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21 Jul, 2014

Priority boost for development projects at Thai overland borders

Bangkok – Thailand’s border checkpoint areas with Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia are to be prioritised for urgent development in preparation for the Integrated ASEAN Community in 2015, the country’s military chief announced on 18 July. In his nationwide weekly radio/TV broadcast, General Prayut Chan-o-cha Head of the National Council for Peace and Order, said the five areas designated for immediate implementation in 2015 are: 1) areas in Mae Sot District of Tak Province 2) border areas in Mukdahan Province 3) Aranyaprathet District of Sa Kaeo Province 4) border areas in Trat Province and 5) areas surrounding the Sadao and Padang Basar customs checkpoints. The first two are on the border with Laos, (3) and (4) are with Cambodia, and (5) with Malaysia.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha

He said that the aim is to promote border trade and prepare for becoming part of the ASEAN Community by promoting investments, the creation of factories, service businesses, and the creation of jobs,  development of infrastructure, roads, rail systems, commodity warehouses, and customs checkpoints. It will also prevent rural-to-urban migration, he said.

Other short-term tourism stimulation measures announced are a travel insurance scheme for prospective visitors from countries which have issued travel advisories against Thailand and a waiver of visa entry fees for Chinese tourists for a three-month period beginning in August. Both are designed to help resume strong visitor arrivals in the third quarter of 2015. More stimulus measures are being planned for the upcoming high season, starting in October.

Tourism is getting high priority in the overall plan for the socio-economic “rebooting” of Thailand. Gen Prayut’s weekly broadcast came in the wake of a July 16 meeting of the Joint Public and Private Committee (JPPC), which he chairs, to discuss agendas proposed by 5 private sector institutions: Thai Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Thai Industries, Thai Bankers’ Association, Tourism Council of Thailand, and Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations. This clearly shows that the tourism industry has a seat at the head-table of economic “big-boys”.

The full text of Gen Prayuth’s July 18 broadcast is being published below in order to help promote a better understanding of the broader what-why-how context of Thailand’s future development trajectory.

National Broadcast By General Prayut Chan-o-cha Head of the National Council for Peace and Order, 18 July 2014

Good evening dear citizens. I hope everyone had a chance to relax, make merits, and travel, filled with enjoyment during the past holiday period. I would like to express my admiration to you all for your intention to do good deeds during the Buddhist Lent – be it an abstention from drinking alcohol or a cut down on meat consumption. I would like to thank all civil servants, military, police, other officials and volunteers in sacrificing their leisure time to work over the holiday period, in order to move forward in resolving problems that cause grievances for people and to meet their expectations.

On the country’s development in various areas, cooperation from all sectors is needed in exerting their strength and mind power to yield happiness for Thai people extensively and equally. This moment is a critical time for all Thais to be united and help reform the country in a progressive and sustainable way. Today, I have several issues to inform you and ask for your cooperation in order to move forward in unison as follows:

1. On foreign affairs, we seek the cooperation from countries that are friends of Thailand in reforming our country, which will lead to a future of long-lasting relations.

– Explaining our rationale and legitimacy in taking control of the country’s administration is not easy, as international standards uphold the principles of human rights and electoral democracy as those practiced in the West and elsewhere for the past century and regarded as normal for cohabitation. Democracy is thought by all to be the best system. At present, Thailand is trying to build the foundations for a strong democracy, which will lead to more sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships with the international community.

– In the past, it could be said that the flaws of democracy in Thailand is the lack of respect for fundamental democratic principles which include the respect for the law, equality, and good governance, as well as the maintenance of the check-and-balance system for executive, legislative, and judicial powers.

– The problems existing before 22 May 2014 include the delay in reimbursements for the rice-pledging scheme; the deaths and injuries of innocent people caused by the use of war weapons; the inefficient administration of the country by an acting government with limited powers, affecting the current budgetary implementations and the new 2015 fiscal year budget proposals which will have led to bigger problems.

– Negotiations for reform and elections were unable to be held as each side refused to compromise and lower their demands, each believing that they are right and the other side wrong. Businesses, academics, and other people who are involved had continually tried to find ways to achieve a peaceful compromise, but there had been many legal obstacles which had resulted in looming civil disorder and civil war.

