From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals August 17, 2018

Good evening to you all.
This past Wednesday, I had an opportunity to follow up on traffic issue in Bangkok and other areas. Solving traffic congestions in the capital city should be the main priority. I also visited to the Bangkok traffic control center and was briefed on traffic related operations by many agencies including the Ministry of Transport, the Marian Department, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

The discussions focused on the connection of road, rail, and water transportation systems, which is our future goal and will take a few years to finish. We weren’t able to follow through with the plan in the past, hence traffic jams everywhere in Bangkok. This is why we are now rushing many construction projects.

These projects may affect people’s commute in Bangkok and its vicinity. Please be patient. It will not be like this for long. We will soon have a complete transportation system we can rely on. Today, let me show you the current situation and its possible solutions.

As we all know, traffic jams stem from many long-standing issues caused by non-strategies economic development and limitless city expansion. Many projects did not follow the city plan. The making of a city plan can be difficult because the drafter or the state has to win public approval. And more often than not, people don’t agree with the new plan, leading to problems after problems.

In the meantime, 15 million people in Bangkok commute to the same area in central Bangkok to work, drop off children, conduct a business, and sightseeing in the Bangkok area (1,500 square kilometers). Calculating the density, there are 9,500 people per every square kilometer, which is extremely crowded, exceeding the capacity of our traffic system.

In 2017, there were 6.6 million vehicles in Bangkok and had a tendency to rise 4% every year. Everyday, there are 700 new vehicles and 400 motorbikes registered. Millions of vehicles travel in very limited space. Building new roads is very expensive and time-consuming, not to mention that many areas are privately owned.

Currently, Bangkok has 4,300 kilometers of roads.  Main roads are only a quarter of the total roads. Putting it into percentage, Bangkok has only 6.8% of road areas, which is significantly lower than other cities like New York, London, Japan, and Singapore which have between 21% and 36% of road areas. These cities also suffer congestions even though they have 2-3 times more roads than Bangkok.

Moreover, the need to cross the Chao Phraya River has also increased. Bridges we have today are limited. We have a plan to build more bridges, but will need a public consent. According to our survey, in 2021, around 480,000 people a day will be crossing the Chao Phraya River and the number will rise to 840,000 people a day in the next decade.

We also need to take into consideration the connectivity between both sides of the river, from west to east. There remains a problem to connect the west and the east.  We also have to connect them with expressways, bypasses, outer rings, and inner rings for a better flow of traffic in all areas.
Otherwise, vehicles going up one expressway have to come down in order to get on another expressway.  This can add to more congestion both the upper and lower level roads. There must be better calculations for the number of vehicles for rail crossings, roundabouts, and traffic lights. The ultimate goal is to encourage people to reduce the use of personal vehicles and turn to public transportation. To do so, the rail system will be the main mode of transport for people in Bangkok and its vicinity. In the next 15 years, we will have to urgently complete the construction of all the 10 rail routes we’ve planned, stretching over 464 kilometers.

The “One Transport” policy caters to the seamless connection of road, rail, and water transportation systems, whether they be connecting roads or parallel roads, so that people have more choices for different modes of transport including public buses, public vans, motorbike taxis, electric trains, and Chao Phraya express boats.

We also need more drop-off space in all connecting points to better link all transport modes.  Also we must have a single ticket system which is an ongoing project, while at the same time incorporating technology into transportation and logistics services. Today, our operations rely on manpower which cannot cover large areas.

When I visited other countries, I saw technology in their transportation services. Everything is done on and through a computer. There is a system that warns commuters of traffic jams, allowing them to use a different route. Signal timing can be altered. And arrival time can be accurately calculated while the vehicle is on an expressway. Everything can be changed on the computer.

Its calculation is based on the number of vehicles and traffic situation. At the moment, we don’t have such a sophisticated system. I, then, asked concerned agencies to look into this issue and consult with scholars and specialized agencies in both Thailand and overseas in order to best apply this advance technology to our traffic control system.

However, before we get there, the Government has drafted measures to address traffic problems for the time being. We have short-, medium-, and long-term plans.

