From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals – April 7, 2017


Good evening dear Thai citizens.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has graciously consented to bestow the Constitution of the Kingdom Thailand the Thai people. The new charter is the 20th in Thailand’s 85 years as a democracy. Most importantly, the Constitution was accepted by the majority of the people in a nationwide referendum.

The promulgation of the new charter is a beginning of many events that will eventually lead to general elections. Then there will be a new government. The current government will hand over its duties onto the next government, which marks the third phase of the Roadmap as outlined by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

I’d like to use this opportunity to ask all sides to find common ground and come together for the sake of our country, in particular by espousing the King’s Philosophy and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy for developing our nation, along with the utilization of the “Pracharat” policy, in accordance with the new Constitution, to our ensure stability, prosperity, and sustainability.

I ask that we come together in reconciliation and unity, so as to sustain a peaceful atmosphere for the forthcoming national events, namely the Royal Cremation Ceremony of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej King Rama IX, and then the Royal Coronation Ceremony of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.

This also pertains to preparations for our general elections, which have to be held honestly and fairly. These major events should take place smoothly and therefore any act that will lead to any disturbance or harming the atmosphere and good intentions of the Thai people shall not be permitted.

This is a historic moment for Thailand and in order for national administration and our reforms to be carried out in line with our 20-year National Strategy, every sector, led by the civil servants, has to cooperate and work together.

I have the honour to recall His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun’s Royal Remarks on Civil Service Day, which states that “Civil service work is the work of our nation and directly involves the benefit of the nation and all citizens.

Therefore, civil servants must understand the importance of their duties and responsibilities, and help each other to think, work and solve problems with commitment, sacrifice, honesty, and sincerity for the benefit of the nation. By upholding nation’s benefit, every aspect of the nation’s work can progress and succeed, and bring development and stability for the nation and the people always.”

There have been many achievements by civil servants according to the Pracharat approach. I would like to commend and thank them for their good work and ask that they maintain these standards of work good governance, for instance

1) Household debts have dropped for the first time in 11 years. This is a very good sign.

2) Fellow farmers and freelance workers now have access to the national savings fund, and thus a more secure future. They never had such a fund before and they were not part of the government pension fund, the provident fund, and social security fund.

3) All citizens have fair access to the justice system, thus reducing social inequalities, as everyone is entitled to support from the justice fund for bail money, temporary release, and attorneys.

4) Transparency in Thailand, as perceived by the international community, is the “best” in 10 years while bribery has dropped by 50% over the past 15 years.

Tackling corruption will be a continuous effort and we shall strive to do away with this problem quickly. All of these have been the focus of our efforts, especially fostering good governance, transparency, and honesty among civil servants. Corrupt people, both givers and receivers, will be dealt with by the laws.

5) The famous Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Canal Market, after 30 events, has generated 1.5 billion baht in sales. The market is a role model for the 4.0 community market, as it involves selling goods through online platforms. Under the Pracharat approach, the market allows traders to partner up and negotiate their businesses from the upstream to downstream or throughout the value chain. It also houses community activities, not only retail businesses.

For the month of April, the Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Canal Market will be held under a theme promoting locally-made products from the southern provinces. This past month, the market has been well-received by the public, with sales over 70 million baht. The money made from this market goes back to fish farmers, underprivileged people, and those afflicted by the southern unrest.

The market is helping the southern region become more stable, prosperous, and sustainable. The market is open during the Songkran Festival and throughout this month to serve Bangkokians and tourists. I’d like to invite everyone to come the market and purchase southern products as well as take part in other activities in celebration of the Thai New Year.

And 6) the Non-Formal and Informal Education (NFE) course to train lecturers stationed at 7,000 digital centers in all sub-districts across the country, is another example of cooperation between the government and the private sector in mobilizing the digital economy to support lifetime learning through the adoption of digital technologies, as well as to give communities access to digital platforms. Another important point is that the project has changed how business is being conducted, enabling 41,000 retailers to sell products online and increase incomes by two-fold. The project has helped to bring about wealth and stability to Thai communities.
As for the next phase, it will be focused on strengthening the grassroots economy by assisting local entrepreneurs and increasing their competitiveness, be they cooperatives, farmer networks, community enterprises, SMEs, and startups, who will be able to use new technologies and offer their products online, connecting directly with the e-Commerce market of various ministries and later merging as a national online market.

