From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals November 10, 2017
Good evening dear Thai citizens.
Over last weekend, His Majesty the King had graciously assigned His agencies to work alongside with public volunteers, to dredge and enlarge the Maha Nak and Prem Prachakon Canals, as well as clean their surrounding temples, schools, and residential areas.
Such activities of community service by these volunteers have continuously been undertaken, and at present, there are more than 4 million volunteers that stand ready to help the country and people in need. Their efforts range from relieving traffic congestion to draining floodwaters, all done for the well-being of the people, according to the aspirations of His Majesty the King.
I believe that these volunteer activities are source of a “power of virtuousness”, which will lead towards unity and amity among our people. Therefore, I would like to invite all of us to take part in these activities and come join in with these special volunteers, through either working with them or rendering our support and kindness.
I also believe that these volunteer activities will be a good reminder to us that once a task commences, there must be continuation, or else problems accumulate and resurface. For instance, keeping our canals clean and free of water hyacinth and trash should been seen first as responsibility for a citizen and community members, before relying on a government agency or the volunteers to take action on a larger scale.
As for natural disasters such as floods and droughts, there has to be persistence and continuation in our efforts to solve them and plan for them. The flood situations in the central, northeastern and northern regions are improving. At present 12 provinces remain inundated. The amount of water flowing into the four main reservoirs of the Chao Praya account for 50 million cubic meters per day, while the reservoirs discharge at the amount of 22 million cubic meters a day. Today, we have 14 billion cubic meters, which is more than the minimum requirement of 12 billion, to manage for future domestic consumption and agricultural production throughout the dry and rainy seasons. Nevertheless, we must use this water wisely and efficiently. From now, we will focus on rehabilitating flooded areas and helping those affected. I ask members of the public to work together with authorities to streamline these operations.
The northern region is now facing cold snaps and forest fires. Therefore, we should work together more to help prevent these fires and control smoke and haze resulting from slash burning. Over the past 3 years, the government has introduced several measures and created cooperative networks for this purpose, so let us continue with them and expand their activities.
I would like everyone to cooperate and take responsibility, be they authorities, farmers, or local community members. First, you need to go over the plans and make preparations. Personnel and equipment should be ready in times of emergency. Second, authorities need to seek understanding and cooperation from local communities in order to prevent the same problem from recurring. So, please refrain from burning activities in these risk areas.
As for the southern region, people are now experiencing heavy rains and storms that have triggered flashfloods and forest runoffs. Therefore, measures and equipment must be well prepared. For this, the government has moved necessary equipment and personnel to this region to render affective assistance.
Local people including fishing vessel operators and tourism operators must take precautions and be on high alert. You also need to keep yourselves updated on weather warnings. Please retrieve information from reliable and trustworthy sources, rather than rumors or unsubstantiated information. You also need to carefully consider and double check before sharing or forwarding such information.
The government is concerned about the well-being of the people in all regions, which involves a variation of situations and different challenges. There are those still battling natural disasters and we will step up or efforts to warn and educate people about them, as well as offer assistance.
My fellow citizens, at this time of transition, there are many reform initiatives that will need continuation. Continuation leads to the creation of a strong foundation, and this will lead to concrete reforms through incremental steps and plans within our National Strategy to realise our shared vision of stability, prosperity, and sustainability.
History teaches us that, ‘where there is real effort, there will be success”, which is also a Thai saying. Today let me offer my moral support to everyone and every sector in their work and reiterate “success results from perseverance and collaboration”. Here are some examples.
On an individual level, Nong Time or Wattana Kham-In is a good example. Without both arms, Nong Time was able to win a painting contest at a district level. Despite his limitations, he demonstrated perseverance by drawing a picture titled “Father’s Tree,” which was admired by all for his expression of deep gratitude to the benevolence of King Rama IX for the Thai people.
Another success story I want to mention here belongs to a group of Thai students from Khlong Yai Wittayakhom School who won the JAL Origami Plane Asian Competition, the first of its kind, which took place at Mount Miyako, Okinawa, Japan on November 4-5 this year. The students won 4 awards as group and individuals.
