Thais and foreigners will make joint-investments then. Another important area is the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) which is a mega project. There is also the issue of peace and security in the south. We have initiated the “Triangle of Stability, Prosperity, and Sustainability” programme and the “Smart City” project.

Every project must be monitored by each relevant agency while being spearheaded with proactive measures, turning policies into action, which will allow all regions to grow. In some cases, we should reduce production to ward off intensive competition or over duplication, or over supply.

Many sides may pin hopes on the Committee for Reform, Strategy, and Reconciliation. I’m happy that everyone pays attention to this Committee as it boosts our morale. However, please don’t think that this Committee is a magic potion that cures every illness. The committee is formed to revise and improve the work of the government and the NCPO,

hoping to eliminate weaknesses and improve strengths in our national administration. It allows us to change and adapt in accordance with what goes on around the world. We need a database that offers solutions to our problems in the most sustainable manner. The mechanism to solve problems lies in the government.

We need to oversee and mobilize government agencies, with the Cabinet giving orders to ministries and civil servants who serve the people. I think that currently, the measures we have had for national reform were not enough. This is why I ordered for the establishment of 6 committees to push for sustainable integration and reform in accordance with our National Strategy.

The move allows for a smooth transition and quicker results in reform than previously. Today, we have had to create another mechanism which is the Committee for Reform, Strategy, and Reconciliation. These committees will work with each other collaboratively. As you can see, we are pushing for reform with a systemically-organized method based on the urgency of each task. Reform plans will then be forwarded back to the Cabinet, the NCPO, and other responsible committees for implementation.

Today, this government’s work does not only stop at routine national administration within the original framework.

Therefore, another framework has been established. Whatever that is urgent will be considered by the appropriate committee while other committees will handle what is needed in the areas of reconciliation, economic matters, or resolving conflict. The results of each committee will come under the Committee for Reform, Strategy, and Reconciliation.

In the past, many may not understand what has already been done, so that it seems that the government has not been doing its job.

In truth, it has been performing its tasks and today, it has taken more responsibilities on to take on issues where there has been no congruency. There may be agreements on principles and reasoning but there still lacks a consensus on implementation. This government must therefore take on these issues and figure out how to mobilize them.

We will be taking on these matters to resolve the disconnect between policy formulation and implementation, so progress can be made. There is also conflict between those who mean well and those with ill intentions, which have caused stalemates.

I ask for understanding that these measures will be of greater benefit for the country and for your cooperation. Those who do not agree, I encourage you to propose your constructive suggestions rather than passing judgment without any substantive grounds. Also, a lack of sound information can result in societal misunderstandings and confusions like before.

Regarding this government’s economic mobilization policies, we’ve identified that export numbers are low. We must therefore examine whether we are ready or empowered in creating new innovations and products to compete with the global market. We must see if we are able to realise our potential in becoming competitive. The lack of these things may cause our export numbers to drop.

Therefore we must re-examine whether we can afford to rely entirely on our export sector. We must instead become an economy of domestic trade and production while utilizing innovation. At the same time, we must strengthen our economy by strengthening our domestic value chain and connect it with international value chains, including foreign investors, Thai, investors, SMEs, Start-ups, and various e-commerce businesses. These developments take time, whether they are developing our e-commerce infrastructure with the use of e-payment systems such as Prompt Pay.

As for international guidelines, we must enact laws that enhance ease of doing business, enabling trade and investments to occur more conveniently. We must also fix our internal problems such as our fishing industry. We have passed over 90 pieces of legislation regarding this issue.

Therefore, if we can create connectivity, solve issues, create stability and sustainability, we will be able to add value to the Thai economy and enhance our competitiveness, which would in turn, benefit the people.

However, while we develop these sectors, we must not forget about our human resources. We must develop our people to become quality human beings who are educated, analytical, constructive, prudent, and ethical. These are agendas for human personnel development.

There are also agendas for different groups of people. The government’s role is to provide support to various groups and enable them to help themselves. The private sector has agreed to help the government in developing the u force at factories and at various schools. Vocational institutions have supported skills training. This is the progress that we’ve made during our administration.

We must develop our human personnel and our management systems to address the challenges that the country and the world face. We must create readiness across all agencies and work together in a progressive manner.

Therefore, everyone must work harder at this time, especially the heads of agencies. Subordinates must also help mobilize agendas. This is because this country can’t move forward using only a handful of people. It can only move forward with the help and participation of all 70 million of its citizens.

