From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals June 2, 2017
Good evening dear Thai citizens.
Today I would like to inform you about the progress in the organisation of the Royal Cremmation Ceremony of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, with the construction of the royal crematorium going as planned. The construction and design of the royal crematorium have adhered to our ancient traditions concerning the funeral pyre for past kings of the Rattanakosin Era.
The structure of the crematorium is 95% complete and much progress has been seen in the construction of Song Tham Palace and Luk Khun Hall. All buildings needed for the cremation are 80% complete and are being decorated.
I would like to thank all the artists, including volunteers and artists from the Fine Arts Department, for their tremendous efforts for this royal ceremony, which is very important to the Thai people. The ceremony will be marked in world history and will be talked about for generations.
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has graciously been providing nourishment to all the artists involved on a daily basis. His Majesty’s benevolence has touched and inspired all the civil servants, officials and volunteers involved.
His Majesty has also established volunteer activities to make sandalwood flowers at Dusit Royal Plaza. These flowers will be used for the royal cremation ceremony. Taking part in the activities are representatives from the government, private sector, and volunteers who are giving instructions on sandalwood flower making to members of the public.
In addition, His Majesty has graciously consented for the organisation of musical performances at Dusit Royal Plaza in memory of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was an accomplished musician that composed a number of songs which brought much happiness joy to the Thai people. The musical show is performed every Saturday from 7 pm onwards. All are invited.
My fellow citizens, I would like to recommend to you 2 books which I think are appropriate to Thai society in this day and age. More importantly, they complement the King’s Philosophy, which is essential to daily life and to our nation in terms of stability, prosperity. They are:
1, “The Philosophy of the Middle Path,” composed by the China University Alumni Association and the Xiamen University Thailand Alumni Association. The book teaches us about appropriateness for all situations, and the importance of moderation. Although this is a Chinese philosophy, it relates to Thai culture, which seems to be increasingly overlooked, in particular, our sense of unity, honesty, and cordiality towards each other.
This is increasingly noticeable as our usage of proverbs in daily discourse has lessened and is now being replaced by rhetorical sayings that lack ethics and fairness, and often are accusations based on untruths.
I think that this book has a strong link to the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which is an important cultural heritage for the Thai people. It is also a fundamental part of development and national administration by the government to follow “the middle path” in effectively coping with globalization and many changes.
The second book, “Follow in the King’s Footsteps,” is published by the Quality Learning Foundation, the Chaipattana Foundation, and the Moral Promotion Center. The book can be a handbook for parents and teachers in interacting with their children, and is a creative way to explore at learning centers and live museums.
From these Royal Projects, students can relate what they learn to math, science, and their social skills, triggering their creativity and imagination. It also encourages students to observe, analyze, and evaluate by themselves. It also encourages them to take action, which is part of our policy to reduce classroom hours and increase learning experiences.
I have instructed the Ministry of Education during this week’s Cabinet Meeting to add these books into the Thai curriculum, which should teach about good governance, honesty, and preventing corruption. The Ministry of Culture and its related agencies should also consider this task for the benefit of the public.
As for the national administration by the government and the NCPO, there is a positive development that our efforts have been in line the World Bank’s suggestions on sustainable development. Based on this, we are on the right track, with focus on the key aspects including
1) creating skills-based jobs by increasing the connectivity of basic infrastructure, increasing competitiveness through trade agreements, enhancing the industrial sector using technological advancements and innovations,
2) giving the poor equal access to education, improving labor skills, increasing farming productivity, and building a stronger welfare system for the society, 3) striving for sustainable and green development through the systemic management of natural resources and the environment, building resilience to face natural disasters and inclement weathers, and promoting the efficient consumption of alternative energies,
and 4) increasing the abilities of government agencies to mobilise imporant reforms. To ensure the effectiveness of our operations, there must be follow-up and evaluation on a regular basis. It also requires cooperation from all sides.
Therefore, “reconciliation” in my definition does not only mean to eradicate political conflicts and divisions that could lead to domestic conflicts, but also to eradicate problem issues, concerns, and doubts over the government’s policies and projects. The purpose is to create understanding, confidence and public participation, in accordance with the current constitution, so that the government can mobilize and develop the country, without conflicts, while taking into consideration the best interest of the nation and the people.