– The army has followed the situation closely and deemed it necessary to step in to rapidly resolve the situation. Our first act was to halt the use of violence on one another and stop the ongoing protracted protests. It was just in time to prevent a bloody situation of a civil war. The tensions and the sufferings of the people quickly subsided.

– We do not expect compliments. We did it to provide an exit for a country running into a dead end, having no efficient administration for as long as six months. It was done without any loss of lives. That was what we aimed for.

– Is it the time yet, for Thais and friends of Thailand to look forward to the future and find ways to prevent what has happened time and time again in the past from happening again, and ways to achieve democracy for Thailand?

– Countries that are our friends may not be able to deny Thailand’s role as an important partner of many global powers. We are the oldest ally in Southeast Asia of the U.S. and of many other Western countries. Bangkok is the location of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and is also the location of regional offices of many international organizations. China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand are also partners of Thailand. Moreover, the country is a partner in a number of regional and international cooperation in various dimensions—cooperation in areas of the three pillars of security, economy, and social psychology, as well as cooperation in disaster prevention, providing aid and relief in events of disasters, and environment protection. Moreover, we have also been participating in peacekeeping operations on a continuous basis.

– Thailand is one of the largest economies in ASEAN. We have contributed to the set up of many production bases, services, and joint investments. We had a leading role in the establishment of ASEAN and the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), of which up to 30 Asian countries are members. We are also an active member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the East Asia Summit (EAS), where both the U.S. and Australia are members. We have participated, per the invitation of the U.S., in the negotiations for joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We are a dynamic member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and we are going to become a part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) very soon.

– Therefore, we must continue to ensure that our interests are truly and mutually beneficial in the future.

– In stepping in to make rearrangements for sustainability, the NCPO has not changed the reality of the economic foundations of the country, nor has it affected the country’s opportunities in ASEAN and the international community for moving forward to achieve sustainable future economic growth.

– Thailand does not want its friends to constrain the constructive role of the military or NCPO. Allow us to continue to participate in international forums, which should be more favourable to our friends.

– On our internal affairs, Thai people hope to see a good future for the country whereby benefits are distributed equally to all—not only to certain groups. They hope to see the return to a strengthened democratic system—with proper institutions to safeguard the principles of rule of law and legal state, true public participation in decision-making process, and efficient scrutiny mechanisms to ensure the transparency of operations. They hope to achieve this through a reform process which will help resolve the failures of the past and lay groundwork for developments that will sustainably benefit the country in the future.

– Democracy should be about more than just whether elections take place. It should also be measured on the basis of what the elections will bring and give to the people in a sustainable manner.

– The reform in the next phase will focus on political reform, anti-corruption, and a system of good governance to bring about transparency. It will also focus on laws that are sacrosanct, a proper check-and-balance system and effectiveness as well as reform in the 11 areas that I have earlier mentioned.

– For reasons mentioned above, our foreign friends should be satisfied. At the moment, I would like their support for the NCPO’s efforts in making Thailand a fully democratic country. There are other areas in which our foreign friends and partners can help, exchange information and opinions, give support, and share your experiences.

– The reform needs a great amount of understanding and support from the Thai people, as the country belongs to everyone regardless of their conforming or opposing viewpoints. They should all participate in the reform process. We do not want to leave anyone behind, as we are all Thai.

– Every democratic country has gone through stages of difficult periods and devastating situations. They are tested by time. Today it is better for us all to help set up a stable pillar of Thai democracy, rather than to criticize, particularly regarding a demand for an early election. We have been through trial and error for many years. If we succeed, we will be a country with a complete and sustainable democracy and that will benefit Thai people as well as our foreign friends.

– Lastly, I ask for patience from the Thai people and foreign friends to allow us to move forward in unity. I also ask for every country to be supportive of us in creating a country full of hope as well as bringing about national stability, which will lead to lasting regional and global stability in the future.

2. For those who have viewpoints different from the NCPO, we do not want anyone who fights for democracy to disregard their safety, and overlook corruption and misadministration. They have to think about the changes in order to bring about the complete democracy. Sometimes it may be too hasty to oppose and disagree, especially when the Royal Thai Armed Forces is involved in politics. Please be open-minded and acknowledge the actual truth of the past situations as well as the context, and consider how Thailand can become a fully democratic country.

– For our foreign friends and allies, I would like you to recognise the positive changes in the situation since 22 May 2014, rather than being quick to criticise us as determined by the universal democratic form.

