From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals July 13, 2018

Good evening to you all.

Let’s start off this week’s program with the story of the 13 members of the Wild Boar Academy soccer team who were trapped inside Tham Luang Nang Non Cave in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai for 17 days. The search and rescue operation was made possible under the “Pracharat” cooperation coming from Thailand and around the world. The operation was a historic rescue that brought together people of different races, nationalities, and religions. All who came had one single purpose which was to save the lives of those 12 boys and their soccer coach. The rescue was a great success as witnessed by people around the globe.

Today, I’d like to invite all of you to ‘look into the future’ as I have mentioned last Friday’s topics in order to have concrete results. The first topic is the development of a “lesson plan” which contains all details of thinking process, management, operation plan, emergency plan, experience and knowledge sharing, and statistical data gathered from individuals and organisations including 1. new knowledge and expertise from foreign agencies and specialists in all areas and professions i.e. geologists, caving experts, hydrologists, diving experts, cave diving experts, groundwater experts, water flow, water diversion experts. 2. area management of the command center i.e. managing foot and road traffic, helicopter landing spots, and overseeing other activities and services such as food, nursing, healthcare, and accommodations.
The compilation of these information pieces is called “knowledge management” which will be useful to students, people in the area, and local officers as they can use the knowledge to improve themselves to meet the international standard. To execute a successful operation, a working plan must be agreed upon by all parties, which should include prevention, solutions, and rehabilitation. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, unless the situation is unexpected.

The development of our ‘lesson plan’ must address 3 issues. The first one is to understand and resolve past mistakes. The second issue is to prevent the same mistakes from happening. This “Tham Luang Model” will be adopted at tourist places across Thailand – forests, mountains, caves, waterfalls, rivers, and the ocean.
We shall have measures to keep Thai and foreign tourists safe, along with satisfying services. Security officers must perform their duties, making sure everyone follows safety rules. There should be multilingual manuals for tourists, warning systems, surveillance cameras, response plans, communication system for emergency situations, and clear working guidelines.

We have to educate groups of people in the local area such as local tour operators to be able to provide information about town’s history and safety practices as well as help monitor the condition of building infrastructures i.e. walkways, bridges, fences, and signs etc.

The third issue is capacity and capability of our personal and agencies, especially the rescue equipment.  Rescue units must have equipment checked and ready at all times or even acquire new and better ones if needed. Also, the units should have a list of equipment possessed by other organizations from whom they can borrow in emergency situation.

The list should include names of local and international experts and specialists in related fields who can seek further cooperation. The units must learn more about rescue operation around the world and gather the names of related experts. Websites and Facebook can also useful. This way we would be able to  contact them once their service is needed. I am certain that they are willing to help us again just like the Tham Luang rescue. Most importantly, agencies must hold internal and inter-agencies exercises and drills on a consistent basis, so that we can immediately and correctly respond to every type of situation.

Another topic I talked about last week was about turning Tham Luang Cave into a live museum/library and a learning center for world rescue. Tham Luang rescue is the first rescue operation of its kind that involved a fully flooded cave complex. It is a natural drainageway that is usually filled up with water during the monsoon season. The story of the boys caught the world’s attention.

I was glad to learn from many media platforms including social media that a lot of people have expressed their wishes similar to what I want to accomplish. Some have already explained in details of what I was thinking. For instance, Prof. Dr. Warapatr Todhanakasem proposed a way to make the historic rescue at Tham Luang Nang Non Cave be recorded for Thai people and the world community to remember. This rescue operation are going to be useful to the society and the people in the future.
When the southern province of Phuket was swept by one of the world’s deadliest tsunami in 2004, the world got to witness the solidarity and generosity of Thai people. It is too bad that a lot of recordings and memories vanished over time.

We never really encouraged the people to study what happened back then. If we asked “where the ruins and memorials of the 2004 tsunami are,” the answer we get from local tour guides would be “there isn’t much to see or study.” Please come forward if you have any idea we can use to perpetuate this memory. It should be a way that doesn’t require much budget.

With that said, the Tham Luang rescue, a solid proof of difficulty to save lives and a challenging endeavor for Thai and international teams, must be recorded. Many said they had never been involved in a rescue like this one because this mission was different than missions in other countries. This is why Tham Luang rescue operation has to be told to the next generation for years to come.

