From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals October 6, 2017

Good evening dear Thai citizens.

There will be many important events during the month of October with regards to the Royal Cremation Ceremony of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, which will allow us to pay our highest respects and express our devotion to His Majesty the late King.

I would like to go over the details of these activities and ask for full cooperation from all sectors of society, so that all procedures can move forward in the same direction and in an orderly fashion for this most important event.

First, the government has decided to announce Thursday, October 26th, 2017 as a special public holiday for this year, and October 13th to be an annual public holiday to commemorate the passing of HM  King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Second, the government has also decided to extend the mourning period for state officials from October 13th, 2017 to October 27th, 2017. State offices and educational institutions, both inside and outside the country, shall fly the national flag at half staff during the extended mourning period, which covers a total of 15 days. I ask that government officers end their mourning activities on Saturday, October 28th, 2017. You shall start taking down ornamental fringes and signs related to the Royal Funeral from that day onwards.

For members of the public and all other sectors, I ask for your cooperation in following suit with the same mourning period and guidelines as that of government officials, as previously mentioned.

Third, for entertainment outlets, television channels, radio stations, and printed media, we ask you to consider limiting or refraining from entertainment activities during the month of October, for appropriateness with the mood and sentiments of the Thai people during this time.

Fourth, as Thursday, 26 October 2017, is the day for the Royal Cremation Ceremony, and due to limitations and restrictions in terms of public areas and road traffic, as well as safety concerns, it will be impossible to accommodate all citizens at Sanam Luang Plaza. However, mourners can take part at places around Sanam Luang.

As for the flower laying ceremony by members of the public, this can be performed at all replica sites of the Royal Crematorium nationwide, including at sandalwood flower pavilions, designated monasteries, and at Royal Thai Consulates and Embassies around the world. This is to make sure that everyone can be part of the ceremony. Additional information about the ceremony, related activities, dress codes, funeral sites, and sandalwood flower laying sites can be obtained from the government’s website and the Hotline now appearing on your screen. You can also get updates from television channels and newspapers.

My fellow citizens, this week I made an official visit to the United States of America at the invitation of President Donald J. Trump. President Trump invited me during our telephone conversation on April 30th this year. I was the third ASEAN leader to visit President Trump. It was the first visit to the U.S. by a Thai Premier in 12 years. The last U.S. visit by a Thai Prime Minister was in 2005.

I was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Defense Minister General Udomdej Sitabutr, and Gen. Wilas Aroonsri, Secretary-General to the Prime Minister.

Accompanying me on this trip were several major members of the Thai private sector who had invested in the United States, who came in their own capacity to express support for the government and affirm their intentions to create opportunities and expand their investments in various sectors. They included the President of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce, Charoen Pokphand Group, PTT, Thai Summit Group, Banpu Company, and others numbering almost 30.

During the “four-eyes” meeting with the President of the U.S., I offered my condolences and sympathy for incident in Las Vegas as well as for the recent hurricanes that struck the United States. I commended the 184 years of diplomatic ties between our two countries, as well as acknowledged the 200 years of warm and cordial relations between our peoples.

In terms of political developments in Thailand, President Trump didn’t ask me about the issue, but I was able to assure him of the current administration’s commitment to the Roadmap, informing him that there will be elections by the end of next year, which refers to the announcement of the election date. From then, the election will be held 150 days following the announcement, which is in accordance with the Roadmap.

The President expressed his admiration for Thailand, and said that Thailand is a beautiful country with lovely people. I took the opportunity to invite President Trump and the First Lady to our country during their trip to Asia to attend two major summits next month, or at another convenient opportunity.

After the “four-eyes” meeting, both sides engaged in a full bilateral meeting during a working lunch. Topics on the agenda included the close relationship between the two sides which started 200 years ago and the anniversary of 185 years of diplomatic ties next year. Both our countries have similar policies and approaches, which focus on improving the well-being of low-income earners. President Trump’s America First policy is similar to the Thailand 4.0 policy and the Pracharat approach of the Thai government. These policies seek to uplift the people’s living standards in all areas.

In terms of regional security, both nations shared thoughts and ideas on the role of China in the region. The Thai side sees China as a friendly ally and is looking forward to working with China for mutual economic benefits. While we have our own policies, China is an important nation especially when it comes to economic development and has very close ties with all ASEAN countries.

The problem in the South China Sea is an issue that affects trust and understanding between China and ASEAN and between the US and ASEAN.  ASEAN has asked for United States to support its centrality and solidarity in order to resolve the issue through peaceful means. Thailand is not involved in the ongoing dispute, but our stance is to seek peace and help others settle differences in a peaceful manner.

