From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals, October 5, 2018

Good evening to you all.

When His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne, the beloved monarch said in his coronation ceremony on 5 May 1950 that, “I will reign with righteousness for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people.”

Throughout his life, he kept his promise and upheld Royal virtues through his Royal duties in various respects such as agriculture, conservation of natural resources and environment, public health, education, religious affairs, foreign relations, sports, arts, and culture etc.

His Majesty King Rama IX worked tirelessly to address people’ problems, eradicate poverty, and turn suffering into happiness through the royally-initiated Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. Not only does the philosophy help improve the livelihoods of Thai people, it is also widely respected and adopted in many countries.

His Majesty King Rama IX always wanted people to have knowledge and skills to be able to rely on themselves and have a better life.

He was committed and determined to help people throughout his 70-year reign as evidenced by more than 4,000 royal development projects.

This October 13th will mark the demise anniversary of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. On this occasion, the Government would like to invite all members of the public both in and outside the country to show our love and loyalty to the late monarch
by doing merit-making ceremonies, such as alms-offering, prayer sessions, and other religious ceremonies as well as volunteer activities and exhibitions, all of which are meant to commemorate the late monarch and his contributions to the nation and people.

Public and private organizations are invited to host these activities to commemorate the beloved King’s passing. Members of the public are invited to wear yellow clothing on October 13th. Most importantly, we all need to espouse his royal philosophies and principles and apply them to our everyday activities and in our professions.

Also, I personally want to see Thai people join hands and work together to do good things from the bottom of their hearts for  betterment of our nation.

The Government, led by the Ministry of Culture, is inviting the general public to visit an exhibition in honor of the late monarch to be held between October 12th to 21st at Hall of Fame, Siam Paragon shopping center.

The exhibition features art and cultural pieces of His Majesty King Rama IX that have played a major part in the development of Thailand and her people.

The National Culture Committee has given His Majesty King Rama IX the name “Supreme Artist” in commemoration of his unparalleled artistic ability.

The exhibition will illustrate His Majesty’s aptitude for arts and his masterpieces in several art categories. Also, famous movies during the 70-year reign will be featured at the event, along with Thai music that reflects the social and cultural values and the happiness of Thai people.

On top of that, there will be television series that tell visitors about the history, way of life, and culture of Thailand when His Late Majesty was still alive.

My dear citizens, I have good news for you today. Our capital city, Bangkok, has once again been named the best tourist destination in the world, according to the 2018 report of Master Card. Bangkok has been crowned best city five times during the past six years or since 2012. And 2018 is the third consecutive year to be given such title.

The survey found that Bangkok in 2017 had more than 20 million oversight visitors who stayed 4.7 nights on average and spent 5,500 baht a day. In addition, Phuket and Pattaya were included in the top 20 destinations.

According to Master Card report, Thailand is the only country to have 3 cities in the top 20. This is indicative of the country’s well-developed infrastructure, a perfect blend between work and vacation, the charm of Thai culture, and affordability compared to other major cities around the world.

Moreover, efforts by state agencies have contributed greatly as the country is able to maintain incredible growth in the tourism and hospitality industry.

The Government continues to stimulate the sector by using special restrictions for short-term stay visitors, providing safety, making good impressions, and hosting several global events.

On behalf of the Thai people, I would like to extend my appreciation to those who voted for Thai cities as the world’s best destinations. I would like to inform everyone again that foreign visitors are our special guests. So we have to make sure that they will have wonderful and memorable experiences while they are in Thailand.

The most important thing is we would like our visitors to come back to Thailand and explore other parts of the country, and tell their friends about what they saw and experienced while they were in Thailand. We all should be proud of our country and what it has to offer. Even foreign visitors see that Thailand has a lot to offer.

Most importantly, Thai people have to be good hosts and have good sense of responsibility. Remember that our actions reflect the country’s image in the global community and on social media.

Entrepreneurs and related personnel including those providing transportation services such as taxis and Tuk-Tuk, as well as business owners and employees must always be aware of their actions. To be a good host is to be polite to our foreign guests. Even though your job is to provide safety and security, or to prevent illegal activities, you must always exercise restraint and patience. Don’t let the same mistake happen again. Also, I want to stress the importance of transport safety on land and water. We’ve had too many tragic lessons.  Let’s try not to let it happen again.

