From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals September 01, 2017

Good evening dear Thai citizens.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has graciously consented for the establishment of a volunteer network for the Royal Cremation ceremony, to bring together the expressions of devotion of the Thai people for His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on that very important occasion.

These volunteers will engage in 8 activities, including sandalwood flower making, public relations, construction, transportation, public services, public health, public safety, and traffic management. Applications are open for registry throughout September. The information is appearing on your screen. More information can be obtained from calling 1510 or 1511.

This afternoon, September 1st, Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, presided over the opening ceremony of a reforestation campaign at Phutthamonthon, in Nakhon Pathom.

It was part of the government’s “Pracharat” environmental protection project, initiated in honour of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of the 9th Reign.

Forests serve as food sources for humans and animals and are the starting point of the ecosystem as well as the major suppliers for all industries. At present, the project has planted more than 300,000 saplings on a 1,500-rai area of land. I ask us all to help take care of the plants and the forests.

The two activities I have just mentioned are emblematic of our three most important institutions – nation, religion, and Monarchy – which have been the foundations of the Thai nation that has thrived for over 700 years. I would like to invite you all to engage in these volunteer activities, as well as comprehend their context and the objectives, so as to foster a social conscience, ethical values, and the will to make sacrifices for the common good, as well as express love for our country, which are important for reconciliation.

These attributes cannot be built overnight. It takes a lot of commitment and time, which is similar to planting a tree, as highlighted in the King’s Philosophy. Likewise, investments in infrastructure and reform will take 5, 10, and even 20 years before concrete results can be realized.

The principles emphasized by the King’s Philosophy should be understood at their core, so that we can pass them on to our children. I often say to the public and government officers that we may know what these principles are, but whether we truly understand them will be judged by how much we can make use of them in our lives.

I’ve always asked the media that when they present news about the government, to refrain from merely public relations material, such as who gave a speech, who chaired the ceremony, or who attended a group photo session. I always urge the media to present substance, and information from an angle that will truly benefit or educate their audiences, such as news about principles, ideas, or something they can actually make use of.

For instance, many people think that queueing up is important because it teaches people to be disciplined, but actually, it teaches us more than discipline. It teaches us to understand the importance of being patient, and not to take advantage of others. In addition, it allows us to respect other people’s rights, and to respect social norms and regulations. And that should encourage everyone to follow the laws while discouraging people from breaking or thinking that they are above the law.

In this sense, the simple act of queueing up can be seen as an important foundation for governance under a democratic system. Therefore, if we want democracy to blossom, we should instill a social conscience in our children. This can be done both at home and at school. With such values, our children will be persons who use reason and can listen to others, which is important for a democracy.

My fellow citizens, in planning for the future, it is essential that the government gives importance to our youth, who are alike to young saplings. If democracy is what we aim for, then we must embed this notion in our children in a more systematic manner.

Today the government has promulgated the second Child and Youth Development Act, B.E. 2560, establishing children and youth councils at all levels – subdistricts, municipality, district, province, and national levels.

This opens up opportunities for children to take part in national development through various activities that promote democracy and learning experiences via teamwork, leadership, analytical thinking, creative thinking, and volunteer work, in addition to the efforts to address national problems and develop communities.

In addition, we need to encourage the public to respect the laws and regulations, whether they are minor or major. One has to look at the Constitution as well as the organic laws and other supporting laws.

Let me take this opportunity to invite the youth to attend these aforementioned youth council meetings. Children can apply at government offices in their respective areas. The details about the place and time are on the screen. I hope that our children and youth councils will play an important part in building a stable social foundation for Thailand.

This mechanism will also work with the National Strategy Committee and the National Reform Committee.
Nevertheless, something that is affecting the development of our youth today is social media. There are both good and bad influences, which are difficult to control, because information technology can be developed in a blink of an eye and it changes constantly.  On the other hand, legislation takes a long time to complete. In spite of this, the government has developed 2 measures to deal with the complexities and challenges presented by the digital age.

