From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals August 3, 2018

Good evening to you all.
Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen consort of His Majesty the Late King, performed Royal duties alongside His Majesty King Rama IX. The Royal visits to local communities resulted in new development projects that benefited the people. Royal initiative projects can be categorized into medication, public health, education, religion, art and culture, and natural resources and the environment.

All of the Royal projects are meant to uplift the quality of life of the people, improve the society, and protect the Thai culture and traditions as mentioned in His Majesty King Rama IX oath of accession. “We shall reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people”.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the queen consort of His Majesty the Late King, always wanted to preserve our forest. She once said, “If His Majesty were water, I shall be forest, which remains loyal to water… His Majesty builds reservoirs, and I shall grow forests.” Her Royal commitment led to the nationwide conservation projects in many area i.e. forests, wild animals, and marine resources.

For example, the “Small Home in Big Forest” project aims to encourage local communities to protect forest areas. The “Forests Love Water” project aims to bring back green areas and return animals including sea turtles back into their natural inhabits.  The Royal project also includes the rehabilitation of mangrove forests which serve as nurseries for marine lives. These marine lives are the world food bank.
Serving as the President of the Thai Red Cross Society, Her Majesty lends a helping hand to those in need and in times of emergency. Her Majesty also encourages people to donate blood. She initiated the “Village Doctor” project. She accepts poor patients under her care. In addition, she founded the Sai Jai Thai Foundation Under Royal Patronage to help security officers and volunteers who are injured or killed while performing their duties.

Her Majesty gives great importance to education and wants every Thai to be literate. She teaches children in local communities to be able to read and write. She also teaches them to be good citizens. Her wish to see all Thais be able to read and write gave birth to “Ruam Jai Pavilion” where royally-bestowed books are stored. Her Majesty sponsored the building of schools in rural areas and gives scholarships to students from poor families.

In addition, Her Majesty encourages people in local communities to have part time jobs in the fields of weaving, knitting, sculpting, crafting, basket-making, and other artistic skills.  Her Majesty’s project, Silapacheep, provided extra income for millions and led to the “Silp Phandin” events showcasing the beautiful Thai arts to the world.

This year, the Royal Thai Government, led by the Ministry of Culture, will be hosting a national cultural festival in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the queen consort of His Majesty the Late King, between August 3rd and 5th at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center.

The expo aims to honor Her Majesty who is the protector of Thai arts and culture and commemorate her ability to turn art into a stable career and better living standards for the Thai people. Her contributions led to the preservation, promotion, and rehabilitation of Thai arts, wisdom, and culture.

To regard Her Majesty generosity and dedication, education institutions, governmental agencies, private organizations, foundations, and associations in Thailand and around the world have presented Her Majesty with honorary degrees, certificates, medals, prizes, and names in recognition of her great contributions.

These awards and certificates reflect Her Majesty remarkable talent, ability, and generosity. In celebration of Her Majesty Royal Birthday Anniversary on August 12th, the Royal Thai Government wishes to invite the whole nation to send well wishes to our beloved Queen. May Her Majesty be happy and healthy. Love live the Queen.

My fellow Thai citizens, each and every one of us has a role to play in order to move the country forward. But when it comes to resolving problems, it requires an integrated effort and cooperation from all sides, a concept I’ve always stressed and incorporated into the work culture of this Government,
so that we all are able to work together in laying the country’s foundation as well as moving the country forward. In order to achieve this goal, we have to make sure that everyone have the same ideas when approaching these three questions.

The first question is “Why do we need a 20-year strategy?” when the country already has a national development plan drafted by the NESDB whereas each ministry has its own plans and regulations. First of all, I want you all to look at our current challenges both onshore and offshore.  Some of these challenges forced us to adapt ourselves

such as changes in foreign policies of the world superpower countries and political conflicts that have negatively impacted the global economy. The economies of small developing nations that rely on trade and foreign relations, including Thailand faced with sudden change in technological advancement, which sent a shockwave to the global economy and society,
not to mention the unbalanced economic structure that has plagued our nation for a long time, evidenced by the unresolved social disparities and inequality in income distribution.  Thai businesses haven’t been able to gain competitive advantage over their international counterparts due to the fact that Thailand is still behind other countries in terms of vital basic infrastructure. Moreover, Thailand will in a foreseeable future become an aging society, yet we lack what is needed to thrive under such a circumstance.

We need to do a better job at preparing ourselves for the aging society in terms of workforce, savings, and public health system. These challenges are only a small part of what the country is dealing with or will have to adapt. In order to get through these adversities, everyone must work together toward the same goal, under the same vision which entails how we want our nation to be built for the sake of our children.

