From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals – March 31, 2017

Good evening dear Thai citizens.

April 2nd of every year is a special day for Thai people. It marks the auspicious occasion of the Birthday Anniversary of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who, this year, will turn 62 years old. The government would like to invite all members of the public to send their well-wishes to Her Royal Highness, and as a tribute, to do virtuous deeds in Her honour.

April 1st of each year is also Civil Service Day in Thailand. It is the day that we commemorate the benevolence of King Prajadhipok, King Rama VII, for laying down the foundations of our civil service and thereby the integrity and honor for all our public servants. King Prajadhipok worked tirelessly to bring about happiness and development to the people and our nation.

I do hope that my fellow civil servants take pride in what we do and continue to stand for what we believe in as public servants, with selflessness, honesty, commitment, and continuous effort for the common good, while espousing the King’s Philosophy and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to make Thailand a stable, prosperous, and sustainable nation.

I also would like our fellow civil servants to commit to their duties and be the leaders of change, especially during this pivotal period for the country, and to observe a statement written by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn which reads “Do according to our responsibilities, and be mindful of what our responsibilities really are.” With courage and creativity, civil servants have the noble duty to bring our society towards a better future, with positive changes, national reforms, and sustainable development.

This week, I had an opportunity to visit the people of Nakhon Phanom province. I’d like to commend the hard work and the achievements of local officers, administrators, community leaders, district chiefs, village headsmen, civil society groups, and the public. They have done a good job implementing several development policies

including 1) a Beautiful Home, Happy City project, 2) a Sufficiency Economy learning center, 3) a community land management project, 4) the promotion of crop farming such as organic rice, riceberry rice, and homegrown vegetables, and 5) and preparing for an aging society.

From meeting and talking to the locals and the private sector in Nakhon Phanom, I learnt that they had been strategically implementing development projects to improve the economies of the province and the region, with an emphasis on agricultural and food development, tourism development, and water resource management, through a joint effort between the local government and the private sector, or so-called “Pracharat” approach.

The development strategies of each provincial cluster, analyzes strengths and weaknesses, and adjusts plans accordingly to the National strategy, such as the special economic zone development policy and infrastructure development projects, including the dual railway that runs Sai Ban Pai – Maha Sarakham – Roi Et – Mukdaharn – Nakhon Phanom,

Nakhon Phanom airport project, the construction of highway number 212 (Nakhon Phanom–Tha Uthen), 3rd Friendship Bridge (Nakhon Phanom-Kham Muan), a new customs checkpoint, and a border transport and distribution center which aims to streamline cargo transport to and from Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, and China. The governments stands ready to support these projects, which will create jobs and income for the local people, distribute wealth and development, and improve the well-being of all stakeholders.

I’d like to express my appreciation to civil servants and people in the area, and from other provinces, for the very warm and cordial welcome. During the visit, I also had a chance to see the beautiful landscape and architecture of Nakhon Phanom.

Let me also commend the orderliness of the province. The streets are exceptionally clean, with only a few billboards and signs. I’d like to ask responsible agencies to monitor and regulate all billboards, large and small, on the sides of the roads, as well as on highways, high-rise buildings. They must be within the laws. If not, they may not be safe for the drivers.

I ask that you make sure those billboards are legal and authorized. Make sure the foundations are strong. Not only can they ruin beautiful views, billboards can also be dangerous at times especially in inclement weather. They can cause road accidents by distracting drivers on the road and blocking traffic signs and warning signs.

Government agencies have been improving public services through the adoption of new technologies and innovations,

for instance, 1) the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, in cooperation with the Faculty of Engineering, Thammasat University, has developed equipment that will help the disabled walk, including patients with cerebrovascular disease. The equipment allows paralyzed patients to walk and to continuously rehabilitate from their conditions.

