From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals – March 17, 2017

Good evening dear Thai citizens.

The hot season has arrived and temperatures are rising day after day. It was about 36 degrees Celsius yesterday. As such, I urge all of us to exercise patience and calmness, and without resorting to temper when handling a problem. We all need to adapt, and I also have to tell myself the same thing. On the roads, at the workplace or even at the home, we will often encounter difficult situations where things do not go our way.

There may be words and actions that annoy us, so we all need to be conscience of our actions, have patience, and refrain from all forms of violence. Sometimes it’s only a misunderstanding, even with good intentions, so please listen to each other more and try to be open-minded.

Every year, some of the tragedies that have taken during the summer have been children dying from being left in vehicles or from drowning. I mention these examples to raise awareness and caution all of us. School bus/van drivers, parents, and carers should keep an eye on our children at all times. Adults must never be careless when it comes to the safety of children.

What also comes with summer is a drought situation and water scarcity, especially areas outside of irrigation zones, areas with low water storage capacity, and areas where reservoirs are being constructed or cannot be constructed. Another risk is haze in the northern part of Thailand, which sometimes comes from other countries. We have been collaborating with our regional friends to address this problem. This has problem is not easy to address instantly as it has many implications.

It requires cooperation from the community, between communities. The challenges also involve legal issues and implementation measures. This is why we need to find a way to work together. Apart from the smog/haze problem, we are talking and cooperating with our neighbors about the water situation and how we can together increase water supplies.
These natural disasters can be prevented and mitigated by several measures the government has been deploying. So we ask that the public listen to and cooperate more with local authorities, so that these problems will not intensify.

With regards to efforts to mitigate the impact of natural disasters, there has been a group comprised of boy scouts and girl scouts known as called the Scouts of the Rajaprajanukroh Foundation.These scouts are recruited from 58 Rajaprajanukroh schools nationwide. This aspect of the King’s Philosophy provides an opportunity for children to become self reliant and to have the skills to help others.

For instance, the floods that swept the southern region of Thailand late last year and early this year destroyed many homes. These Rajaprajanukroh Scouts traveled to the flood-ravaged region and offered assistance to the victims by preparing and giving out food, handing out relief bags and necessities, moving stuff, and cleaning houses after the floods. Please look after these scouts and make sure they are safe. With that, I would like all of us to reinforce our social conscience and our sense of community service.

The attributes of Rajaprajanukroh Scouts are morality, self-discipline, unity, harmony, and most importantly the will to help others in need. They are willing to make themselves useful for others. These attributes are important for the new generation and the scouts should be seen as role models for others. For example, there are many vocational students who volunteer to help others.

With more support to do community service activities, particularly during the school break we could ease many challenges such as traffic, cleanliness, tour guiding, fixing vehicles, repairing homes damaged by summer storms, and other volunteer work. This will help promote good citizenship in Thailand. These children will grow up to be upstanding adults with the drive to develop the nation. State agencies and the private sector should, therefore, support these students who are willing to help others during their school break.

Dear citizens, the three key steps to success, as we know, are thinking, speaking, and doing. This issue is combining all these into the way we approach our problems, big or small, at the same time. Each component is significant in its own way.  So we need to think, speak, and act carefully at all levels. If we think without listening or heeding the opinions of others, without more cooperation, without compromise, our tasks will not be implemented. Goals will not be achieved.

Moreover, the country today needs a discourse that is more constructive in order to share knowledge and create better understanding about our development. Therefore, a constructive and erudite discourse is important for society. Consuming news and information is very much like eating. Food is something that keeps us healthy. It nourishes us and gives us energy. But consuming unhealthy food, although tasty, can have adverse effects on our health.

If we compare the country to a human body, professions are organs that coordinate and work as a unit. The media also plays a major role in educating the public with facts and knowledge. When facts are distorted, people are not educated. It doesn’t create knowledge, but instead creates misunderstanding and conflicts.

