From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals June 9, 2017

Good evening dear Thai citizens.

First, I would like to recall a royal saying by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej Boromanad Bophit, which goes, “To achieve the country’s development goals, many variables have to be taken into consideration.

First, there is the need for “virtuous people” who are knowledgeable, responsible, and hardworking. The second variable is “technical competence” as an effective tool for development. The third one is “effective planning” that must be compatible with the economic, social, and natural resources conditions of the country, while having the best interests of the people and the nation as the  fundamental.

Therefore, everyone should consider it a duty to use their knowledge and capabilities to serve society and develop the nation for the maximum benefit.” I would like to ask the Thai people to espouse this royal saying, and use it as a “guiding compass” for our cooperation today and in the future,

especially during this transition period for the country, in which many have called for reforms in many areas. In order to achieve our reform objectives, there has to be a strategy to serve as the main framework to formulate public policy and administer the country with direction and continuity, without wasting our resources, money, and time, and without conflicts based on diverging interests.

Without a strategy, a vision and common objectives, it will be difficult to cooperate to achieve our goals. Therefore, not only should we support virtuous people to work to their full capacity, use technical competence and knowledge for self-development and create useful innovations for society,

we must have an operational plan for our reforms, with details and clarity, able to be evaluated by all agencies in an integrated manner. The plan must also encourage participation from all sectors, through the “Pracharat” approach, as currently undertaken by the government and the NCPO.

My fellow citizens, I would like to reiterate that cooperation, unity, and reconciliation among the Thai people will allow for effective policy implementation, which is crucial to success. However, without awareness and good understanding of the issues, cooperation will be difficult. With that said, I would like everyone to take an interest in the notion of “communications to build the nation”. This can be divided into 3 levels.

The first level is “discourse within the family”, for instance family members that talk to one another and offer each other advice in addressing problems. Children raised in this type of warm and supportive environment will usually grow up to be good citizens for the country.

This way, we will have valuable human resources for our national development. For parents that do not support their children but are verbally abusive, children from this environment tend to become aggressive and lack self-confidence. These children will often turn their backs on their family and seek comfort from the wrong type of people.

Once communication expands to the community level, it should be based on facts and rationality as opposed to emotions that could lead to hate speeches and corresponding actions that overstep the boundaries and break with our ancient traditions, upon which there is undue admiration for lawbreakers. This is outlandish.

It could also lead to cases of improper logic in Thai society. An airport employee was caught stealing from passengers. Instead of feeling guilty for his crime, the culprit justified has actions on a low salary and even asked the management to give him a raise.

I believe that social media should be used to enhance our knowledge to live in age of globalization. With the right analytical approach, we can gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding from what we see on social media, and not fall victim to incitements to conflict by groups with malicious intentions,

dubious ponzi schemes, dishonest investments, false advertising, or strive to be “idols” of certain groups. All these factors foster the wrong values and create problems for Thai society, or leads us into being a decadent society.

As for communications at the national level, with media being the at the centre, we have to accept what is true, the importance of impartiality, and credibility of the media we are consuming. We must always analyze the information to see if it is real. What is also important is ethics and judgment in the media.

I ask you to consider all the affects from your reporting and topics that are useful for the public. There are many positive news which Thai society should be aware of and should be presented constructively, such as,

1. On behalf of the Thai people, I’d like to commend Ariya Jutanugarn, aka Pro May, a successful Thai golfer, who has had several achievements throughout her career. Pro May is a great inspiration for our youth.

The news could mention her path to her success. She has shown great qualities such as perseverance, patience, hard work, and commitment, not to mention the support from her parents. The news could also present the importance of sports. We do not have to be gifted athletes to play sports but everyone can play sports to keep themselves healthy by choosing what they like.

The media can also present the top rankings of global tourist destinations in Thailand such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Grand Palace, and Wat Pho. You can report on these stories in a manner that benefits society.

You can present the significance of these places and their histories to enhance appreciation for our cultural identity and national heritage. Our cultural heritage is the strength of Thai communities and is the source of jobs and incomes.

You can promote these places along with the “Thai Tiew Thai” while inviting foreigners to visit. The media could use this opportunity to trigger people’s understanding towards tourism development in such areas as sports, health, cruise travel, food, just to name a few.

From the examples I just gave you, I think it is time to give importance to constructive communications at all levels, starting with the basics, the family, the temple, and schools, to create resilience in society in accordance with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.

This will prevent Thailand from becoming a society without substance, where people use language and communications carelessly. Communications is an important element in our daily lives. Words can positively or negatively influence people and can damage people easily.

When consuming new information, I would like the Thai people to use logical thinking to decide whether they believe what is being presented. They should also find factual evidence to support their conclusions. Please use your analytical skills as opposed to opinions or unverified surveys.

Today, we must think with a vision, with deep understanding of the issues and details associated with every problem. One big problem is made up of a number of small problems. Therefore, every task and every job is important and interconnected. In addition, it requires efforts from all sides for us to be successful.