The machine was developed and created by Thai researchers; therefore, the production cost was relatively much lower than imported equipment. This is a good example of how research turns into useful inventions, creating value to domestic products with lower costs, and catering to the needs of domestic patients.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has introduced the “Echo English” application for mobile users to learn English for free. With this app, learners can practice listening, speaking, and writing from a native speaker. The learning courses are divided into different functions and levels, such as fundamental English, which is everyday use of the language like greetings, introducing places, and using basic words to communicate with foreigners.

Intermediate levels allow users to learn English according to their professions, in preparation for the Thailand 4.0 era, which requires skilled workers and supervisors. The advanced level is equivalent to academic and technical English. The level will help learners communicate with foreign colleagues. The application can be downloaded on both android and iOS systems. I would like to see more people interested and give more importance to learning English.

In the meantime, the Royal Thai Police is also developing a mobile application called “Police, I Lert You” which allows people to report crimes using written messages, pictures and video clips, to be sent directly to police officers. Currently, the Royal Thai Police is working with the private sector to launch the application to monitor the behaviors of public van drivers who drive recklessly and unresponsively as well as drivers using foul language.

More than 2,500 van drivers have already registered with the application. In general, government agencies should be encouraged to turn research findings into useful inventions to increase product value, raise people’s living standards, and develop our nation. The word ‘civil servant’ in Thailand also refers a person who works to fulfill the aspirations of The King.

Dear citizens, there are several topics I would like to create understanding about. The first is national reforms, which is being implemented in alignment with the 20-year National Strategy. The National Strategy focuses on 6 key areas and they are to be translated into action through several development plans and projects

such as the 4 NESDB 5-year plans for a span of 20 years. Results will show in the first 5 years when there’s a new government. But if we go back to the same old ways, fixing problems in an unsustainable and unstable manner, it will be a waste our finances. And this may involve manipulation by politicians which will results in the same problems recurring.

Reform is what everybody has called for and we need to strategize how we implement it. We shouldn’t be doubtful or apprehensive about this. In this case, everything starts with the laws, with a vision in drafting the laws, to comprehend the problems, and the environment we are in, in order to modernize related legislation. What we are currently doing is in line with international practices and the international community has acknowledged this.

In the past, our laws were distorted, misinterpreted, and used as a tool by influential people to deceive others and for personal interests. Often, civil servants at the operational level were negligent while officials at the political or management level failed to supervise, making the public become familiar with breaking the laws and disrespecting others’ rights, and causing the law to become disregarded, and the justice system tainted. There was mob rule over the rule of law. Influential people in local communities and at the national level abused their power and influence at the expense of the country and the people. This is why the current government and the NCPO have had to address this issue, making sure that the law is respected and the justice system is not interfered with.

Therefore, the National Strategy will guide the direction of our reforms and lay the foundations of our development. To this extent, examples of the things the government has been doing include: 1 – building a corruption prevention system that ensures transparent procurements and a new e-Bidding technology, thereby enhancing the integrity of state agencies and independent organizations,

2. Without good governance, there is no real democracy. Without good governance, people will not respect the law and officials will ignore their responsibilities. We must build a political culture where political parties are elected based on their commitment to sustainable solutions, and not individual popularity, in order to instill a social conscience and good citizenship, and encourage analytical approaches to problem solving.

3. Access to public services, social welfare, and the justice system, requires the One Stop Service centers that can be reached by the public and businesses, as well as the setting up of the justice fund, the national savings fund, and the social welfare registration, in order to reduce our social and economic disparities.

4. To improve the well-being of people, address the issue of basic needs, and protect the natural resources of the country, the government espouses the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy as our direction for sustainable and environmentally-friendly development,

with a focus on the participation of the public and other stakeholders, as well as strengthening grassroots development. Grassroots economic development is essential to strengthening the economy through employment, wealth distribution in rural provinces, the 10 special economic zones across the nation, as well as the Eastern Economic Corridor which covers 10 targeted industries and several infrastructure development projects to do with transportation, information, energy, and water, in preparation for development in other areas in a strategic way.

