From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals April 20, 2018

A very good evening to you all.

One of the attributes of “Thai Niyom” is to uphold the 3 main institutions which are the center of love and unity of Thai citizens. These institutions – the nation, religion, and the monarchy – enable us to live in peace and harmony.  The institutions are connected in many ways. For instance, the monarch is a Buddhist and the supporter of Buddhism.

Also, the monarchy had helped build this nation bringing peace and happiness to the people throughout the history. Therefore, we all should join hands and work together for our beloved country. This is called Thai Niyom.

Tomorrow, April 21st, marks the establishment of the Rattanakosin Kingdom. It was founded by His Majesty King Rama I of the House of Chakri in 1782. This year, I’d like to invite members of the public in all corners of Thailand to take part in “The 236th Year of Rattanakosin City under Royal Benevolence” held to commemorate the dedication of Thailand’s past monarchs as well as express gratitude and loyalty to our nation.

Visitors are invited to dress in traditional costumes. Taking place at Chetsadabodin Pavilion Plaza, the event is held from April 21st to 25th, featuring a parade illustrating the history of the Rattanakosin era. Similar events will be held in 7 other locations throughout Bangkok such as the National Museum Bangkok, the National Theatre, Santi Chai Prakan Pavilion and Public Park, Lan Khon Muang, Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, and temples. Entry is free of charge. There are free buses for visitors on designated routes as well. For more information, please call Hotline 1765.

My fellow Thais, His Majesty the King is committed to bringing and maintaining peace and happiness in the nation like other monarchs in the past. Every member of the Royal Family has their royal duties and responsibilities to make sure such commitment result in people’s happiness, as witnessed by the world community.

This past week, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) honored Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on her role as the FAO Special Ambassador in tackling malnutrition in Thailand and elsewhere.

For many decades, Her Royal Highness has supported many initiatives to end hunger i.e. the school lunch project and the Development of Children and Youth in the Remote Areas Fund. Her Royal Highness would like the projects expanded to Lao PDR, Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Bangladesh to end hunger. Besides, Her Royal Highness chairs Asia’s milk cow development network which aims to maintain the quality of cow’s milk and lift the wellbeing of cattle raisers in the region
As for the Government, the Government rolled out a milk project to address the problem of malnutrition among children and to support the milk industry at the same time.

Determined to stop hunger and malnutrition, the Government is linking the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the 20-year strategic plan together and the sufficiency economy principle of His Majesty King Rama IX into its operation in order to end poverty and improve the lives of Thai people especially the farmers as well as tackling the issues of agricultural production structure, food security, food nutrition and food safety to make Thailand a strong, prosperous, and sustainable country, following His Majesty’s Royal initiative.

Because Thailand is an agriculture-based country, the Government attaches great importance to development projects to improve the livelihoods of the farmers. Many projects strive to enhance cooperatives and farmers’ networks, empowering every individual farmer. We encourage all farmers to look into the “large-scale farming” method to practices in the hope of uplifting the quality of their produce and making sure their crops are in the same direction as the market demand. Let the market guide the production. Also, we need to gain more knowledge and innovation and help the new producers improve their skills for future development. Emphasis should be placed on organic and chemical-free practices and environmentally friendly methods that protect soil, water, and air.

The Government has allocated 150 billion baht for various projects under the Thai Niyom scheme. One of the projects is a 24-billion-baht structural reform in agricultural production sector.  This project aims to reduce poverty among the farmers by reducing expenses and increasing income in order to achieve the goal of food security by starting at farmers. Under the Pracharat approach, there will be public hearings and forums to survey the needs of each community for sustainable solutions.

My fellow Thais, the Thai Niyom Yang Yuen scheme has 3 main attributes apart from structural reform of the entire agricultural sector. The campaign also seeks to bolster the grassroots economy and area-based development. The “Village and Urban Community Funds for Sustainable Development” is another measure the government has rolled out.

This is in line with the Village and Urban Community Fund Act, B.E. 2547 and the spirt of the community.  Community will be allowed to decide their own future in their own fashion.  This method is called “growth from the inside”.  It brings benefits to the impoverished people in the community without leaving anyone behind. At the same time, it will provide an inclusive learning process to all sectors including state agencies, the public, and the private sector under Pracharat platform.  Also, it will empower local communities and increases the importance of their roles in future development.

However, there might be some difficulties in the past.  That is why this Government was urgently addressing the issue.  After the Government restructured the fund, people were able to enjoy more benefit allowing our economy to grow from the grassroots levelThe fund allows people access to loan, helps promote employment, income generation, and reduces expenses, with the ultimate goal of turning the fund into a welfare.