My fellow citizens, there is one thing we haven’t done probably due to a lack of understanding or what not, but nevertheless has a significant impact on the country’s economy, society, and the environment. This important issue is land management and city planning.

Thailand has around 300 million rai of land, 40% of which belongs to the private sector and 60% is managed by state agencies. The land is measured and divided using different scales, thus causing problems, overlapping issues, conflicts, and cases of incursion, all of which are longstanding problems.

To make matters worse, the failure to reform our city planning ways has brought severe damages to the economy, for instance, the case of the 2011 flood that swept the central region and the capital city. Damages were estimated at tens of billions of baht. Causes of the flood were as follows.

1) misuse of land, such as selling rice fields which are prone to flooding, to the industrial sector.

2) city expansion – the expansion of Bangkok and its vicinities, thus blocking natural waterways and preventing northern water flows to reach the ocean. This also goes against the nature.

3) the biggest mistake is the failure to properly manage 9 major waterways, 25 large basins, and 254 small basins, coupled with the lack of strategies for residential and city building, and demographic distribution.

There was no blueprint for local administrations to follow. Conflicts ensued and were not addressed properly. There was no integration of work plans as everyone did their own thing. These problems were caused by misunderstanding and then many citizens resisted change. They were afraid of being distressed by the changes that may follow. The government is empathetic of their feelings.

Therefore, government and the NCPO have drawn up some sustainable solutions. First, we must regulate all residential settlements and city planning, with a national agency supervising the operation along with the NESDB.

Secondly, there must be a specific law, the statute of city planning for instance, to enforce other laws and in order to prevent anyone from using public land without supervision, such as construction or city expansion into restricted areas that could block waterways and damage farming zones.

The last solution is to build a mechanism and formulate a plan that regulates land use at all levels. For example, there will be measures for strategic city planning divided into regional, provincial, and local levels moving in one direction, in line with the NESDB social and economic development plan.

This data was a result of a study conducted by 1) Professor Emeritus Decha Boonkham, a national artist in the field of visual arts and landscape architecture,

and 2) the National Administration Committee of the National Legislative Assembly. I believe this will be vital to the 20-year strategic plan.

Apart from flooding and drought, the government is keen to adopt this approach to water resources management, land reform, infrastructure development for all modes of transport, in additional to the development of 10 special economic zones and the Eastern Economic Corridor.
This is to create new cities, development and distribute progress evenly throughout the country while remaining environmentally friendly. When prosperity is distributed to smaller cities, people will no longer come into big cities to seek fortune, resulting in crowdedness, traffic congestion, waste accumulation, water pollution, and drainage problems. This is why we need to distribute prosperity and progress across the nation.

Solutions such problems may not be effective should the public be uncooperative such as by refusing to move, to relocate, or to stop encroaching upon unauthorized areas. If the locals don’t cooperate, nothing will get done. Problems will not be resolved in a sustainable way should we allow individual demands and rights to be above the interests and rights of the majority.

If the public wants such problems to be solved by the government, they are asked to cooperate. The government will find solutions for those affected. Now is the time for everyone to work together and do the right thing. The government, the NCPO, public servants, the private sector, and the public should look towards the future for the sake of our children.

My fellow citizens, this past Wednesday, I traveled to U-Tapao Airport to chair the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) conference, which was the first policy meeting after responsible agencies had made some preparations and gathered related information fo making joint decisions on the development of the EEC area.

I have mentioned about the EEC project several times because it is a part of the National Strategy to increase the competitive edge of the country. The government attaches great importance to this and sees this area’s development to be vital for investment promotion that will come to boost various industries and create economic value, which will lead to the transfers of technologies and enhance our production potential. This is a way of building a future for our nation and our children.