Short-term measures include managing traffic flow on the road such as traffic lights, u-turn spots, and rail crossings. Traffic law will also be strictly enforced.  If everyone respects the law, we might be able to put up with traffic jams. Oftentimes, we see vehicles (illegally) overtaking each other and slow vehicles travelling in the middle and right lanes.

Therefore, everyone must obey the rules of the road. In this regard, traffic law will appropriately be enforced. I also urged concerned agencies to pay more attention on the standard of boat services, as it is another alternative mode of transportation. The challenge here is that we must find parallel routes of water and land transportations. If roads are congested, we, then, would be able to commute to the same destination by boats. This way, people can commute faster.

Another issue is that Thai people live in big families, thus it is more convenient and comfortable to use a car since husband, wife, and children may have to go to different destinations. Therefore, in this case, using public transportations might not be the best answers for their family.  It would make more sense to them to drive and drop off their family members before going to work.

To address the aforementioned scenario, we have to provide more options to people.  We will adjust/add more bus routes, specially the connecting bus so-called feeder transport to invite more people to travel by electric train. We must connect electric rail with public bus services. There will be more bus routes including short-routes (urban routes) to facilitate people to get on electric train in the congested areas. Measures to speedily deal with broken vehicles, illegal parking, and accident-damaged vehicles will be put in place.

The 1-3-year medium-term plan, despite urgently trying to construct all public transportation infrastructures, we will have to put in place measures in relation to controlled passage in some areas such as business zones to reduce traffic volume.  At the same time, we will improve traffic network as well as the public transportation network such as the marking of bus lanes. In the past, some bus lane designation can be a problem and ineffective because our roads are small. All in all, traffic rules must be strictly enforced.

As for the long term plan (3 years or more), we may have to apply restrictions and financial measures in electric rail zones of no less than 0.2 kilometer per square kilometer. This is to cultivate a culture of using public transports, reduce the use of privately owned vehicles, and instill disciplines among road users as a way to solve traffic problem in a sustainable manner.

I have already instructed for more water transport services that are in conjunction with the main roads, so that people can travel more easily and easing road traffic. The Marine Department, the BMA, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand will urgently work together to deploy these measures while the construction (of the transportation infrastructure network) is underway.

We will adopt digital technology in the traffic control system especially in city areas, on expressways, crowded roads, and detours routes during rush hours. This would help commuters to rapidly avoid construction sites. I can assure you that sometimes detours are faster than crowded streets that can cost you time and fuel.

Furthermore, I want those who responsible for construction to emphasize the safety of commuters and other road users especially in areas where lanes are cordoned off. Please put up signs and inform commuters in advance of the construction. Finished zones must be opened to the public as soon as possible. Don’t wait until everything is done before allowing public access.

To prevent road accidents, construction areas must be diminished as the construction are completing. Finished area must be cleared.  I would like everyone to play their roles responsively and obey the rules of the road. Motorists and bikers must not forget (road) disciplines and please be generous to other road users.

For instance, once the light turns red, bikers should never try to move to the front. This could lead to street brawl. Motorbikes always want to move closest to the lights to get a head start. The traffic moves slow because other vehicles have to wait for motorbikes to move. They should stop when the light turns red. Why do they have to move to the front?

I don’t know the answer to that question. It is a bad trade-off because they can’t get to their destinations faster, but only cause more traffic.  Please be more considerate to other road users. Pedestrians should also respect the rules, use designated crossings. If everyone is disciplined, the traffic will improve. For the media, you can help provide the public with accurate traffic information.

In addition, if anyone sees an opportunity to build parking garages near important sites, please let us know. This would help facilitate the public and ease traffic congestions.  We need more investments on car park including underground car park.  Car park must be part of new shopping malls.

My fellow Thai citizens, since July 28th, Bangkok has been testing a new boat service route, hoping to connect the water transportation system with other modes of transport, in line with the “wheel, rail, boat” policy, from Tak Sin Pier, Phet Kasem, Phasi Charoen Canal to Wat Kamphaeng Bang Chak Pier and Bangkok Yai Canal.

The trial period of the new boat service is open to the public free of charge on weekends and public holidays, from 8 am to 6 pm. The boat leaves every 30 minutes. There are stops near Bang Wa BTS station and public bus stops. The boat also passes several tourist spots such as Bang Luang Canal Market, artist house, and an ancient community.

