From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals August 4, 2017
Good evening dear Thai citizens.
The recent flooding has been caused by the southwesterly monsoon covering the Andaman Sea and all regions of Thailand, coupled with Tropical Storms Sonca and Talas that moved towards the country. The amount of water measured this year is much higher than other rainy seasons, flooding 44 provinces.
The deluge has affected more than 370,000 families or around 1.2 million people. At present, situations in 34 provinces have improved, while 10 provinces are still inundated.
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, who is the President of the Thai Red Cross Society, and members of the Royal Family have expressed great concern over the well-being of those affected by the floods.
To this end, His Majesty has instructed for the establishment of an assistance center to help those in urgent need. Ready-to-eat food will be distributed to people in disaster zones and flood victims, as well as drinking water and other essential items.
In addition, His Majesty has assigned representatives from the Red Cross Society, the Rajprachanukrua Foundation under the Royal Patronage, and the Princess Pa Foundation to hand out relief packages and necessities to people in need. His Majesty has also donated animal feed to cattle farmers affected by the floods. His Majesty’s benevolence has brought much encouragement and hope to the people in distress. Long live His Majesty the King and the Royal Family.
In addition, His Majesty has emphasized the importance of implementing the initiatives of King Rama IX in all areas, such as growing vetiver grass, inspecting, and repairing reservoirs, and sluice gates. Local people are encouraged to take part in the solutions while authorities should make sure that people understand what is going on, what can be done, as well as what can’t be done.
This is because we have to deal with structures that were built in the past. Some new projects will take time to build. They might not be in time for current situations, which have been more severe than expected. Please understand the problem. In order to cope with natural disasters that are more severe than normal, we have to invest in mega-projects for the long term.
In this regard, the government will employ the guidance of His Majesty the King during the previous southern region floods. This is an aspect of the Kings Philosophy that will guide the government and through this recent episode of flooding as well as other kinds of natural disasters. They include:
1) Assistance must be distributed to all disaster areas, even in the remotest areas. Many agencies are trying to reach out to those affected people.
2) The work must be done systematically with the help of all related agencies and the private sector to prevent work duplication.
And 3) The water situation must be closely monitored. There must be advanced warnings and response measures in place for all kinds of disasters as well as a rehabilitation plans for post-disaster.
To build confidence and boost morale among the people and rescue agencies, I’d like to share with you the operations of government units which can be divided into 3 phases – “pre, during, and post” disaster.
Pre-disaster (flood) activities include monitoring the situation and informing the people. Disaster prevention and mitigation agencies are equipped with technologies and equipment for data analysis, situation assessment, and forecasting. These agencies include the Meteorological Department, Irrigation Department, Department of Groundwater Resources, and the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute.
They will coordinate to assess risks and give advance warnings in cases of flashfloods, mudslides, and gusty winds through several communication channels, either state channels or community channels, so that people in risk-prone areas can take pre-cautions and follow the government’s advice to minimize the impact. In addition, infographic and social media sites will be used.
Those channels will give people warning and instructions on health and safety matters, such as in cases of fire, how to deal with stray animals, how to take care of their cars, where to leave their vehicles, restrooms, waste, health and hygiene, and how to prevent contagious diseases. These are all things that people need to know during disasters. The advice will come in very handy in various situations, so please keep abreast of the news from the government and the Meteorological Department, so that you can act accordingly.
The second phase is ‘during’ disaster – which will focus on urgent assistance for those in need. This means that help will be offered to the victims immediately and local government offices will have the autonomy to make immediate decisions, such as pooling resources, deploying rescue units, opening disaster mitigation centers, evacuating people to safe zones, setting up shelters, and helping victims with necessities such as food, water, medicines, clothes and blankets, and other essential items as well as looking after their physical and mental health.
Every undertaking must be included in the “response plan”, which must be drawn up ahead of time and revised according to circumstances that may change. I believe that social media sites can play a major role in distributing useful information to victims as well as in streamlining the work of authorities. I would like to commend those sites that have done so. As for the information that is unreliable, such information should not be distributed. Let this be our lesson that we should not share misleading information and must always get our facts right.
This is to prevent the situation from worsening, even unintentionally. News agencies should also help people keep calm and render their cooperation to the government, not to mention provide moral support to our authorities for their hard work. As for water drainage, I have ordered authorities to consider a water usage plan for the future.
The rainy season will end in 3 months. Therefore, the 4 major dams along the Chao Phraya River must store at least 5.6 billion cubic meters of water for household consumption, production, the ecosystem, and other needs next year. The demand will be as high as 12 billion cubic meters. Other regions must store water as well. Please do not drain everything out. Water will be needed in the future, so what you choose to do should be in line with future circumstances.