It took perseverance, commitment, and skills to represent Thailand in this competition. The students outdid their rivals from many nations. Their success was also supported by cooperation between the National Science Museum, the Paper Folding Airplane Association of Thailand, and the Ministry of Interior. These agencies worked together to provide whatever the team needed to succeed. I thank them all.
All great successes and achievements start with a first step. Thai Youngsters, investors, researchers, and athletes have won many awards in several competitions and levels. I have already asked responsible agencies to help improve their potential and introduce support projects to help these talented people continue to improve their skills and opportunities. These people need continuous support for their progress and careers, not only when they have won something. The best investment is to invest in human resources, especially those who are talented or have great determination.
At the national level, there have been achievements that derive from the perseverance of officials, the private sector, and the public in the form of our Pracharat. Thailand’s ranking in the ease of doing business is a great example. The World Bank has ranked Thailand 20 notches higher than its previous ranking.
It was the second largest improvement. There are many other tasks like this that we have to achieve together, for example, we have to solve the complications in the laws regulating health product licensing and registration. There are not enough officials to process 200,000 requests per year, in addition to the lack of auditors. We have now introduced measures to address this issue.
Should we be able to fix the problem in line with the Thailand 4.0 agenda as proposed by the Reform Mobilization Committee, we will be able to speed up the processing of the remaining 9,000 requests. Apart from giving people access to quality medicines, this will also lower the imports of medicines by 5-10 billion baht a year.
Furthermore, we can do more to promote the use of traditional medicines and herbs. At a meeting on Wednesday, I provided a policy guideline to responsible agencies for immediate implementation, which include the patenting of intellectual properties, land registration, import and export measures, and legal reforms.
If these matters receive continuous cooperation from all sectors, it will positively reflect on Thailand’s ranking in the ease of doing business index. At the same time, we cannot be complacent and must continue to make progress on this matter to build confidence among foreign investors and improve our national competitiveness.
Overall, it will benefit everyone and every sector in the value chain, from upstream, midstream, to downstream levels. Everyone is included in this value chain, as I mentioned last Friday.
Thailand is part of the international community and there is no way for us to avoid adopting international rules and regulations. There are many economic groupings among nations and regions. Thailand’s latest success was to improve its aviation standards.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) lifted its “red flag status” on Thailand due to integrated efforts from many of our agencies these past 3 years. It took up to 3 years to address this longstanding issue.
This was the result of collaboration for our highest cause, which is the country and the people. What we have gained is a rejuvenated aviation and tourism industry that is going to be able to add value for the country.
Our achievements at the international level involves successfully handling complicated processes and increased participation from various NGO’s. As a result, the country’s Pracharat mechanism must be supported by international networks of cooperation.
An example is the country’s cooperation with an NGO called the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), as well as with other organizations and countries in pushing for negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Thailand became a signatory nation to this on September 20 this year at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. ICAN later received recognition in the form of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. This initiative has long been in line with Thailand’s stance and foreign policy on the matter.
Thailand, therefore, has been a contributor to this achievement and we are proud to have played a role. This achievement is a success for humanity, and is an issue that the government has always given importance to in the international arena.
All these achievements ultimately benefit the whole nation. I therefore would like to reiterate the formula for success in the Thailand 4.0 era, which is perseverance and cooperation.
I also would like to leave with you the idea that “We must build Thailand together and we can all contribute by doing what we can to the best of our abilities”. I hope that Thai people keep on supporting each other like this, rather than be derogatory towards one another, so that our country will remain in peacefulness.
My fellow Thai citizens, this past week the Cabinet has approved 2 important policies, especially for low and medium income earners.
1. There is the policy for elderly citizens to donate their pensions to the elderly persons fund in order to assist elderly citizens with low incomes. This is a policy that promotes altruism by encouraging elderly citizens who are not in financial difficulty, to donate their allowances to the fund so that it can be used as an additional bonus for other elderly citizens who are in need.