In particular, the youth should know about the importance of other professions, such as farmers and growers, so that they can understand the difficulty of those responsibilities. They should value and appreciate the integrity of every profession. Each sector is connected to each other and is important to society as a whole, as is the environment and the grass roots economy. I ask that the Interior Ministry and other related agencies create this knowledge at the local level, by having students and members of the public join together in projects in local areas, so that community care and unity can be fostered as well.
My fellow Thai citizens, today we should ask ourselves if we truly understand the 3 following things which are 1) the King’s Philosophy such as the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and the new agriculture theory, 2) Thailand 4.0, and 3) the grassroots economy.
We all should have a real understanding of these 3 issues. Government agencies, the private sector and civil society often mention them in a symbolic manner, perhaps without seeing the importance of how they are related to each other. They are inseparable from each other. The important this is turning knowledge into action, with the King’s Philosophy as the foundation and a guiding compass.
This will require their espousal into the activities of the individual or agency. It is not only about training people and giving out certificates and then making the news. The important issue is effectively disseminating this fundamental knowledge to all.
Today, we must refer to the example of how to incorporate the King’s Philosophy into practice for concrete results, as there are more than 4,000 royal projects and more than 10,000 royal learning centers as well as 6 other royal development centers across the country.
Therefore, we should organize activities that relate to these principles and the tangible outcomes of the King’s Philosophy, which can uplift the quality of life for all Thai people, through sufficient incomes and the reduction of risks to a number of external affects.
The government has been able to build strategic partnerships, by becoming a bridge builder that connects the cooperation of other groups in the international community, with the concepts of “stronger together” and “not leaving anyone behind”. Thailand has been presenting the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which complements the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in the international arena, and has been able to gain international acknowledgment for this.
At present, 22 countries have become our partners under “SEP for SDGs Partnership.” In addition, the government has a plan to build learning centers and model communities according to the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in partner nations, and promote learning among our youth to drive forward the SDGs and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.
We will promote the creation of networks of youths around the world and networks of international organizations. This is one of the government’s strategies, known as “Pracharat diplomacy” for security and sustainable development, which will promote and elevate our diplomatic ties, through the emphasis of being a “Soft Power” to seek new forms of cooperation for sustainable development.
My fellow citizens, this past Wednesday, I had an opportunity to deliver a speech on “The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Sustainability of Social and Economic Development” at the UN Headquarters in Bangkok.
It is the first time the world community is attempting to promote the responsibilities of the business sector towards human rights. This is to promote economic growth with social justice. There are 3 pillars for this, which are the protection, respect, and rehabilitation.
The first pillar is the protection of human rights. It is the government’s responsibility to protect people from their human right being affected by business activities. This is in accordance international human rights laws and international human rights agreements.
The government issues laws, regulations, policies, and measures, making sure employers fully respect the human rights of their employees. In addition, the government gives advice and suggestions to businesses in terms of what they must do to comply with these laws. Government agencies must also ensure that their own policies comply with this.
A good example in the protection of human rights is our policy in combating human trafficking and making human trafficking and illegal fishing “national agendas” since 2014. The government has had several achievements in this area, such as 1) protecting the victims of human trafficking and those forced to work in unpleasant conditions, such as on fishing boats. Authorities have been inspecting vessels
and revising regulations to facilitate criminal procedures against the perpetrators, and have so far seized almost 800 million baht worth of assets, the highest in 10 years. 52 authorities involved in such crimes have been brought to justice. We have also set up a special department in the courts to deal with human trafficking cases.
The second pillar is to respect human rights. This directly concerns the business sector. Workers are the ones businesses most rely upon for success and growth. Today, we have labour protection laws regulating wages, holidays, work safety, just to name a few, protecting both Thai and foreign workers from our neighboring nations, in line with international standards set by international labour agencies.
In addition, to achieve sustainability, I think businesses have to focus on the well-being of their communities, making sure that their operations do not put the community or the environment at risk, such as by hazardous chemical or wastewater discharges from factories.
June 5th of every year is World Environment Day. I would like to take this opportunity to ask for cooperation from the private sector and the public to help reduce greenhouse gases. We have pledged to reduce greenhouse gases by 20% by 2030, with a focus on 3 pillars including energy, transportation, and industrial production and the management of waste.
