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


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

Good evening dear Thai citizens.

As many of you may already know, Bloomberg has recently released its 2016 Misery Index and according to this survey, Thailand is the least miserable and thereby, happiest nation in the world.

I’d like to comment all related agencies, the private sector and the “Pracharat” network for creating this happiness and for working together to keep Thailand’s unemployment rate and inflation low for the past 3 years.

This ‘happiness’ index is an international perspective that sees Thailand as having improvements in many areas, such as public administration, good governance, anti-corruption efforts, and the tackling of many issues that are of concern to the international community

which include illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU), civil aviation safety, and human trafficking, all of which have been considered as priority national agendas for this government. All measures and initiatives launched by the government during the past 3 years have been inter-related and have thus lead to Thailand’s ranking improvements in many indices, including the Misery Index. Many people have come out to say this is not true, saying the economy is not improving and people are not happier. Of course, they are entitled to their viewpoint, but we also need to consider who are saying such things as well.

With that said, I believe that sustainable happiness and well-being derive from moderation and peacefulness. On the other hand over indulgence usually leads to constantly enslaving oneself in the pursuit of wants or desires, with the outlook that nothing is ever good enough.

Even with fortune and wealth, some people continue to be corrupt take advantage of others, refuse to share, and do not give unto others. This way does not lead to sustainable happiness but rather an unreal or short-lived happiness, which is the opposite of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Philosophy teaches us about moderation, carefulness, reasonableness, and having an immunity that safeguards us from materialism and excessive consumerism. An example is people overusing their credit cards on unnecessary items, thus leading to unnecessary debts or non-earning loans. So we need to be careful about things like

borrowing money to buy unnecessary items, which is unlike borrowing for investment such as tools to make a living. Another example is selling votes for little money without considering what impact this will have on the future, on our children and on the nation in the long run.

Most important is the application of knowledge with ethics, which can uplift us all. The government sees this as the foundation of human resource development in our country. As for those aspiring to be the next government, you need to make adjustments as well as learn how to think outside the box. You can no longer use the same methods or solutions that don’t actually work. The people will hold you accountable.

Today, I would like to mention two exemplary farmers, Uncle Udom and Aunt Somchit Boonsri, in Phang Nga, who have adopted the King’s Philosophy and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to grow many vegetables such as morning glory, holy basil, mint, and beans – all of

which can be harvested in 20-23 days. With this approach, they have been able to produce enough for consumption and sharing. On a two-rai land, they have grown crops for 40 years, generating enough income to send their children off to higher-educational institutions, eventually earning bachelors and doctorate degrees. They live happily without debts.

There are three elements behind their success. The first one is the application of analytical thinking. To elaborate, although economic crops in Phang Nga are mainly rubber and palm, they instead chose to grow something else.  They reasoned that if every farmer in the region grew the same crop, the supply will exceed demand and there will not be enough

types of crops to feed the markets in the province. Phang Nga is known for tourism and its natural attractions, but it has to import crops from other regions of the country on a yearly basis, worth many millions each year.

The second element is developing an understanding. Not only should farmers understand the market and the advice that government has been stressing, they should also understand new technologies and new trends in the agricultural sector.

This understanding can help them make informed decisions on which crops to grow, such as organic crops, which are environmentally friendly or hydroponic crops that don’t require soil. Hydroponic crops can be grown indoors and inside a net.

The third element is cooperation which, I think, is the most important element to any success.

So far, agriculturists have relied too much on the weather to determine the fruitfulness of their harvest.  But global weather patterns are constantly changing now. But usually, they grow more when there is heavy precipitation, often resulting in oversupply and decreasing prices. This has often led to demands for the government to peg crop prices. This is not a solution, nor is it a sustainable way to address the issue.

Currently, the government has introduced new technologies, such as the Agri Map, water resources management, market mechanisms, and the connection of production chains in Thailand and internationally. We have also been giving advice to farmers about crops that suit weather condition and meet consumers’ demand.

We have also offered suggestions on suitable locations, how much space is needed, what is the right weather for certain crops, and water supply in different areas. If farmers cooperate, we will be able to maintain prices and help the farmers earn a stable income.