Consider it a way of creating “making merit” according to Thai culture. Here, the government has introduced an additional mechanism for people to make donations that are to be used according to the donor’s wishes.
It is a way of giving more to elderly citizens who are in need, to enable them to have a better life. As for the donors, you will also receive an honorary medal for your good deed.
You will also be entitled to a tax deduction equal to the amount you donated. It may not seem like much in a given month, but it amounts to thousands of baht per year. People can sign up to be donors starting December 1 this year and choose whether to donate in 1 sum for the whole year or in monthly installments.
This money will contribute towards increasing the average payout that recipients get from the program. The aim of this policy is to optimize benefits for low-income earners, in a fair manner.
2. There is now a tax policy to stimulate economic spending at the end of this year, nicknamed by the media as the “shopping for the country” policy. Purchases of domestic goods and services can be filed for individual tax exemptions equal to the amount purchased but no more than 15,000 baht.
Products must not be of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, cars, motorcycles, boats, or vehicle fuel. The policy will take place from November 11 to December 3 this year.
Please don’t forget to ask for a full tax invoice, which includes your name and address and the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of the business. Additional details are as described at the bottom of the screen.
This policy is not aimed at encouraging superfluous spending, but to reduce expenses for those who need to purchase these items anyway, such as fixing one’s home or car, purchasing professional equipment, or a new year’s gift that was already planned. Please spend according to your financial capabilities and not beyond your means.
This is a measure to stimulate business, as increased purchases will lead to an increase in production and labor activity.
SMEs, large businesses, as well as employees will benefit from increased demand. Obviously when there are fewer buyers, everyone suffers, whether it be the business or the employee.
Another important matter is the 6 questions that appear on the screen right now. These are follow-up questions that I have from the previous 4 that I asked. I encourage everyone to answer all 10 questions and write additional suggestions freely. I hope that people help consider these questions and express their opinions to the government.
Those who have already submitted answers to the 4 questions can submit all 10 again. I, as the Prime Minister and the head of the NCPO, do not have any political intentions with this or wish to create contention with honorable politicians who have contributed to the country. I merely wish to create understanding and encourage people to think about issues.
Everyone has the right to contribute towards the development of the country’s political system. Respectable politicians should agree on this, because many intend on moving the country forward. We should acknowledge the problems we have had in an abused democratic system in former times, which led to our politics becoming more contentious and violent.
Today, we must return to a state of normalcy and build trust among the public, and rectify what we have done wrong.
I wish that people are hopeful to achieve their aspirations while the country progresses in a sustainable manner. We must therefore focus on our National Strategy and collaborate with political parties. If all political parties move forward with the National Strategy along with their own platforms, this will bring about the reforms we have wanted in all dimensions.
Most important is the priority of raising the income and standards of living of low-income earners. We must have specific measures for each group in this sector. We are not able to think the way we used to because it is not a resilient approach. We must create orderliness, systems, standards, agendas, strategies, blueprints, actions plans, and clear reform plans about what we seek to do and whom we wish our policies to benefit.
Politicians, the government, and the NCPO must think about all 70 million Thais….the elderly, children, and women. We must have a variety of policies that meet the needs of specific groups instead of broad stroke policies that are inconclusive and unjust, and therefore not good governance in national administration.
What is just is prioritizing assistance from the state for low-income citizens through efficient and effective budget allocations.
If we are able to do this, it will be national administration through good governance. I am no adversary to any politician or political party. I would like everything to move forward towards a future without conflict. I hope as well that many people and parties have undergone changes towards this direction and have taken on reforms as well.
Please take the time to listen to what I have been saying and think about my intentions. I do not wish to quarrel with anyone because I am here to promote reconciliation, including politically. Everyone should therefore reform themselves and their political parties for the benefit of the country and the people. If we are able to do this, governments will be able to complete their terms, not having to call elections all the time and create problems like before.
Thank you, and I wish everyone a joyful weekend.