Members of the public can lend a helping hand in the protection of our environment by reducing the use of plastic bags, separating waste, turning off lights, and avoiding throwing trash in waterways. Garbage clogging waterways and canals is the main cause of flooding in the capital city.
The last pillar is the rehabilitation process for the victims whose human rights have been violated. Government agencies are at the forefront to help victims through the judicial system, both civil and commercial procedures, by protecting the human rights of every individual and compensating the victims of such crimes. Although these measures are in place, it takes time to process a case as we know.
This is why I believe other mechanisms are needed. For instance, the government has opened complaint centers to streamline the process, such as the Damrongtham Centers which can be found in every village and community and work under the One Stop One Service system. In addition, there is the National Human Rights Committee that accepts complaints and assists the victims of human rights violations.
I think it would be best if private companies have their own channels where employees can lodge complaints about their human rights being breached. This is to prevent the problem from occurring and getting out of hand.
I believe that respecting employees’ human rights will yield positive results in the long run. Nowadays, a lot of buyers and consumers of Thai products come from the west who not only care about the quality of the product or the service itself but also the production process which takes into account the well-being of workers and the conditions of the community the company operates in.
If human rights are being violated by a company, its products may be denied, despite having a high quality. It can be seen that doing a business that respects human rights has a direct effect on trade performance and the market, and thereby contributes to our sustainable development and our sustainable development goals (SDG 2030).
Another national agenda is the issue of water hyacinth, as it has resulted in blockages to sewage systems and natural water resources, whether in Bangkok or the provinces. This issue affects many other problems.
It is an issue that legally involves many ministries, agencies, projects, and budgets. This is because the efforts from only one agency alone are not enough. The successful solution to this matter requires an integrated and synchronized approach between agencies in order to efficiently delegate responsibilities. If we are able to dispose of water hyacinth well upstream with the help of the locals, officials will be able to successfully address flooding and irrigation issues downstream.
Our waste management system, from collecting, sorting, disposing, to recycling requires a considerable amount of budget. However, presently we only collect 20 baht her household for garbage collection expenses. This reality, coupled with a shortage of staff, has made it necessary for the government to allocate additional funds from the central budget through the Ministry of Interior each year.
Garbage separation in communities is a necessary step. However, we are confronted with the issue of limited space on streets to place our trash. Once the garbage is collected and separated, it must be transported. Here, we are confronted by the issue of insufficient transportation vehicles and personnel. In order to convert the trash into renewable energy, additional plants must be constructed. However, many people do not want these plants to be located in their communities. In summary, if these issues are not addressed our garbage disposal issue cannot be solved.
We should see what the government has been able to do so far. At least, it is able to stringently enforce existing regulations and come up with new ones, which requires cooperation from communities and agencies. If we all feel that this issue needs to be addressed but are unwilling to cooperate throughout the process, it will not become a reality. Today, we have added up to 3 billion baht annually for our waste management efforts.
The same goes with flooding in Bangkok and the provinces. Part of the problem is our management of water resources in all regions, in addition to the issue of waste and weed disposal that I have just mentioned. Our sewage pipes have become clogged by large waste,
whether it is tables, chairs, and beds. We have tried to dispatch additional vehicles to collect these large pieces of waste and have instructed officials to ensure the efficiency of our sewage systems. The problem we face is where we will dispose of this waste and where this water will flow to. Our existing canals are few and many have been filled. The number of our water pumps are also limited.
As for water treatment, the problem starts from industrial activities. There are already laws governing this but they must be strictly enforced. We must ensure that grease traps and water treatment systems are installed in homes and business establishments to ensure that the substances do not flow into canals. This government has been increasing its efforts in all dimensions at this time, such as adding water pumps from upstream to downstream, and cleaning out dirt from pipes.
This includes employing more staff in order to facilitate traffic during times of floods, and quickly assist vehicles that have broken down. Today, we must make sure that water levels recede as quickly as possible. However, it would be unfeasible to expect this to happen within minutes of heavy rain.
