From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals March 16, 2018
Good evening to all citizens of Thailand.
Today, everyone of us comes across a copious amount of information. Some are facts. Some are fake. And some are just rumors. Information is likened to turbid water. You have to let it sit for a while until it clears up, in this case, until the truth is revealed. I want everyone to use their senses as a philosopher to consume new data. You must listen to both sides of the story. Don’t believe in everything you hear. When you read, you must think along. Use your best judgment. If you have a question, ask someone who knows, who can give you correct answers. You shall then write it down and memorize what you’ve learned, so that you can share your facts with other people. You should also put it in writing. Only focus on the message being sent. Don’t waste your time on what’s not important or nonsense because it doesn’t anyone any good. Focusing on the wrong thing can bring about problems and conflicts.
On March 13th of every year marks Thai Elephant Day. What to learn about this day is that currently there are only 6,000 elephants in Thailand. The number is very small despite our best efforts. There are 750,000 elephants around the world. Elephants are part of the Thai culture and history. In Thai language, there are different pronouns for elephants. We use “Tua” to call wild elephants individually and “Khlong” for the entire herd. We refer to domesticated elephants as “Chuag” and to royal elephants as “Chang”. Male elephants are called “Chand Plai” and females are called “Chang Pang”. This is the uniqueness of Thai language and should be cherished by all generations. Language reflects the level of education of its users. Talking about the administration’s success in regard to elephant and wildlife conservation, I believe we are familiar with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Many Thais may have forgotten but the world remembers that the current government and the NCPO take such matter seriously, enforcing strict regulations and bringing those responsible to justice. Our efforts are recognized by all. Elephant poaching was a long-standing problem. Let me call on all to continue protecting elephants and wild species. Today, there still exists problems between humans and elephants. Solutions will affect humans more. Some roads have been closed to give elephants room. Some elephants are vicious and territorial. We have to come up with a solution so that humans and elephants can co-exist.
When I said everyone should use their senses like a philosopher, I didn’t mean everyone must become a philosopher. Don’t translate my message into something else. It is only a metaphor for those using their knowledge to go about their lives. I want everyone to cultivate a will to learn and improve, so that people in the digital era can 1) have a true understanding both in terms of academic principles and reasoning, and 2) follow the law and the unwritten international rule of law. My fellow citizens, as you can see, recently there have been many reports of corruption and fraud. These reports are turned into groundless allegations against the government and the NCPO. I want everyone to open their eyes and see the silver lining that I see. The problem of corruption presents us with many aspects and opportunities. For instance, we now see that corruption exists at all levels of society, in the past and at present. The problem was swept under the rug and is now exposed by the emergence of social media. Complaints are being investigated. Investigations take time. 2) The creative role of social media should be enriched given how fast information travels through social media. However, the information presented must first be verified before taking action. The government’s complaint solicitation campaign is open and accessible to all. The level of accessibility is higher than the past. Yet, people still claim the government forbids opinions. Many channels have been open such as Hotline 1111 and Hotline 1567 (Damrongtham centers). In the past, these channels never existed. People weren’t able to voice their thoughts. A girl from a rural province lodged a complaint which led to an investigation. The story of this girl is in the news.
Statistically, in the past 3 years, there have been more than 3 million requests which is a lot to handle, yet up to 98% of those requests have been answered. Matters with complications were being solved. Probes into those complaints are underway. Operations are lunched and funds are distributed to streamline projects. The current government looks at these complaints. All complaints, big or small, have been heard. Once presented, I instruct officer to fix and NCPO to inspect the progress. We read every complaint. The remaining complaints are being dealt with. Many of the complaints concern people’s wellbeing and corruption. Without aforementioned channels, people would’ve turned to influential people to solve their plights, which would’ve led to debts and gratitude.
Thai people are taught to reciprocate a favor. This is not an insult to those to return favors, but gratitude should be paid the right way. Don’t forget the gratitude we owe to the country. Now, if we look closer at corruption cases, we couldn’t find irregularities at the policy level. Many cases have been dealt with and many are in the progress. Justice will always prevail. What we need is to find evidence and witnesses. The government is determined to bring justice to all corrupt individuals. The judicial branch is one of the 3 branches of government. The administration and the judicial branch have freedom to act on their own and support each other’s work for the sake of the nation. Another important factor is morality. Our conscience and morality are vital for the society to prosper.
Today, more people are more outspoken. Their actions can be right and wrong. Also Thai people are more aware of corruption, aka silent threat, which has plagued the country for a long time. We will no longer stand by and watch such misconduct take root.