The third phase is ‘post-disaster’. Once the situation improves, we will implement the ‘rehabilitation plan’ to help people get back on their feet as soon as possible. Post-flood operations include damage assessment, house repair, vehicle repair, and maintenance of farm equipment, in addition to the maintenance of infrastructure, such as roads, rails, airports, bridges, reservoirs, waterways, and state offices.
I have ordered all related agencies to assess the damage in this preliminary stage so that assistance is provided through the Pracharat approach, bringing together efforts from the private sector, NGOs, vocational students, and volunteers who are willing to help the victims and authorities. The Cabinet has approved assistance measures for people and farmers battling the recent floods.
The first one is financial measures for those in urgent need, which will come in various forms, as well as measures to help people renting state-owned properties that have been damaged by the floods.
The second measure is financial assistance for maintenance work such as home repairs, postponement of debt payments, and other forms of assistance in addition to monetary assistance in cases where insured properties are damaged by the disaster.
The third measure is tax deduction and exemption for repair work, such as for home and vehicle maintenance. The information is appearing on the screen. The Government Spokesperson has already provided this information by an announcement. Private organizations have also made donations through the disaster fund overseen by the Prime Minister’s Office. Please refer to the information on your screen.
The government has organized a fundraising event at Santi Maitri Building at Government House to collect donations from the public. The event just took place this evening. Those who wish to contribute can contact donation representatives who have already registered with the Revenue Department.
Monetary donations or other forms of donations made between July 5th and October 31st can be tax deductible when doing your tax returns. Remember to ask for receipts. Currently, the government has raised a total of 788 million baht for the victims.
The criteria for assistance are the same as the ones used during the southern flooding, for instance, people will receive 5,000 baht for expenses on consumer goods and professional equipment, 15,000-230,000 baht for house repair, and 50,000 baht for funeral costs for each deceased.
The next measure is financial loans for affected SMEs and businesses issued by the SME Bank. Each business can be granted a loan of no more than 15 million baht.
For this, I ask that every related agency work proactively by building a mechanism to streamline their operations. You need to go door to door and offer your help to everyone in need, such as the farmers and business owners. Make sure they know where to seek help, especially during these difficult times.
I have recently visited flood victims to offer my support and boost morale to officials in Sakon Nakhon province. I was glad to see smiles on people’s faces in their perseverance, especially after they had just encountered many hardships and life-threatening disasters. I would like to commend every officer, volunteer, and all participating sectors for helping to alleviate people’s hardships and for working together to get through such an ordeal. Every problem can be solved as long as everyone works in unison and moves the country forward.
I wish to see water management projects and other mega projects come to realization. These projects will enable the country to manage water in a sustainable manner. However, many projects cannot be launched, as they include areas with private land and owners who may or may not understand the importance of such projects.
We will need to find solutions together. For example, how we are going to divert water from the west and the east into the ocean, or how to make a shortcut for water drainage? We have the solutions ready, but they have not been approved by many stakeholders, thus causing delays. At the same time, we have to take city planning into consideration in order to be able to maximize the drainage capacity. Construction projects must be initiated now for future use. Otherwise, without these projects, the government may be faulted for not taking action. However, the government cannot do this without your cooperation.
My fellow citizens, the NCPOS effort to follow the country’s Roadmap has reached another milestone this past week, or since the 2017 Constitution was passed by referendum and endorsed by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. The National Strategy Act 2017 and the Reform Plan and Implementation Act 2017 have been enacted.
This will build confidence among fellow Thais and the world community over our progress. Other things that will follow include the appointment of the National Strategies Commission and the Reform Commission who will be in charge of reform in all respects, as well as other duties assigned by the National Strategies Commission, within a specific timeframe.
The government and the NCPO have made some preparations, in areas where possible, to ensure success in our objectives. For this matter, the government has supported the work of the National Legislative Assembly, the National Reform Council, the National Reform Steering Assembly, and the Reform, National Strategy, and Reconciliation Committee.
In addition, the National Economics and Social Development Board (NESDB) has conducted a survey to collect suggestions about national reforms from all sectors, so that the two newly created organs can use those suggestions as guidelines, as according to the Constitution. The government has achieved the first phase of reform and we will now focus on other details before we move on to the substantive reform issues.
There are two most important things in reform including
1) The participation of all stakeholders, every profession, gender, and age group – I would like experienced people or elders to share their thoughts and visions with younger people, which can lead to constructive thinking and a noble calling to build a stronger nation for future generations. We must also listen to the new generation and thinkers of the future.