The first measure is the enactment of the Safe and Creative Media Development Fund Act, B.E. 2558, as a tool to enhance academic work, promote constructive use of media, and build networks and monitoring groups in all areas, as well as Cultural Overseeing centers in 76 provinces nationwide.

The objective is to strengthen our children’s sense of discretion amidst the influences of social media. This opens opportunities for all sectors of society to participate in media development through the 4 strategies, including constructive media expansion, modernizing the media, systemic and integrative cooperation, and useful applications of the law.

The second measure is to form an alliance between the Ministry of Culture and the Safe and Creative Media Development Committee as well as other governmental agencies, the private sector, and members of the media (numbering more than 50), who will work together to create useful and constructive information.

These organizations will pledge to turn Thailand into a learning and knowledge based society where youngsters and members of the public can improve their livelihoods and live together in peace and cultural diversity, in the “Thailand 4.0” era.

My fellow citizens, the government and the NCPO understand the importance of bringing new technology to better serve the needs of the Thai people. The government has plans and projects to initiate and for the private sector to consider undertaking.

Some may ask why we should reduce our use of cash, or what the benefits of a “cashless society” are, and whether it is a goal worth attaining.
The first reason is that everyone will enjoy faster and safer financial transactions, especially when purchasing high-priced items. They will not have to worry about carrying large sums of money with them that could be stolen.
For regular purchases, people will not have to make trips to the ATM, while businesses will not have to worry about preparing cash for change. Transactions will become faster and easier.
At the macro level, the country spends no less than 20 billion baht each year on costs associated with managing large sums of money, from minting, counting, phasing out old banknotes while introducing new ones to ensure that the public has high quality banknotes to use, not to mention security costs incurred when transporting money.
In addition, the need to maintain large amounts of banknotes in ATMs comes at a cost to commercial banks, as they cannot collect interest from these notes in addition to having to pay for security.
Therefore, to make the country’s financial transactions more connected and efficient, the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Thailand has established a National e-Payment planthat has received cooperation from commercial banks, which in turn will lay the foundations for a faster, more convenient, transparent, and cost-effective financial infrastructure. This agenda has brought about programs such as:
1. The PromptPay program, which supports card-less electronic transactions through mobile devices or over the Internet. This program enables fast peer-to-peer transactions at significantly reduced costs.

For example, transactions no more than 5,000 baht are free. The public or small retailers can link their telephone numbers or national identification cards while businesses can link their corporate registration number with savings accounts to make transactions. This is a convenient transaction method.
Those who transfer money into accounts that have been linked with PromptPay will enjoy reduced transaction fees. Individuals and businesses have continued to register to use the PromptPay system.

The latest statistics show over 32 million linked accounts, with transactions totaling over 100 billion baht. Those who are interested can contact their banks directly or contact the financial services center of the Bank of Thailand at the hotline 1213.

For those that are reluctant citing concerns that registering with PromptPay would enable the government to monitor their financial transactions and tax payments – this is a different issue altogether because if the government is required to examine such matters, it can already do so with the normal and existing system.

2. As for the use of credit and debit cards under the National e-Payment plan, the government has expanded their by pushing for the installation of card readers or EDC machines at retail stores and at government offices.

The Bank of Thailand has also pushed for use of ATM chip cards by the year 2019 in order to increase the safety of card use and to serve as a viable alternative.
The installation of EDC machines coincides with the government’s welfare card program where eligible people can use their cards to purchase goods and services as I have mentioned earlier. In the next phase, these cards will be able to serve as public transportation tickets, further increasing your convenience.

Recently, the Cabinet has acknowledged the progress of the development of the e-Ticket system. In the future, these tickets can be used for buses, electric trains, ferries, and airport link as well as to pay for consumer goods and services. This e-ticket system will be first used with buses of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA). Ticket scanners will be installed in the first batch of 800 buses this October 1st and 2,600 more buses next year.

From then the system will be set up in electric trains on 4 routes including the Airport Rail Link, the Purple line, the Green line, and the Blue line, and is expected to be ready for service in July of 2018. As for the following phase, the e-Ticket system will be set up for all transportation systems such as new electric train routes, expressways, highways, and boat services.