For example, the funds were spent to build Pracharat markets, improve tourist places, and to alleviate hardships and adversities faced by Thai communities and their people. The program gives people access to knowledge, better living standards, and better welfare. Currently, there are 80,000 village and urban community funds, with more than 13 million members.

Since day one, the Government has asked for the evaluation of the effectiveness of each fund, so that appropriate adjustments can be made for the betterment and continuity of the program. The evaluation revealed that around 60,000 or 76% of all villages and communities entitled to the fund received “A” and “B” scores, using the issuance of 0% interest loans to members of participating communities. Almost 20,000 or 23% of all villages and communities received “C” and “D” scores, and will need to make adjustments in various aspects to make them work for community members and those in need.

In 2016, the government introduced a 35-billion-baht project to boost the grassroots economy. The money was spent by villages and communities for career development, cost reduction, market expansion, and agro-development. More than 66,000 villages were entitled to state funds, accounting for a total of 33 billion baht or around 95% of the allotted budget.

In 2017, the Government allocated an additional 15 billion baht to continue the village and urban community funds and more than 61,000 villages qualified for the continuation, receiving 12 billion baht or 80% of the approved budget. As a result, there are projects in many development areas around the country. For instance, community stores, drinking water, fertilizers, seedlings, community services, agricultural machinery and equipment, large-scale farming method, multi-purpose spaces, and community rice mills numbering more than 120,000 projects

I want to give you an example of a local tourism and hospitality project.  I believe this is worth paying attention to. This is the development of a geopark in Satun province which stretches 4 districts and was acknowledged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on April 17th.

It is the first geopark in Thailand to have discovered fossils, stone layers, and soil layers. It also houses many interesting geological attractions such as a limestone mountain, caves, islands, and beaches.

The Pracharat approach bridges our cooperation and gives us a strategy to boost tourism, protect the environment, be a good host, provide safety to visitors, and improve local infrastructure at tourist destinations such as roads, parking lots, and sanitary districts.

We have to see things in all aspects and take them into consideration step by step.  This is growth from within whereas communities must work to maintain this growth. Only then can communities create jobs and income for their people. Also, the government is going to support the country economy in the big picture.

For 2018, the government has prepared a 20 billion baht fund to support the community village fund through the sustainable village and community program according to the King’s Philosophy and the Pracharat model by providing up to 300,000 baht in funding for each village fund to support existing projects or community and village development programs to raise the quality of living of residents. The policy will focus on projects that encompass multiple village funds to reduce disparities by providing the public with an opportunity to manage their own communities and villages using local resources and know-how.

The funds shall support occupation development, job creation, income generation, and sustainable development (under the King’s Philosophy) and participation from all sectors (the Pracharat model). 10 agendas under the Thai Nyyom scheme shall also be taking into consideration when initiating the development programs.  All village fund programs must first undergo a public forum to ensure transparency and participation.

Therefore, you can see that it does not matter when the projects were initiated. If they are good projects, this Government will continue working on them and at the same time trying to improve them.

For the projects that are good in principle but faced difficulties in the implementation period, this Government will try to improve them and implement them at our best efforts.  However, projects that cause long term damage to the country or have been met with controversy will be put through judicial review for transparency and to eliminate corruption.

Examples include the funding program for the impoverished by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and the quality of life development fund by the Ministry of Education.

I stress again that I hold no animosities against politicians because most of them are not unethical. However, I cannot accept those who break the law, oppose the judicial process or state authority.   I am ready to work with anyone who upholds the principles of nationalism and public interests.

I don’t view issues as be point of contention, but as a starting point for unity. This is because when people who stand for the nation, religion, monarchy, and the people come together, they will be able to set aside their personal interests and find the best solutions for the country according to their shared principles. I don’t want people to listen to false criticisms from certain sides or politicize all issues.

The budget that will be allocated in the middle of this year will be directed towards existing programs, whether they be for village funds, agricultural development, creating jobs, strengthening the local economy, or to support holders of welfare cards. These measures are meant to continue with what we have been doing. Therefore, I don’t want people to think that this is a political move aimed at campaigning. I am directing these funds to all groups and communities.

My fellow Thai citizens, Sunday, April 22 each year is Earth Day. It is a day that the people of this planet should consider what actions are detrimental to the environment. In the end, these actions will cause harm to ourselves and other livings on earth.