I will not point fingers at anyone but I would like to remind all of us not to be careless when presenting the news, and that reports must be based on factual information instead of stoking the flames for conflict in our society. Otherwise our efforts to promote cooperation in society will not work. So, please contribute to creating cooperation the best way you can. This way, the government can use the budget more effectively and build an environment conducive for investment, confidence, and employment opportunities for the people. Please don’t hamper the transition period for the country by causing misunderstanding. All of us aspire for a future of stability, prosperity and sustainability.

Once again, I ask this from those who are distorting information about the government and the NCPO, usually for personal interests. I ask you to stop. The public will be the judge of how you are creating discord and anguish in our country.
I would like the people to voice their constructive and useful comments. I listen to all of you and to all sides. People are entitled to their opinions within the laws. The press and social media, I ask that you understand the intentions of the government and the NCPO. We all want to see our country improve. I am certainly not asking the media to back the government or the NCPO. I only ask them to report facts about what the government is doing or hasn’t done.

This in turn will strengthen a learned discourse and a culture of analytical thinking, speaking and doing in our society. There are many things that need to be done regarding the water situation and in the agricultural sector. But there are some things that cannot be initiated at the moment, which disrupts workflow in the end. No one will be better off if things cannot be done. No benefits will be realized if everything gets rejected.

Useful actions will be encouraged by the government. Illegal actions, past or present, will be brought under the justice system. The government and the NCPO will use ordinary laws and the authority of independent agencies to deal with such issues, and have no intentions to use Article 44 to bully or hurt anyone. Please understand that the special law is utilized to integrate our efforts so that things can go according to normal judicial procedures.

For instance, in the case of the Dhammakaya Temple, the government has taken all measures with carefulness in order to resolve the problem and uphold the justice system. This is not being done arbitrarily or on impulse, as the religion is one of the main institutions of the country.

The invocation of Article 44 was necessary given the violation of ordinary laws. However, the use of other measures as an emergency decree or martial law would have been too extreme or unnecessary. Therefore, it was used in the search of a perpetrator already with an arrest warrant issued by the courts. If the suspect didn’t do any wrong, there wouldn’t be a warrant in the first place. We are not here to bully anyone.
The use of the Sangha Act and Sangha rules was to synergize the work of security agencies and the Sangha Association, so that operations at the Dhammakaya monastery go ahead without any problems.

The reference to Buddhist principles was to consider the discrepancies within the teachings and rituals, donations, the temple’s management, and the conduct of Dhammakaya monks. This was to clarify public doubts about the situation and to explain what actually happened, in particular to fellow Buddhists who make up over 90% of the population.

I know that people have different views and levels of faith, but the correct principles are what really matter here. I don’t want things to get out of hand or become distorted to become a matter of personal benefits.  This has to be clarified.

There are many other monks from other temples who have broken Buddhist principles and Sangha laws. People need to report such wrong behavior to the authorities, or to Sangha leaders for investigation. But please don’t compare the Dhammakaya case to other cases. We will enforce law indiscriminately. But any situation with the potential for violence will need to be handled first. Other situations will be handled in due time.

All responsible agencies must lend a helping hand. We have to remove immoral monks. Monks should conduct themselves in a way that deserves the highest respect from the public.

Another issue is the collection of taxes owed by Shin Corporation over the sale of its shares, which has proceeded according to the laws in order to protect the interests of the public and the nation.

First, we need to look at the principles. We will need to find out if the shares were sold legally and transparently. The Supreme Court has ruled that the transfers of the shares were conducted several times to exploit the legal loopholes, allowing the company to gain profits. The public doesn’t believe the transfers were done transparently.
The other issue is using legal loopholes for individual benefit or abusing power by someone who is meant to protect the law and the benefits of the public. People with power must have higher ethics. Therefore, this case will be judged in a court of law.
If it was illegal, the law will be enforced against the company. We will treat Shin Corp like any other corporation that avoids paying taxes after buying or selling stocks. This matter will be handled by the police, the NACC, AMLO, PACC, and the Revenue Department.

This case is sensitive and requires transparency, justice, and the rule of law. Article 44 will not be enacted to extend the statute of limitations. Ordinary laws will be enforced. Taxes will be collected from the real sellers or the real owners of those stocks who hired others to manage the transactions. Civil and commercial laws will be applied.