The Tham Luang command center which was the core of this successful operation must take the initiative by conveying ideas and plans as to how to restore the cave condition because the cave has an underground drainage system that links with other areas, supplying water to nearby agricultural plantations. If we change the landscape, there is a possibility that nearby farms will be affected.

I have directed the Office of the National Water Resources to draft a water management plan that doesn’t alter the landscape of Tham Luang Nang Non Cave. A water retention area could be built in the vicinity, with the help of the public and agriculturalists who will benefit from this construction. Therefore, life-saving equipment and other essentials used during the rescue operation will be left in the cave in the way that they are not destroy the natural condition of the cave for us and others to remember this historic event. Visitors will get to see and delineate how the rescue went. Seeing the real thing in person gives a more enjoyable experience than looking at photos.

Afterwards, the center can hand over the work to other agencies – the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Chiang Rai City Hall, other provinces that have similar tourist attractions, local administrative organizations, village and community leaders. These people and organizations must understand this initiative because we are trying to bolster tourism in secondary cities and community tourism. There will be explorations and response plans for this type of incident.  Please do not let this happen ever again.

Other concerned agencies, once you have taken over the  responsibilities. Your mission didn’t end only at the successful rescue. You have to make sure everything is safe and something needs to be left behind for others to see. Don’t empty out the cave completely. Please leave some equipment i.e. water pumping machines, drainage pipes, diving suits, and other tools left behind by foreign rescuers at the scene for future reference.

You can leave equipment that can no longer be used, like other museums have done. Even the smallest thing can tell a big story such as food boxes that were delivered to the boys, letters the boys wrote to their families, drill machines, oxygen tanks, aluminum foil that warmed the boys’ bodies, bikes, and shoes. There are many more things involved in this operation that could be left there for future study such as woks and other kitchen items used at the mobile kitchen and even the command center itself which I think could be maintained if these items can be part of the environment and natural attractions there.

We can also keep tables, chairs, vinyl signs, backdrops, writing boards, and pictures of what happened during the life-saving operation. These photos can be displayed in the museum or kept on websites and Facebook. We want to keep the memories of this rescue. This is a live natural museum. Visitors will get to see the picture from outside and inside the cave, along with its history.

Sergeant Saman Kunan, a hero who sacrificed his life for this operation, will always be commended and commemorated. Master Chalermchai Kositpipat, a well-known national  artist, announced that he will join with 300 of apprentices and other artists in Chiang Rai in building a statue of Saman, also known as Sergeant Sam, in front of Tham Luang Nang Non Cave to commemorate his heroic act.

I am confident that the work of Master Chalermchai will be a great success like the time he built Wat Rong Khun which later became a world attraction. I asked that Master Chalermchai consult with concerned agencies.  I am pleased with his idea. I’d like to offer my thanks to Master Chalermchai.  This destination will be put on the map as a must-see attraction. Not only the cave but the beautiful landscape, mountains, and forests in the area too. Also, there are pictures of farmers who sacrificed their farms for the rescue. Their plantations were flooded by the pumped water. The Government are taking care of these farmers.

There are pictures of volunteers and officers. These pictures will allow visitors of Tham Luang Cave to understand the magnitude of sacrifices people have made for this humanitarian mission. We will host an exhibition to illustrate the direction of the water the flowed into the cave using colorful lights and modern technologies for education and excitement.

What we think about next is projects to encourager youth to visit the cave and learn to safely live with nature in a more creative fashion. I would like to underline the work safety. All measures and trekking routes must focus on safety and visitors’ convenience, without having to alter the cave.

More importantly, safety systems throughout the cave must be lifted to international standard. This place will always remind our children and tourists that Thai people will always be united to make miracles happen in times of crisis. This unfortunate event brought together experts from around the world to help 13 lives, with the will to leave no one behind.

The rescue operation at Tham Luang Cave showed a tremendous effort by Thai and foreign rescuers as well as civil servants, members of the public, the private sector, and volunteers. Also, the success of this mission can be attributed to the graciousness of His Majesty the King who offered moral and emotional support to the team. Long Live The King.

My fellow citizens, another unfortunate and tragic incident that was transpiring almost simultaneously was a boat capsize off the coast of Phuket, taking the lives of many fellow “human beings.” Victims are being rehabilitated and taken care of, as presented by members of the media. As the Government of Thailand and the host nation, we have to take full responsibility for search and rescue operation, body identification, contacting victims’ relatives, insurances, repatriation of remains, and other accommodations. I ask that all concerned agencies to kindly complete all procedures without delay. Families of the victims who live overseas are worried and concerned. The aforementioned procedures include the rehabilitation process and the compensation under the law.