5. To upgrade the farming sector to the “4.0 Agriculture” level, the government gives importance to research and development, value creation, processing, cost reduction, and innovation such as the “Food Innopolis” project, which requires support from the upstream level, by turning farmers into “smart farmers” and giving them access to learning centers in various regions,

in addition to promoting cooperatives, community enterprises for stronger communities, and large-scale farming for crops, fish, and livestock, coupled with systematic water management, water drainage and distribution, a database to support the Agri Map which provides information about soil, water, and weather so that farmers can make informed decisions regarding their farming activities. This is to prevent future crop damage and price slump.

At the midstream and downstream levels, there will be Pracharat Rak Samakee Company to educate farmers about new technologies, digital and online channels linking consumer markets, and connecting agriculture and the industrial sector together.

Another fact I would like everyone to understand is how the world is constantly developing. ASEAN is developing. And ASEAN countries have to adjust. We can no longer rely on the same practices. We have to develop, adopt new ways, approaches, legislation, and have a social conscience to improve oneself for the betterment of all.

We must help each other. Thailand is not made up of one single province and cannot live alone in this world. Regardless of economic status, everyone is equally important. The government also wishes to create an environment of an egalitarian society. In the business world, we have capitalists, entrepreneurs, and large enterprises owned by the rich.

It is common that in a free market, businesses seek to make profits. But part of those profits will go back to the community in the form of taxes that will be used to pay for social welfare. Businesses will not survive without caring for the community, and without caring for every stakeholder in the “supply chain.” This is the concept of “Pracharat” which seeks mutual benefits and enables all to thrive, beginning with the grassroots economies.

To mobilize the economy in a sustainable manner people must have good living standards, while national development should be based on an understanding about the entire economic system. Given this, strategies for development and reform must take into consideration all economic factors and groups.

The first group includes large businesses or economic activities with high value in relation to the country’s revenue, such as investments by large companies, investments by the government in terms of public facilities,

and investments by foreign investors. These activities account for a large proportion of GDP, stimulates employment and increases revenue in the short run. Taxes imposed on these investments will go back to the community in various forms.

In addition, investments either by the government or the private sector increase the country’s production capacity, in terms of technology and infrastructure, as well as uplift the quality of life for Thai people in the long run.

Hence, large scale investments must be in accordance with the National Strategy, in seeking to improve our national competitiveness. We must streamline infrastructure projects to improve production and transportation, in order to continuously attract domestic and foreign investors, and to stimulate the economy and support various sectors within the economic chain.

The second group includes medium to small economies who serve as “the arms” of an economic system, or the “working ants” that contribute towards economic mobilization at a smaller scale. For what they lack in large monetary value, they make up in their large numbers, making them competitive to larger economies. Don’t forget that most of the employment done in Thailand is for these medium to small businesses.

Therefore, support for medium economies entails developing the key foundations such as human personnel. This is because medium-sized businesses fall under the National Strategy of developing the potential of our human capital, in addition to incorporating technology and innovation for adding value and revenue. This would lead to more stable incomes for this group, which will also mean stability for the economy and the country’s earnings.

The last group is the grassroots economy, which is the backbone of this country. This is the most important segment because it comprises the majority of Thai citizens, whether they are from the agricultural sector or others. This group serves as the country’s largest labor force as well as consumer base. If this group prospers, small and medium businesses will benefit as well. However, income for this group in the past has fluctuated and remained unstable due to factors that are either hard to control or beyond any control, such as global commodity prices, weather conditions, or the spread of diseases in plants and animals.

The government and the private sector both emphasize the importance of this group and have therefore, made key efforts towards assisting this demographic. This administration has expedited short-term measures to provide income support for those who have experienced hardship, as well as long-term measures to enhance production capabilities. Long-term measures include sustainable water management, large-scale farms, land allocation for farmers, collaborating with the private sector in order to add value to products and conduct marketing schemes under Pracharat mechanisms, to name a few.