During the test run, I saw potentials in developing local communities through historic tourism program. Visitors to Klong Ban Luang Community can learn about the Thonburi period. The community has a potential to become a cultural economic zone in the future through the connectivity of history, tourism, and the transportation system – road, rail, and water – that will rejuvenate communities in Thonburi zone in the form of startup promotion and the building of historical identities and community’s way of life. Apart from Bang Rak district, other zones have seen boutique hotels such as Ban Khun Nam Khun Nang and Bang Luang Canal, as well as restaurants and community markets.

At the very end of Bang Luang Canal, there are Wat Kamphaeng Bang Chak and Artist Home. If we renovate the other end of Bang Luang Canal where Wat Kalayanamitr and Wat Arun Rajvararam are situated, surely there will be a lot more tourists from the Grand Palace side.

In the near future, there will be MRT stations at Sanam Chai and Issaraphap, which will facilitate the commute and travel between the Rattanakosin Island and Thonburi area of visitors both Thais and foreigners.

We have to plan this together. We must prepare both tourist attractions and transportation system to effectively accommodate both tourism and daily commute in a safe and sustainably manner. BMA, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Ministry of Culture, and Ministry of Transport have to work together integratedly. Together, they should create tourism programs for historic tourism and develop more facilities to cater the increasing demands and tourists in the future,
particularly the development of piers, restrooms, beverage services, and other services at various tourist destinations.  Boat travel safety standard must also be put in place. At the same time, please apply universal designs to all structures to allow children, the elderly, and people with disabilities to be able to equally access to the tourist attractions.

These historic places in this area reflect the generosity of His Majesty King Taksin the Great towards people of all races and beliefs who followed him from the city of Ayutthaya to Thonburi with great faith. His Majesty King Taksin the Great built Thai temples, Chinese churches, and mosques.

Chinese tourists often visit the statue of Phra Buddha Trai Rattananayok, known among Chinese as “Sam Bo Kong” and among Thais as “Luang Pho To.” The statue is situated in Wat Kalayanamitr Varamahavihara.

In addition, there is a catholic charge called “Santa Cruz” situated on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, near Phra Racha Wang Derm or Thon Buri Palace. The land where the church is located was given to the Portuguese by His Majesty King Taksin the great. Together, they fought the Burmese army and won. Another attraction is Tonson Mosque. Many interesting sites are waiting to be visited.

My fellow Thai citizens, the Consumer Confidence Index of July this year by the University of the Chamber of Commerce was at 82.2, which is considered a continuous improvement and is the highest in 62 months ever since June of 2013.

This is because the public has seen an expanding in export and tourism sectors which will help stimulate the overall economy. On the other hand, the prices of many agricultural crops has improved and therefore the purchasing power of people in many provinces has increased as well. However, please be careful of creating oversupplies or low quality produces.

Likewise, the Household Economic Condition Index in July by Kasikorn Research Center improved for the first time in 6 months due to the public’s positive outlook on income and employment.
In terms of employment, please visit the Ministry of Labour to learn more on employment demand. There are over 500 application booths where you can find information on job openings as well as occupational training programs. Please pay attention to policy announcements to avoid missing out on valuable opportunities.

Meanwhile, the agricultural sector has entered the planting and harvesting season, resulting in income for farmers. Employment increased compared to the same period last year by over 600,000 positions, an increase from the previous month by 200,000 postions.

However, with regards to addressing the issue of insufficient income for daily expenses particularly the low income group, the Government has issued various policies to increase income and reduce cost burdens such as the national welfare card program, nano financing, settling debt, reducing interest rates for farmers, and franchise programs.

Much progress has been made in many areas, such as,
1. Occupational training for holders of national welfare cards. We are reaching the second phase of this program, the Ministry of Labour has worked to increase people’s potential for employment in order to increase revenue and ensure financial stability.
The program aims to train over 600,000 participants in various occupations, including over 80,000 technicians and 500,000 freelance occupations in 58 courses such as handicrafts, sewing, hair dressing, and cooking.
This includes providing jobs to around 100,000 positions through the establishment of 500 job boxes that I had mentioned earlier. There are currently around 70,000 positions needed at business establishments across the country and abroad, including working from home. In addition, the program provides information on labor protection laws and encourages insuring oneself according to article 40.

