From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals March 23, 2018

Good evening to all Thai citizens.

Last week, I attended the ASEAN-Australian Special Summit 2018 in Sydney, Australia. It was held for leaders of ASEAN and Australia to discuss cooperation on various matters. The main agenda was the strengthening of joint contributions to regional security and prosperity. All leaders agreed to drive cooperation for concrete results.
Australia is ASEAN’s oldest dialogue partner, with their relations dating back 44 years, thus having good understanding of the ASEAN region. Australia is working on new ways and methods to strengthen ties with the international community, particularly on the regional architecture and security as well as the concept of Indo-Pacific cooperation.

Strategic partnerships will have to be formed soon to address different kinds of challenges. In terms of economic partnership, there is a free trade agreement between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand. The agreement can serve as a platform for closer formation of economic partnership between participating nations.

During the special summit, other leaders and I witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation to Counter International Terrorism, reflecting our commitment to counter international terrorism.  Also, we adopted a joint statement – the Sydney declaration – which sets out a shared commitment to boost collaboration on various issues such as the prevention of various forms of threats to regional security, the peaceful utilization of ocean, maritime security, and aerial flights over regional airspace. In terms of economic cooperation, all countries supported free trade and agreed to push forward the negotiation on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the promotion of digital economy, the making of micro, small, and medium enterprises, and the reduction of economic development gaps.

Furthermore, both sides will strengthen peoples’ connectivity through education, environmental protection, and public health. Australia also proposed several projects covering all aspects such as political, security, economic, social, and cultural development, with a focus on mutual benefits especially through the development of basic infrastructure and anti-human trafficking.

At the summit, I highlighted that the Indo-Pacific cooperation shall lead to the new strategic equilibrium in the region, with ASEAN in the center of the cooperation, (ASEAN centrality), based on mutual trust, respect, and benefits. The Australian Premier also underscored that ASEAN is the heart of the Indo-Pacific region.

Apart from the aforesaid, the summit also touched on other current issues such as the situations on the Korean Peninsula and in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. I suggested that a mechanism be set up to promote peace, safety, and improvement in Rakhine State. We will have to listen to both member states and the Myanmar Government in order to avoid external interventions. This problem has to be worked on immediately within our ASEAN family.

Next year, Thailand will assume the chair of ASEAN. We will be hosting many ASEAN related conferences. Thailand is scheduled to be the host of APEC Summit in 2022. The Government is gearing up for these upcoming events.

This will give Thailand an opportunity to showcase its potential and leadership in various respects. I ask that members of the public be good hosts to all visitors and show them what Thailand and her people are really made of. I want to stress the importance of being a good host. Regardless of when conferences will be held or who will be the Government, Thailand has to make preparations now. A national committee has been appointed to oversee the preparations for both meetings, ASEAN Summit (2019) and APEC Summit (2022). All preparations must start now. Our country will be clean and safe to welcome visitors.

I also want you to look at the landscape of Australia, especially the area surrounding Sydney Harbour. The place is well-planed and beautiful with tourist attractions, places to exercise, and restaurants. These places are clean and beautiful. Australia has a very effective waste management system. Waste water doesn’t flow into canals or waterways. Their priority is to protect the environment. We should learn and try to adapt their best practices. We must not dump waste water into our rivers. There has to be a better and more effective way. It is not possible to change everything at one time but we can start by working on one channel at a time. I have already proposed this idea to concerned agencies.  However, the most important thing is cooperation from all sectors.

My dear citizens, Thailand and Australia will celebrate their 70-year anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2022, which coincides with the APEC Summit. Australia is Thailand’s major trade partner. In 2017, mutual trade between Thailand and Australia was valued at 500 billion baht. Australia is Thailand’s 9th biggest trade partner.

At present, Thailand and Australia are bonded under the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) which can be revised for the enhancement of mutual trade. Australia has voiced their support for Thailand to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) also known as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TPP (CPTIP).
I have asked responsible agencies to look into the matter in advance so that Thai entrepreneurs can make adjustments accordingly. During a bilateral meeting between Thailand and Australia, I took the initiative of inviting Australian investors to join Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor.