My fellow citizens, this past Wednesday, October 3rd, the cabinet ministers and I paid an inspection visit to Lamphun province, aka the city of happiness and self-sufficiency. We followed up on policy implementation particularly the promotion of secondary destinations under the “Thai Tiew Thai, Thai Yangyuen” campaign.

You may have heard about it from the news. However, there are two things I want to clarify in regard to “The City of Hariphunchai” which has been around for over 1,300 years.

Firstly, although Lamphun is a secondary tourist destination, it houses a lot of distinctive and outstanding features.

For example, Lamphun is a small and quiet city that are compatible with residential lifestyle and is not far from a large city like Chiang Mai. Although the main destination is Chiang Mai, travelers and businesspersons can stay in Lamphun overnight. It takes roughly one hour to get to Chiang Mai from Lamphun.

Lamphun is connected to major roads and railways that link to other provinces. Overnight visitors can easily travel to Chiang Mai Airport. It could even be a one-day trip as visitors can visit cultural, historical, and natural parts of the province.

Lamphun has a rich history and is very prosperous in terms of religion and culture. Its highlight is Wat Phra That Hariphunchai. Visitors to this sacred place can also visit neighboring destinations i.e. Chiang Mai and Lampang.

Also, Lamphun has a wide variety of unique handicraft products that have been known to the locals for generations such as its specially-weaved silk which has been certified as a GI product, coupled with handwoven fabrics and wood carvings.

Additionally, the province has great potential in agriculture. Farmers use local knowledge and method to grow longans, garlic, and red onions which are the main produce in the north.

Local producers can also turn longans into different products such as noodles, Hang Lay curry, ice-cream, and milk. These are the province’s quality food inventions.

The province supplies skilled workers to the labor market in the north and has potential to accommodate new investments and future industries.

Secondly, Lamphun province has been dubbed “clean city” for two years in a row. The applause goes to those who worked together to keep the city clean. I was very glad and honored to preside over the ceremony to pronounce Lamphun province as a clean and foam-free city.

The province has lived up to the government’s “Waste-Free Thailand” policy which has 3 stages of implementation. At the upstream level, every household needs to reduce the amount of waste and separate it.

At the midstream level, waste collection and transportation must be effective. And at the downstream level, waste must be treated and disposed of properly. We will stick the slogan “3Rs” – reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Lamphun province will be a model city for community waste management, operating under the civil state approach or Pracharat where every sector of the society render their cooperation, starting with provincial executives, local offices, the civic sector, entrepreneurs, private companies, and members of the general public.

Also, my appreciation goes to the local administration for promoting upstream waste management such as making agreement with convenience stores to reduce and/or stop using foam containers which are non-combustible and have negative health effects. Under the agreement, waste separation will take place at food courts, stores, and retailers.

Students and the general public will use their spare time to engage in volunteer activities with a focus on waste management such as turning reusable materials into products.

I also learned that Lamphun now has its own innovation and I’d like to share it with you today, so that other provinces and communities can follow suit.

The city has wet waste free project which encourages households to turn organic waste into fertilizers, animal feed, and bio-fermented water. This waste-to-product campaign helps lower local organizations’ expenses on waste management by 280,000 baht a month.

One of Lamphun’s applaudable innovations is the plastic waste compressor. It squeezes plastic into lumps which can be sold to Greenline Company for 2 baht a kilogram. The company will turn the plastic into fuel. Earnings made from this campaign will be used for community and welfare development.

Next we have the waste fund for the elderly. Senior citizens can donate recyclable waste to the fund. All proceeds will be spent on the welfare of the elderly such as for funeral services and gifts for sick patients.

Lastly, we have the foam-free city campaign. Lamphun is the first province to have such campaign. The usage of foam containers will reduce and/or stop. The locals will turn to organic materials which can easily decompose and are good to people’s health.

My dear citizens, we are approaching the end of the rainy season. Our challenge now is to manage the quantity of water to prevent floods and drought.