2. The “Pracharat Money Bag” application for holders of national welfare cards in the second phase. The Ministry of Commerce had launched this program on August 1. Before this, the Government also implemented the Pracharat Blue Flag program
to enable 11 million low income citizens across the country to purchase necessities with their cards by installing card payment machines (EDC) at over 38,000 vendors. Currently, transactions conducted through the Pracharat Blue Flag program has exceeded 34 million baht.

Most recently, the Government has extended program where cardholders can make payments through the application by Krung Thai Bank via their mobile phones without having to swipe their cards.
This has resulted in an expansion of the Pracharat Blue Flag program to venders in markets, food and noodle stands, and food trucks.  Businesses are welcome to apply for the Pracharat Blue Flag program which currently has around 20,000 participants with a goal of registering 100,000-200,000.
Vendors that qualify for the program are,

1. Vendors that sell consumer goods, household appliances,  educational supplies,  raw materials to be used in agricultural activities, agricultural produces, community products, OTOP, GI products, food, medicines, and so on.

2. Sellers that have a smart phone that connects to the internet. The process of applying is easy and convenient. You can download the application form from the website of the Ministry of Commerce and send the application form via mail or in person to the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Commerce or your respective provincial offices.

You will then wait for approval.  once you are registered, you can download and use the Pracharat Money Bag application. I believe that this extension of the Pracharat Blue Flag program will open up opportunities for smaller vendors to expand and create a more stable income for themselves.
At the same time, holders of national welfare cards will benefit from having a wider range of choices and coverage in various areas. This is a way of raising the quality of life of people in local communities which will help propel the country in a sustainable manner.

3.  Resolving the issue of unofficial debt, which is a significant issue for low income citizens, farmers, and freelancers. Based on surveys by government agencies, over 900,000 people are indebted to 18,000 unofficial creditors, worth over 52 billion baht.

At the start of the program in July, security officials have collaborated with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice at the provincial level to negotiate, mediate, and restructure debt agreements to ensure fairness for both lenders and borrowers in over 200,000 cases.
At the same time, the program has utilized legal measures against creditors who did not cooperate through the center for the prevention and suppression of property fraud at local municipal police stations across the country. We have reported on the progress of our efforts on the Moving Thailand Forward show on August 11.

An important issue is the severity of “farming on the backs of people” which we can no longer allow to happen. As a result of our efforts, officials have been able to recover the property of people who have fallen victim to unjust agreements and been taken advantage of through unlawful means.

This consists of over 7,000 title deeds and numerous vehicles worth over 3 billion baht. As for efforts to resolve the debt obligations of farmers who are members of the Farmer Rehabilitation Development Fund, a subcommittee had been established in May (3 months ago) to negotiate, mediate, and restructure loans, and purchase debt through institutions such as the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), farmers cooperatives, and commercial banks.

Up to 36,000 cases have had their loans purchased, worth around 6 billion baht. This has helped reduce the debt of each person by 50% and put a freeze on interest payments for no longer than 15 years. This is the most significant progress made in 19 years since the fund’s establishment in 1999.
From 2006 – 2014, efforts to resolve debt issues among farmers had been less than ideal, with only 29,000 cases concluded out of 460,000. You can see the significant progress we’ve made in addressing this issue.

However, we must help ensure that famers can increase their revenue so that they can pay off their loans according to the new agreement. I have instructed the fund, the BAAC, and the Department of Agriculture Extension to work together on this issue.

4. Allocating occupational land for communities with a goal of managing 1 million Rai in 70 provinces. So far, we have been able to issue permits for around 400,000 Rai, 40% of our target.
Land has been allocated to over 46,000 applicants along with occupational and skill development training programs.

However, we are still confronted with redundancies and limitations in land management as well as obtaining permits for land utilization according to community needs.
Therefore, the coordinating committee for community title deeds has held a meeting to discuss a unified approach towards land and natural resource management.
They agreed to forward the responsibility of community title deeds to the National Land Policy Committee, which adheres to the principle of shared land utilization and certifying land rights for communities, not in the form of an individual holder, but as shared custody. Otherwise, the land could be sold. This is what happened before in the past.

