From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals, January 26, 2018


A very good evening to all fellow citizens.

Following the recent explosion at a fresh market in the southern province of Yala, His Majesty the King has sent flowers and gift baskets as well as his well wishes to the victims and those affected by the explosion. His Majesty’s graciousness and generosity had touched the heart of people.

I’d like to express my condolences to families of the demised and those injured. I condemn this brutal and inhumane attack. I have instructed all concerned agencies to look after those affected and urged security units to quickly gather all evidences to be able to arrest these criminals. So far, there are progress as authorities are gathering intelligence and evidence from suspects.

Please be assured that our officers are going to do their best to maintain laws and orders. In this connection, I urge all local people to help the authorities.  If you see any suspicious activity, please kindly report it to the authority immediately.  Also, surveillance cameras must be checked often to make sure that they are in good working condition.

On behalf of Thai people, I would like to praises the national artists of 2017 who were shortlisted by the Office of the National Culture Commission on January 19th to receive this great honour.

The awards will be given to the artists by His Majesty the King or his representative on the National Artist Day, February 24th, or any other occasion.
Receiving the award is the highest honour and achievement for artists. Receivers will be recognized by the public as a model citizen who is not only known for his professionalism, but also his creativity and skills that shape the country’s image as well as a person who pass on the knowledge of Thai art which is considered a valuable legacy to the next generation. And, in this connection, we must make sure that our former actors, senior citizens, and former athletes are well taken care of, as some of them might not be able to support themselves since they are old and weak.  I urge all concerned agencies to follow up on this matter.

Visual arts such as painting, sculpting and architecture as well as performing arts such as singing, dancing, and literature are one of the important elements that form the bedrock of a society. These elements stand the test of time and reflect the identity of a nation. These elements are sometimes influenced by other cultures.  So, people may forget their background and history. We, therefore, need to learn about our history. Because, one cannot have a sense of understanding, if they read only the last page of a history book and ignored previous pages.

This kind of reading doesn’t help improve your analytical skills. You would not understand the message between the lines and might got wrong ideas about the story in the book.  Is this what happened to some people’s understanding of democracy? What is democracy?

Is it true that When a country hold a general election for their citizens to elect their representatives to issue laws and regulations to administer the nation, such nation is ruled by the so-called democracy? What is the majority? What is the minority?

If we value the majority and ignore the minority, can we call ourselves a true democratic country? Another important is the duties of citizens who must respect the law. This is an indication of the level of democracy a nation has adopted. Both the majority and the minority have the same responsibility which is to respect the law.

My fellow citizens, today I’d like everyone and all sectors to think about what I said. Do we really understand what is Thai?  Are we ready to accept international practices without taking our background into consideration? This might lead us to inevitable conflicts since everyone wants to talk but no one wants to listen (to other people reason)?

In some cases, it might be possible, in principle, to adopt practices and cultures of other nations into our own.  However, it will not go so well if the adopted practices and cultures are in contrast with our own origin.  This is the story behind my new word “Thai Niyom.” Thai Niyom is not nationalism or patriotism like many people understand. Some people don’t understand global changes and try to feed information without true knowledge. Patriotism is good for safeguarding the nation against external threats such as war, manipulation, and brainwash.

Patriotism is useful for the aforesaid circumstances.  But for today’s circumstances which are centered on political transition, Reform must be on the basis of Thainess without ignoring global practices and international norms. This is the meaning of Thai Niyom. Thai Niyom is different from populism because the latter is built on forcing others to receive.  One might be happy, one might not be happy.  This leads to consumerism which people seemed to enjoy in the past.

Many projects cannot come to realization, causing problems to accumulate and effect the Government’s budget and spending. This is why we need a clear set of criteria to understand who actually needs help, so that we can help the right group of people.  The other important thing is how we can make this sustainable.

Unlike consumerism, Thai Niyom is the extent of the Pracharat policy which emphasizes “internal growth” and public participation and support while the government seeks cooperation from the private sector and the academic sector. Cooperation creates the power of three – government, public, and the private sector. We are not favoring anyone since all of us are domestically in the same economy.

This approach will lead to long-term solutions and sustainable growth, given the fact that it caters to people’s specific needs. It offers solutions that truly address communities’ problems through the Pracharat program. When applied to the administration, Thai Niyom is a concept that allows the government to understand people’s needs.

You must crave for the right thing. You must cherish good things such as morality, justice, and the code of ethics. You cannot let the tendency get the better of you. It goes without saying that Thai people love and value morality, justice, and fairness. However, there are those who value bad things and cause problems and conflicts.
Thai Niyom should be enshrined in our society for the promotion of justice, morality, ethics, and peace as written in the national anthem. What will happen from now on, will be written in our history book and will be most significant. What happens today is influenced by what happened in the past. So what our future looks like will be determined by what we do today. What happens from now on will craft the nation’s future. What happens next will determine the future of our children.