Another important mission now is how we can help ease the pain.  I have met some families. I can feel their pain. Some family lost a child. Some family lost a wife. Some family lost a husband. We would’ve been devastated too if such tragedy had happened to us. Therefore, we will do the best we can to help those affected. And as a good host and responsible Government, we are going to get to the bottom of this accident and will enforce the law to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future, keeping the international standard for our guests in the future.

For example, with regards to the supervision of service providers, we must be firm in issuing licenses. This is a longstanding issue that the Government has been trying to addressed. We have also asked and received cooperation from countries of departure in resolving the issue of tour companies. Legal action was taken. However, some may still hidden under the radar.  All measures taken are applied to all including Thai companies.

We have to examine our practices. A preparation meeting took place today to prepare for the inspection of tour companies and service providers. I do not use the word zero dollar tours; I use the word “illegal” tours that require legal action. We need cooperation from all sectors as well. We do not intend to hurt anyone or cause damage to businesses. However, if companies claim that we are damaging their businesses, who will be responsible if injuries or losses occur?

Therefore, I call for a review of all protocols, whether it be the establishment of companies, services, boat officers, service offers, safety measures, security guards, and service equipment. We may require safety standards similar to airplanes. There are various regulations that involve officials, equipment, and the cabin that we have addressed according to the ICAO.

This includes notification systems to detect security breaches. For example, if a strong wind alert that advises boats not to embark is issued but is violated, we must examine who will be responsible. Officials must also monitor boat activity once warnings have been issued. There should be security officials and navy ships with radars to detect and find these violators, for example.

I’ve called for a system-wide integration and the Marine Department must be responsible for these matters. It must add measures, from implementing sound practices to utilizing equipment of various agencies to resolve these issues instead of waiting for a budget. We are not able to fund big projects that require hundreds of millions of bahts at once.  Budget allocations according to policies must be gradually implemented, but we can quickly pull our resources and equipment between agencies.

These are integrated efforts that must be done. This Government has come up with policies to make this happen. Otherwise, agencies will only work according to their functions with each proposing their own separate budgets and being unable to work together. If the investigations uncover corruption, the perpetrators will be punished, especially the one who have turned a blind eye or have benefitted from these illegal operations. Once we have done what is needed for the injured and the deceased, through my team, I will revisit this matter again.

We will launch a nationwide examination. We will make preparations to accommodate tourists and create understanding among the business sector so that they don’t think that the Government isn’t being too stringent to the point of hurting businesses. Compliance is not difficult, but there are still people who don’t do so.

I would like to commend those who have done good. I think those who have conducted sound practices account for over 90%. We have cracked down on 3-4 businesses. There’s been complaints as to why we’ve only cracked down on these 3 companies. We are also following up on other companies as well. We are not trying to hurt a certain group in order to benefit another as claimed on social media. I also urge the officials to be careful in the investigation and handle cases with clarity and fairness, explain the facts to the public, and communicate politely when conducting their duties.

I never told officials to only use their authority. These cases require delicacy in law enforcement in order to gain credibility among the public. This is because reputation, honor, and trust cannot be manufactured. You must earn these virtues from the public. Heroes aren’t self-made. They are an honor bestowed to individuals by the public.
This damaging event including other damages that cannot be assessed in terms of monetary value. It is unacceptable because lives were lost. Personnel, equipment, and safety gear must be inspected and be in functional condition. Officials must undergo proper skills training and emergency drills so that they can be carried out automatically.

I’ve seen on foreign television where large vessels or tour ships undergo drills, planning, briefings, demonstrations of wearing life vests, including assessments of whether they were worn properly. In emergency case, people know which door to exit and how to open them. Regarding these measures, I’m not sure if we are fully prepared.

I’d like to ask all tour companies or ship owners to make preparations. Inspections will commence next week nationwide at all companies in order to prevent another serious incident from happening. At the same time, we must maintain our standards and welcome domestic and foreign tourists. We must assure them that we are undertaking these policies for their own safety and not for the sole benefit of Thailand or the companies. We are responsible for all families. All lives are valuable. Regardless of what happens, we must be able to take care of our visitors as good hosts.