I, therefore, stress again that in order to overcome our obstacles and societal traps, we must address our issues at the organizational and policy level. We must create understanding and elicit cooperation from all sides in order to extricate ourselves from our entanglements.

Thailand’s problems are not that numerous. The first problem is how democracy and anarchism should be defined. The second problem is reducing inequalities and creating economic and social justice. The third problem is developing an education system that fosters analytical thinking, as well as community service and a social conscience.

I think these problems encompass all other issues. Therefore, I would like all to understand these issues so that they can help solve these issues together. The government will address policy matters such as urban planning, managing water in times of flood and drought, and reorganizing communities. However, these things may affect low income citizens.

If we do not consider our water ecosystem, misunderstandings will happen and people will conduct farming in places that are not suitable or legal. Forest encroachments would occur which would lead to severe damages. Therefore, I ask that the public cooperate with the government in order to reach a sustainable solution on these matters.

At the same time we must reduce conflicts. As time goes by, demand for land for conducting business will increase. However, the available land we have is limited. Therefore, communities will become more crowded and disorganized. This will affect traffic and make it even more difficult to construct new roads. We must address this by first coming together and discussing the issue. Otherwise, we will not be able to manage the consequences of improper land use, such as droughts and mudslides that often happen in problematic areas.

We must work together to address these issues. We have benefited long enough from nature. It is now time that we must learn to adjust ourselves and make some sacrifices for the common good.  We must now learn to care for one another. If everyone keeps on making demands, there will be no end to people’s desires. We must now strike a balance between what we take and what we give. There are rules in place and we must determine how we can mutually and peacefully coexist. If people only make demands, eventually there will be nothing left to give. That day will be the day that our society falls into anarchy and is no longer a democracy.

Therefore, self administration among communities is an important matter. This government is looking into ways to educate communities on how to manage water resources and forest land. Everyone must be given the opportunity to participate.

In order to mobilize community development, there must be a blueprint in order to reduce redundancies. The allocation of funds from the centralized government to the regions must be distributed properly so that there is no overlapping in activities. This has been the problem that we faced.

Today, all issues are interconnected, whether it is the management of land, forest, water, and air. All these elements are connected. If we fail to address a certain sector, if the people fail to cooperate, other sectors will be affected as well. As a result, people will be left with no jobs and incomes. Therefore, our solutions must be planned out in a holistic fashion.

This holistic approach encompasses the state, the public, the private sector, businesses, and NGOs. All these groups must work together in bringing about the necessary solutions to different areas. Otherwise, when the government determines that a project should happen at a certain place, without participation from other groups, what will often happen is resistance will emerge from groups that do not see a direct benefit to them.  This has made it difficult to get many things done in many communities around the country. What happens if nothing gets done at all in these places then? These conflicts will then affect other sectors such as development and energy.

Addressing issues in an ad-hoc manner or opposition to various small details will eventually jeopardize the complete structure. It is like constructing a sand castle: eventually, it will fall down. Therefore, let’s not do that. We must help each other. The government is trying to determine policies that are plausible and cause more benefit than harm. We must also care for those who have been affected by changes and give them a new opportunity to make a living to replace the land that they have lost. These are policies that this government has designated to all agencies.

We must solve problems together and not be in conflict with one another regarding economic benefits, the utilization of natural resources, as well as preventing and mitigating natural disasters. We must now figure out how we can address the human causes of natural disasters as well as to ready ourselves for occurrences in the future, such as global warming, climate change, rising water levels, the mixing of saltwater into inlands, as well as the insufficient retention of rainwater.

Therefore, should this country’s water sources become contaminated with saltwater, how would we move forward with our agricultural activities? Some people don’t understand this and bring in saltwater or start sea fish farming deep in the main land. This could result in saltwater eventually contaminating other water sources. We must therefore examine our farming and livestock zoning activities. Please listen to this advice so that there need not be any conflicts and laws are not broken.

Therefore, I would like everyone to understand the work we are doing and reiterate my concern, support and encouragement to our fellow citizens in the southern region. Thank you. I wish everyone happiness for the weekend and that Thai people love one another. I also ask that people be careful during this time, especially women who may be traveling alone. As I have said, there are still many offenders in our society. Therefore, we must not allow them the chance to damage us, our families, and the country. I wish for everyone to love and care for each other more. I will always be devoted to you. Thank you. Sawasdee Krub.