From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals March 30, 2018

A very good evening to you.

On the upcoming auspicious occasion of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s 63rd Birthday Anniversary of on April 2nd, 2018, the whole nation will gratefully celebrate her honor and dedication. Also, in order to commemorate the auspicious occasion, Her Royal Highness’s Birthday has been declared Thai Heritage Conservation Day

to extol and recognize Her Royal Highness’s life-long contributions to protecting and cherishing the country’s culture, arts, and traditions. Our beloved Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has shown her exceptional abilities and determination to raise people’s awareness and preserve our own identity.

She has always been an exemplary person, which is demonstrated through her Royal activities, following in the footsteps of His Majesty King Rama IX to make sure that our cultural heritage is passed on to the next generation.

This is also in line with His Majesty the King’s wishes to maintain and augment His Majesty King Rama IX’s royal activities and projects and create happiness for all Thai people.

In this connection, I would like to invite you all to recapture and commemorate Her Royal Highness’s dedication and achievements in cultural heritage conservation.  Also, on this upcoming auspicious occasion, I would like to encourage everyone to do good things from your heart to celebrate Her Royal Highness’s Birthday.  Long Live the Princess!

The essence of “Thai Niyom” is enshrined in our society and I’d like to see it continued, especially on the cultural heritage conservation part.  Preserving our heritage by wearing Thai outfits is encouraged. Some tourism and recreational programs offered discounts/free-services for people who were Thai period outfits.  These programs shall be promoted. As for tourists visiting historical sites, ancient ruins, and historical museums, I urge that you follow instructions and advice and refrain from all forms of inappropriate conducts. We need to preserve those places for the next generation.

My fellow citizens, last week I talked about a 66-year old runner named Amnat Phrompinan. He was the only Thai runner who was invited to take part in the 2018 Eiffel Tower Vertical. The event has been going on for 100 years. In this regard, on a bigger scale, I would like to ask all of us to brainstorm on how these kinds of sport activity can bring more income and prosperity to our country, especially our local communities, and connect with our community/cultural tourism programs.
Marathons can be more than just a one-day event. It could become a new industry. Like running, movie making or film production is also a new industry that can triple the value of Thai tourism.

Let me give you some facts about marathon events organized in major cities around the world. These marathons are called Majors. There are 6 of them including Boston Marathon (121 years), New York City Marathon (48 years), Berlin Marathon (44 years), Chicago Marathon (41 years), London Marathon (37 years), and Tokyo Marathon (36 years). There are other runs taking place throughout the world.

Each run is joined by no fewer than 35,000 people. There are 50,000 runners at New York City Marathon, more than athletes competing in the Olympics numbering 11,000. These events bring a huge amount of money to the host country and local people.

Runners always travel with their family. They run, travel, and spend money on food, hospitality, and souvenirs. National events that are well-received can turn into global sensations, creating circulation to the economy and boosting sports related industries. The 2016 Chicago Marathon created an economic value of up to 9 billion baht to the city of Chicago and her people. The 2017 London Marathon was able to raise as much as 2.7 billion baht in donation which was the world record.
Looking back at our past marathons, we have organized, give or take, the same number of runs as London and Tokyo, around 30 years. There are only 6 races that are members of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).

Statistics recorded at member races are verified and certified by AIMS. However, we don’t have a single race that is certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). To be a member, we have to meet their requirements. For instance, there must be medical teams who are able to look after injured athletes promptly. If we can improve ourselves to meet all the requirements and standards of these races, we will be drawing in more sports visitors.

I have heard that many countries have set up foundations to hire private firms to organize and run these events with supports and facilitations from the Government.
Looking closely, I believe that such system is not beyond the capability of our local “Pracharat” mechanism to manage.  This mechanism has already proven itself. The “Pracharat PP Model” has led to the reform of tourism on PP Island. In 2014, the island earned 700 million baht in tourism revenue. But in 2017, the island raked in 2.4 billion baht and is expected to earn 3 billion baht this year. Therefore, it is important to protect the environment and natural resources.

Coming back to sports events, Where does the money go? It goes to the community and the people. As for the proceeds from ticket sales, the sponsors are determined to use it to support our runners and youths as well as charitable activities and funds.

In this regard, I would like to urge concerned parties to set up systems that are on par with the international counterparts. I believe we can host one of the most beautiful races in the world. Marathon routes can run through cultural places, communities, temples, historic places, and event natural places like rivers, canals, beaches, mountains, and forests.