The media can help to provide solutions to the problems the country is facing. Members of the press should be conscientious of their roles and whether their actions can be constructive for society, or damage relations between countries.

At the same time, many programs should be commended. These programs help guide people and offer solutions to social problems. These programs are “Sure Before Share” on MCOT HD and “Clear Cut Chatjen” on NBT.

I would also like to suggest that members of the public follow the government’s progress on “Thailand Moves Forward” program aired nationwide every evening from 6 pm onwards.

In this period, for every Sunday between June 4th and August 27th, the program will feature 12 episodes presenting the implementation of the government’s solutions to a number of problems. On Sunday, June 11th, the program will present the measures taken to prevent illegal fishing. The goal is to help people understand what the government has been doing. I would like to thank all TV and radio stations for broadcasting the show every evening.

Dear citizens, there are still many topics I would like for you to understand and think about, such as

1. the law – we understand that its intention is to maintain peacefulness and justice in society. Therefore, the rule of law and access to the justice system are important to every individual.

If one does not have enough knowledge about the law, one may fall victim to those who abuse the laws for their own advantage. It leads to corruption, bribery, and other crimes.

2. As for assistance measures, the government doesn’t only assist the farmers but also the poor and low-income earners as well as those who do not have a full-time job or a steady income such as freelance workers. We also support SMEs, micro SMEs, startups, and small businesses.

We must manage public policy and implement measures that best suits the amount of budget we have. Many people are asking the government to clear all farmers’ debts. How is this possible, where do we get the money from? Other professions are also struggling. We need the money to help them too. The focus should be on the solutions that prevent farmers from borrowing more money.

Other policies include creating opportunities and finding alternatives to help them stand on their own feet. The government aims to build sustainability for all. The government is responsible for 70 million people, 15 million of whom earn less than 100,000 baht a year while others earn between 100,000 and 300,000 baht or more.

Investments in infrastructure, investments for the country’s future, and large-scale economic policies are necessary policies during this administration. We must figure out how we can mobilize all these agendas together without exceeding our budget. At the same time, if we do not consider cost effectiveness and fiscal responsibility while failing to reform our tax system, our country will go into ruin.

If we wish to erase our debts and reduce investments to focus on public healthcare, free welfare for all and free education, we must consider how much more money is required in order to meet these goals.
Once we increase our budget capacity, we would be able to allocate more towards achieving these aspirations. Our long-term policies will need to undergo review to coincide with today’s contexts and avoid budgetary burdens that could eventually bankrupt our country. We must also allocate enough of our budget towards maintaining and developing our bureaucracy.

Today, new earnings and investments in new sectors are gradually starting reach fruition, but not at full benefit. We must figure out together how we can make these things happen.

3. Regarding security, we must understand that we now face two types of concurrent threats. The first type is traditional threats in the form of warfare and conflict, whether big or small to protect the nation’s interests. We cannot deny that there are still traditional security threats in this world that are ready to ignite at any time.

Therefore, we must consider how we should appropriately allocate our budget towards conventional defenses, based on our relations with other nations and our commitments to various alliances to create cooperation and security in society and for our country. We must also consider our role in the world and must not be complacent.

New forms of threats we face in this modern time are threats such as drug trafficking and natural disasters. All countries are affected by these threats and must work together to prevent and resolve these issues at a global scale.

That said, the problem of unrest in the three southern border provinces is an internal problem that directly affects the country’s security and is a problem that has long manifested which requires a strategic approach for resolution.

This administration and the NCPO has incorporated HM King Rama IX’s strategy of “Understand, Reach out, and Develop,” and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to be the core strategy, and has focused on adopting it to the policy of “political solutions more than military operations” for implementation.

I would like our fellow Thai people in other regions to understand and rest assured by the government’s work in reaching out and seeking common ground and cooperation. The government has established a special representative in its committee on mobilizing the strategy for solving the problems in the southern border provinces.

Key mechanisms designed to connect the budgets between the government, various ministries, and local officials are being introduced in order to integrate all efforts and enable agencies to work closer together; whether it be for the safeguarding of lives and property of people, cracking down on those who seek to gain from conflict, addressing matters through the justice system, enhancing the efficiency of policy of mobilization, creating understanding both domestically and abroad, promoting educational, religious, cultural development, and raising the standards of living for all.

An example of an important policy in the administration is the “Triangle of security, prosperity, and sustainability model city project” to develop the economic potential of the southern region to levels similar to the 10 special economic zones and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

It is a people-centered program that incorporates the “King’s Philosophy” on generating “innate will for progress” without forcing developments that do not meet local demands or are incompatible with the social contexts. This approach is fundamental to developing the southern border region to be a specialized economic zone, and to raise the quality of life for the people in the area.