Have humans taken enough responsibility in caring for this world? Development policies for the government’s Thailand 4.0 agenda are aimed at achieving a sustainable development goal that is harmonious and friendly to the environment. The policies are also aimed at striking a balance between environmental conservation and human development.

The theme behind this year’s event is encouraging the new generation to reduce plastic consumption to reverse global warming. Plastic is a product that can be easily mass produced and is mostly consumed once. Popular plastic items include straws, snack bags, and foam food boxes.

What is troubling is that plastic requires 450 years to decompose. Plastic is created from oil and natural gas. The more plastic we use, the more greenhouse gas will be emitted as a result of the production process. Burning plastic results in toxic chemicals that are hazardous to life forms and the environment and result in global warming.

On April 1, Thailand has announced that it will cease the use of plastic cap seals and many private entities have embraced this initiative. Thailand produces 7 billion plastic bottles per year and ranks 6th among countries that dispose the most plastic waste into the ocean.  Autopsies of dead sea animals reveal that a major cause of death is ingestion of plastic cap seals and other plastic materials.

Many other countries have ceased the use of plastic cap seals, such as Singapore, South Korea, Italy, and the United Kingdom. If water bottle producers all work together, we will be able to reduce the amount of plastic waste by 2.6 billion pieces per year. There may be added costs to this change but please don’t push the costs onto the consumers. Let’s make a concerted effort to reduce the use of plastic bags starting today.

Our society currently does not aware of how much we use and often neglects to separate garbage and properly dispose of waste. As a result, up to 2 million tons of plastic waste gets mixed with other forms of waste per year, making it a burden for waste disposal personnel who need to do the work for over 60 million people.

The solution begins with all of us. If people, shopping centers, and government agencies learn to separate waste, beginning with plastic bottles, we will be able to cultivate awareness and discipline for the future. Organizations that dispose large amounts of waste must adopt proper waste separation procedures.

An example of a waste-free school is Ban Nammin School in Phayao. The school originally disposed of its waste by burning, which resulted in fumes that were hazardous to the community. Upon learning new methodologies on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle (3R), the school made a commitment to implementing these practices.

The school began with instilling consciousness for the environment. Teachers served as role models and students invited their parents to follow along. The result were significant behavioral changes among the students, such as using personal cups instead of plastic cups, handkerchiefs instead of paper napkins, plates instead of plastic bags, finishing food that was on the plate, bringing their own utensils, and using both sides of a piece of paper before recycling.

There were also workshops on environmental conservation, such as how to make compost fertilizer, feeding livestock with food scraps, and handicrafts to cultivate a conscious mind and develop skills.

This example serves as a role model for society and the country. I also would like to commend the volunteer program that invited students to clean beaches. I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism and Sports for inviting the public to help clean beaches and I hope these activities continue.

Let’s all help instill a sense of conscientiousness towards reducing greenhouse gas and reversing global warming by beginning with small steps around us. Communities and provinces can take serious steps in managing and reducing waste. Simple practices at home include unplugging unused appliances and consuming in moderation to ensure that we will be able to proudly pass on this world to the next generation.

Finally, Songkran festivities this year have come to an end. I hope that many have enjoyed themselves and are now committed to developing themselves in an appropriate an honest way in order to become happier for themselves and their families. The respect and admiration from others will serve as motivation for us all to continue with our good deeds. This goes for civil servants, policemen, soldiers, and the people alike.

Self development is the most important action we can do during a time when the world is run by innovation and digital technology. I urge everyone not to lose hope or despair and instead seek out channels for learning such as reading books and useful newspapers. You will know how you should improve yourself.

If you fail to educate yourself, read, and listen and still complain about your impoverished condition or the economy, you will not be able to prosper like people who have learned to develop themselves. The Government is providing support to the best of its abilities with the budget it has but people must learn to improve themselves as well.

We must not solve problems using unethical or illegal means for quick profit. Justice will soon be served. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security had recently arrested public officials who have been abusing their positions for over 10 years under many governments. In the future, the social and legal structure must be able to crackdown on illegal actions, such as the 2 witnesses who were able to provide information that led to the arrest of these public officials.

Those who break the law know deep down their evil nature. These people may make money, but the awareness of their sinful deeds will not bring them solace in life. I would like to give my moral support to everyone who is working honestly and I wish them success.

Let’s let political issues unfold as they are. Politics is an important part of the society but more importantly is the economy and the people’s wellbeing and safety. These are all interconnected elements. I would like you all to be patient, resilience and cooperates with the Government in all dimensions.

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