From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals March 9, 2018

A very good evening to you.

In reality, we cannot deny that our eyes are on the front of our body, which indicates that the nature wants us to look forward, move forward. This means that nature would like us to keep improving ourselves. The nature also gives us instinct to protect ourselves against threats from left and right. However, moving forward will have ups and downs. Thus, we cannot just solve problems by only looking at the problems.  We have to work on how to solve them with our brain.

In order to lift the potential of our nation and mobilize all sectors in a sustainable fashion, it is vital that we understand the problems and challenges the country faces and will face in the future, so that we can make preparations accordingly. We must prepare solutions to every problem and learn to manage them appropriately. The drafting of the 20-year strategic plan which is in progress takes into consideration future challenges.

One of the challenges we will encounter is the fact that Thailand is becoming an aging society. In 2020, 20% of all population or 1 out of every 10 people will be senior citizens. The proportion of the working group will be smaller. Consequently, there will be a number of problems.

1) The working-age population will have to work even harder to shoulder the burdens and maintain the country’s competitiveness.

2) The government will have to spend more budget on the elderly whereas taxes collected from the working group are relatively lower.

3) The number of workers in the production, agricultural, industrial, and service sectors will be insufficient to sustain our economic growth.

And 4) alien workers will return home after having acquired professional skills necessary for employment in their growing home nations. Thailand will then be challenged with possible shortages of alien workers and the working population. Although technology will play a major role in improving convenience, economic enhancement, cost reduction, and human replacement, it could be a double-edged sword because some people, especially those who cannot adapt to the change, might lose their jobs.

Another major challenge is global warming which causes severe climate change around the globe in the past years. Consequently, humans have to suffer natural disasters like floods and drought, causing damage to several lives, properties, agricultural produces, ecosystems, and natural resources.

The world may be faced with new viral diseases. The government has to allocate budget for these unexpected incidents. When looking ahead, we can foresee more international frameworks to push cooperation in more specific areas such as a more integrated economic partnership as well as the shift in power around the globe.

Asia is likely to play a more important role in international arenas. International organizations will have more power and influence. There will be more trade activities and agreements that change according to economic situation.

This is a new challenge. Even though it is not too difficult to tackle but it would be a time-consuming task. The most important thing is that we recognize these changes and make appropriate adjustments. We have to improve ourselves on a consistent basis regardless of our age, education and skills, so that we can be able to support ourselves and our family.

We have to be a part of the supply chain by creating new innovations to add more value to what we have to offer to make sure our products are needed by the consumers in terms of quantity and quality. We must keep updated ourselves of new technologies and apply them in daily operations in order to reduce risks and costs. Those who are not able to update themselves will not be able to catch up with others and their income might not be enough to support their family.  Please also keep in mind the sufficiency economy philosophy of the King Rama IX.

Under the Pracharat mechanism, the private sector has to make preparation and apply technology in order to reduce cost and add more value to their products. The government has to focus on building a mechanism to support both private firms and the public, allowing them to lift themselves up. Their ability to improve will lift the burden off the state’s shoulders and will be a key to attaining stability, prosperity, and sustainability. In this connection, there are many factors that will be taken into consideration.

The first one is economic growth. The country’s revenue will have to be well-distributed to all sectors in various forms. In order to do so, the government has to understand people’s needs and potential, as opposed to rolling out measures and policies that are politically motivated and only result in fake demand. These policies fail to uphold self-sufficiency principle.

Next, public services must be easily accessible, efficient, transparent, and corruption free. Such traits will build confidence in the country’s stability and growth. Another important factor is human resource development which needs close and continuous attention with a focus on lifelong learning from the early ages to young learners and adult learners.

People of all professions should be able to support themselves as well as their family and should also be able to contribute to the society. They must learn to be flexible to changes and challenges. Apart from education and skills development, individuals should encourage schools and families to cultivate a sense of responsibility and cultural identity among to our touth. Children must be kind, have a service mind, and be loyal to the country.

Children will one day become good citizens who respect the law, rights, responsibilities, and duties. They have responsibilities as Thai citizens. With that said, the government must have a supporting mechanism and help people understand the principle of public administration so that they can work with the Government, contributing to the country development as well as protecting the environment.

In conclusion, the “Thai Niyom” and “Pracharat” policies aim to address the need of people and community and help people from all walks of life to be able to stand on their own feet. This is growth from the inside as provided in the Royal Guidance.

We are not going to push for projects that are not addressing the need of the people. We will not favor capitalists or political groups over the public interest as it will lead to conflict not development.

Public Administration based on the interest of the public is driven by civil servants under the democratic system with His Majesty the King as the Head of State.

State and people have a very strong connection and cannot be separated. State must take care and support the people. People shall be provided with equal opportunity for self-improvement and career enhancement as well as appropriate social welfare.

Investments and taxes will ensure national development. The poor, as listed in the well-updated database, will be looked after. This move does not aim to win popularity among the public because we do not want to put more financial burdens on the Government.