Therefore, what will follow is:
1. The Revenue Department will exert its authority according to the law to assess how much tax was actually evaded. This will be done before the end of March.
2. The Finance Ministry will form an investigation team to examine every step and to set the standard for other government agencies.
3. Then justice system will take over. Alleged individuals can file an appeal within 30 days and defend themselves in a court of law. Whether or not these individuals will pay taxes depends on the court’s ruling. There has to be clarity in the end. The government doesn’t favor any side; this is a matter for the judicial system. Once the court passes its verdict, everyone has to respect its decision. The justice system cannot be tainted. Please use reason and not emotions on this matter.

These two cases and Rolls-Royce case will be dealt with. Not only do I want these cases to come to light and the perpetrators to be brought to justice, I also want to prevent these wrong conducts from recurring in the future. Such unethical behavior should not recur in our society and hamper our development efforts.

At least, I want the society to know, understand, and acknowledge these problems and address them at the roots. Like an accident, even though it is unpredicted, it can be prevented if we are well prepared. I believe every problem can have a solution if everyone works together under the Pracharat approach.

Another thing I want to address is that there have been imposters who claim to know me or deputy prime ministers seeking personal gain. Please report this to me. I guarantee that I have not asked for any favours from anyone. Don’t believe these imposters. I can assure you, right here, on behalf of all deputy prime ministers and other ministers.

If you come across an imposter, please send their information to me. Do not feel uncomfortable to do so. We cannot let this behavior continue. I am here to make Thailand a peaceful nation and make sure that the law is fairly enforced. This is the intent of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

I want to share with you a story of successful cooperation. No matter how hard everyone or every government tries to bring our country to stability, prosperity and sustainability, success will not be realized if the threat like corruption still exists.

It is a positive development to see every sector working together and working with the government on this important issue, including the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand, Khon Thai Foundation, the Thailand Development Research Institute, Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations, and 15 securities companies that have founding the “Thai Governance Fund” to offer civil society access to funds for activities related to good governance and anti-corruption such as

1) a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of public participation in anti-corruption efforts. 2) a campaign for corporate social responsibility that fosters values, a culture of honest business, and refusing to work with corrupt people, and 3) addressing good governance problems and corruption in the capital market to encourage companies listed in the stock market to be more honest and transparent.

This is the first time in Thailand and maybe in the world that all sectors of a society have pitched in to build a mechanism and organize activities to fend off fraud and corruption at its roots. The effort has started today so that our country can develop to our full potential.

Earlier this week, the World Bank released a report, viewing Thailand as a country with high potential with the people having good living standards. Between 1960 and 1996, Thai economy grew at the rate of 7.5% per annum. But since 2005 or after the global economic slump, the annual economic growth came down to 3.3%, citing the decreasing competitiveness of the country, social inequalities, and differences between the rich and the poor as the main reasons.

The government and the NCPO has been working to address these fundamental problems without delay. According to this report, such issues have not really been addressed since 2005. Many problems cannot be fixed overnight. Therefore, we have been building a foundation to deal with them comprehensively. The World Bank has also suggested that Thailand place importance on 4 aspects in order to reduce social disparities and uplift the well-being of Thai people,

which is in accordance with the government’s long-term strategies that is being formulated under our 20 year National Strategy. What the government and NCPO has done so far has been on the right track and coincides with the suggestions of the report. We are on the right track. This is what I wanted to share with you – how the government’s work is in line with the 4 suggestions of the World Bank. I would to mention some examples and solving many problems requires time. To reform a country, a roadmap with a clear timeframe and national strategies are needed.

The first aspect is that Thailand has to focus on quality. The World Bank suggested that the basic infrastructure be improved and connected such as road and rail. The country needs to improve its ability to compete in the industrial sector by bringing in modern technologies and innovations in order to create added value. This is what the government has been doing all along, such as:

1. investments in infrastructure development allows us to build roads and connect different regions. We will also build more rail routes such as dual-rail tracks and the high-speed rail system. In addition, the government will support the development of ports and airports, stressing the importance of connectivity between transportation hubs and industrial zones for lower logistics costs and higher business returns.