Members of the public must be able to voice their thoughts and suggestions openly through government channels and other channels such as social media, so that everyone can take part in the process and keep updated with information. Everyone taking part should be a thinker, a scholar, and a practitioner, because the key challenges remain in implementation and overcoming conflicting positions or different viewpoints.
These problems are the challenges to our reform efforts. Many things proved to be a success so far. But the process remains slow overall, when considering the details. We have to start with smaller problems before moving onto bigger ones. If we only focus on big issues without paying attention to the smaller ones, we cannot be successful.
2) The creation and enforcement of law – which does not only provide a foundation for national reforms, but also helps to create unity and reconciliation among the Thai people. Everyone, regardless of his or her status, is equal under the law. We must all respect the law. Law enforcement must equal and just. Because if you do not break the law, you will not violate the rights of other people and there will less conflicts in society. The country will be more stable. There will be growth and development in all aspects.
However, it is common that reforms will affect many people. Many stakeholders will feel the impact, and thus resist changes. I personally do not want to use the law to force people, but I ask for understanding and cooperation.
The government and the NCPO understand the importance of law and the justice system, because the two are fundamentals to our society and to a country governed under a democratic system where people are obligated to respect the law and the three branches of government – the legislature, the administration, and the judicial branch – whose purposes are to maintain checks and balances.
For instance, the government has enforced many new laws to help people cope with their urgent problems, address disparities, improve the work and efficiency of governmental agencies, ratify international agreements, and streamline the national reform process. For the past 2 years, almost 200 laws have been passed and enacted, which is per annum, more than what was accomplished in 7 years before the NCPO’s time.
As for reforms in a smaller framework ahead of the establishment of the Reform Commission, which will be in charge of reforms in a larger framework, the government has done all it can as suggested by the NRSA and the NRC. These suggestions were undertaken immediately, for example, the adjustment of farming practices in Sa Kaeo province, the only city that declared 100,000 rai of farmland drought-disaster zones. Sa Kaeo is a border province with no major rivers running through agricultural zones. Its farming activities rely on natural rains.
Without rains, there would be no water. Sometimes groundwater is not sufficient. Building an irrigation canal is not worthwhile because it only produces 380 kilograms of rice per year. In the meantime, Chai Nat produces 700-800 kilograms per season, not per annum, which proves to be more worthwhile. The Agri-Map technology shows that the area is not suitable for any crops because it has no water supply.
This is the motivation behind the “Burapha Cowboy Project” of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. It is a livestock program in Sa Kaeo Province nearby Laem Chabang that connects with Bangkok, similar to Chockhai Farm in Pak Chong District in Nakhon Ratchasima Province.
There is currently a shortage of cows in our livestock industry. 10 years ago, we had 8 million cows. Now we only have 4 million. If we do not raise production, there will be a shortage of beef.
The “Burapha Cowboy Project” will consists of 3 main activities:
1. A cow bank, which lends out male and female cows, where farmers can pay the banks back in calves that they are able to breed.
2. Reducing rice farming land and instead planting crops for beef cattle such, as grass, corn, and cassava.
For example, if you have 15 Rai of unproductive farming land, you can instead conduct cow farming by reducing your farmland by 5 Rai and planting corn for 3 years. You will be able to reduce your unproductive land area and turn to more lucrative ventures, such as beef cattle farming and planting grass and corn.
3. Bringing together “large-scale farming” livestock ventures, which would reduce principal costs in procuring seeds and renting machinery. This would also strengthen the bargaining power of farmers and make it easier to start new ventures together.
Presently, there are 6,100 farmers participating in the program who have converted 30,000 Rai from the 100,000 Rai they own in order to plant feed. This October, we will be issuing beef cattle and goats to farmers who wish to participate in the program. In the future, Sa Kaeo Province will become “the city of beef cattle” or “Burapha Cowboys”. Over 100,000 Rai of usually drought-stricken farmland will then be turned into large grasslands that can be used as a tourist attraction for horse riding. The government will no longer have to expend its budget for addressing drought in Sa Kaew Province. This change may take some time but it will be a sustainable solution.
With this, there will be no need for protests, no need for vote buying, and no need for populist policies that are are not beneficial. The government’s resources will be freed up to focus on solving other difficult tasks.
My fellow Thai citizens, assisting and supporting farmers to ensure that they have a secure and sustainable living has always been an urgent matter.
The government and the NCPO believes that thoroughly distributing income and reducing disparities will prosper the country in a sustainable, peaceful, and secure manner.