In terms of the issue with North Korea, the U.S. did ask Thailand for its opinion on the issue. In response, the Thai side affirmed that it wished to see peace on the Korean Peninsula, and solutions to the situation that would not result in violence.

Thailand also expressed its willingness to work with the U.S. and the international community to encourage North Korea to return to negotiations, as opposed to using force. Thailand will abide by its commitment to the United Nations’ resolutions on the matter, and we have also taken several initiatives, with regards to cooperation and control on other matters.
Another topic is our cooperation on security. Both countries affirmed the importance of the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, which has been held in Thailand for the past 35 years and includes 28 participating countries. Thailand also looks to the United States for its expertise in research and development in the defense industry.

We do not carry weapons to wage warfare, but to prevent conflict, which is a necessity.

Another topic is terrorism. Today, I affirm that no ISIS activity has been found in Thailand. Matters that have surfaced have been regarding smuggling activities, not on the use of weapons or any declarations.

Thailand will not be engaging in any conflicts as some websites may suggest. Today, people can write anything on websites without proper research or association. Sometimes these things are written by those who wish to stir up controversy. We must therefore be careful of what we see on social media.

Regarding trade and investment, I recalled that both countries have engaged in trade since the Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 1833 in the reign of King Rama III. American businesses have enjoyed benefits similar to Thai nationals when investing in Thailand and remains the only country with such benefits. I’ve therefore asked the United States to look into the matter of similar benefits for Thais as well.

We’ve agreed to cooperate in increasing our trade value with existing and new mechanisms and to find ways to eliminate trade barriers. Existing mechanisms include the US-ASEAN Business Council.

In order to promote further cooperation, I have suggested that new mechanisms or associations be setup to directly negotiate and expedite operations between Thailand and the United States in a bilateral manner.

Another important topic discussed was when I urged the United States to further support Thai agricultural products. We discussed the overall scope of the request and the details will be handled by related committees.

On every issue, discussions between leaders will cover the principles or fundamentals of the matter, while the details will be addressed by committees that will discuss feasibility and possible obstacles.

Some may think my visit this time was to go and make deals and purchase weapons. That is not the case.

Thailand is not a country of vast wealth that can make easy purchases with anyone. Any procurement must undergo a process. Whether it is procuring weapons or other items, these purchases must be in accordance to the fiscal budget and undergo a review process.

Products from the United States are high quality, but the prices are high as well.

After our discussion today, I witnessed the signing of the MOU between PTTGC America LLC and JobsOhio, which is an investment project between PTTGC and the investment support agency of the state of Ohio.

The memorandum pertains to cooperation in studying, planning, and drafting a development program to raise the standards of living of the communities in Belmont County, which is the site of a petrochemical complex. When planning later stages, the development plan may also call for upon infrastructural development programs.

As with all countries, any new venture that affects communities must provide appropriate support and compensation. The Thai government places great importance on this as well.

This is because business operations must take into consideration human rights and must therefore support the community it operates in, so as to promote a relationship of mutual benefit between the petrochemical complex and the community.

This applies for all factories. Today, Thailand has implemented stringent measures on new foreign investment projects, requiring them to transfer technology, refrain from destroying the environment, while adhering to all regulations, TORs, and agreements. Otherwise, the factories that fail to comply will have to shut down.

Regarding trade and investment, I had the opportunity to deliver a statement to a number of businesses and attended a dinner event held by the US–ASEAN Business Council (USABC) and the US Chamber of Commerce. I also met with people from Thai communities who came to show their support before my return.

I would like to thank the Thai people who traveled from many states, some by car, and some by airplane. They came willingly to express their support from the group of Thai people living abroad. I would like to thank them very much, as although are living abroad and many have obtained citizenships, they remain as a Thai person, which is a good example for Thai people there.

Thank you very much. You’ll see that the background of this episode features scenes from America, which takes a different character from Thailand. Our country is unique in its own way, with its vibrancy.

Our country is populated and filled with activity. However, the scenes depicted here are quiet and peaceful, as it’s more of a city of educational institutions with natural beauty such as the Potomac river on my left. Notice the road that runs along the river and canals that are being dug up to serve as tourist attractions.

When we look back at Thailand, we possess these natural beauties as well. It is a matter of figuring out how we can restore these natural sites. When I travel abroad and see construction on roads or bridges, the work is carried out in an orderly fashion where the tools and materials are neatly organized. In our country, these things are spread all over the place, often blocking roads. Remember that these sites serve as a representation to others of how our country is too.

So, I ask the construction companies to please conduct projects in an orderly fashion and undertake them in a timely manner according to what was agreed, as these things affect the people as a whole.

Thank you very much and I wish everyone happiness. Sawasdee Krub.

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