Our efforts should not end when these projects are completed. It is important to make sure that business and commerce thrives and so more efforts will be made to create jobs and income, and to make sure that low income earners are employed and receive benefits from these projects.

Today, many projects have seen obstacles.  But please understand that we can no longer go on without changing or improving things. Thailand has a lot of potential in agriculture, so we should focus on agro-industry and high-value industries together.

2. Accelerating the Easter Economic Corridor project would enhance our production capabilities and connect various stages of the industrial sector. We will consider adding additional incentives to make it attractive for investors. Today, many countries are competing for investors and we must do the same. This is in order to enhance the country’s competitiveness and bring about development.

3. As for SMEs and startups, the government has accelerated its support through various benefits such as increasing access to capital. This policy exists in many forms such as external funds or community funds that were designed to mobilize community SMEs and to reduce informal lone schemes from loansharking.

For an example of this policy, I have seen the head of the community fund of Nong Sarai utilize government funding to solve the problem of loansharking. The success of this community in receiving loans was due to the good faith each community member had towards each other. I would like this case to serve as a role model for community self-sufficiency and as a solution for reducing dependency on loansharking. I invite civil servants to look upon this as an example of community development.

Today, access to capital also comes from policies involving private companies such as the Pracharat Samakkee Company program which exists in all provinces. Support given to this program will be used for further innovation and to enhance production output which would then increase revenue for communities, the private sector, and the country as a whole.

Thailand should also support its low income citizens, which consist of 40 percent of the country’s population, by enhancing the quality of the education system and providing skills development programs that would enhance agricultural output and create resilience for communities. This has been a policy that the government and the NCPO have emphasized by the following,

(1) Establishing a 20 year strategic national plan on education. This plan has been approved by the Cabinet this past week which aims to enable the people of Thailand to seek learning opportunities throughout their entire lives that would enhance their potential, their skills, and reinforce their ethics and principles in order to thrive in an ever-changing environment.

(2) Supporting the large-scale farm program which is designed to reduce production costs by incorporating new technologies, such as satellite mapping for planning agricultural cycles, as well as various Pracharat policies designed to enhance production output and increase revenue for farmers.

(3) Raising the standards of living for those with low income. The government has organized various programs such as registering citizens with low income, reforming the public health system, and preparing measures to accommodate an aging society.

We also need to develop many other government welfare programs even though there are challenges to finding additional revenue for this. An aging society will be another significant responsibility for the government and in action plan must be conceived now before it is too late.

Developing the health of the country’s children is also an important matter. We will also improve our social security system in order to ensure financial stability for the people of this country. I encourage people to consult with government agencies on how government social security programs differ between demographics. Otherwise listening to distorted claims will result in protests like before.

Another important agenda is creating sustainable growth while remaining in harmony with the environment. We must manage our environmental conservation policy to reduce risks of environmental impacts. This includes supporting the development of energy efficiency and utilizing renewable and alternative energy sources. These agendas are part of our 20 year National Strategy that is of central importance for the government.

This government also supports the development of new water sources and minor dams in small communities so that local people can manage water by themselves and confront drought and flood crises with as little damage as possible.

In addition, we place great importance on land management policy, where we are accelerating our efforts in all provinces to provide people in need with land to make a living. At the same time, we must prevent further forest encroachments while supporting reforestation efforts.

As for energy, the government has established a long-term plan to accommodate the countries increasing need for energy according to economic and population growth. It is trying to maintain the balance of energy sources to ensure a reasonable ratio.

Factors in this ratio depend on production costs and our goal of increasing our use of alternative energy sources, as well as decreasing our dependence on imports. This is done in order to ensure security in the country’s energy sector. Considering these factors depends on academic data from various agencies. I encourage people to base their judgments on reason as well as on the possibility of an energy shortage should no action be taken.

Finally, the World Bank has advised that Thailand enhance the potential of its institutions in order to successfully mobilize its reform agendas. The government has worked to improve upon the organizational efficiency of government agencies, which is part of the 20 year strategic national plan on public administration.