I believe that these three elements – analytical thinking, understanding, and cooperation – are the keys to success to bringing stability, prosperity, and sustainability to the nation, and to bringing sustainable happiness to the people. Every province needs to think about how to adopt these principles, which will lead to sustainable solutions. This will be much more effective than the old ways, which merely depended on government handouts I would like the district chiefs and community leaders to foster this in your areas.

Dear citizens, the current government is administrating the country under the 2014 provisional constitution. This requires us to proceed with the national reform process, establish a National Strategy, and build national reconciliation, hence the development of different mechanisms by the government the NCPO

such as the Pracharat policy, 12 Pracharat committees, Pracharat Rak Samakee Company, and the recent Committee for Reform National Strategy and Reconciliation. These policies and projects are launched under the principle of ‘inclusiveness’, thereby involving participation of the state, private sector, academic sector, and civil society. The government has had to spearhead this approach initially, and we have listened to all sectors of society so far.

I view that the country belongs to everyone in it, but it doesn’t mean that anyone can do whatever they want. This is why we have formulated policies and sought cooperation from every sector. The government does not set and implement policies without listening to public suggestions. Every action has to be based on correctness, the law, and reason. Today, many laws are still being broken by different groups who are attempting to create misunderstanding in our society. What do the majority of the people say? Are we to allow some people to be above the law by using the same excuses?

I would like to thank the 39 specialists for working for the future of this nation and accepting membership to the Committee for Reform and Reconciliation. They are tasked with fostering understanding, surveying opinions from all sides, and proposing solutions.

Let me give some examples of the strategic use of data to facilitate the reform process. For example, empirical statistics can tell us about the proportion of our labour to our economic output, thereby allowing us to understand existing problems and opportunities, while at the same time formulating solutions accordingly. It also enables us to strategize our efforts to narrow social disparities in the long run. For instance,

agriculturists account for 40% of the country’s labour force, but only produce 12% of economic output value for the country. This is the reason why should provide them with more knowledge and turn them into smart farmers who know about processing so that they can increase value to their products, know about health products and understand the market mechanism. This is why the entire agricultural sector needs to undergo reform.

Industrial workers only account for 14% of the country’s labor force, but have the capacity to produce up to 33% of economic output value, and there is a tendency for this to rise thanks to scientific discoveries, new technologies, and innovations. This has led us to the “Thailand 4.0” policy, the 10 targeted industries idea,

and our approach to educational development that focuses on vocational skills according to the demands of market and the direction of our national development. This doesn’t mean that we will not focus on agricultural development. We will create more value in agriculture while using less water, fewer plantations, and lower production costs, so that farmers can have better incomes. We will focus on organic farming as well.

As for the labor force in the hospitality, industry especially tourism, numbers in this sector have been continuously rising and have the potential to increase even more, which can be viewed as one of Thailand’s key strengths.

Apart from ensuring peacefulness and orderliness as well as cleanliness and safety at our tourist destinations, the government will give priority to tourism packages, connecting large and small cities, promoting eco-tourism, distributing wealth, improving professions in communities, and working with the CLMV and ASEAN nations on cultural tourism. At the same time, please be cautious about illegal tourism and trade activities. These problems must be fixed immediately.

Another observation by the Committee for Reform, National Strategy and Reconciliation is that the aircraft industry and the aviation industry will become a driving force of Thailand’s economy in the future, which involves connecting logistics systems in the transportation of work forces, goods, tourism products, and e-Commerce products. This reflects on the country’s ability to be competitive and on the potential to raise our GDP.

Furthermore, Thailand is placed in a strategic location that enables the aviation industry to expand by two-fold. The number of routes can increase from 104 to 193 by connecting 39 airports in Thailand. This will allow Thailand to accommodate more foreign tourists in the future.

Currently, the 6 major airports in Thailand – Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang, Phuket, and Hat Yai – accommodate more than 23 million people altogether, exceeding their capacities and resulting in overstretched services. We have to improve those airports now.