This is because most of Bangkok is located only a little above sea level. We must continue to find solutions to long-standing issues, such as building additional pumping stations. One of these projects is the pumping station at Khlong Prem Prachakon, which requires a considerable amount of money and construction time. However, the problem we now face in many areas is that we are unable to construct these pumping stations because of existing homes that were built without complying with existing urban planning guidelines.
From now on, we must prepare to deal with water that is flowing from the north as well as rainfall downstream from dams. In certain areas, we do not have enough dams or canals to accommodate water downstream from dams because some locals are concerned that these projects will destroy the natural ecosystem of the area. However, the lack of proper irrigation means that areas including Bangkok will be affected by water flowing from the north.
In addition, we must also implement our policy of retaining as much water as possible, as the rainy season is followed by a period of drought. If people continue to disagree on the principles of this while demanding water for consumption and a flood-free rainy season but fail to make sacrifices and change their ways, such as their garbage disposal behavior, we will not be able to resolve these issues. Nothing will be achieved if we still think the same way and fail to understand, cooperate, or contribute. I would like everyone to understand this point today.
What I have said, I am not providing excuses for the government or the NCPO, nor am I placing the blame on anyone. Rather, we must acknowledge the issue at hand and address it at a holistic level. We must provide encouragement and help to each other more than only negative criticism, and consider the situation using reason before passing judgment. We must carefully examine these complicated issues and gather enough information to make informed decisions on how we can address them so that we can reform the country. We must first start with identifying what we can do now and I believe everything will improve in time.
My fellow Thai citizens, in order to assist our low to medium income citizens, it is necessary to strengthen our economy and enhance our potential, investments, create jobs and incomes while increasing our connectivity levels. We must also make sure that we look at the contexts and specific situations of various sectors. We must allocate most of our efforts towards assisting those with the lowest incomes in order for them to be able to support themselves. This must be done carefully in an efficient and transparent matter. Please understand the realities of the situation instead of the distorted information saying that absolutely everything will be provided for, as that is not possible. This requires cooperation from the state, the public, civil society and NGOs, among others.
Regarding the issue of household and public debt, this government has implemented measures to address loansharking and reduce household debt by establishing assistance funds for low-income citizens and SMEs. However, not everyone would qualify, as we must also be meticulous in our lending and ensure that we do not put our taxpayer’s money to waste.
These problems may have originally been caused by a lack of awareness on financial and household bookkeeping, rising expenses, and inadequate incomes, resulting in the need to seek loans from off-the-grid entities. It would be impossible for the government to completely alleviate these financial burdens. It also be incorrect to believe the distorted information that this government has created more debt, as we must first look at where this debt was originally incurred.
We must also see if these debts are valuable investments such as mortgages, land, or occupational vehicles as opposed to superfluous spending beyond people’s means and careless use of credit cards. How can we help alleviate people’s financial burdens by helping them generate more income to pay off their outstanding obligations and sustain their current livelihoods?
This government would also like to know how the next government would address the issues of loansharking, household debt, and the public debt, whether it has a more effective and sustainable approach or will merely address issues in the short term without considering future consequences and potential financial crises at the national level.
Measures to prevent the central budget from being used for populist policies by political parties include the Energy Fund Act, the Integrated Budgeting Act, and regional and provincial budget policies that provide transparency and clarity in various expenses. These measures should prevent such problems in the future, but everything ultimately depends on ethical governance.
This government is here to solve problems, not to create new ones. It must also exercise caution and find measures to ensure that past problems do not resurface. I ask that everyone understand the intentions and objectives of the laws that were passed during this government. Please do not see that these laws are creating difficulties, as some people are saying. We must have measures to reduce risks and promote equality and ethical law enforcement.
My fellow Thai citizens, underlying obstacles to national development are corruption, crime, misunderstandings, and distortion of information. These are matters that everyone should help oversee, whether it be the public, the government, or related officials.
Important reasons behind this include the lack of awareness, inefficient mobilization of policies, lack of restraint by officials, excessiveness, and the search for convenience and extravagant possessions. People often seek out the latest items but forget to assess whether they are able to live within their means.
Corruption may come in the form of asking for services and conveniences. The perpetrators often use their special privileges or demand special treatment. What is worse is that shady businesses give law enforcement officials the opportunity to have a stake in the success of these businesses in exchange of turning a blind eye. Both parties are guilty in this case.