Our strategy includes incorporating technology in data management, policy analysis, and human resource development, especially those who will play a key role in mobilizing reform. In order to share the same understanding, vision, and priorities, we must reform how the bureaucracy works in order to prevent corruption, especially in the procurement system, in which we have already made considerable progress in.

In addition, the government places great importance on reforming the legislative and justice systems. This is done in order to enhance the efficiency of the judicial system in enforcing laws, as we all know of the current disrespect that many people have towards the rule of law.

Therefore, if we improve upon the transparency of government agencies, we will build confidence among investors and enhance the country’s competitiveness.

What I have mentioned are some of the many policies that the government and the NCPO are undertaking. There are many other programs that I did not mention that address many of the country’s problems and contribute to raising the quality of living for the people. Some other policies require additional time under limited finances. Most important is understanding and cooperation from all.

I sincerely hope that we will be able to successfully lay the foundations for national reforms that will then be carried on in the future. What has been planned must be implemented and agencies must continue to listen to suggestions from the public.

We will create awareness and understanding of these programs in order for people to be able to contribute with constructive feedback and in order to bring about long-term success and widespread cooperation from everyone.

All the policies that I have mentioned are interconnected. If everyone considers the long-term impact of all these policies and listens to the logical arguments and the analysis, people will be able to contribute towards development and not be swayed into doing illegal things.

The key outcome for the government’s agricultural policy is raising the quality of living of farmers by increasing their revenue while reducing their debts, in order to ensure a better social standing and pride in their profession. Given this, the government and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is working to,
(1) Reduce production costs
(2) Increase the value of agricultural products through new innovations and processing methods
(3)  Establish networks and ensuring connectivity, and establish balance between the demand and supply chain by incorporating the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and integrating community work according to agendas, functions, and location, which includes supporting new innovations and technologies.

Important agricultural policies and activities include,
1. The learning center for enhancing agricultural output.
2. Large scale farms.
3. The agricultural land management policy (Agri-map)
4. Supporting organic farming for health and environmental conservation.

(5)  New theories towards farming which incorporates the Pracharat model of cooperation between the state, the private sector, educational institutions, community organizations, and targeted farmers.

(6) Agricultural product banks such as the community seed bank, rice bank, organic fertilizer bank, cattlebank, fishing product bank, and sericulture bank.

(7) Strengthening agricultural cooperatives through organizational restructuring, ensuring participation in business ventures, and enhancing financial stability, so that the standards of cooperatives are raised.

(8) A comprehensive rice production plan which takes into consideration supply and demand, rice planting zoning which coincides with water and market situations, and alternative planting measures.

(9)  Establishing a committee on land policy management which encourages community organization and participation. Presently, we have been able to reclaim over 300,000 rai or 480 million square meters of illegally encroached land.

(10)  Developing our water management and supply system, enabling us to retain an additional 1.8 billion cubic meters of water and increase irrigation land by over 1.3 million rai or 2.08 billion square meters. This policy has contributed towards an additional 2,500 baht in income per rai or 1600 square meters for farmers that have benefitted from this program.

What I have mentioned is only a part of our reform plans for Thailand’s agricultural sector. Please do not listen to those who suggest that this will benefit the rich or the industrial sector without really helping the farmers. Let this prove that the government indeed places great importance in developing the country’s agricultural sector and improving its grassroots economy. There are also other policies designed to assist citizens of medium or high income or international entities, because we are all part of the same economic system.

We aim for all of these policies to be interconnected and yield increased revenue for the country. Another noteworthy matter for the agricultural sector is adjusting planting behavior according to geographical and weather conditions. For example, over 2.2 million rai of off-season rice farms become damaged during the drought season.

The government has warned against the planting of off-season rice during this time and those who fail to heed this advice have seen their crops go to ruin. We understand that it is necessary for farmers to have a source of income year-round. That is why we must advise farmers on alternative crops.

Therefore, officials at the provincial and district level must be responsible for addressing this issue and pushing for the establishment of large-scale farms and funding from the government.

In order to create sustainability in the agricultural sector, the government is moving forward with its “smart farmer” policy. At the same time, related agencies must develop their potential in order to be “smart officers.”  This means that all sectors must improve upon themselves to become ‘smarter’ in this modern time.