My fellow Thai citizens, when I refer to the agricultural industry I am talking about an important production sector of the country that accounts for approximately 8 percent of the country’s total revenue.
The agricultural sector includes 25.07 million people, or 38.14 percent of the total population in Thailand. In the past, the agricultural industry has encountered various obstacles, whether it be pertaining to soil, weather conditions, volatility in commodity prices, or unstable economic conditions.
In addition, the sector has faced a changing global landscape, including slow economic recovery; the increasing role of technology in production and the environment, as well as the effects of global warming.
Another important change is that the agricultural population is becoming older each year. Family members in agricultural households, who are more than 64 years old, accounted for 7 percent between 1997-2001. This number has increased to 11 percent between 2012-2016. The average age of a person in the Thai agricultural industry is 58, compared to 39 in Vietnam.
This has resulted in a drastic reduction in workers in Thailand’s agricultural sector, not to mention descendents of farmers who may not wish to carry on their parent’s occupations, but instead aspire to work in the industrial or tourism and services industry.
This includes service sectors such as in trading, hotels, and the restaurant sector, which have seen a continuous growth in workforce supply. A shrinking work force in the agricultural sector will result in decreased production capabilities for the country.
Therefore, we will no longer be able to solve problems by implementing short-term measures, such as by providing income compensation. We must also consider how we can build long-term resilience so that farmers are able to effectively adjust to changes.
The best approach would be to develop people in the agricultural industry by equipping them with appropriate knowledge and skills. We must provide farmers with the ability to utilize information on production, pricing, and market conditions in order to better enhance their occupations.
We must also instill a higher regard for careers in the agricultural industry. The government must support the use of databases, technology, and innovations in production as well.
The government plans on creating a “new generation of farmers” who can be divided into 3 categories,
1. New university graduates in agricultural fields who may lack factors such as land, capital, or opportunities. We must support this high potential group by providing land for conducting their occupations and opportunities through farming cooperatives in shared land. Supporting this group will serve as an example that can be expanded to others in the agricultural industry.
2. Existing farmers and their children. We must give ample support to this group because they already have expertise in farming. We must focus on instilling a sense of value in their careers in agriculture while also reducing debt burdens and providing comprehensive information on agriculture.
We must introduce the use of databases and technology to enhance the production process and reduce damages that occur from natural disasters. We must provide them with the opportunity to plant crops according to the demands of the markets.
3. Those who are in other sectors or those who are interested in agriculture. We must focus on providing advice on production. These guidelines are based on data analysis and case studies by farmers as well surveys of farmers in various areas.
We have found that key elements vital to the success of our “new generation farmers” initiative include:
1. Farmers must have a love for their occupation and should continuously hone their skills. These characteristics are a prerequisite for putting in the necessary effort and for enjoying the occupation.
2. Creating incentives and enhancing the capabilities of farming – we must ensure that existing and prospective farmers are incentivized and ready to conduct farming in an efficient manner.
3. Producing a new generation of farmers – all sectors, whether it is the government or the private sector, should contribute towards the rise of new farmers to carry on this country’s vital industry, in a more productive and efficient manner.
4. Honoring and recognizing successful farmers as a way of creating pride in their occupation and as motivation for a new generation farmers or those who wish to conduct farming as a career.
My fellow Thai citizens, our bid to produce a new generation of farmers must be done swiftly in order to reverse the rapid decrease in farmers. This requires cooperation and concerted efforts between the government and the private sector.
It is fortunate that many private sector organizations have supported the “Smart Farmer” initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
through activities and training programs, supporting technology, holding contests on innovations, and selecting people with high potential to lead the new wave of modern farmers.
I would like to talk about the success story of a modern farmer. Mr Dam Khayanying is a farmer in Buriram Province who was inspired by the royal remarks of King Rama IX on organic farming. He incorporated these remarks through rotating crops in order to add nutrients to the soil. He alternated this with planting organic jasmine rice and was able to turn himself around from a debt-ridden farmer to the leading organic jasmine rice producer of Lam Plai Mat District.
He has also helped his community adopt organic farming. New approaches towards agriculture mixed with livestock farming will definitely boost revenues compared to planting only one type of crop that is susceptible to natural disasters and volatile market conditions.
We must engage in multiple activities in order to sustain ourselves during times when our livestock or plants have yet to mature. We must also be able to reduce our household spending. Our farmers should undertake these measures, as they are approaches advocated by King Rama IX and the New Agricultural Theory.
In addition, the government has implemented policies in other aspects as well. Most recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology has established a program to develop agriculture with science and innovation called InnoAgri, which is similar to Agri Map.