This predicament has long existed in Thai society to the point where people see it as commonplace. Now is the time that we must reform our society and put an end to this cycle of corruption. We must all consider how we can contribute towards solving this issue.
I think that this issue can be resolved by instilling proper principles among civil servants and conscientiousness among the public, starting from the youth through the education system and through good role models in families. People must learn not to live above their means, as you should make an honest living.
Please do not assume that you have to do everything to uplift your status to your peers. Everyone is equal under basic rights, but those who are able to be happy in life are people who know what is sufficient. Those who are never satisfied will never be happy.
This government and the NCPO admits that addressing corruption, re-organizing orderliness society, and strict enforcement of laws can cause the economy to slow down. This is because money from these shady businesses have been removed from circulation. However, if we continue to let these businesses thrive, they will continue to become corrosive to the country’s economy, society, and stability, all at the same time.
This government’s activities may also affect those with very low income who have been part of this system, such as collecting bribes to sell on sidewalks, selling bootleg products, underground lotteries, or prostitution. Some may not even know that what they are doing is illegal because they have been doing it their entire lives.
Some people are careless in the way they make money. When it comes easy, they spend it easily as well and may need to break the law in order to find more money, such as by robbery or others. Today, when these people are prohibited from these activities, arrested, or fined, they feel that they have been wronged.
Some unscrupulous politicians have capitalized on this and have said that the reorganization of orderliness in society has caused difficulties to low income citizens who need to make a living. Why don’t we speak truthfully about this and promote the correct understanding of the long-term effects of these actions and how they affect security and stability?
Finally, what will help us attain our Thailand 4.0 agenda is research and development, as well as promoting our own innovations. Not only must our innovations lead to commercial use, we must create a relationship between the researcher, the producer, the markets, and related laws. We must find a way to create a positive relationship between these four things.
In the past, a proper value chain was not established. For example, research work on things that do not coincide with market demands did not gain interest and were not commercialized. Sometimes laws were not accommodating and served as obstacles to research. Also, incentives and funding for research was often inconsistent.
We must therefore prioritize and consider the relationship between research funding and the regulations, in order to create a relevant process that includes all stakeholders such as the state, educational institutions, the private sector, as well as support for the country’s 5 new industries in the S Curve.
This includes The Thai Industrial Standards Institute and the Food and Drug Administration. We must create a value chain between producers and the market to match with demand and give proper compensation to researchers. Most importantly, we must prioritize research that benefits low-income citizens and the agricultural sector as well as security issues and the economy. This may be in the form of producing inexpensive goods for reducing costs.
This past Tuesday, I invited researchers from Prince of Songkla University to present to the Cabinet and security agencies their research on the digital economy. Today, I would like to talk about two pieces of research. The first piece of research involves addressing the violence in the southern region through forensics.
This concerns collecting fingerprints, evidence of weapons, or clues of people breaking into property. If we want to keep 3D pieces of evidence, we would need to import silicon at 2,500 baht per tube. The process takes 15 minutes and has usage restrictions. However, this new research work was able to do this using natural rubber.
The new technology is easy to use and the substance softens and is malleable when it comes into contact with heat such as from a hairdryer. The process takes only two minutes and is able to create replicas of penetrating bullets. The material costs only 600 baht per kilogram and is recyclable. I ask that security officials study this new technology and put it to good use.
The second piece of research is a genetics examination kit that can determine carbamazepine drug allergies, a drug that commonly causes allergies. The process examines the DNA of patients to determine genetic features that are associated with drug allergies. Severe allergic reactions to this drug include blindness and loss of life. This examination kit costs only 1,000 baht, while the imported kit costs 2,500 baht. This cost efficiency will allow more tests to be conducted.
Finally, I am confident that all educational institutions in the country have the potential to restructure and enhance their roles as a center for research and development. Many institutions have already done great work. Most importantly, I hope that research is useful for solving the country’s problems and can help the country attain its Thailand 4.0 agenda.
I would like to thank all doctors, professors, and researchers for their hard work in creating a strong future for the country. I have always believed that educational institutions must engage and collaborate with local communities in order to grow stronger together.
Thank you, and I wish everyone happiness during the weekend. Sawasdee Krub.