3. On natural resources, environment and wildlife, we are doing our best to address the problems which are multi-faceted. The environment in Thailand is different from those in other countries. Some measures have to be amended and adapted to suit Thailand and its people. The prime factor we need to consider is to take care of Thai people to have better livelihoods, and then other related problems will subside.

4. On communication and telecommunication systems in Thailand, they are not sufficiently secure and up-to-date. The administration of governmental organizations is in need of a change in order to support operation of frequencies. There needs to be a good management to provide proper services to the people. We are in a process of determining the best method to be implemented in the next phase.

5. On restructuring the taxation system, it is in the process of deliberation to find an approach that would be fair to tax payers – be they juristic persons, entrepreneurs, and other entities – to increase everyone’s income and for the state to be able to manage social welfare for everyone justly and inclusively.

6. On energy, gas, electricity, alternative energy etc., it is in the process of research to allow for a reform that would create energy security as soon as possible. We have already carried out several provisional measures as is widely known.

7. On state enterprises, there are several state enterprises that cannot take care of themselves and provide full and inclusive service such as railway trains, telecommunication, and land, water and air transportation. We are in the process of examining how to improve their operations to yield actual benefits.

8. On economy, businesses, importation and exportation, several international commitments and agreements have been amended. Therefore, we need to adapt ourselves in order to build international confidence. We need to abide by the laws and regulations. We cannot avoid closer integrated regional groupings such as ASEAN and those in Western and European regions. At present and in the future, we need to adapt ourselves in line with such laws and regulations in a fast and cooperative manner, competing freely, justly and efficiently, focusing on quality rather than quantity to avoid price deflation which would lead to consumer distrust. We need to reinforce our economic sector in all aspects and stand ready to compete in the business arena.

9. On the reform agenda of 11 issues or perhaps more in Phase 2, cooperation from all sectors is needed – be they political, civil service, private, civil society and general public sectors. Unless the opinions from different sides are crystallized in second phase, it will be difficult to continue with the reform as well as the implementation in the third phase. As for the reconciliation and reform, the NCPO has provided an opportunity for every sector to initially express their opinions in order to move forward to the next stage, to discuss about potential applicants of the Reform Council, and to reach a conclusion in the Council in the second phase. Those who have not prepared to apply need to prepare themselves with regard to personnel, relevant information and other necessary issues. When it is open for application, please do so accordingly. There is no use in talking right now and such action will further create disharmony in the society. It will also show that you do not have a genuine desire to reform the country.

10.  On reforming water resource management and fundamental infrastructure, it is still ongoing. For instance: solving flooding and draught problems in a sustainable manner; constructing dual-track trains; expanding electric railcar routes; procuring new locomotives and public buses. These are all in the process of finding a resolution to be implemented in 2014-2015 and in the long term.

11. On social reorganization, it has been done continuously such as regulating motorcycle taxis, buses, beach vendors and other businesses. It will be cautiously done in order to minimize the impact on the people. However, it needs to be done as the laws and regulations have been disregarded for so long and need to be respected. You yourselves have been taken advantage by corrupt officials, but if you respect the law, nobody can take advantage of you. I would like to insist on your cooperation.

12. On social welfare system such as the 30-Baht Heath Care scheme, it is still in operation and earmarked in the 2015 fiscal year budget. However, it will need to be improved in terms of quantity and quality of providing health care. Therefore, please do not listen to hearsays which cause confusion. We have not announced any changes. This is an important issue because we consider quality of life of the people as a primary factor. A huge budget is needed but if we spend too much budget on this issue, it will affect the budgets for other areas such as state investment. We are finding the best solution with regard to the issue of a welfare state.

13. On excessive disbursement of budgets in accordance with populism policies, it needs to be totally revised. A tax system reform has not yet been substantially carried out. The collected government revenue fell short of the estimates, which is a concern.

14. On central, provincial, and local public administration which has already been decentralized, there are still problems concerning the unity, integration, and mutually beneficial administration. There is no continuity that will allow for a nationwide development. I would like to ask for cooperation from all sectors, in particular the local sector – be they Subdistrict and Administrative Organization, Provincial Administrative Organization, Municipality etc. They need to adapt as well as sacrifice and improve themselves in order to gain trust and acceptance from people from all sides in the area, and to bring about fairness instead of factiousness and not politically benefiting any particular group of people. As you volunteered to take care of the people, you need to do so. You also need to pay attention to the minority.