In addition, we can have silk roads, textile roads, food roads, and other well-promoted routes which pass through communities, major cities, and secondary cities.
You can help the country organize these events and add more value to your community.  This can be another legacy that we leave behind for the next generation. I believe that sports will help better our society and will play a vital role in the development of our nation.

My fellow citizens, there are many issues I want to share with you tonight.

1. Local fisheries/ commercial fisheries in or outside Thai waters in Thailand shall sustainably benefit from the fair enforcement of the laws. Everyone must respect the laws and international obligations. It might be hard in the beginning but we have to try. Many have to go out of their way to make adjustments.   The Government will provide appropriate supports during the transition. The damage will be minimized for the maximum benefit of our children, the fishing industry, and the nation in the long run. Please kindly cooperate.

2. As for rubber, we are increasing rubber consumption nationwide. Not just for today, but for future consumption too. We are going to put in place a sustainable system and mechanism, a proper budget management, Rubberized asphalt road construction. Thailand is working together with other suppliers to monitor the rubber market.

3. The outcome of the first two phases of the Thai Niyom campaign was satisfactory The campaign was focusing on teaching technologies, building professions, online marketing, financial loans, and the procurement of equipment and tools for area-based development.  As for infrastructure development, we already have budgets for that. For example, traffic lights, an overpass, and a tunnel (for “Ee-Tan” vehicles) are needed in Nong Bua Lamphu, I have asked responsible agencies to look into the matter.

4. As for the use of forest areas, if the use was approved by previous administrations, we have to find appropriate solution to the matter. For example, the case in Chiang Mai province.  We are working on ways to resolve the issue and address people’s concerns with minimal damages as a large amount of money has been spent.
Of course, the aspects of impacts on environment and national resources are also taken into consideration. Although the government and the NCPO weren’t the ones approving it but we are working on a constructive solution. I don’t want to see people misunderstood as this is not a political issue.

5. Civil servants have to reform and improve themselves. This April 1st is Civil Servants’ Day. I asked those who serve the public to diligently work to put a smile on people’s faces.  When we take out our uniforms, we are ordinary citizens.

As for civil servant development, I would like to point out a course designed by the Community Development Department. The course aims to produce ‘thinking buddies’ for people in local communities.  Thinking buddies will help guide the local people, teach them to lead, and boost community’s immune system. The course emphasizes on both practical and academic aspects by visiting local communities to learn about their lives.

We have around 4,000 community development officers joining the Thai Niyom team.  They are gathering information on the need of people from each community.  I would like to see the same kind of training course in all government agencies. I have learnt that many agencies have already trained their staff in this direction.

A review is needed to make sure that the operations and trainings are effective and efficient. Official must think of the people as their family members. They must work closely with the locals to build trust and collaboration more than using their authoritarian power or unnecessary law enforcement. Don’t forget that the law is meant to facilitate, not to create burdens. It is also meant to maintain peace.

6. Bureaucratic reform and public administration, the Government is considering a request for the decentralization of power.  Personally, I have no objection.  However, we have to consider our country’s readiness in all levels. People have to improve themselves along the way.  We also have to promote public participation.

Only then will the country improve. Only then can we maximize the benefits of fund distribution. Decentralization is not only about power and budget. The success of decentralization relies on the efficiency and readiness of state officers, civil servants, and all Ministries. How prepared are local administrative organizations in managing their own budgets?

If the budget is decentralized without people’s readiness, the money allocated for development programs will be wasted. The risks of unreadiness are corruption and embezzlement. Today, local governments were given a lot of power and are in charge of several projects, yet some are underperformers. This is because many local administrative organizations are not ready.  They need to improve their overall management including human resources and budget management for the better outcomes of their projects.

The procurement of NGV buses commenced in 2006 and was overseen by many administrations but resulted in corruption and irregularities. The current Government on March 26th unveiled 100 NGV buses which have been in use in the capital and vicinity in 5 routes. The BMTA will receive 489 more in the next 3 months.

We will procure more NGV buses to replace the old ones. The red buses (non-air conditioning) operated by the BMTA have been in use since 1991, but still prove to be necessary especially for the low-income earners. It is the government’s duty to provide good transportation to people in all corners.

The Government decided to terminate the untargeted free-services and replaced them with the welfare card program which aims to reduce expenses of the poor. The decision led to a better management of state money. The bus operator can now focus on improving its standards and services. I understand that there are people who are no longer able to enjoy free-services.  Please understand that the adjustment is for the greater good.  It is to allow the budget to be spent on other important areas and lessen the budget loss of the BMTA.