It is vital that we manage water systematically while maintaining the balance of the amounts used for consumption, agriculture, and industrial purposes, on top of flood prevention, maintaining the quality of water, rehabilitating water sources, and simplifying water management methods.

This Government applies the late monarch’s teachings to its reform agenda and the 3 pillars of water management, crafting the strategic water plan, issuing the water act, and forming the central water management body.

Furthermore, the Government has adopted the “Area Based 66” system in response to drought, flooding, and the invasion of salt water in 30 million rai of economic and tourist zones. Such undertaking has helped lower expenses compared to what we would have to pay to mitigate the impact.

I would like to mention examples of concrete results:

1. The area affected by the flood – drought has “decreased” and funds estimated to help with relief efforts have “decreased significantly” while the amount of rainfall are in no different.

For example, in 2017 comparing to 2011 the rainfall was about 1,800 – 1,900 mm, but the area of damage was reduced by about 2.5 times.

In the year 2017, the Government utilized a budget of only 8.6 million baht while in 2011, the budget was over 41 billion baht.

In 2010, it used up around 22.6 billion baht.

Drought assistance areas have “declined” continuously. The drought relief area for the period from 2013 to 2018 was found to be decreasing.

From 30,000 – 12,000 – 8,000 – 3,700 – 85 and eventually “0” villages this year.

This has helped reduce our budget for providing assistance and recovery from 2014 to 2018 from 2,500 – 1,042 – 1,001 – 49 to 42 million today.

In 2012, we used to spend about 8.6 billion baht for this purpose.

You can see that if there is no integrated reform effort for sustainable protection, we will lose a massive portion of our budget.

Such budget can be used in the development of the country or addressing problems that affect the livelihood of the people. This is the main rationale and approach of the Government and the NCPO in reforming the country’s administration.

3. For the overall of budgeting for flood relief and drought, including agriculture and other fields over the past 11 years (2008 – 2018), you can see that throughout the course of five years from 2014 to 2018, the Government has spent only around 18 billion baht for this purpose.
Meanwhile, in the periods of 2011 – 2014, the budget was nearly 90 billion baht, and during 2008 – 2011, the budget was about 50 billion baht.

This marks a reduction of 4.8 and 2.7 times respectively.

It can therefore be said that the current water management reform policies are in line with the standards of a prosperous country such as the Netherlands whose focus is on the “prevention” of disasters, which is easier and cheaper than “assisting – restoration”

In other words, it is better to focus on preventing the “cause” rather than to fix and heal the “symptom”

Like the proverb “small losses are hard…large losses are easy.” This means that if you do not pay for protective measures, then we will need to pay for the relief and remedy of problems that have already escalated and are sometimes harder to control.

The same approach can be used with many instances such as medical treatment and public health. If we know how to protect ourselves, we will be able to significantly reduce the cost of treatment by exercising to keep the body healthy.

My fellow Thai citizens, the Government and I have continued to place great importance on the development of science, technology and innovation because it is one of the main mechanisms that will lead to economic and social development, break the middle income trap, reduce inequality, and strengthen the country as a whole.

Throughout the past 5 years, we have seen that Thailand has greatly advanced in the fields of science, technology, and innovation.

The country as a whole has increased its R&D investment by more than 3 times to 170 billion baht, accounting for 1% of GDP.

Private investment in this field has increased by more than four times. In addition, there is an increase in the number of research personnel to 140,000 as a foundation for research and achieving the  Thailand 4.0 agenda.

In addition, the Government, by the Ministry of Science and Technology has been determined to address the needs of people in all dimensions.

For example, imparting knowledge of science and technology to 740,000 business personnel and providing up to 3 million standardising services measurement standards.

It has created inspiration in science for more than 3.2 million young people and accelerated the development of scientific, technology, and innovation personnel by twofold or 5.6 million people.

The Government has also invested in infrastructure for the future by sixfold, and has cooperated with the private sector in conducting research on products to utilize innovation as an added value and raise the productivity of the country.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has also integrated with various government agencies to support innovations that help reform Thailand’s economic system into an innovation base by bringing science to people to prepare Thai people for the 21st century and to reduce disparities and strengthen national competitiveness at the international level.