Given this, a plan to develop our aviation and aircraft industries, which the Committee for Reform, National Strategy and Reconciliation has approved in principle, pending further studies, for turning Thailand into an aviation hub of this region, include:

1. establishing an aircraft repair center and making U-Tapao airport the country’s 3rd international airport in order to support the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC),

2. establishing Thailand as a warehouse and transportation hub, distributing products to CLMV nations and supporting e-Commerce businesses in the future, and

3. making Thailand an aviation repair center through revising aviation related laws and regulations, so that we can take advantage of our strategic geographical position, which will also require a supporting transportation network between our airports and cities.

In addition to reform policies, the members of the Committee for Reform, National Strategy and Reconciliation have agreed that Thailand must have a National Strategy like other developed countries. Our neighboring countries all have their national strategies in order to realise their national visions.

Some reasons why it is important  to have a 20 year National Strategy  are as follows,

(1) Creating doctors, engineers, and other skilled occupations, including smart farmers is a lengthy process that requires an education plan and strategy from the primary school level all the way to vocational or secondary school level. This could take 10 or more years.

2.  In order for Thai and foreign investors to justify investing their resources and other commitments in setting up production plants or regional branches in Thailand, they must be assured of the stability of the country’s public policy for the next 20 to 50 years. This is because these investments involve large sums of money.

Therefore, if Thailand does not have a National Strategy as a way of guaranteeing credibility and confidence among investors, the country risks losing such opportunities that I have described.

Dear Thai citizens, the country is now entering the hot season, which means that many areas are at risk of experiencing the seasonal drought. His Majesty King Rama X has expressed His concern for the well-being of the people who will be affected by the drought and has therefore instructed the government to do all we can to alleviate the plight of people in distress.

In carrying out His Majesty’ instructions, the government has closely monitored the country’s water situation and made appropriate preparations, such as the artificial rainmaking operations.

Most recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has launched this year’s annual Royal rainmaking operations in Sa Kaew Province and has made preparations for utilizing favorable weather conditions to produce artificial rain, in order to add to the limited water reserves in various areas. Rainmaking requires a certain level of humidity and clouds and therefore can’t be done under all weather conditions.

I have stressed that all sectors must contribute to conserving water reserves. Those who reside beyond the government’s irrigation system are advised to prepare containers to store water for consumption and exercise prudence in their use of water.

As for those in the agricultural sector, I advise all to stay up-to-date with the latest developments on the water situation in order to plan your agricultural activities accordingly. Please refrain from conducting off-season planting. I have received reports that off-season rice planting at this time exceeds the amount advised, by millions of square meters. If this continues, the crops would only go to waste before harvesting due to an inadequate supply of water.

I advise you to instead resort to planting crops with shorter cycles such as legumes, melons, or switch to livestock farming such as chickens or frogs in order to secure some supplemental income during the drought season. Farmers can also try crops that use less water and cover the area surrounding their crops with hay and weed scraps to preserve water.

The industrial sector should find reserve water sources, plan their production process to coincide with the water situation and ensure that their water management systems are operational. Everyone should also turn to technology for ways to save water as well as water recycling methods. These practices will ensure that we have water for consumption year-round. During the drought season, the agricultural sector must be the most careful.

I recently visited Prachinburi Province to monitor the implementation of the government’s public health policies which I consider to be a very important issue. I would like to thank the people of Prachinburi Province for their resilience and their commitment towards a healthier community. Important policies for this agenda include,

(1) the project for family doctor clinic to be available nationwide. This is a public health reform agenda to ensure access to primary care for all. Programs include dispatching a team of primary care doctors for every 10,000 citizens, home visitation services available five days per week,

and reducing average waiting time from 180 minutes to 30 minutes. This is a program which seeks to proactively ensure primary care coverage while incorporating the latest communication technologies for making contact with patients in order to reduce costs and lead to health security for all citizens, and thereby prosperity and sustainability according to the Thailand 4.0 agenda.

(2)  the project to support a herbal medicine city at Prachinburi’s Chao Phraya Abhaibhubate Hospita, which is renowned for its traditional Thai medical practices. It has been selected by the Ministry of Public Health to be a role model for the herbal medicine city programme which utilizes local practices in herbal medicine in the development of healthcare products, which will not only support the local economy but also raise awareness about the value of traditional Thai herbal medicines. We will also expand our support for herbal medicines to be used in food supplements, cosmetics, and beverages.