These measures fall under the National Strategy of reducing economic disparities and improving the lives of citizens through increasing their incomes. If the majority of our people can reduce their dependence on short-term assistance measures, the country would be able to overcome its middle income trap and make great strides towards prosperity.

In order to elevate all 3 economic groups, the government must prescribe assistance measures that coincide with the needs of each group while addressing contextual and legal limitations. Therefore, solutions must include both systematic reforms as well as activities that address the root cause of the problems instead of the symptoms.

Most important is ensuring that growth experienced each group is interconnected, in order for wealth to be distributed to those with low incomes, especially those in the agricultural sector. This is because our country’s progress must not leave anyone behind.

The government must, therefore, accelerate the implementation of strategic agendas in unison, whether it is improving the efficiency and transparency of bureaucracy, modernizing existing laws, or encouraging cooperation between the state and the public sector in solving problems.

All of this must be done in order to support economic growth and ensure that the people live in a positive environment of national stability. This will in turn increase the country’s credibility and competitiveness. In order to do so, we must all collaborate in sharing and creating. Most importantly, we must not forget to reflect upon ourselves and make sure that we are people of principles, who know of selflessness and perseverance, who don’t slander each other and cause divisiveness in our society. We must learn to adapt ourselves to each other and work hard together to create a stronger society and a sustainable nation.

Dear Thai citizens, an important matter for this country is developing the culture of analytical thinking. This is based on prudence, reasoning, the consideration of other viewpoints, and listening to all sides. The government itself listens to the views of all because it is the government of the entire country, not of a certain group.

Listening to others does not mean trying to win over them. The aim should not be trying to the fight to have your view be considered as factual. Instead, you must present evidence, principles, and reasoning to support your argument. Differing views are important but deliberately distorted information can be dangerous. Verifying any source of information requires examining credible data both from inside and outside the country and coming to informed conclusions. I ask that people adhere to this practice in order for the country to move forward in matters such as,

1) Electricity production.  We must examine whether potential environmental impacts can be resolved or learned from our past lessons. We must also take into consideration how modern technology has shaped the implications of a project.

What has been problematic in the past may no longer be problematic now due to modern technologies. For example, the Mae Mo coal plant in Lampang Province has not caused any adverse effects to the environment while residents have benefited from their electricity surplus through the community fund for quality of living. I ask that you look into this example before making conclusions.

Sometimes, groups such as NGOs or people outside of communities who oppose such projects refer to information that is out of date and argue according to biases without listening to the views of the government. As a result, communities can miss out on the benefits and the country will not meet its target for energy security.

The recent hour-long power outage in the northern province is an example of the risks that we face if we are unable to swiftly supply backup power. Major projects would not be able to commence under such risks when people fail to come together to reach a solution.

It is not right that you refute the data and facts referred to by the government, just because they go against your position.

For those who accuse the government of pandering to a select few, I’m sure everyone is familiar with the level of transparency and credibility of the government procurement system.

We would not be able to achieve any progress if people continue to oppose every single thing the government does. If you look at the ASEAN-member nations, you can see that countries are utilizing both new and old energy production methods, while utilizing new technologies to develop the old methods.

Therefore, I hope that people will also speak of the benefits a project will have towards the country, in order for us to better weigh the benefits and drawbacks, and find a balanced solution for the country.

2. Solving traffic issues. There is no law that can address this issue better than self-discipline and respect towards existing laws. Additional legislation should arise only to supplement existing laws or modify what has been ineffective. The law poses no problems to those who adhere to them. Only violators see laws as problems,

for example, those who fail to wear helmets and seatbelts, drive in the wrong lane, exceed the designated speed limits, or drive while under the influence of alcohol. I would like all of us to think about the value of a person’s life in this case. Even as a personal commuter, you are responsible for the lives and property of your fellow travelers on the road.