I’d like to talk about the most recent examples that were presented to me and the cabinet which reflect the success of our support and joint research between government agencies.

The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and private companies in the Choknumchai Group have developed innovative military and automotive equipment such as:

  1. Aluminum boats that are stronger and lighter than fiberglass with service life of more than 30 years and without issues of water retention. The boats will be developed to meet international standards and can be used to support the tourism industry.
  2. lightweight aluminum cars that can be used as buses and modern vehicles such as electric vehicles that are equipped with reinforcements to increase safety and convenience to passengers with.

This partnership is an example of a project that benefits from a program of supporting technology development and innovation in the public sector with low interest loans.

There are also applications for the innovation database and tax deductions. It is expected that this project will lead to the development of modern vehicles, lightweight component manufacturing, and mold production, including the development of human personnel to raise the production capacity of the country.

The aforementioned activities, as well as other science-driven activities in the past, contributed to an “improvement” in Thailand’s innovation factors in the World Economic Forum Thailand was ranked 66th in 2013, and has moved to 50th out of 137 countries this year and has been able to increase the value of high technology exports to more than 4 trillion   baht per year.

This is one of the mechanisms we used to mobilise the country towards sustainable development and becoming Thailand 4.0.

My fellow Thai citizens, another step towards achieving the Thailand 4.0 agenda in the Government sector is accelerating the processes through the government’s One Stop Service (OSS).

This is another service the Government attaches great importance to being the center for the public to obtain permits instead going to single point service centers that require forwarding to other agencies.

Comparing this with the old system, let’s say an entrepreneur wants to open a restaurant. He/she must travel to 3 government agencies to ask for 6 permits that require 310 items to be filled and 98 copies need to be prepared.

It has been an inconvenience to the private sector and a cost of doing business that (we think) the government can help reduce.

On Wednesday, October 3, the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPIC) launched a pilot OSS service for the public that will also help businesses that need to apply for a business license(s) to do so at any OSS point, including the pilot program on the 1st Floor of the   Secretariat of the Prime Minister (or former OCSC office).

Another channel that will service the public and businesses is the online Biz Portal as described here.

The OCSC has worked with the Digital Government Development Agency (public organization) and other government agencies to provide businesses with portals to find out information on applying for licenses at all stages in one place. It also recommends what license to apply for and the duration without having to redundantly input information.

The system connects with existing documents. In the case that a copy needs to be, only one copy is required.

Both of these channels allows the applicant to travel to government offices as little as possible, submit documents at one place, use a single form, and track the status of the license application.

Currently, both channels are available for applications such as for business startups, requests for public utilities, opening restaurants and retail stores, totaling 24 licenses.

There will be a chat board and LINE page at Line@goodgov4u (line at good gov for you) for service and follow up.

The central OSS service will be fully available in January 2019. It expanded to 10 businesses and 40 licenses such as for cafes, small resorts, spas, fitness centers and car service centers.

It will also expand online services to other important public services as well.

In addition, OSS will collaborate with the Office of Electronic Transaction Development and National Digital ID Co., Ltd. (NDID) to implement a new authentication system to make our online government service meet international standards with safety and reliability in order to truly suit the needs of the public and business sector.

Finally, on behalf of the Thai government and the people of Thailand, I would like to express my condolences to the people of Indonesia over the recent disaster and would like to offer my moral support.

This earthquake and tsunami resulted in numerous fatalities, injuries, and displacement of the local people.

I am confident that the assistance and recovery efforts of Indonesian officials under the leadership of President Joko Widodo will be able to overcome this crisis and bring about a swift recovery to the people of Indonesia.

The Thai government has pledged five million baht to the Indonesian Embassy in Thailand as a token of its concern and friendship.

I would also like to thank the Indonesian government for the safe return of Thai citizens back to the Kingdom.

On this occasion, I would like to invite everyone to kindly make donation to the recovery and relief effort through the channels listed on the screen below.

I am also scheduled to attend the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering in Bali next week, which will be an opportunity for me to personally reiterate my condolences and gratitude to the Indonesian president.

Thank you and I wish everyone a strong body and mind as well as a happy weekend for all families. Sawasdee Krub.