After the system is enabled in the transport sector, it will then be activated for people to pay for products and services. This pilot phase will be tested in the Ministry of Commerce’s stores.

Not only that, the e-Ticket system has been designed to facilitate the payment of allowances for the registered low-wage earners enrolled in the government’s “National e-Payment” system. Low-income earners can use these tickets to pay for transportation fees such as buses.

The Ministry of Finance will set up the system that links e-Tickets with the state’s social welfare system for people living in Bangkok and its vicinities. The system will be operational by October 1st, 2017. The new system will provide more convenience to members of the public and increase the effectiveness of government services, comparable to international standards.

Importantly, the government wishes to reduce social disparities and alleviate expenses for low-wage earners. The Cabinet has already given its approval to an assistance program via social welfare cards called “Pracharat Welfare.” The details are on the screen. Members of the public will be able to use these social welfare cards to make payments, purchase products and services at all designated stores.

Credits will be deducted according to your purchases and will be topped up on the 1st of each month. It works like a prepaid telephone card. However, whatever is left in the previous month will not be added to the credits of the following month. It also cannot be exchanged into cash.

Please use your cards wisely. The government is keen to help more than 11 million qualified people who have already registered for the welfare program. Please do not use it to buy unnecessary items or items that damage your health. Please use these privileges to improve the well-being of your family and yourself.

My fellow citizens, not only has the government been adopting new technologies to make public services more effective and move Thailand towards the 4.0 era, we have also mobilized the digital economy through the use of digital technology for the improvement of  payment systems, and to
enhance the infrastructure for monetary transfers, which results in cost reductions among businesses and the public. This has resulted in enhancing our competitiveness, in particular the ease of doing business. Moreover, it is an internationally accepted system that allows for better connectivity with other countries.

So far, the government has initiated many measures to support the improvement of the e-Payment system and this will be better for higher convenience, as people will no longer have to carry cash or worry about losing cash. At the same time, the overall payment system has been strengthened to ensure safe and fair practices.

If members of the public and the private sector rely more on the e-Payment system or make payments through smartphones more, stores and shops will follow suit. They will do more to accommodate consumers’ transactions. The E-Payment system helps make purchases easier and it reduces the use of cash.
In the early phases, we may need to deal with issues as they arise, given that the country has never undertaken such a policy of incorporating technology and digital systems. Nevertheless, this is part of the country’s Thailand 4.0 policy. Please be patient in the beginning, as we have never undergone such a dramatic change for a long time so problems may or may not arise.

My fellow Thai citizens, a piece of good news worth mentioning is that on August 30, the Bank of Thailand announced an agreement between various card providers and financial institutions in adopting the QR code as a standard for financial transactions. It is the first time that 5 global card providers have participated in raising the standards of service of this internationally recognized system.

In addition to reducing costs, the agreement will enable merchants in Thailand to accept QR code payments without having to devise their own systems that could confuse customers.

Stores will also be able to use QR codes in receiving payments from merchants both domestic and abroad. In the past, we may have seen Chinese tourists trying to use their QR code systems in Thailand.

However, each Chinese merchant uses its own QR code. This agreement in Thailand will support a universal QR code that accepts all payment methods such as cash, debit cards, credit cards, e-wallet accounts, or bank transfers.

The QR code is a tool for financial transactions that provides convenience for buyers and sellers, in which customers are able to use the mobile application of their banks or phone service providers to read the store’s QR code to make fast and convenient purchases.

Each transaction requires a password beforehand and users will receive a message detailing the name of the recipient and the amount to be sent. Stores will enjoy reduced costs associated with receiving transactions electronically, while small and medium sized stores will be able to print out their QR codes and paste them in their stores to receive payments.

In addition, scanning QR codes for mobile applications is safer for customers because they will not have to hand over their card information that could then be forged. Most importantly, the system was developed on the foundations of our existing transactions infrastructure, such as PromptPay or debit and credit cards, which their safety is recognized internationally.