Drivers of public transportation vehicles must be responsible for the lives of all passengers. Preventing road accidents is an issue that this government takes very seriously. Fastening your seat belts is only one of the measures for reducing fatalities, but more important are measures that prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

These measures include testing for alcohol, setting up speed checkpoints, examining driver’s licenses, addressing racing on public roads, preventing violations to traffic regulations, and installing warning signs at risk prone areas.
Requiring seat belts is a measure that can prevent numerous losses of lives as experienced by many family members each year. This is a problem that this administration must address. However, the solution to this also starts with fixing our own behaviors when driving.

3. The three phases of passing a piece of legislation. There are numerous pieces of legislation that are problematic due to technical difficulties or discrepancies in implementation. These issues must be resolved through committee reviews which take into consideration inputs from the general public.

Every piece of legislation that the government pushes is necessary for addressing the country’s problems and adhering to international agreements, such as legislation to comply with agreements on illegal fishing (IUU), aviation (ICAO), and the illegal ivory trade (CITES).

In the past, some of those who have criticized this administration did nothing to address these issues when they were in office previously. I wonder if it is because they were looking after their own interests. This administration has the courage to do what is right. Those who denounce or find fault with this will only serve to hamper the policies that benefit the people. I ask that everyone argue based on facts and put the interests of the people first.

4. Corruption in various projects. I stress that whoever wrongfully claims they are working for the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, or Ministers in order to coerce agencies into doing their bidding will be met with harsh punishments. I ask that people send me evidence of people who claim to represent these officials or the NCPO so that I can prosecute these violators according to the law without exception. Do not be afraid of these people as I will handle these cases fairly.

Those who do work closely with top officials but use your situation to your advantage deserve not to be a part of the government, as your actions can lead to corruption, something that this administration wishes to eliminate from Thai society. Whether it is special favors in project auctions or promotions, we must address these issues together.

5. Exploiting social media channels. There is a lot of distorted information on social media, whether it is from misunderstanding or manipulation. This information can be shared quickly among friends and acquaintances and half truths can spread rapidly in society. Some misinformation is designed to cause conflict and damage.

Examples include information regarding several court cases include Dhammajayo, arrests of those stockpiling of military arms, taxing of stock sales, or the rice pledging scheme. It is not difficult to trace the origins of this misinformation to those who will be adversely affected by these cases. It is imperative that the conclusions to these cases be reached through the judicial process. However, those who refuse to respect and participate in the judicial process make law enforcement impossible. This results in society condemning the judicial system of having double standards as before.

This is because the rest of the people in country are under the same rules and judicial processes. Some refuse to enter the justice system because they believe that they won’t be treated fairly. Then they say they have not been treated fairly because their case has not gone through the judicial processes? This means that they do not accept the country’s justice system. The government and the NCPO cannot forsake their duties of upholding the justice system.

Dear Thai citizens, I would like everyone to be keen on the activity of learning and reading, as books are a bottomless well for those who thirst for knowledge. Right now, the national book fair is taking place between March 29 and April 9 at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center. I would like to invite everyone to attend the event and seek out books that suit their interests.

Today knowledge is accessible to whoever is willing to seek it out. In addition to books, there is also the internet. However consumption of information for benefit also requires critical thinking, discretion, and analysis, especially social media sources. This is because it is a venue where people can spread the news without having to go through a news fact-checking process.

I would like to thank the initiatives of the MCOT and the Fund for Safe and Constructive Media for establishing a fact-checking center which adheres to the standards of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), thus highlighting the importance of fact-checking and the dangers of irresponsible dissemination of information.

I would like everyone to have the courage to face these changing times by learning new things and finding ways to develop personally for a better future.

Thank you. I wish everyone happiness during the weekend. Please utilize your free time to read for your children in order to create knowledge and strong family bonds. Don’t forget to also develop your English skills through the Echo English app. Sawasdee Krub.


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