7. As for corruption, the problem has plagued the Thai bureaucratic system for a long time. Today, I have to praise the media, members of the public, and social media for keeping an eye on suspicious activities.

The Government and the NCPO are open to scrutiny and to complaints and suggestions. I have instructed officers to look into all complaints and allegations concerning corruption. Those who come across suspicious acts should report them to a responsible agency. The NCPO has come up with measures to prevent and suppress corrupt practices. These measures have been endorsed by the cabinet and will be ratified by every ministry and agency. These measures are

1) when there is a complaint about corruption, fact finding has to be done within 7 days, and disciplinary and criminal proceeding must be done within 30 days.

2) If a complaint is made on a reasonable ground and that corruption has caused damage to the organization, although investigation results are yet to be conclusive, alleged individuals must be temporarily transferred to another position in order to pave way for a smooth investigation. Investigation will continue until things come to light.

3. If evidence points out the fault on the official, immediate actions must be taken. In addition to strict disciplinary actions, there may be a consideration for dismissal.  Criminal investigation may also be launched.

4. In cases of violation of duty or severe disciplinary misconduct, once the official is transferred, they will be unable to be relocated to a similar position or a higher position for 3 years.

5. Those who conduct their civil duties in a delayed or inefficient manner that results in damages to the organization or the public will be considered for transference to other positions, and

6. We must institute appropriate protection for witnesses who have provided information to ensure efficient gathering of information and evidence against the perpetrator. Cases of slander or distortion of information will also be punished. This includes activities on social media as well.

This is to boost credibility in the corruption crackdown process and to ensure effective performance of officials as well as to build trust among the public.

My fellow Thai citizens,  As for recent controversy surrounding the country’s politics and democratic system, the government and the NCPO has never caused disruption or limited rights and freedoms excessively. I don’t understand why some people are trying to put pressure on the Government.

There are several political issues at hand,  such as,

1. Why must we use the word “playing politics?” I think we should refrain from this word because we all know that politics is not something to be played with. It is not a business dealing or about power and personal gain. It is about governance to protect the interests of the state and the people. Instead, we should use the word “volunteer” as politicians are offering themselves for the public to decide.

2. Why must there be hatred towards “politician?” Now that we’ve decided upon a democratic governance system, why is no one else willing to take part in political work other than the same people and groups? We will not be able to do anything new. I’m not insulting anyone. New political parties should not have the intention to destroy Thailand’s longstanding cultural practices.

3. How much do we understand and care about state administration when it is something that involves diverse groups of people and different sides, rules, and laws? Failure to understand will result in ideological and rhetorical chaos that will confuse the system.  I would like to see people trust in the judicial system as well as the bureaucratic practice.

I hope that the followings will not occur in the next Government.

1. Apply policies to win votes that result in long-term damage or make fiscally reckless decisions or promises.

2. use the state welfare system to benefit or vindicate an individual or group

3. vote in place of other MPs

4. negligent to corruption that is happening. They must instead try their best to resolve the issue.

5. allow for massive encroachment into forest land. In the past, governments have neglected this issue to the point that we have had to implement systematic reform. Those who have resided illegally in the forest area are now suffering because they had established themselves there for a long time and now this Government is seen to be abusing them.

6. allow for powerful outlaw networks or illegal operations to prosper including gambling and prostitution.

The Government and the NCPO has mobilized efforts in all areas. While it may not be able to resolve 100 percent of issues, it has sought to address all issues and may have been more successful than past governments. Thanks to Damrongtham centers, we are able resolve around 90 percent the problems.

I’m not saying that we have resolved 90 percent of corruption, but compare what we’ve done to the past and see how many corruption cases have entered the justice system. There have also been efforts to address water management, reform legislation, reform trade and investment policies, support micro SMEs, and develop digital systems.

Government budget must be spent on the needed area through Thai Niyom scheme or Pracharat mechanism.  This is because there are many people with different needs. If everyone requires the same amount of budget, the country will definitely become bankrupt.  Today, bad officials may still left in the system.

We must support good officials and the new generation who have yet to demonstrate their skills because of positions that have been fixed for a long time. Today, there have been various shuffling and retirements to provide new and good people with the opportunity to manage the country.

This administration allows for various channels to file for investigations. This has resulted in numerous cases ranging from general cases, to high profile cases, to drug related cases. In the past, there have been very few cases. You can research the statistics. There have been cases of firearms and traffic violations that have been in the pipeline for 8-9 years.  We just pointed out and let the proceeding continue. The NCPO does not interfere with this proceeding.