When it comes to Thailand’s future, many of us may envision different pictures such as a fully-developed country where people enjoy good and prosperous lives, equal rights and opportunities, social welfare and benefits provided by the state such as quality education, healthcare, basic public services etc.
(Many people may think of) a peaceful and orderly society, full-fledged facilities and amenities like public utilities, electricity, irrigation system, communications, and the internet as well as well-developed transportation systems including rail and electric rail services. People should earn enough income to be able to afford the aforementioned services.  Also, people shall respect the law, uphold ethics and morality, and preserve their culture and traditions.

Steering Thailand in the right and prosperous direction is a herculean task, but not impossible, if 70 million people work together under the same vision and understanding. This is where the 20-year strategic plan comes in because it provides a clear vision of our country’s future in the next two decades.
In the next 20 years, today’s children will be able to live in a society where they can make steady income to lift their living standards. They will have required supports to help them improve their professional skills, so that they can build stability and sustainability, in line with the Government’s development vision strategy “Stable Nation, Happy People, Constantly-Expanding Economy, and Equal and Just Society on the Basis of Sustainability Natural Resources.”

The strategy is designed to ensure successful results in 6 aspects of future development including
1) Thai people live in a happy, peaceful, and stable society,
2) Thailand has the ability to compete with others, to enhance the economy, and to equally distribute wealth,
3) human resources of the nation receive proper enhancement,
4) the society values equality and equity,
5) Thailand has biodiversity, environmental quality, and the sustainability of natural resources,
and 6) state administration is effective and services are accessible.

These aspects have been incorporated into “concept framework” when we are developing working plans, reform plans, and social and economic development plans in order to steer our nation into the future towards the same goal.

My fellow Thai citizens, having a national strategy is not something new. Many countries have been adopting and adapting development strategies for a long time such as Malaysia and Singapore. This is the first time Thailand has long-term development strategies for all sectors.
The Government and I are determined to follow through with these strategies to build strong fundamentals, allowing our nation to keep growing in the long run. Legislating the 20-year national strategic plan reflects the Government’s commitment and intentions to ensure concrete and successful development of the country.

These strategies are no restrictions, regulations, or obligation that force people to follow as accused. These strategies can be altered and amended according to circumstances. Once a circumstance changes, the strategies can be revised to match with the new situation.
The most challenging task is to get good results when implementing national strategies. No matter how well these strategies are written and prepared, that beautiful picture of our country’s future will only be a dream if everyone doesn’t follow through with the plan or fails to perform their duties.
My fellow Thai citizens, the second question I want to invite you to help me think is “How can public and state administration support the building of Thailand’s future?”
Sub-categories to this question are 1) resolving urgent matters (national agenda),
2) managing government tasks in  accordance with concerned law and job description, increasing the effectiveness of state administration, and supporting people
3) pushing for successful reform in all respects,
and 4) executing tasks according to national strategies. During the past 10 years, Thailand has had to endure deep-rooted issues namely political conflicts, corruption and fraud, and the country’s failure to ratify or abide by international treaties and agreements.
These problems were ignored and had deeply planted their roots in the society. These long-standing problems led to negative image and perspective of Thailand and diminishing confidence among foreign traders and investors, thus becoming the main factors that were holding our country back, evidenced by the GDP rate in the first quarter of 2014 or before the current administration took office. The GDP shrank 0.5% in that quarter.
After taking office, during the month of September 2014, the Government prioritized its efforts on addressing urgent problems of our country and people as a whole, particularly matters concerning security, peace, and order, so as to allow all lives to move on with their daily activities and businesses to operate smoothly.
In addition, the Government has reformed that parts of the administration process that caused problems in many areas such as illegal alien workers and human trafficking. The Government introduced an integrated mechanism to urgently address the issues, reducing procedures and eliminate obstacles written in outdated rules and regulations.

At the same time, the Government strictly enforced the law in order to bring those responsible to justice. To stamp out corruption, the Government introduced a moral contract, new procurement procedures, and revised regulations for a more convenience business registration and activities.
The reform and the enhancement of Government policies and procedures have resulted in improvements and international recognition. Thailand’s rankings have tremendously improved. Trafficking in Persons Report 2018 moves Thailand from Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2. Such improvement is similar to how the Government was able to crack down on and prevent illegal ivory trade under the CITES,
illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and improve the standards of Thai aviation (lifting ICAO red flag). The Government was determined to bring these issues to light and addressed them in a timely manner, resulting in a better global recognition. Moreover, the World Bank has adjusted Thailand’s rankings on the Ease of Doing Business from number 46 to number 26, which was the second best in terms of ranking improvement. The survey takes into account 190 countries.