15. On social psychology, there are several critical problems in the country such as crimes, drugs, alcohol, vices which lead to social degradation, gambling, disharmony, selfishness, disregard of public benefit and educational problems. This may have resulted from a society that is filled with detached families, where parents need to earn an income to provide for family members and do not have time to take care of them. Low-quality newspaper, radio broadcasts, and television programmes have infiltrated the life of Thai people, especially Thai children, and caused an addiction to these earlier mentioned vices. This has led to multi-faceted, profound, and widespread social complications that resulted in an undisciplined and problematic society. Even though the state had to disburse a large amount of budget, the problems are yet to be sustainably resolved; for instance, the problems of troublemaking adolescents and clashes between opposing groups of students. I want to warn these people that they are severely undermining the country. They will strictly face legal proceedings in order to avoid reoccurrence of the situations. They will be prosecuted without exception. Do you want to be the social outcasts? You need to redeem yourselves, look for trustworthy jobs like everybody else, or finish your education. Seniors who gave bad advice to juniors will soon be summoned to adjust their understanding.

Progress of the NCPO’s work

On Economy

1. The NCPO has approved the 2015 fiscal year Budget of 2.575 trillion baht, which is a number close to that of last year. This year, the NCPO is giving importance to resolving troubles of the public; reducing production costs in the agricultural sector; developing water resources to provide more irrigation areas; resolving problems of floods and droughts; and developing infrastructures to allow for future developments. Moreover, the NCPO sees the importance in preventing and cracking down on corruption and has increased the budget allocated to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). The NACC, an organisation under the Constitution, is facing a problem of having insufficient personnel to deal with a vast number of pending cases. As such, a quota of 700 additional personnel has been approved, which comes with an increase of 300 million baht in budget funds for the NACC. Importance is also given to the promotion of innovation which serves as a basis for the sustainable creation of wealth for the country.

– In the Budget planning, proposals were made to integrate the works of all relevant governmental agencies in addressing each issue, for continuity, linkage, and reducing redundant expenses. For instance, in developing water resources and transportation networks, there must be considerations on whether the project is worthwhile and provides maximum benefit to the public. As for the management of budgets for local administrative organisations, there must be equality in all areas and locals must truly have a say in planning the use of the budgets for the benefit of the community and cutting down budget funds for plans without accompanying projects. Local administrations have to present project plans at the beginning of the fiscal year for the efficiency in responding to the true needs of the community and cutting redundant costs.

2. On the development of special economic zones, there was a meeting of the Committee on the Special Economic Development Zone Policy on Tuesday, 15 July 2014. The meeting has called for the promotion and support of the development of 12 target border areas without delay. The development of five areas has been designated as an urgent agenda for immediate implementation in 2015: 1) areas in Mae Sot District of Tak Province 2) border areas in Mukdahan Province 3) Aranyaprathet District of Sa Kaeo Province  4) border areas in Trat Province and 5) areas surrounding the Sadao and Padang Basar customs checkpoints.

The aim is to promote border trade and prepare for becoming part of the ASEAN Community in time by promoting investments, the creation of factories, service businesses, and the creation of jobs, the development of infrastructures, roads, rail systems, commodity warehouses, and customs checkpoints in order for them to be ready. There will also need to be efficient management in relation to migrant workers, as well as centres for the development of their skills so that skilled labour could then be selected for jobs further inland.

– Aside from the aim for economic growth, what the NCPO has given special emphasis on and is equally important in developing these special economic zones is the objective of raising the quality of life for people living in border and remote areas who are facing problems. It is common for them to suffer losses from farming and leave their houses to find jobs in big cities. This has an impact on their ways of life, their families, their communities, and their happiness in living a rural life. The development of special economic zones focuses on providing these people with jobs and preventing and resolving chronic problems in border areas. These problems include the smuggling of agricultural products from neighbouring countries into the country for sale or substitution of high quality with lower quality goods; the theft of motorcycles for export; the smuggling of tax-evading goods, illegal goods, drugs, and illegal migrant workers. Governmental agencies are to also consider factors in the reality of the situation. For instance, to deal with the smuggling of agricultural goods from neighbouring countries that is hard to prevent, there might be a relaxation of rules to only allow the import of such goods into special economic zones or controlled areas to continue on to processing industries there for value-adding before exporting to third countries.