Regarding road safety, the Government and the NCPO has sought to address all issues by putting measures and penalty in place. Cases are sent to the judicial system. We are working hard to prevent new incidents from happening.

I would like to thank new and lower ranking government officials for their dedication and contribution. I will make sure that everyone will be trouble-free.  I want to see a long-lasting effort and contribution.

The election roadmap is quite clear. Please do not distort information or oppose the Government. The NCPO has implemented restrictions because we must not allow what has happened in the past to happen again. I don’t want anyone to think that we are infringing, bullying, or exploiting anyone. No one should be afraid if they aren’t trying to break the law. It is only those with bad intentions that should be afraid.

There are just a few political parties that have caused trouble. Why don’t these people reform themselves and help contribute constructively instead of criticizing the Government at this time. Don’t forget what these people did in the past.

I do not wish to engage in conflict with these people. We hope to attain a peaceful election that brings about a government that is just, honest, and loyal to the country’s institutions, and works for the nation and the people.

As for pleas from civil societies, I acknowledge that all requests have good intentions and are in accordance with international standards. In order for the Government to implement what is asked for, it must consider that the central budget has not increased by much but it must look after for many groups of people in need. Various benefits such as those owed to the elderly will only keep increasing.  Both the Government and the public must work together.  We only ask for understanding and patience.  If we don’t help each other there will be no pathway to long term solutions and these issues will revert back to their original state.

In order to help move the country forward, I want everyone to understand the taxation system which is how the people contribute to state revenue. Income of the state comes from income tax, VAT, import tax, local tax, corporate tax, excise and customs collected from businesses. These sources of income will be allocated towards budgets for various development policies according to the needs of various groups. We aim to reduce disparities and raise the quality of people’s lives.

In this collection of revenue, the government must ensure transparency. This is why we have created the Thailand Government Spending website to provide information for public scrutiny. I would like to take this opportunity to urge related agencies to comprehensively document their spending on their websites so that the information is available for public scrutiny and provide feedback to related agencies. Otherwise, the public will not understand where the Government derives its funds.

March 26 to April 4 is a time when a delegation of multinational corporations, the Human Rights Committee, and other UN organizations are visiting the country according to Thailand’s invitation.

The delegation will discuss issues related to business operations and human rights between Thai Government agencies and businesses. The discussion will be on both international practices and operation in Thailand

In addition to receiving advices and comments from the delegation, the visit will raise awareness of the importance of human rights, environmental protection, corruption prevention, labor management, and sustainable development. The Government has made human rights a national agenda and has connected it with the Thailand 4.0 agenda and sustainable national development.

The invitation reflects the willingness of the Thai Government and private sector to use advices, comments and suggestions from the delegation to improve their operations. Thailand must adhere to the 3 principles as suggested by the UN:

1. It is the government’s duty to ensure human rights.

2. Private companies must respect human rights.

3. Victims must receive meaningful compensation. I’ve mentioned these principles before to elicit awareness and cooperation in Thai society.

I’ve learned that the delegation has been satisfied with the determination and sincerity of this Government in realizing these 3 principles, as seen in its strict enforcement of human rights policies and expansion of resources and scope of work.

The Government has prosecuted over 302 cases of human trafficking and has pursued legal action against 11 public officials who were involved in human trafficking. It is the first year that high ranking public officials involved in human trafficking received severe punishment instead of mere reshuffling. These perpetrators must face legal consequences beyond just being reshuffled.

In addition, I witnessed the signing of the memorandum of cooperation on mobilizing these suggestions between 7 government and private agencies and the National Human Rights Committee. The Ministry of Justice has collaborated with all related agencies in creating a national plan on business operation and human rights which is expected to be completed within this year.

We must admit that although we have accelerated many measures and have reached fruition in many areas. Business operations and human rights remains a challenge that requires consistent efforts. This discussion, Thailand must be willing to receive constructive feedback and suggestions from external organizations for improvement.
This will lead to national security, prosperity, and sustainability and demonstrate to other countries Thailand’s readiness to work with the UN in serious human rights matters and mobilize national development according to international standards.

Finally, in preparations for the upcoming Songkran festival, I hope that everyone drives safely and refrain from driving when intoxicated or drowsy. Please make sure that your vehicles and the person driving are ready.  Be generous to the people you share the road with and obey the traffic laws. Drivers must take responsibility for the lives of their family and other people’s families. Those who break use illegal drugs will have their driver’s’ licenses revoked.

Thank you and I wish for happiness to all families. Sawasdee Krub.