Apart from aforementioned issues that require immediate attention, the Government has spearheaded other reform-related undertakings to overhaul the structure and the infrastructure, along with the drafting of national strategies to set goals and a vision. Let me give you some information on important reform topics and changes the Government is working on.
The first one is the reform and the restructure of the economy. As you might have already known, the Thai economic structure is unbalanced due to its heavy reliance on exports and unequal distribution of wealth, particularly the local people in the agricultural sector. The country did not have investment plans and mega development projects in infrastructure for decades.

After taking office, the Government started making adjustments to the economic structure although the export sector continued to be the driving engine, however investment for value creation in products and the addition of new industries and businesses are also key factors to increase the country competitiveness and growth in a sustainable manner.  Therefore, the Government decided to introduce the Eastern Economic Corridor project (EEC).
The EEC project emphasizes farming-related industries such as food processing and the agricultural and biological industry, which will be the main factors in create value to agriproducts, coupled with the industries that require innovations such as robotics, digital technology, and comprehensive medical care. In addition, the establishment of the EEC leads to many more mega sized infrastructure development projects.
Moreover, there are investment projects that will strengthen the country’s transportation infrastructure such as
(1) For railroad, by 2022 or the next 4 years, we will be able to use…
1. the inter-city rail project. The last investment made to this sector was done 117 years ago. Once completed, the country will have a total of 3,528 kilometers of double-track railway, a huge improvement from 358 kilometers.
2. The high-speed rail system, the first of its kind in Thailand, linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and a high-speed rail that connects 3 airports namely Don Muang, Suvarnabhumi, and U-Tapao. As for the northern high-speed rail system, there remains a need for further study on the return on investment. However, we will have at least one high-speed rail project.
We also have 11 more electric rail projects in Bangkok and its vicinity.

(2) For road, we connected our production areas with neighboring countries. Main roads and highways were enlarged by 4 lanes. More inter-city roads, two special roads, and rural roads were built. There will be more river-crossing bridges and more overpasses and train tunnels to reduce road accidents and casualties.
(3) For sea, the construction of 6 more deep sea ports, adding to the existing 18 ports, as well as the development of Laem Chabang Port, Map Ta Phut Port, and the connectivity of Pattaya and Hua Hin to promote marine tourism.
(4) For air travel, Betong Airport and the enhancement of major airports in Thailand to accommodate 320,000 flights and 70 million passengers on a yearly basis.
There are also various economic measures to lay foundations and help low-income people raise their living standards during the preparation of the strategic plan and reform of the country in many dimensions.

For example, access to credit and capital for entrepreneurship and emergency spending, support measures through co-investments, the establishment of centers to help SMEs bring community products to the international market,
including debt relief measures such as approvals for debt settlements or extension of repayment periods for over 10,000 people as well as the establishment of the debt recovery clinic project to assist people who cannot repay their debt to financial institutions.

At the same time, we are addressing the serious problem of informal debt, which will be the foundation needed to enhance the competitiveness of the country. The results from laying the foundations for economic reform has resulted in continuous economic expansion.
In the first half of 2018, applications for BOI assistance increased by 22% from the same period of 2017 while investment value totaled 284.6 billion baht, exports in the first six months of the year grew by 11%,
and the number of tourists in the first half of 2018 increased by 12.5% compared to the first half of last year. It is expected that the GDP of the country in 2018 will expand by 4.2 – 4.7%.
In agricultural reform, the slump in agricultural prices is one of the most significant and repetitive problems. The cause of the problem is unplanned production with no output management.

In past occurrences, governments or government agencies would intervene by distorting market mechanisms by subsidizing prices. In addition to contributing to financial losses and burdens for the country, farmers will not be strengthened and no improvements are made to productivity and quality.
To solve such problems, this Government has adopted the “market leads production” principle, with an emphasis on increasing the quality of output in line with market demands, as well as managing agricultural prices in accordance with international guidelines.

Examples include the project to support production costs for rice farmers, the rice insurance program, and supply management in the rice market which have continuously raised the price of rice, in addition to the program to settle principle payments and lower debts to cassava farmers, and the land allocation program by the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO).

In addition, it has supported the modification of production in areas that are not appropriate by using agri-maps along with reducing production costs and grouping farmers through large-scale farming schemes.