This innovative map will create opportunities by using research findings, technologies, and innovations that are relevant to enhancing the competitiveness of the country’s agricultural sector,
which also coincides with the Thailand 4.0 agenda of transforming the country’s agricultural sector from a labor-intensive sector to a smart-farming sector through the use of effective management and new technologies.
For this, the National Farmers Federation and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives has selected implemented 3 policies:
1. Elevating farmers to become “high-tech” farmers able to incorporate science, technology, and innovation to reduce costs and boost revenue.
2. Elevating farmers to become agricultural entrepreneurs who can add value to their products through processing methods.
3. Supporting the creation of innovative farmers by building communities able to incorporate science and technology towards enhancing the efficiency of the entire value chain.
In the past, over 6,000 people have already participated in the program. Those who are interested should keep up with the latest news and updates in order to participate in new programs. Farmers are also encouraged to spread the word to their peers so that we can bring about substantial change.
My fellow Thai citizens, in the next 20 years and onwards, Thailand will need to rely on its own innovations instead of importing them from abroad, which can have the effect of hampering our strength and competitiveness.
I would like the development of new innovations to derive from simple solutions to problems that we experience on a daily basis, aiming to address these problems with our own means and in a sustainable manner.
Innovations should especially benefit low-income citizens who require cost-effective solutions and tools. We must be able to develop these innovations for widespread use in all areas of the country.
An example is the “Taxi Ok” program by the Department of Land Transport of the Ministry of Transport, aimed at addressing the issues in the private and union taxi sectors, which have received numerous complaints such as denying passengers, refusal to charge by the official rate, rudeness, speeding, and careless driving behavior.
Even though the Department of Land Transport has continuously enforced its laws and issued severe punishments, such as by revoking licenses, this behavior still occurs. Our efforts to raise the standards of taxi services consist of:
1. Developing a taxi calling service using smart phones, where people can call for participating taxis registered at taxi service centers.
2. Installing essential equipment on all taxis, such as a fee system that connects with a database, recording travel information, and GPS tracking,
instruments that transmits data on distance, time, geolocation, route, speed, fee charges, driver identification, cameras, and emergency buttons that inform service centers in the event of an emergency.
3. Creating a network of taxi service centers as an agency between the Department of Land Transport and taxis to coordinate and manage complaints and to submit data to the taxi service centers of the Department of Land Transport.
4. Establishing a DLT Taxi Center to oversee private taxi service centers to ensure compliance with guidelines stipulated by the Department of Land Transport.
We will incorporate technology in tracking the vehicle’s whereabouts, travel history, speed, and situation inside the car. This includes a driver identification system, behavior tracking, and rating system for taxi service systems in order to encourage competition in servicing the public. The Taxi OK program is a way of raising the standards of the taxi industry according to the Thailand 4.0 agenda, using the Pracharat model by incorporating new technologies with effective oversight and management in order to provide convenience and safety to customers. This would contribute towards improving the service quality and behavior of taxis in a sustainable manner. I ask various taxi unions to comply with these new measures so that we can effectively monitor the quality of drivers and not lose credibility among customers.
Finally, to honour and pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, on the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty’s 85 Birthday Anniversary on August 12, 2017, the Queen Sirikit Park Foundation has coordinated with 25 organizations, that have followed Her Majesty’s initiative in environmental conservation, to organize the 11th Botanical Fair in commemoration of Her Majesty the Queen on August 9-14 at Queen Sirikit Park. The fair aims to raise awareness about Her Majesty’s royal initiatives in environmental conservation and biodiversity, which have greatly benefited the public and are renowned in Thailand and abroad.
As a result, Her Majesty has been presented with the title of “The Royal Mother of Biodiversity Protection.” Therefore I would like to invite everyone to be a part in carrying on Her Majesty’s royal aspirations in environmental conservation by participating in the fair or through our daily actions. I would also like to invite everyone to participate in the Pracharat tree planting program, whether it be in your private land or in public areas designated by government officials.
Activities will commence nationwide on August 7 until September 30 in remembrance of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and to honour Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. The activity encourages government officials, the private sector, and the public to plant trees, promote unity, and perform virtuous deeds across the country.
Importantly, the activity instills the principles of environmental conservation among the next generation. I would like to invite everyone to take pride in growing and nurturing your plants into flourishing trees,alike our current efforts of creating stability, prosperity, and sustainability for the country and the next generation. We also conduct this activity to honour His Majesty King Rama X. I ask everyone to come together and do your part to the best of your abilities.
Thank you and I wish everyone a happy weekend. Sawasdee Krub.
Image from http://www.thaigov.go.th/gallery/contents/details/633