By combining traditional practices and modern expertise under strict quality control and international standards, Thailand’s herbal medicine industry has continued to receive attention from foreign countries. However, current regulations prevent Chao Phraya Abhaibhubate Hospital from receiving a certificate of modern drug registration from the Food and Drug Administration. The government has therefore pushed for legislation pertaining to traditional Thai medicine to resolve past issues

and support Thailand towards becoming a leading exporter of quality raw herbal materials in the region. We have done this by creating a database of Thai herbal medicines, raising the standards of the herb industry and herbal products, and supporting the use of herbs in medical treatment, under government supervision, in order to advance the country’s herb industry in a sustainable manner.

As for the health of the Thai people, this government has pushed for legislation, which I think is of great importance, such as the Tobacco Control Act which seeks to prevent people from becoming new smokers and in the future, and can have an effect of preventing narcotics abuse as well. This is a legislation that Thailand has long needed but was not made possible for many years before this government.

Did you know that cigarettes kill approximately 50,000 people per year? This means that every 10 minutes, a family loses a loved one, also resulting in over 52 billion baht in economic losses per year.

Therefore, the passing of this legislation reflects the sincerity and concern that the government and the NCPO have for the people, especially our youth. So please do not mislead others by saying that this policy favors a certain group by taxing the general public or by bullying the poor.

I wish to prevent the youth from taking up smoking. I therefore would like to encourage all to care for their health as well as the health of their loved ones so that we can move Thailand forward together to better things.

Corruption and bribery is a topic of interest among the public today because this administration has made combating corruption a national agenda as well as part of its solution to reducing social and economic inequality.

We have continuously received new information exposing various corrupt activities, many of which have happened a long time ago but were only discovered now. I affirm that the government takes this matter seriously and has included it in the country’s 20 year National Strategy as well.

This includes the agenda of reducing social inequalities and increasing the efficiency and transparency of the governmental apparatus in order to earn the trust of the public and investors both Thai and foreign. This will serve to enhance our competitiveness as well.

The government has continued to hear the concerns of the people at all levels and has worked to close systematic gaps, particularly within government agencies. An example is increasing transparency in the procurement system where a new committee has been established to oversee the entire process.

As for the useful information that the government has received, we shall strive to address all cases according to the judicial process in order to establish a standard of correctness, honesty, and justice in Thai society for our generations to come.

I ask for you cooperation to be vigilant against corruption and to not condone any corrupt action or bribery. Turning a blind eye will only allow such activities to run rampant, making the issue even harder to resolve.

Dear Thai citizens, I would like to bring to your attention to a cycling event called ‘Cycling for Togetherness Part 2’ taking place from March 9 to 18, where cyclists both professional and amateur, will cycle a route through the model cities of ‘stability, prosperity, and sustainability’.

The cities are Nong Chik District of Pattani Province, Sungai Kok District of Narathiwat Province and Betong District of Yala Province. I ask that everyone remain careful and ensure that the event progresses safely without incident.

This programme not only serves to promote friendship among Thai people of different faiths, but also to enhance understanding and promote confidence for investors, tourists, and the general public.

This programme complements the government’s strategy of creating model cities with economic stability and potential for development, and will also create opportunities and employment so as to raise the quality of life for local residents and reduce social and economic disparities, so that people can earn a living and rely on themselves.

I would like to thank all who have contributed to the organization of this event, especially those who have participated. We must all help bolster confidence among Thais and foreigners, in order to create business opportunities that lead to economic and social development in the southern border provinces.

Finally, Bangkok has also held an event to assist the southern border provinces at Klong Phadung Krungkasem Market under the concept of “Thai ways in the Southern Provinces for prosperity and understanding”. The event takes place on March 7 to 24 and is organized by the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center and provincial administrations from the 5 southern border provinces.

This event has selected the best local products and services that showcase the way of life of the people in the five southern border provinces. This is also a good opportunity to support businesses at all levels, and those who have been affected by unrest in the border areas.

This would help increase revenue for those in the region and create new marketing channels for businesses from the five southern border provinces. I would like to invite all to attend this event. I heard that sales yesterday exceeded 5 million baht in one day. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Thank you and I wish everyone a happy weekend. Sawasdee Krub.

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