This includes upgrading standards such as GAP or development towards organic farming, and adding online sales channels. All of these efforts are meant to increase revenue for farmers and enable them to rely on themselves without having to wait for government assistance or becoming tools for middlemen, mills, or investors as they have been in the past. We have to open up these channels for farmers themselves.
In terms of social and disparity reform efforts, Thailand has a very high income disparity and inadequate access to social welfare and services. The Government attaches great importance to creating equal opportunity for all people, starting from the care of people from birth by providing support to poor families,
urgent employment programs, skill development programs, promoting the employment and pension of the disabled and elderly, organizing and improving the quality of life of beggars and homeless people, resolving housing problems for low income people in slums, and developing community housing projects along canals. We must also develop assistance for civil servants whose housing is not completely provided for. We must find out how to proceed as government officials are an important group that must be cared for.

This is the first time that Thailand has launched a state welfare registration scheme to help low-income earners pay for necessities and transportation costs. In addition, the Government also focuses on supporting people, communities, and businesses to adapt to changing technologies in order to generate income under new global conditions in a more sustainable manner.

Examples include the Pracharat internet program for villages which serves as a base for conducting online commerce in order to not miss out on new trade or consumption opportunities that are part of the global supply chain.

All of these policies are undertaken because the Government is committed to caring for all people so that they can rely on themselves without leaving anyone behind. From the example of the 2-3 reform examples I have mentioned, you can see that there are many issues that the Government has been successful in addressing which is the result of cooperation of all related parties,
especially from the civil groups and the public. These mechanisms of cooperation are the basis of the word “Pracharat” that this Government uses to guide its policies to bring concrete results. The heart of the Pracharat model is
empowering people to participate in order for all parties to realize and understand the problems they face so that they can find solutions together that adhere to the greater good.

It is also an important mechanism to help monitor, evaluate, and reflect on ideas from all parties involved. This is because it is normal that new initiatives may face obstacles in the beginning phases. But we all must face those problems and use our intellect in finding sustainable solutions.

My fellow Thai citizens, the third issue I want to share with you today is why we must develop the country using the Thai Niyom concept. This concept is not a populist movement and it is not populism.
It is a concept or way of thinking that drives work on the basis of the demand of people. It is the belief in what is right or decent that deserves further support on the basis of ethics, instead of focusing on what is popular at the time, regardless of whether it is right or wrong.

In addition, Thai Niyom is a way of addressing problems and bringing about development in a sustainable manner based on the needs of people in the area. I have long talked about area-based needs. Today, we will focus more on this agenda, the needs of people in the country, as well as consistency with the potential of each area so that we can come together to solve problems that are unique to each community using the Pracharat mechanism.

Therefore, Thai Niyom is an extension of Pracharat which encourages internal economic growth, participation, and joint responsibility. Therefore, the Government seeks cooperation from the private and academic sectors in order to mobilize and implement solutions.

Looking at the overall picture of the country, the Thai Niyom process as mentioned will be the cornerstone of the participatory process from all parties, leading to a democratic system that is appropriate and consistent with our social condition,
not just a superficial democracy that cares only about elections and the opinions of the majority while disregarding the minority. The Government has begun to adopt the Thai Niyom approach as a solution to problems and the restructuring of the local economies. I believe we all know the problems of the country that impact on the lives of the most people,
is the problem of income disparities and opportunities that are not widely given. There is a clear difference between rural and urban areas. This is a matter that is important for all governments and they must have ways to take care of these problems.

What this Government wanted to push forward is not only help increase revenue and raise people’s well-being, but we also wanted to create constant revenue-generating opportunities and sustainability of the wellbeing of the people under the principles of financial discipline. In other words,
not creating budgetary burdens and debt for the country beyond its long-term prospects. Future income should be used to care for people in the future instead of paying off debt that was incurred by overspending.