Let me convey a message from His Majesty the King. The message was meant specifically for judges and those working to ensure justice in Thailand. The message was heard by the judges during an oath-taking ceremony before His Majesty on March 2nd. His Majesty graciously advised them to uphold ethics and morality as judges. They must use the knowledge they’ve gained to differentiate right from wrong, good from bad. They must always use their best judgment to protect and deliver justice when needed. 2) Regardless of the whereabouts, the law is enforced to protect rights, provide safety, and maintain peace. The profoundness of the law can result in goodness and evil. It is a sensitive matter that requires science and art. And 3) Judges perform their duties on behalf and in the name of the 3 institutions – the country, religions, and the monarch and the people.
These sacred institutions bring about happiness, peace, and stability to our home nation. The justice system must be just, transparent, and reliable. In order to make sure that the justice system is reliable, it has to start with the police, attorneys, and courts (court of first instance, appeals court, and supreme court). Right and wrong are judged by evidence and the court. Everything goes through the judicial process. Serving in the name of the King, civil servants and law enforcement officers must not break the law or exploit legal loopholes for their own benefits. Officers are the main element to ensuring justice and social equality. Once there is equality, justice will always prevail in our society.
My fellow citizens, there are many achievements we need to acknowledge. They resulted from perseverance and cooperation between different parties. I want everyone to cherish this moment. A survey has been released by the U.S. News & World Report, ranking best countries of 2018. The study was conducted by private firm in cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania, one of the world’s top universities. Researchers surveyed more than 21,000 businessmen and young bloods, asking about countries in 9 respects such as adventure, citizenship, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, heritage, movers, open for business, power and quality of life. The report covers perceptions of 80 nations. The results showed that Thailand was ranked among top 10 countries in the world in 3 categories.
1.) In the adventure category, Thailand was rank 4th heavily thanks to the growing tourism industry. The Land of Smiles offers entertainment, nice weather, and natural attractions, drawing a number of visitors to various places. A foreign visitor spends up to 50,000 baht or around 1,530 US dollars per visit. Tourism is the country’s main income generator, creating employment and distributing wealth in rural provinces and communities. Our trump card is the beauty of nature itself which is our privilege. Secondary factors include how we promote these places and how we accommodate visitors, be it transportation, rooms, restrooms, cleanliness, and tourist safety. The Pracharat mechanism will be handy. What’s important is that we must not take advantage of our visitors. The government will look after bigger things such as the infrastructure – road, rail, water, and air – for better connectivity. Free Wi-Fi will be installed in 75,000 communities, giving people access to information and transactions. Tourism in secondary provinces will be promoted, starting with Thai tourists before attempting to attract foreign tourists. Such undertaking is meant to trigger employment, income, opportunities, and growth in rural areas.
2.) In terms of “open for business,” Thailand was placed at number 6 due to the country’s stability which has boosted trust and confidence among investors and foreign governments. The NCPO and the administration have a clear vision to build stability, prosperity, and sustainability. We are putting forth the 20-year national strategic plan and the reform roadmap. Projects coming to realization include the Eastern Economic Corridor, also known to the world as the EEC project, which focuses on 10 targeted industries, all of which will cater to the growth of our nation. The EEC initiative will build more researchers, experts, engineers, and skilled workers as well as innovations. We have a plan for continued expansion and to improve the services and business transactions. We have successfully established fast and easy business registration, improving the ease of doing business. This is the idea and the model for 10 special economic zones. The plan presents a clear vision towards long-term national development, designed to stimulate an influx of investments, knowledge, and advanced technologies. Expected results are the transfer of expertise, the improved capability of Thailand and better living standards of Thai citizens.
3.) On our Thai cultural heritage, we ranked number 8, especially on food where Thailand scored as high as France due to our unique and flavorful food that is enjoyed by the whole world, such as Massaman curry which ranked No.1 on CNN’s 50 best dishes, as well as Tom Yum Kung and Som Tum that I had mentioned last week. This includes Thailand’s variety of tropical fruit that is available year round. The government must manage water and supply to maintain a price equilibrium, so that we won’t be faced with problems like before. These are points of pride that are based on assessments made by foreign countries. I would like the press and society to be careful about people who want to spread false news. Apart from the Love at Winter’s End Festival that was commissioned by His Majesty King Rama 10, there is also the TV drama Buppasaniwas that coincides well with Royal directions of His Majesty King Rama X in continuing sustaining and developing. I am confident that these things are not just temporary trends, but well ingrained in our heritage. This includes our ideals, nationalism, ethics, as well as our loyalty to the country’s major institutions. We must preserve our traditions and culture, from our clothing, language, as well as archaeological sites and antiquities. We have numerous archaeological sites of interest across the country, something that our ancestors passed on to us with great pride.