When it comes to politics, I would like to encourage you to be reasonable in the political process.      You should help ethical and capable candidates to be able to form a good governance government to run the country. The next government must have a long term vision for country management, not just a group of people who can manage only provide a short term solution especially on the problems in the agricultural sector.  This problem must be tackled from all angles. Impacts may be slow, but long-lasting.

Initial coin offering (ICO) is still very new in Thailand. I urged that potential investors be cautious when making decisions. The Government is in the process of drafting a law to regulate ICO. Regulations to be issued are meant to ensure transparency and close loopholes for corruption and criminal activities.

Please make sure you have studied it enough before investing. Don’t forget to take into consideration the risks you have to take especially in a period where there is no existing laws to regulate it. I do not want people to waste their money on something that is still uncertain. I do not want to see people get into debt, without a thorough consideration.

My fellow Thais, the ultimate goal of human development under the 20-year strategy is that citizens will have physical and mental strengths, along with good conscience, wisdom, and a will to learn. But today, that is hardly the case.

Many fail to look after themselves, lack morality and creativity, suffer from health problems, lack the ability to distinguish good from bad, become too sensitive, and lack the quality to foster ethics among youth, become irrational, use emotions rather than logic. These attributes make people vulnerable.

Such vulnerable attributes may be the result of the former generation’s failure to cultivate ethics and morality. Human development is important to the mobilization of national strategies. The heart of human development is a paradigm and a guiding principle that are compatible with the nature of Thai people.
A sub-committee in charge of human preparation in the 21st century in cooperation with its allies – state agencies, the private sector, and civic groups – hosted an event on March 1st at the Thailand Cultural Centre to foster a positive thinking process and mindset for Thai people.

It was meant to integrate efforts from related networks whose goal was to cultivate 5 specific mindsets that are compatible with the nature of Thailand, including self-sufficiency, self-discipline, honesty, service mind, and responsibility.

Awareness will be raised in all areas. These values must be instilled in Thai people. They are part of the Thai Niyom scheme which aims to promote the value of public interest over self-interest.

The event was considered the first stage of commitment of concerned parties to promote positive thinking process and mindset for Thai people.  More than 500 individuals from 300 organizations took part in the event. Participants vowed to work together on the matter.

Similar events will take place in the near future in order to create a bigger network of allies across the country. His Majesty the King attaches great importance to how one can contribute to the nation with the right attitude, have a good quality of life, and continue to be a good citizen of the country.

My fellow Thais, the Cabinet and I had the opportunity to visit Samut Sakhon, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan during the beginning of the week to follow up on the progress of many policies, such as foreign labor, caring for the victims of human trafficking, and ensuring that the rights and welfare of workers are guaranteed.

I also visited the Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation. This organization provides various assistances to alien workers and their families to be able to adapt themselves and be part of the Thai society.

I have to told the government officials and the Myanmar workers that the Government is committed to addressing issues of human trafficking and illegal labor in a decisive manner

and places great importance in the effectiveness of concerned agencies. I would like to see the foundation and the Government working together on the issues as well as creating a better understanding in the international community. These issues require cooperation from all sides.

Next, I had visited the fish marketing organization in Samut Sakhon to follow up on policies to address the labor and fishing industries. I spoke with many people who came to welcome the Cabinet and I.  During the visit, I reaffirmed the Government’s commitment towards resolving issues in the fishing industries and IUU fishing which has been undergoing for up to 4 years.

The Government wishes to see a tangible progress in the nationality verification process, the installation of VMS systems in fishing boats, as well as creating understanding in the international community. The Government would like to work with both employers and employees to provide labor protection in accordance with the human rights concept.

As for discussions with the private sector and local agencies, I would like to address the following issues,

1. Water management policies to resolve flood and drought. The Government has tasked the Bureau of the Budget and the National Water Resources Office to provide a budget for drought and flood relief programs in the lower Phetchaburi area in the Royal Initiative Projects, digging up the Phetchaburi river, and the construction of the Phetchaburi flood prevention dam which coincides with the water management policies of the Phetchaburi basin and the surrounding areas.

2. Natural resources and environmental conservation, especially with mangroves and coastal areas. The Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment has coordinated with related agencies in restoring mangroves in Phetchaburi and has mobilized projects to resolve coastal corrosion which require understanding and awareness among the locals.

In addition, the Cabinet and I also visited Ban Laem Phak Bia water treatment Royal Project to discuss on ways to reduce and manage waste water more effectively. This issue remains to be discussed and must be implemented before the waste water flows into mangrove areas and into the sea.

Another issue is the management of garbage and waste water in Samut Songkhram. We must follow up on the readiness of the community to help address the issues since these issues require cooperation from the public.  Locals must find ways to reduce waste and reuse it for energy production. We are waiting for cooperation from the community.

3. For Tourism, we have created mechanisms to connect community attractions and long-term stays. We must accommodate Thai tourists by connecting various activities and attractions and include sports and culture with local OTOP products. The project should be able to continue without relying on financial support from the Government.  At the same time, it should expand to nearby areas for sustainability. Each area must consider the potential of their own attractions.