3. On the development of transportation infrastructure, the NCPO chief of economic affairs and relevant governmental agencies have been assigned to deliberate on important projects without delay to be able to start implementing them from fiscal year 2015. Parts of the projects that are ready for implementation are to be carried out without delay. On the dual-track railway project, consideration must be given to the need to prepare for transportation connectivity with neighbouring countries in ASEAN in the future. This also includes the connectivity with China which requires a new technology in building 1.435-meter-wide railway tracks to accommodate trains running at the speed of up to 160-180 kilometres per hour. There is also a need to develop connecting points for archways or tunnels for the continuity of the railway tracks. The current rail system in Thailand uses one-meter-wide tracks in accommodating trains running at the approximate speed of up to 90 kilometres per hour. This will cause a problem in the future in procuring spare parts and repair and maintenance where the global trend is moving towards using the new railway system.

– Nonetheless, to put budget funds into efficient use and to not lose opportunities in the development of trade, logistics, and transportation, we could develop and improve the existing system to increase the amount of goods transport and reduce transport costs. In the first phase, additional one-meter-wide tracks are to be built on main transport routes with heavy traffic. The Ministry of Transport already has plans for such constructions on five routes pursuant to the degree of urgency. The routes are: 1) Chachoengsao – Klong Sibkao – Kaeng Khoi, 2) Lop Buri – Paknampo, 3) Map Kabao – Jira Road Junction, 4) Nakhon Pathom – Nhong Pladuk Junction – Hua Hin, and 5) Prachuap Khiri Khan – Chumphon.

4. On the promotion of tourism, the NCPO has instructed the Ministry of Finance to engage in talks with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and other relevant governmental agencies regarding the establishment of a fund to assist foreign tourists in the event that they encounter any distress in their travel in Thailand, on top of the regular protection accorded by travel insurance which currently may pose a problem for those travelling to Thailand. This is to build confidence for tourists traveling to Thailand for holiday.

5. On the joint cooperation between the public and private sectors in driving economic growth, there was a meeting on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 of the Joint Public-Private Consultative Committee for the discussion and consideration of various proposals which benefit the public and private sector. The proposals are about the promotion of trade and investment, industrial development, tourism, logistics infrastructure development, and the amendment of law and regulations currently presenting obstacles to businesses.

– There are many interesting issues which the public and private sectors are both in agreement on various fronts and which will require the cooperation from both sides in working towards achieving tangible results. These include the promotion of border trade; the establishment of special economic zones in border and remote areas; the development of transportation networks, infrastructures, roads, rail systems, commodity distribution centres, and customs checkpoints; and the establishment of a transport infrastructure fund. The implementation of assistance measures for farmers is also one of these issues, where the measures are on 1) the development of rice and Thai farmers, 2) modern agriculture, 3) alternative economic agricultural zones, 4) research and development of rice varieties, and 5) Thai rice marketing. These measures will need to be in accordance with the works of the Committee on Rice Management and Policy. The NCPO has instructed relevant governmental agencies to study this matter further in detail to improve the works in helping farmers.

– On the promotion of tourism, the NCPO has approved the waiver of visa entry fees for Chinese tourists for a period of three months. This is to affirm the friendship between the two countries, as we will soon celebrate 40 years of Thailand-China relations, and to encourage more Chinese tourists to travel to Thailand in the coming high-season period. It will commence from this August onwards.

6. On the progress of water resources management, a 3-phase roadmap has been formulated. The first phase will see the formulation of project plans under the responsibility of five sub-committees. The committees are to be responsible for 1) areas in the Northern, Central, and Eastern regions; 2) areas in the Northeast and Southern regions; 3) the data system to support decision-making; 4) organisational structures and relevant laws and regulations; and 5) public relations. The formulation of the plans is to be finished by July 2014. For the second phase, details and specifications for the project plans are to be complete within 45 days. Lastly, the third phase will see the complete water resources management plan. All these steps are to be completed by October 2014. While proceeding in accordance with the roadmap, there will also be parallel developments whereby a budget of up to 13 billion baht will be allocated in fiscal year 2014 to various ministries in an integrated manner for the restoration of water resources, the dredging of canals, and increasing the efficiency of water reservations and drainage.