Along with developing the EEC project, we will also have to support economic activities in the region to create jobs and enhance human resources development in the communities. This will yield benefits to other regions as well.

First of all, this area serves as Bangkok’s eastern economic corridor which can reduce the crowdedness in the capital. Once Bangkok and the EEC have merged, it will become even a bigger metro city.

Secondly, the EEC will connect the northeastern region, the central plains, and the Gulf of Thailand through logistics such rail and road, and the linking between Laem Chabang Port, Sattahip Port and Maptaphut port. We also have U-Tapao Airport which will connect to the high-speed rail system, further boosting tourism in the eastern region.

Finally, the development of the EEC must connect with other Eastern provinces, namely Prachinburi, Sa Kaew, Chantaburi, and Trad, especially the border economic zones and logistics centers such as Utapao airport, which would help reduce shipment costs, and in the transport of fresh produce,  thus spreading prosperity into the regions.

This most recent meeting, therefore, serves to elevate Utapao airport to be the hub of the Eastern region. We are aiming for the airport to be able to accommodate double its capacity every five years, from 15 million to 30 million and finally to 60 in the next 15 years.

This is so that the region can accommodate more tourists and serve as an important area for economic development that connects with our neighboring countries and ASEAN.

Relevant businesses include aircraft maintenance, e-commerce, storage, aircraft parts, and personnel training. The aviation industry is one of the 10 target industries for Thailand and we are aiming to develop our capabilities to being a regional hub.

We will enable airlines to be able to lay over in Thailand both for travel and for maintenance. This would not only increase revenue for the country but also increase the country’s strategic role in the region.

In addition to the aviation industry, the committee has also approved the Eastern high-speed railway system to connect Thailand’s three main airports in a seamless manner without passengers having to make transfers. This would enable travel from Bangkok to Utapao airport within one hour.

This would connect the areas in all dimensions and would also accommodate the flow of goods and personnel. The Utapao Airport project is therefore a vital initiative in the grand scheme of the country’s proactive economic strategy.

The progress we have made on the EEC program has shown us that:
1) Collaborating with the private sector has shortened the duration of the project to 8 to 10 months from 14 months.
2)  New legislation on customs has brought about expedited processes according to international standards.
3) Attracting important investors for Thailand’s 10 strategic industries,

whether they be in the biotech industry, electric trains, robotics, or the medical hub industry, including the digital economy such as Lazada or Alibaba, is in the process of proposal development in the form of an E-Commernce Park. In order to sustainably develop the country’s digital economy, we must also develop digital innovation zones along the Eastern economic region as well.

These include world class research and training centers and specific high-tech industry promotion zones. Given this, the government is also seeking to create “incubator stations”  of knowledge and innovation for Thai scholars and students, in order to meet the country’s demands for human personnel in the digital age.
Thailand must be able to ‘stand on its own feet’ with our own innovations. The development of the EEC and the 10 special economic zones must also take into consideration city planning, potential side effects, as well as input from residents in the area. I ask that officials ensure that proper assistance is given to those who have been affected by these new projects. This is important for common understanding and cooperation so that mutual benefits can be sustained and enjoyed by all for generations to come.

For those who have asked to why the government places much importance on the development of the EEC as well as the aviation industry instead of directing funds towards the construction of hospitals or agricultural assistance programs, I would like to clarify that this administration carefully weighs its budgeting.

It must ensure a balance in development in all sectors so that growth can affect the entire country in a long-term matter, resulting in stable income and a sustainable economy.

Investment support in our main industries will benefit the country in terms of employment and the transfer of technological expertise which would enhance our production output in the long-term. Becoming an aviation hub will further boost the country’s tourism sector, making it more convenient to travel here and allow for more revenue to flow into the country.

I affirm that this government places great importance on the agriculture and public health sectors as focusing on them is crucial to redressing our social and economic disparities. However, this administration also seeks to create balance and ensure growth in all sectors as well as continuously attracting investments.

Today, the cost of modernizing our health care facilities and obtaining the latest medical devices requires a large budget. In the same way, households must also make long-term financial decisions, avoid superfluous debt, and look for additional incomes to accommodate for the future.