5. The policy to unify sectors according to the Pracharat mechanism to address problems and find ways to create a (bright) future for the country by mobilizing the country’s economy, reducing disparities, improving human personnel quality, and boosting competitiveness.
A joint committee between the government agencies and the private sector will serve as a steering committee by adopting the sufficiency economy philosophy and development approach of His Majesty King Rama IX of “understanding, assessing, and developing” with the goal of bringing about sustainable development.

The working group for the development of the local economies and Pracharat has addressed 3 sectors i.e. agriculture, processing, and tourism.  The work was conducted by communities
under 5 steps, consisting of accessing production factors, building know-how, marketing, communication, creating awareness, and management.

The committee on coordinating and mobilizing the Pracharat unity policy at the provincial level and the Pracharath Rak Samakkee social enterprise will serve as the mechanism to mobilize projects and ensure better output.

The project has been in place for over 2 years and has been able to significantly mobilize the local economies and introduce innovations and know how to add value, provide sales channels, and develop the quality of products in order to help communities grow and become self-reliant.
It is a key foundation for the country’s step towards a 4.0 economy in the future.
Tangible results were seen among 4,000 groups, consisting of agriculture, processing, and tourism where communities that have developed themselves were able to generate over 2.2 billion baht in revenue, benefitting over 500,000 people.

In addition, the basic needs database revealed that communities had increased their revenue from the previous year with totaling over 700 million baht of income money. Furthermore, the program has expanded its social enterprise model to the district and sub district levels.
Cross-provincial networks such as networks for Batik, beef products, Pracharat markets, the Nakhon Chai Burin Network, the Phetch Samut Siri,  Network and Manohra networks were formed.
This includes developing products to suit the market. For example, mushrooms from Ang Thong, tea from jasmine rice leaves from Roi Et, the Ban Due community tourism program from Nong Khai, and the Som Kha cosmetics brand for Phitsanulok.

Moreover, we have added various marketing channels in all provinces and modern trade markets. Whoever does not know of these programs means they have not stayed up to date with the government’s announcements. If you fail to stay up to date, you will also miss out on these opportunities. Therefore, please pay attention to government’s anouncements.

What I have mentioned is merely a part of the progress we’ve made today. The Government must ensure success of the entire value chain
from the local communities to the national level which connects to CLMV, ASEAN, and the global community in a cooperative manner.

The vital keys to sustain our success are: be open-minded and adapting to global changes
by starting from ourselves.  We must not stop learning.  We must listen and read and improve ourselves everyday so that we all can be empowered and be part of the nation building without leaving anyone behind.

Finally, I would like to warn the public and tourists of conditions during the rainy season where we are currently confronted with Tropical Storm Bebinca which has resulted in extreme weather conditions.
Those who will be visiting waterfalls must be careful during this time. You should be careful and avoid areas that are heavily affected and pay close attention to weather reports before traveling via boat. You can also obtain more information via the hotline 1182
and try to find out more about the likelihood of flash flooding due to rainfall in steep and mountainous areas. These areas are hard to predict. Due to their treacherous nature, we are only able to install measuring equipment at the foot of hills. Often, rain accumulates upstream in high areas until it crashes down with great intensity.

I ask that responsible officials ensure the safety of people, make preparations, and issue warnings so that residents can evacuate in time instead of having to face natural disasters. Most importantly, emergency warning devices must be fully operational.

Visitors to waterfalls must adhere to the guidelines of officials. I’ve seen in many places where people have disobeyed the instructions of officials and have suffered the consequences. Officials must also be polite in their communication while tourists must be in designated area.  Visitors should not wonder around cliffs, along fast currents, or other dangerous areas.

The same goes for beaches. People must exercise caution and avoid going into the water when they see red flags and adhere to the safety standards of establishments.

Please teach your children to be able to observe changes or understand warning signs according to academic theory. In the past, we’ve lost numerous lives due to the tsunami because it has never happened before (in Thailand).  Therefore, many people did not understand (the warning signs). We must be aware of the changes that are happening in the world including weather condition. People must be aware and stay up to date. Of course, the Government and officials are responsible for public safety but the public must also be aware (of what is going on) as well.

Thank you.  I wish everyone good health.  I wish that all families are happy and safe during the weekend. Sawasdee Krub.


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