What must go hand in hand with our agricultural development agenda is modernizing related legislation. Many ministries still rely on regulations that are decades old. We must address these deficiencies in order to successfully reform the country’s agricultural sector. We will do this by utilizing the Pracharat model.

Dear Thai citizens, the government and the NCPO are committed to governance according to a democratic system and we are moving towards a democracy with His Majesty the King as the Head of State, and with human rights, as international principles, that we all must respect.

However, we must examine our country’s problems with understanding, without biases, and not totally from an outsider’s perspective. We will adhere to international standards but we must also make some adjustments to coincide with our current context of transition.

This is an important issue in our national administration as we are preparing for comprehensive national reforms and a National Strategy. This is an important time period for us. Our actions may be seen as problematic in the eyes of other countries, but we must accept that we are in a reform stage and we must act in the interests of the Thai people, as well as our place in the international community so that we can all benefit together.

I sometimes feel let down when some Thai people don’t understand and have caused many of the problems that I am trying to solve today, then take these matters to foreign countries without mentioning the problems that they have caused themselves, but then place the blame on the current government. Are these people devoted to their country at all?

I want there to be progress during this time so that we can lay the foundations for the country’s future. These methods require a vision, a processes, and legislation to enable successful implementation. Otherwise, our country will remain where it is, without developments, without the ability to compete, with decreasing income and a suffering agricultural and low income sector.

What is important is that everyone should cooperate as much as they can. Send your views to me and I will try to look at them as much as I can. Like a computer with internet connectivity that brings numerous benefits, staying connected with the government will also be beneficial.

If we still think the same way, refuse to change ourselves, don’t seek new information, or fail to innovate, we will miss this vital opportunity. I asked people not to listen to distorted arguments that are not based on any sound logic that would lead to incorrect and misguided decision-making.

Otherwise, we won’t achieve our goals, we won’t be able to reduce inequality, and our economy will not improve. This administration wishes to raise the standards of living for all the people of this country. It must therefore find enough income in order to provide benefits to all groups, including the elderly.

If we listen to distorted information that hasn’t undergone thorough examination, it would be as if we had taken the wrong drug prescription. Not only would we not be able to rid ourselves of our disease, new ailments will follow.

People will need to undergo some difficulties during times of change, but we will ensure that distress is mitigated as best as possible. Our economy, energy sector, public utilities, roads, and piers …all these issues have their own problems. Part of the issue is that people don’t respect the rule of law and do as they please, claiming that they are poor. Low income earners are important but it is also

important that the laws are fair and that people respect the laws, whether they are rich or poor. Everyone is the same under the laws. Therefore, it will be misguided and detrimental to the country’s development if you demand “infinite” democracy and unlimited rights while infringing upon the rights of others and flaunting the rule of flaw.

Therefore we have had to send people to make clarifications to international organizations. I have heard of positive results from this. We must also acknowledge that there are many problems that still need to be addressed. I would like to thank those who have acted as Thailand’s representatives in other countries. As for those who have gone to denounce their own country, how can you still call yourself Thai?

Finally, I would like to commend the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, Professor Dr Prasit Watanapa, project chairman Assistant Professor Dr Keerati Charoencholvanich, and the students at the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital in the program “1.5 million steps for life Chiang Mai – Siriraj,” a 750 kilometer run for life event.

The event started on March 11 to raise funds for the construction of the Navamindrapobitr 84th year anniversary building for underprivileged patients, the last building to be named by King Rama IX. I would like to thank the media for their coverage of such an important event.

Having followed this event, I’m deeply touched to see such love and unity in this project and would like to thank all the performers, such as Ken Theeradej, Noi Butsakorn, Toon Bodyslam, Ad Carabao, Oaf Pongpat, and many more for their participation in the run.

As of yesterday, donations have totaled 63 million baht. Although the run has concluded, people can still make donations to the entities listed at the bottom of this screen. This is an effort to carry on the aspirations of King Rama IX for healthy Thai people. This event will also be an expression of tribute and devotion to His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.

Thank you, and I wish everyone happiness this weekend. Sawasdee Krub.