Examples include,
1. The program to develop Nong Chik District of Pattani Province into a model economic city for agricultural processing and a “ gateway to the three southern border provinces”
2. The program to develop Su-ngai Kolok District of Narathiwat Province into a center for border trade, and
3. The program to develop Betong District of Yala Province into a model economic city for sustainable self-sufficiency

In addition, the “Triangle of security, prosperity, and sustainability model city project” also connects with other infrastructural projects in the region, such as,

1) The Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) strategic framework between 14 southern provinces in Thailand, 8 states of Malaysia, and 10 Islands in Province Sumatra of Indonesia, as well as the ASEAN value chain.

2) The Thai – Chinese railroad development project according to the One Belt One Road Initiative, which will connect Thailand with 64 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and China via rail through the Thai – Chinese – Laos and the Trans-Asian Railway railroads as well as other Asian railway projects in the future.

Another agenda in the region is to prevent and address flooding in the southern border provinces in a sustainable manner, to prevent a repeat of the severe flooding that had occurred towards the end of last year, an incident that caused considerable damage to the lives and property of the residents in the area. This administration has designated special representatives to mobilize various projects for this.

The goals are to reduce damages by more than 60 percent, inundation in areas outside centers lasting no more than 7 days, and no damages caused to agricultural crops. City centers and residential areas must be not be inundated for more than 1-2 days.

The policy must mitigate damages in flood prone areas through systematic water management to accelerate water drainage and storage for the drought season. I ask for cooperation from residents as well, as the government cannot achieve this alone.

My fellow Thai citizens, for another piece of good news: on May 31, the IMD improved Thailand’s ranking for competitiveness in 2017 from 28 to 27, with the ranking for improvements in economic development rising from 13 to 10 due to foreign investments.

Another area of improvement is the ranking for the effectiveness of government work from 23 to 20. The IMD has also begun ranking countries for incorporating digital technologies into state administration and business operations. Thailand is currently ranked 41st, which is a good start and motivation to do better.

Gaining in rank in these areas is not an easy feat. These developments should boost the morale of all related parties who have collaborated and worked at their full potential. I have always said that these rankings improve global credibility in Thailand.

More important than that are the internal perceptions within the country which can motivate us to understand and cooperate with each other and support one another in our work to bring about progress for the country.

This past Thursday, I presented the 2018 fiscal budget to the National Legislative Assembly. I would like to share what I said, which is that this budget differs from other budgets significantly.

This administration aims to create a more effective budget that would allocate funds according to the needs of the public for maximize benefits. Changes to the budget have come in various dimensions.

The first dimension is that budget allocation is based on an extensive review of the needs of the country. The first part of this is the budget to support the full-time functions of the government, which has decreased by over 240,000 million- baht.

This is due to the government’s policy of reducing, pausing, or canceling projects that are redundant or between obsolete agencies that also do not meet the needs of the country. The amount of money saved here will be allocated in two areas:  130,000 million baht for integrated work and another 110,000 million baht for strategic work.

This is in order to support the successful implementation of policies and national reforms and to ensure that the country will be able to mobilize the twenty-year National Strategy and the 12th NESDB plan more effectively, while also being able to better assess fiscal budgets.

The second dimension is allocating a budget to support integrated work between agencies so that it enables them to increase coordination, and reduce redundancies in human capital, resources, and budget. This allocation also promotes shared responsibility and transparency.

This enables us to better utilize our limited budget to address the people’s concerns and develop the country to have sustainable prosperity. This is by introducing mechanisms to integrate the budget between agencies as well as the allocation of human resource and development plans. This way, we can best address our National Strategy in order to strengthen and enhance our nation’s competitiveness.

The third dimension is maximizing value out of the budget. This is by introducing mechanisms, such as the Procurement Act to prevent corruption, an ethics committee, the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases, and other stringent oversight mechanisms.

The fourth dimension is reforming budget allocation, which is an important step in mobilizing continuous reforms in the country.

This administration has laid out the plans for implementing reforms in various areas by introducing various standards and laws, whether they be new or amendments, or canceling certain provisions in order to ensure system-wide congruence.

In addition, to allocate the country’s budget in an effective way that meets the financial requirements for national reforms, the bureaucracy, national administration and civil servants are important factors.

Decentralization of power and budget dispersion must take into consideration efficiency and the capabilities and readiness of all the components in the system. This requires a roadmap in creating new systems and a new generation of civil servants, in addition to developing the country’s knowledge base and analytical capacity at all levels.

The most important agenda under the parameters of this budget is to mobilize national reforms, including laws that uphold justice, reducing inequalities, providing low-income earners access to the justice system, and amending and modernizing laws to support trade and economic activity.

This includes laws for orderliness in society, and for crime and drugs suppression. The laws must be people centered and take into consideration how the country will move forward. The legal committees pertaining to various laws are accelerating their efforts to create a strong foundation for our national reforms in the next phase.

Thank you and I wish everyone happiness during the weekend. Sawasdee Krub.