It is the duty of this government to care for the well-being of its citizens. It has therefore pushed for the UCEP program, which provides free care for emergency cases for 72 hours or until the medical crisis has been averted. This policy is designed to protect the privileges of patients without any conditions on medical expenses or participating medical facilities.

You are encouraged to inquire on this new policy at the 1669 hotline. The use of Article 44 of the interim constitution on measures to enhance road safety

has been done for the sake of enhancing the efficiency of law enforcement so as to reduce road accidents and the loss of lives. Media reports have focused more on tragic events

instead of informing the public on ways to remain safe. It is important that we understand the root causes of the issue in order to protect ourselves. Remaining safe also means exercising discipline and self-awareness.

Everyone knows that numerous accidents are prone to happen during the upcoming holiday season, which can cause much grief to the families of the victims. Many major accidents involve buses, vans, and people on the back of trucks, as well as drunk drivers who cause many issues to others.

Many are careless in their speeding and seat belt habits. I understand that among the various modes of transportation such as buses, vans, and trains, people also choose to ride on the back of trucks.

It would be impossible for every single person to be seated on a public transport vehicle, while many rely on writing on the back of pickup trucks as a mode of transportation. In truth, if people fully respect existing laws, accidents and losses can be avoided and no additional legislation will need to be enacted.

Self-awareness is the best form of accident prevention. Law-enforcement officials work tirelessly during the holiday seasons to service the public but are often blamed for the numerous losses that happen each year. The government and law enforcement officials are unable to crack down on every single person.

It is most important that we first depend on ourselves to ensure safety. I understand that rigid law enforcement officials may result in much distress to the public. Officials have therefore made compromises in certain areas.

For example, those who seat in the front row must fasten their seat belts while those sitting in back row seats that don’t have seat belts will be issued with a warning. Public transportation vehicles, such as taxis, vans, and buses, must have seatbelts in all seats. People are allowed to sit on the back of trucks so long as they do not sit on the edge.

The government is empathetic to the situation and does not wish to violate your freedoms or cause distress low income citizens in this regard. I ask that people on social media as well as misinformed people please turn down their rhetoric on the matter, which is ultimately about your safety.

Most importantly, drivers must refrain from drinking alcohol, careless behavior, talking on the phone, while getting enough rest and adhering to speed regulations. Passengers must protect themselves by fastening their seatbelts, while all vehicle owners must ensure that their vehicles are functioning at optimal levels.

Everyone on the road bears a part of the burden of responsibility. Most casualties are seen among motorcycle drivers and vans. Therefore, officials will continue to make improvements to the van transport industry while taking into consideration the input of all sectors as to how these improvements can be practical and effective.

Furthermore, the public must be given ample time to adjust to new regulations. The government will continue to create understanding among stakeholders. I wish everyone safe travels during their journeys back home and to have a very happy Songkran holiday.

I would like to thank law-enforcement officials, whether they are civilians, police officers, military officials, and volunteers who have sacrificed their time with their families to conduct their duties. This is because we want to make sure that existing laws are properly enforced.

Taxis and public transportation vehicles will need to cooperate by conducting your duties with utmost dignity and responsibility.

April 13 of every year is the start of Songkran as well as International Day of Older Persons. April 14 is also the International Day of Families. I would like to invite everyone to honor their elderly family members according to Thailand’s customs and traditions.

I also hope that Songkran activities are conducted appropriately without recklessness or vulgarity. Also, The World Health Organization has made April 7 a day of depression awareness, as it is a condition that affects over 300 million people across the world.

In Thailand, over 3% of the population is estimated to suffer from depression, whether they know it or not. Depression can be prevented if people care for the ones around them. This also means that people should remain calm and reasonable when talking to their family members and remember to extend tokens of generosity.

Thank you. I wish everyone happiness during the weekend as well as the Songkran holiday. Please drive carefully and follow traffic laws. The government must apologize for causing worry among travelers during this time. This is because we care for the safety of all and wish that everyone journeys back to their families safely. Sawasdee Krub.

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