Routine inspections are undertaken and tests are continuously being made to ensure the accuracy of transactions. The service is expected to be introduced to the public in the fourth quarter of this year.

To further boost the credibility of this program, the Bank of Thailand has elicited cooperation from the NBTC and the Telecommunications Association to raise the standards of mobile transactions. Importantly, transactions via QR code are going to be applicable at stores related to people’s daily lives such as malls, markets, coffee shops, and confectionery stores.

Whether it be large or small stores, online stores, public transportation and other services, the use of QR codes will expand to cover all areas. In places ranging from commercial districts, tourist attractions, to rural areas, this technology can be used with all businesses.

This is an example of utilizing technology to create value, efficiency, and opportunities for people in distant areas and to enable them to participate in the digital economy. Those who are interested in learning more or have questions, can call the hotline 1213.

This new method is no different from when we first started ATMs, computers, or mobile phones in years past. Early adoption may be confusing at first but it soon will become common practice for everyone.

In the midst of rapid technological changes, we must stay informed and stand ready to utilize these changes to our benefit, as they are unavoidable. We must learn to thrive with change and ensure that no one is left behind.

Finally, I would like to talk about the four questions that I had posed to the public over 50 days ago. The government will always welcome feedback from the public and there is no deadline for submitting your input.

I received a briefing today about the analysis of the feedback that has now amounted to over 800,000 respondents, and I would like to thank everyone for their participation in providing valuable information for our nation’s development.

This feedback reveals the awareness of the public and their acknowledgment of problematic events in the past, as well as their desire not to have these events repeat themselves.

Importantly, the respondents are confident that the new Constitution will contribute towards solving the country’s problems, bring about good governance, and prevent corrupt politicians from seeking office through the strict enforcement of the laws.

I am confident that this government and the NCPO will make good use of the feedback provided and enact policies according to the needs of the public and for our nation’s development.

Many more people have received primary education and this indicates that everyone is now understanding and participating more. I would like to invite people from all backgrounds to continue to express their opinions, whether it be by open-ended questions. I will listen and consider their issues.

The opinions people have towards the policies that were presented on this program serves as an indicator of how many closely follow as it touches upon matters of well-being and social issues, such as:

1. Providing assistance to people affected by flooding or the drought.
2. Reducing social disparities in creating equal opportunities.
3. Developing people’s knowledge and skills as well as their principles while supporting sports and health/wellness.

4.  Investing in transportation infrastructure and communications technology to enhance the country’s competitiveness.
5.  Creating energy security through planning and developing renewable and alternative energy sources.

6. Revising laws to suit current conditions and reducing obstacles for businesses and the public.
7.  Protecting forest and water resources and appropriate land management.
8.  Raising the standards of government services and managing the budget for welfare programs.

9.  Confronting external risks such as terrorism, drugs, cyber attacks, and diseases.
10.  Preparing for an aging society.
11.  Education reform in all aspects.

My intention is not to “PR” the government’s work, but to encourage a society of learning and participation where we all realize the importance of tackling our issues together. I bring to everyone’s attention matters of public interest in order to elicit cooperation in moving the country forward towards stability, prosperity, and sustainability.

At this time, there are many delicate issues to handle and I ask that people contribute by finding appropriate solutions based on the law and the justice system. We have to resolve them. If people bring up issues just to create conflict, there will be no reconciliation and our economic and national reform efforts will be compromised.

Many people are still burdened by debt while various investments have not yielded much return because they are just at the early phases. There must be certain construction and production processes at the beginning before wealth can be re-distributed. Many are still troubled during this period and I sympathize with your concerns and will do my best.

While agencies such as the government, NCPO, civil servants, police officers, and military officials are putting in their best efforts, I would like everyone to realize what matters can lead to conflict and what can cause problems and affect other countries. If  only winning over each other or countering each other lingers, such issues cannot be resolved.

Thank you, and I wish everyone a joyful weekend. Sawasdee Krub.