The government administers the nation under a vision “Stability, Prosperity, and Sustainability” and espouses the sufficiency economy philosophy – SEP of King Rama IX. SEP is the country’s heritage which His Majesty the King said must be preserved and passed on for the happiness and the betterment of Thai people.

To foster unity and reconciliation in the Kingdom, the Government has adopted the Royal Guidance in its administrative tasks for higher productivity to get the country out of the middle income trap and become a high income nation, which will in turn lead to a better quality of life of Thai citizens. One thing that sets us apart from the others is the political trap. Our country has far more challenges than others. We must overcome these challenges and sustainably uplift the livelihood of the people. The development of our country must no longer be flashy or temporary.

As I’ve pointed out, Pracharat and Thai Niyom work in tandem with each other. Thai Niyom provides a framework and is similar to the national strategy. It guides development strategies for provinces and regions that have adopted the Pracharat approach. If we are able to build stability and depend on ourselves, our efforts will pay off in terms of national development. Please note these three words – Thai Niyom, Pracharat, and sustainability. The three are interconnected.

My fellow citizens, national development in the digital era and under the Thailand 4.0 policy will provide a social structure for the country’s cultural development, in line with the concept of Thai Niyom, as well as other physical structures such as transportation, communication, information technology, energy security, and irrigation.

With that said, our country is not loaded with money, thus we cannot invest in everything we want. This is why we must have a strategic plan to guide us through development. Although we have designated 10 special economic zones (SEZs) in all corners of the country, There are several challenges we have to address. These challenges include the law, budget, and cooperation from local people who have yet to foresee what the future holds. People are too accustomed to or caught up with the things we do today without thinking about the future. It might take time for people to come around and see things clearer. It is the Government and the NCPO’s duties to show them possible success in the future of the development of special economic zone on the eastern economic corridor (EEC).

And once completed, not only the country will be able to improve its competitive edge against its international counterparts but such success will carry into the 10 special economic zones. This will be a massive economic reform that will push Thailand past the middle income trap, disparities, poverty, and unequal distribution of wealth to a sustainable development society.

Today, I want to show you a picture of how the Government is steering development in the EEC area. The investment plan is divided into 3 phases.
The first phase or the urgent phase (2017 to 2018). This will bring Thai and foreign investors to the project which will increase the level of economic activity in the EEC Zone

The second phase (2019-2021) is for continuity and is designed to create transportation connectivity for all economic activities and transactions for business expansion.
The last phase which starts in 2022 will be geared towards sustainable development of the EEC, which will lead to more revenue and higher income. The zone will connect Thailand with other nations, creating more wealth today.

There will be investments in infrastructure projects, especially in transportation sector on various fronts and related logistics such as

1) The motorways of Pattaya – Map Ta Phut, Laem Chabang – Prachinburi, and Chonburi – Klaeng District of Rayong and improvements to secondary and bypass roads.

2)  High-speed railways connecting airports (Don Muang – Suvarnabhumi – U-Tapao), dual track railway along Laem Chabang – Map Ta Phut, railway connecting Rayong – Chanthaburi – Trat, railway connecting the EEC – Dawei – Cambodia, as well as box packing and lifting station in Chachoengsao.

3)  Laemchabang Port in the 3rd phase, Map Ta Phut Port in the 3rd phase, and the passenger terminal of Chuk Samet Pier.

4) Raising the standards of U-Tapao International Airport by constructing an aircraft maintenance center, a 2nd runway, air cargo area, a free zone, and a 3rd passenger terminal.

Funding of approximately 1 trillion baht will consist of 30% from state budget, 10% state enterprises, 59% public–private partnerships (PPP), and 1% from the navy.
Expected benefits in the first 5 years include a new technological base, human resource development, an expansion of national revenue by no less than 5% per year,
increased private-sector investment, between 2.1 and 3 trillion baht in increased economic value, access to higher quality mass transit systems, increased capacity for transporting passengers and goods in the EEC, reduced costs for trucks by around 35.6 million baht per day and trains by around 230,000 baht per day, and reduced travel costs. In addition, it would support the EEC as a center for target industries and a gateway to neighboring countries, the CLMV region, and the ASEAN region.

My fellow Thai citizens, on January 25, I had the opportunity to attend the ASEAN – India Summit and the 69th Republic Day in India on January 26 as a guest of honor along with 9 other leaders of ASEAN nations. This event symbolizes India’s commitment towards strengthening relations with ASEAN.