This idea will also help meet the demands of the country. This is the motivation behind the “Thai Niyom Yung Yuen” project.
The Thai Niyum Yung Yuen program is an activity that has a mechanism to drive the agenda from the national level to local areas. It focuses on public participation under the Pracharat mechanism to create economic and social strength.
It also enhances the security of the community in various provinces by analyzing the problems and the common needs of people in in order to make plans and create opportunities in self-development that meets the needs of the people and sustainably increase revenue for the people.
You can see that the solution or the strengthening of communities does not come from central planning, but from the needs of the people in the area itself who know the problems and limitations better.
The Government will involve itself by bringing in experts and presenting projects or plans to obtain the appropriate budget and ensure that the project is consistent with the plan of the province and provincial clusters for maximum benefit.
There will be close monitoring, assessments, and assistance.  This way the local economies would be stimulated in a more effective and sustainable manner than before.
In the past, the Thai Niyom Yung Yuen project has analyzed the problems and needs of the people 4 times, encompassing over 8 million people.
People took part in the process and informed us of different needs between different areas. They have provided their opinions and suggestions on appropriate projects that suit the needs of their communities. At the same time, the state will act as a coordinator and facilitator in various areas.
The Thai Niyom Yung Yuen project has 3 types of budget proposals, including:
(1). The first 3 income generating projects, such as projects in relation to area for drying crops, tourist attractions improvement and mills.
(2) The first 3 indirect income generating projects such as projects in relation to roads for agriculture, dredging ponds and reservoirs, and public common area.
(3) The first three life improvement programs, such as projects in relation to village roads, village town halls, or multi-purpose buildings, and renovation of village plumbing
Thai Niyom Yung Yuen project is another important step that helps solve the problem of inequality. This is one of the major agendas in the 20 year strategic national plan and I hope it will address the problems of the people more accurately.
This is because it is a public project for the people that listens to the people (demand) and encourages them to take part in the decision making and design of appropriate projects. The success of each project depends on many factors, especially the adaptation of the people themselves.
This project will be ongoing and the Government will evaluate the project and improve it upon to  better strengthen the rural people.
My fellow Thai citizens, the three issues that I was talking about were meant to show you that creating a future for Thailand through various channels cannot be done, if we do not have a unified goal.
If you look back 4 years ago, today everything is getting better. Thailand has gained confidence from other countries while the economy, investments, exports, infrastructure, and the tourism sector have improved. Thailand is continuously moving forward.

The Government is accelerating the distribution of growth to the local communities. We are going to have a national strategy to help all of us see our common goal and path.
Who will run, who will walk, or who will fly. It depends on ways and potential of each individual. Whoever is strong can get to the target quicker. As for the Government, we have a responsibility to support the weak or less strong to have a chance to develop and progress to the same goal because we do not want to leave anyone behind.

But the most important change that will influence the creation of the country’s future the most that can also be achieved immediately is to change oneself. Start with yourself. Do not wait for others to change.
Because of the economic and social environment never stays the same. The technology that affects people’s lives and business changes all the time, prompting us to adjust in order to not miss opportunities and lose out on what we deserve, whether it be economic (income), social (status), or politics.

If we all can transform ourselves into active citizens that have ideas that are flexible to changes around us, we will be able to extend ourselves and become a force of change that will lead the country to the future that we want as well.
The most recent lesson or example of an active citizen is the recent event that took place at Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai.

Today, we are all glad that the 13 Moo Pa team members have been successfully rescued. Behind the success is the cooperation and coordination of all sectors, including the Government, the private sector, and locals in the area, including
Thai people all over the country and foreign experts around the world. You can see that over the course of 10 days of the mission, there were problems and obstacles that occurred all the time. But because of the active citizenship of people in doing each person’s roles,
It is not only the Thai people who are happy and satisfied with this success, but the global community has spoken of the cooperation of all involved. Many Foreign media outlets praised the event as creating a new image of Thailand in the eyes of the world.
This event proves that there is nothing that Thai people cannot do if we all work together – no matter how hard it is. We, Thai people, can get through all obstacles.
I have confidence that Thailand will be able to prosper amidst the challenges in the world and will have a secure, prosperous, and sustainable future if we all cooperate and join hands while building the country together. A video is now airing on Thai Airways regarding the mission at Tham Luang in order to raise awareness among those who fly Thai Airways.

Lastly, I would like to say that the media organization is regarded as one important element in democratic governance in addition to the government, the private sector, and the public.
By adhering to quality and the commitment of providing news to the people as its core principle, the media will become a force that helps propel the country forward into a good future as well as a more well-functioning democracy.

Since these days the media presents itself in a variety of forms and is able to access the public faster, the commitment to present news that is correct is a must.
It will be both a principle and inspiration to other media outlets in addition to being a core body of correct and reliable information for the public. The word “media” is clear in its meaning of serving as a “medium” of transferring information, data, policies, and measures to the people.

This function gives the media a lot of influence towards the views of the public. If you look deeper, the information that is presented can showcase the work and problems that many have faced and may serve to create understanding or  sympathy between the various sectors to create more integration.
Therefore, I want everyone and all sectors (in the society) to build Thailand together for a better future of both ourselves and our children.

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


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