Thailand is ready to facilitate investment activities (from Australian investors).  However, at the same time, we are taking care of our private sector’s investment in Australia.  I had a meeting with the Thai private sector to learn about their business activities in Australia.  In this regard, I, then, informed the Australian Prime Minister about problems and issues faced by Thai businesses in Australia as well as requesting him to look after the Thai people and students in Australia numbering more than 100,000 people.

I also extended an invitation to the Australian Premier to visit Thailand. He accepted the invitation and hope to be able to visit Thailand in the near future. It has been 5 years since both leaders met and as long as 20 years since an Australian Prime Minister visited Thailand.

His response was a good indicative of how the international community perceives Thailand. Our image has significantly improved as the Government has shown its sincerity and is committed to solving existing problems including international issues. We will keep on doing our best.

Talking about trust from the international community, I have good news for you. Ms. Sunanta Kangvalkulkij, Thai Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), was unanimously voted by 164 member countries to chair the Dispute Settlement Body of WTO.

Sunanta is the first Thai representative appointed to such an honorable position since the inception of WTO in 1995. Being the chief of such organ requires impartiality when settling differences and the right mindset to end disputes in the most peaceful and effective fashion.

This is another great opportunity to show the capability of Thailand and its representatives. To become the chair of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body is an important responsibility. Traditionally, the chair will go on to become the chairperson of the General Council. The current term will end in 2019.

The General Council is the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body overseeing and supporting undertakings of member nations to ensure trade fairness. Let me send my best wishes to Ms. Sunanta and her team who will bring us pride and the greatest honor. We will have to have stability, security, and trust in our country in order to help support the work of our representative.

The success on diplomacy and international relations did not come by easily.  The Government has been working on the principles of honor and respect. We have to however, keep these two words so they can be maintained. Honor is for one to maintain by “thinking right, speaking right and acting right” Respect meanwhile is given to us by others when it is appropriate.  When we maintain our honor by not giving in to vice, corruption, dishonesty or crime we are respected by all. I have said to you before on this program “Don’t’ see it (bad thing) as a small wrong and do it and don’t see it (good thing) as a small right and not do it”.

When it comes to the tasks of this Government no matter how small or big the issue is, we are working full stream to address it because we know that what we are doing is for the happiness of the entire nation. This is no easy task and will take time. It is not something that can be done in days, weeks or months.  We have to work at both domestic and international levels to solve our problems and regain the trust and understanding.

If you can recall, the ivory issue brought up by CITES, the IUU fishing problem and our aviation problems marked by ICAO, all decades old issues, were resolved in just 3 years, even though many countries have slowed down their ties with us because of how this government came about. I understood them.  However, we have proved the world our sincerity. Now, the international community had repositioned themselves and restore ties with us, especially when it comes to economic partnership and cooperation on security. Just one example is how we have seen the largest troops participation ever in the Cobra Gold. It turns out “gentleman’s diplomacy” wherein you never offend anyone and try to accommodate everyone is just one side of the equation and can’t bring success without another side that strictly enforces the law and regulations to maintain stability and security in all respects. The law has to be enforced strictly and fairly. I ask that all citizens and all sides think of the best interests of the nation and its bright future and come together to create an atmosphere of reconciliation for the stability, prosperity and sustainability of our children.

My dear citizens, I’d like to give an example in terms of “relaying the news” as it pertains to biddings, procurements and hiring, which have to be divided between two circumstances. The first is when no action has yet been taken and all is still conceptual and being studied.  No criticism should be made yet, especially since it can lead to good projects folding in spite of their necessity to the public (water, forests, and investments). This is especially an issue in social media.  We all have to be careful with this technology because anyone can use it to add their views and they cannot be held accountable.

The Government and the NCPO understand your good intentions but urge all to verify the reliability of such information and sources or at least wait until responsible agencies come out to disclose the information. Sharing and posting articles contain incorrect information will result in public confusion. As long as there are no terms of reference (TOR), no projects can be implemented. Distributing false and distorted information or news on social media is equivalent to breaking the law because it hinders the TOR drafting process and causes social problems.


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