This year’s ASEAN – India Summit was held in India, as opposed to the usual tradition of being held in an ASEAN country, to commemorate 25 years of relations between ASEAN and India. India is a trade and strategic partner of ASEAN and is a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The meeting provides a good opportunity to review India’s strategy towards ASEAN and Asia Pacific countries according to the Indian Prime Minister’s “Act East” policy of increasing India’s role in ASEAN and Asia Pacific region. The policy coincides with Thailand’s “Look West” policy of seeking trade and investment opportunities in India, which is a country with a large population and high technological potential. In geopolitics, It is one of ASEAN’s goals to strike a balance between countries as many countries such as the U.S., Japan, and China are moving forward with foreign policies.

In addition, strengthening relations with India will provide economic opportunities for ASEAN and help strengthen the region infrastructural networks. It would also support ‘ASEAN Centrality’ by connecting India with Asia Pacific countries or also known as Indo Pacific countries which consist of the U.S., India, Japan, and Australia.

The meeting discussed on trade and investment opportunities that would help attain both parties’ 2022 trade value goal, leveraging trade agreements, pushing for RCEP agendas, human resource development, MSMEs, and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, both parties will promote cultural, technological, and people connectivity through the development of smart cities and cultural centers which in line with Thailand’s 4.0 policy.

My fellow Thai citizens, in addition to strengthening the domestic economy, we must look outwards and increase cooperation with our ally nations to increase trade opportunities, revenue, and investment as well as to promote our role in the international community so that our domestic affairs shall receive support from external, helping to steer the country’s economy from both fronts. This is so that when the domestic economy faces difficulty, we may be able to rely on external factors to support us.

On the other hand, when external supports are weak, we can still rely on our strong domestic economy to support our country. This is why improving on domestic and external factors are equally important. This is why I have placed great importance towards foreign policy in both at bilateral and multilateral levels. Many countries have acknowledged and commended this administration’s work which reflects on Thailand’s improving standing in various rankings.

I have had the opportunity to attend meetings of international partnerships that Thailand isn’t a member of, still we were invited to attend, such as last year’s BRICS meeting where I was given the opportunity to present the government’s policies aimed at attracting trade and investment.

I also had the opportunity to exchange ideas with other participants. Many ideas and information are good for the development of our country. As I have mentioned before about external factor, when the global economy is on the uptrend, global purchasing power will increase, enabling Thailand to be able to export more of its goods and services.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had recently adjusted its forecast of global economic growth for this year and the next by an additional 0.2% each, bringing forecasted growth for 2018 and 2019 from 3.7 to 3.9%.  This is a good news.

At the same time, it also increased the growth rate of global trade and services this year from 4 to 4.6%.  These positive adjustments came from continuous growth of many countries. We must therefore utilize this momentum to increase our development opportunities.

Furthermore, economic growth in developed countries in October last year have outperformed expectations, especially in the United States due to the new tax reform bill signed by the President.

The decrease in corporate tax is expected to stimulate private-sector investment in a short-term but may become a long-term burden. In addition, the IMF had also positively adjusted its expected growth rate for 2018 of the EU and Japan as well as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam from 5.2 to 5.3 percent. The adjustment wasn’t revealed in-depth for Thailand.

However, recently, the Bank of Thailand increased its 2018 growth forecast of the country from 3.8 percent in September 2017 to 3.9 percent in December 2017. The government still places great importance in caring for low-income citizens and reducing poverty. These adjustments index of Thailand’s trade partners will benefit Thailand’s exports.

The degree of how much Thailand will benefit depends on how the private sector takes advantage of this new development and how it collaborates with the Government in expanding markets and reaching consumers through trade shows and business matchings.

I ask that we seized this short-term opportunity together by working hard, assess possible future risks and rely more on ourselves. For the long-term, the Government will move forward with the country’s reform roadmap and the 20-year national strategy to enhance competitiveness and create economic resilience. During this time, we must all work together in overcoming our obstacles, make sacrifices and compromise according to our Thai values.

My fellow Thai citizens, the national reform committee has drafted a reform blueprint paper for 11 aspects, consisting of politics, state administration, law, the justice system, the economy, natural resources and the environment, society, energy, mass communications and telecommunications technology, and on prevent and suppressing corruption.

These reform agendas must coincide with the country’s national strategy and have key performance indicators mapped across timelines. Many reform agendas may require adjustments to how the bureaucracy works for the benefit of the country.

For the next phase, a draft reform plan will be proposed to the national strategy committee and feedback will be taken from all sectors in addition to other mandates in the constitution. Periodic updates will be provided to the public.

This draft reform plan shows that we have had face many problems in the country. So, we must draw timelines for all agencies to draft their master plans to coincide with the reform plan, the National Economic and Social Development Plan for every 5 and 12 years, and the 20 year strategic national plan to ensure security, prosperity, and sustainability of Thailand throughout all future Governments.

Lastly, what I have told you today will be very useful for us to prepare for any possible upcoming challenges we might face in the future.  I believe that we will become more resilience according to the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.

Those who seek out more knowledge will be able to keep up with new changes that will happen and will be able to benefit from these changes in our 4.0 era.

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

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