I am glad to see Thai people dress in traditional Thai attire. I want to see this happen across various occasions and tourist attractions. Foreign tourists regard this with great value and commend this uniqueness. We must all work to preserve these traditions and pass them on to the next generation. Government agencies also encourage officials to dress in traditional Thai attire on Tuesdays. I don’t forbid officials from attending meetings when dress traditionally and I want to see this practice done in other sectors, whether it is at schools or private companies. Most importantly, it must be voluntary. It can also serve as another service at tourist attractions for people to take photos wearing traditional Thai attire. It would help generate income, but people must not overcharge or scam. This could create more demand for Thai textiles which will create more income and jobs. This is how we can innovate using culture.
In addition, U.S. News and World Report ranked Thailand as the best country in the world for starting a new business in terms of obtaining capital, an effective bureaucratic system, its connectivity with other countries through land, water, and sea, accessing capital, and effective financial services. Starting a business in Thailand takes only 5 days. This is a result of the government’s effort of reducing procedures and obstacles to doing business, by making on documentation and permit services available and one stop service centers to better serve businesses. This positive rankings coincide with the World Bank’s ease of doing business report that was announced at the end of 2017 where Thailand improved by 20 rankings. The government continues to make improvements in many areas to add more convenience to doing business and has urged the private sector to reduce the amount of required documentation. I will also be monitoring government agencies as well in their implementation of this policy.
We hope that our efforts will be able to attract investors from various countries which will result in jobs and economic activity in all areas. It is up to the people to seek opportunities and take part in these activities so that they can benefit as well. Communities must increase their business activities in a gradual and steady manner to ensure long term success. We must in the end maximize income for local communities.
In addition to tourism, business, and potential for growth, Thailand has also been well ranked in lifestyle. It is ranked No. 20 in the list of best countries for starting a career. The rank considers the awareness of the labor sector, economic stability, capabilities of companies, income equality, innovation and livability and progressiveness. Moreover, the country also ranks No. 20 for retirees from a survey of people over 45 years of age and their scoring of their comfort after retirement. The respondents are satisfied with Thailand for its low cost of living, friendliness, livability, appropriate climate, rights to property and a good healthcare system. Thailand is also ranked No. 28 on the list of countries that look to the future, when considering the country’s adaptiveness to the challenges, the mobilization of the business sector, innovations, technological expertise, and a bureaucratic system that is friendly to business. These achievements are the product of a strong private sector that sees the importance of national development, is adaptive, creates opportunities and adds value, coupled a public sector that is cooperative to policies. I do not wish to compete or be superior to any other country. I want us to compete with ourselves. Let’s examine ourselves and continue to improve in order to create an economic atmosphere that is suitable for investment. Let’s us enable ourselves to become strong from within and be self sufficient, while also enhancing the country’s competitiveness and suitability for investment, especially in advanced technologies. All of this will add value to the country’s production sector and enable it to be secure, prosperous and sustainable, reduce disparities, promote peace and wellbeing. Let us do this not for the government, but for the sake of the people and the next generation. During this roadmap to the election, I want everyone to maintain a positive atmosphere for foreign countries because they are considering how serious Thailand is on national development, policies and democracy. I hope businesses and the public help ensure human rights. The government has done its best, although there may be some issues that still linger.
Finally, I hope that the political sector contribute towards reducing conflict and the spread of false information. Let us all examine how the country has progressed since 2014. We must know by now what the country must do and how it must change. I have spoke about this numerous times. The government is unable to respond to all issues that arise and must only spread facts. The government is also facilitating investigations into corruption. One more thing is our preparations for the Songkran holidays. I hope everyone is careful starting today. Deaths and injuries don’t only happen during Songkran. It just so happens that we focus on the number of injuries and deaths during festive seasons. However, we must examine these numbers on a quarterly basis. Songkran is included in our quarterly statistics of deaths and injuries. Therefore, agencies must reduce losses and injuries year-round. I call on all agencies to work together. Security officials, police, and the military must work hard to prepare for all the time when everyone else is on holiday.
Thank you, and I wish for happiness to everyone and their families.