4. Trade, investment, and border trade. The Cabinet approved the principles of making the area as a ‘global kitchen’ which entails developing the skills of workings and raising standards to coincide with market demands. This includes improving the product certification centers as a one stop services.

In addition, I’ve commended the private sector for its feasibility study on ways to development Thai seafood markets into comprehensive centers for food products and services. The government will consider supportive measures accordingly.

I’ve noticed that salt farming in large areas has yielded low prices without innovation to add additional value. The Government is in the process of finding appropriate measures and innovation to add more value in the salt industry.

However, salt farms must not encroach into mangroves, otherwise it will result in soil salinity. We must also examine the supply and demand dynamic as well as consumer needs.

The Government has also discussed with the private sector and has approved a crab breeding program which will construct a crab and plankton farm in addition of the flower crab population bank project.

The flower crab bank project of the Laem Pak Bia community in Phetchaburi will successfully increase the flower crab population.  This is an example sustainable development under the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.

It had adapted local practices and expertise and incorporated academic research to solve the problem of the decreasing of flower crabs as a result of catching crabs that were carrying eggs. The project temporarily held crabs with eggs and released the offspring back into the sea to increase the population.

This has resulted in increased income and restoration of the coastal ecological system. It is an updated version of a local practice of holding crabs with eggs and releasing the offspring into the sea.

Research had contributed to an increased survival rate of 1 percent by growing the offspring before releasing them into the sea.

Currently, the flower crab bank project has been implemented in Songkhla, Trang, Surat Thani, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Trat. I’ve called for the expansion of this project throughout the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea region.

The project also focuses on community cooperation and research. I’ve also tasked the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) to serve as an intermediary agency on the following agendas,

1. The NRCT shall expediently expand the crab bank project to other communities and support additional research to increase the survival rate of the offspring by identifying the most suitable age to release them into the sea as well as transportation methods.

I believe that flower crabs are (and will be) in constant demand due to their popularity.

2. The Department of Fisheries shall issue a measure to support deposits of crabs carrying eggs with crab banks and to push Thai flower crabs to the global market.  Standard and regulation shall also be in placed.

3. The Department of Department of Marine and Coastal Resources shall approve areas for conservation and restoration as well as the utilization of coastal resources.

4. The Government Savings Bank has provided shall provide loans up to 150,000-200,000 baht per community to run the project (buildings, solar cells, and recurring operations).

5. A Pracharat Rak Samakkee corporation in the coastal area shall helps with marketing and public relations.

6. The Thai Postal Service shall make flower crabs from crab banks a marketable product.

7. The Ministry of Commerce shall promote the product both offshore and onshore in all channels, including online channel.

The gGovernment has allocated a budget for expanding on crab banks across the country. Its success will result in a considerable increase in flower crabs in the natural environment and increasing the income for the people.

If communities release 100 offspring per month, there will be 0.1-1 million crabs. It will result in an increase of revenue from selling flower crabs by 2.5 million baht per village per month. Implementing this in 1000 communities will increase revenue by 2.5 billion baht.

These policies demonstrate the potential of the local community when combined with the Pracharat mechanism.  The Government and inter-government agencies have work together to provide the right assistance and support to the community for the successful outcome.

This is an example of a project that is a result of integrated efforts between various government agencies. 6-7 Ministries are involves as well as various agencies.

Most importantly, the public must also work hard and be able to apply new technologies and traditional practices to the project for the best result.  Being successful requires more than just money.

Good news. CNN’s ranking of the 50 best dishes in the world gave its No.1 ranking to Thailand’s ‘Massaman curry’, a dish made out of stewing beef with ‘Massaman’ curry and coconut milk and garnished with cardamom.

Tom Yum Goong ranked No.8 for its herbal and nutty flavor and Som Tum ranked No.46 for its variety, whether with or without crab or pickled mackerel and its versatility as a pair with sticky rice, grilled chicken, and fresh vegetables.

I believe that Thai food extends beyond a means to satisfy our hunger and improve our health. It is embedded with a unique spirit and ideology of our culture.

The use of raw materials and garnishes represents Thailand’s abundance in natural resources and environmentally-friendly farming.

It utilizes seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as organic farming in sustainably fashion.

Local products and handmade products from across the country, such as coconut sugar, shrimp paste, and fish sauce are not only give flavors but they are the heart and soul of our food culture.

The selection of local materials speaks of a food experience that is based on longstanding tradition.

I hope to pass on this culinary pride and Thai idealism to the next generation and to the international community.

I would like to thank the Ministry of Culture for compiling the book of delicious foods from 100-year-old restaurants to support both domestic and international tourism.

I would also like to thank the Ministry for supporting the role of Thai women in society and encouraging equal treatment on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8.

Sunday, March 11, is the last day of Oon Ai Rak Klay Kwan Nao festival (Winter festival) at the Royal Plaza and Sanam Sua Pa. I would like to invite everyone to take part in celebrating Thai culture by bringing your children and wearing traditional Thai attire or polite attire to experience traditional Thai culture and create long lasting memories.
Thank you, Sawasdee Krub.