Finally, amidst such turbulent weather conditions, we can no longer deny responsibility. In the past, Thailand has conducted numerous deforestation and encroachment activities in order to plant economic crops. As a result, we have been met with natural disasters, drought, flooding due to human behaviors that have upset the natural balance.

July is an auspicious month for Thailand where we celebrate the birthday anniversary of His Majesty the King. Previously, the Government has invited all Thais to take part in wearing yellow throughout the month. In addition, I would like to invite families, communities, and government offices to plant trees in commemoration, especially yellow star trees, which are the trees of His Majesty the King due to its yellow color that coincides with the color of the birth day as well as its blooming period during the same time of His Majesty’s birthday.

In the past, when His Majesty the  King went on Royal Missions across the country, His Majesty would plant yellow star trees to serve as a symbol of prosperity for the people in the area, as the yellow star tree is a symbolic tree of His Majesty the King. The public can also plant their provincial trees along the roads, ponds, and parks to enhance the aesthetics and color of the area which could be the next tourist destinations in the future. Tree paths are beautiful. There are beautiful examples in the northern region and abroad that can be emulated in Thailand.

This will make residents feel connected and knowledgeable of their provincial trees. Children nowadays do not know the names of common and obvious trees. This means that trees are a missing component in people’s lives. We must encourage children to protect forests and cultivate a sense of love for nature and forests.

People can also plant trees that serve as food banks in accordance with Her Majesty Queen Sirikit who wishes to ensure that the people have a sustainable source of food. Simply put, this translates to planting trees that can be consumed within allocated forest lands without encountering legal issues since allocated lands were given.
Examples are community or economic forests. In the rainy season, there are mushrooms that can be found. If people plant household vegetables in community forests, they will be able to utilize the land while also protecting the forest. This is the main responsibility of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and related agencies.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit concerns that changes in the weather conditions would bring the world to the stage of food shortage. Creating food banks will enable households, communities, districts, and villages to utilize these resources together. We may start by planting trees in their own lands. This valuable timber is a form of investment. Laws have now been passed where people can accumulate money and build future stability by planting valuable trees that can be turned into money in the future. They must first register according to related policies and laws that this government has created. This will serve as a form of inheritance to our children in the future. In this auspicious month, I would like to invite everyone to take care of their homes and maintain cleanliness. This includes renovating community temples and nearby government offices by trimming trees, caring for lawns, painting fences, and fixing buildings. Let’s encourage the youth and students to take part in these activities to cultivate a sense of love and connection with their communities.

For example, the Government House has collaborated with educational institutions and vocational students. Students have turned their interned hours into real working hours by painting fences, walls, and buildings as well as maintaining government property according to academic principle. This premise is an important place for all Thais.

Another important topic, I would like to remind everyone that Thailand is entering a transitional period, whether it be regarding our road to international democracy, national reform agendas, or the implementation of the country’s six national strategies. These are steps toward our vision of stability, prosperity, and sustainability. I would like everyone to understand the measures that have been implemented were meant to taken care of everyone according to the Government’s capabilities.

Today, the Government isn’t playing politics. It is implementing its policies for everyone and all sides. You can learn about these new approaches by yourself. Those who have already learnt can inform their friends, invite them to come together to engage in discussions and provide advice for each other. I’m still concerned for the wellbeing of low income citizens. At the same time, we must also facilitate investments so that the Government retains tax revenue. Today, we are promoting the EEC which will see progress within 5 years. We have started seen some results in some investments. The agricultural sector and independent freelancers such as motorbike or taxi drivers etc. must come together and engage in talks. We cannot move forward, if everyone use the law to go against one another or only regard their own opinion. We must find ways to live together.

Can we achieve this under our current laws? We should be able to because the law does not completely restrict people’s actions. However, some people want more than this, there should be ways to find solutions. If there’s a case where there were no law that address the issue specifically, can each group and occupation come together so that the Government can support them?

This is because there are many professionals, whether they be farmers, freelancers, vegetable carts, or workers for hire. Either people in the local communities or people in Bangkok, if you can come together, we can be in a better position to find out more on people’s needs and how to care for them.

Today, the Government has provided assistance in the form of low income cards. The Government is working on how to make the card work in the pubic transportation such as the electric train. We are working hard on this issue so please understand and look at our works.  I don’t want to say that I did my best or who’s done something bad again.  Please look at the future and move forward together.

Thank you, and I hope that everyone takes care of their health and that all families are happy. Sawasdee krub.


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