7. On exports, the export value for June 2014 has continually expanded at 7.2% as compared to the value for the same period of last year. This is a result of the continual expansion of exports of goods to key trading partner countries, especially countries in the EU and ASEAN. As for imports, the value for June 2014 has increased 5.5% from the same period of last year. Basic factors in the previous year have significantly contributed to the trade balance value for the said month, which saw a surplus of 31.6 billion US dollars.

On Security

1. Maintaining peace and order, efficiently enforcing laws, and providing safety to the lives and properties of the people are missions to which the NCPO has given importance and which the NCPO will continue to work on, in order to create a peaceful society and an environment conducive to the development of the country in various areas, including the reform and development of proper and sustainable democracy. In the past week, there have been many developments on the legal actions taken in connection with additional seizures of war weapons. The police have found important evidence and have found the group of persons and network of insurgents responsible for committing violent crimes that led to the injuries and deaths of innocent people. Some of the accused have confessed and testified as a witness to having been involved in the firing of M-79 grenades to protestors and in various community areas. The police will continue with the procedures without delay. One has nothing to fear if one did not commit any offence so the police will proceed based on evidence in strict accordance with the law and relevant judicial proceedings.

2. On making explanations to and creating understanding with countries that are friends of Thailand and international organisations, in the past week, ACM Prajin Juntong, deputy head of the NCPO and chief of economic affairs, has welcomed Mrs. Kristie Kenney, the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, along with other members of the US diplomatic corps, for a discussion on the Thai economy and economic cooperation between Thailand and the U.S. Representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also present in the dialogue. The U.S. Ambassador and Thailand have affirmed that the relations between Thailand and the U.S. will continue on their current track unhindered.

3. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in his capacity as Acting Foreign Minister, traveled to China for an official visit during 11-12 July 2014 in Beijing and paid a courtesy call on the State Councillor and the Foreign Minister of China. China has affirmed good relations with Thailand and stated that it will not interfere with Thailand’s internal affairs and wants all parties to come together to find solutions for Thailand. China seeks the security and stability of Thailand as the country has a vital role in the overall stability and security of the region and in driving forward ASEAN initiatives.

4. On the measures to address problems relating to migrant workers and human trafficking, additional progress has been made in the past week whereby six additional one-stop service centres for migrant workers have been set up in Bangkok. Thec entres are located at 1) the Ramintra Sports Centre in Bang Khen District 2) the Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan) in Din Daeng District, 3) the Muang Min Thin Thong Community Centre in Min Buri District, 4) the Lumpini Youth Centre in Pathum Wan District, 5) the Thawi Watthana Youth Centre in Thawi Watthana District, and 6) the Sports Centre to Celebrate His Majesty the King’s 84th Birthday Anniversary (Bang Bon) in Bang Bon District. The Ministry of Interior and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will be responsible for the facilitation of the works of each centre and will be cooperating with the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Public Health, and other relevant agencies. We are working towards setting up a one-stop service centre in every province.

Social Issues and the Environment

1. The NCPO meeting this past Tuesday has instructed the Ministry of Interior, through the Provincial Governors, to establish One Stop Service Centres in order to provide more effective services for the public. These centres will include many agencies so that the public do not need to waste time or money travelling to different places, such as farming support services, public health, citizen registration, receiving of complaints, and database services.

2. Through surveying what issues are of utmost urgency for the public, the majority of people have revealed that basic needs and long outstanding informal debts remain key problems. Informal debts provide an opening for influential figures to threaten and extort while pursuing vested interests. To handle this matter the NCPO’s legal division has been delegated to consider drafting legislation on debt collection in order to correct problems of inappropriate debt collection, whether it be in the form of defamation statements that violate individual rights, the use of force to cause damage, or disseminating false information to cause vexation. The draft legislation should be ready for proposal to the National Legislative Assembly, once formed.

3. Thailand has now entered the rainy season and there are many areas with heavy rainfall which may cause flash flooding and forest run-offs. In some areas the water level in the dams are very low due to little rainfall. For those areas facing drought especially risk areas in the northern region, we are making preparations for artificial rain where weather and humidity are determining factors. The NCPO has instructed all concerned agencies to make preparations in order to be able to provide immediate assistance to the public, and most recently the 4th Army Regional Command has sent personnel to provide relief to those affected by floods inRanong Province on 12 -13 July.

Additional Issues

1. Rice

-We have considered back-up plans, should they be necessary, for farmers, and other agricultural products.

-For domestic sales of rice stocks, it will be necessary to clearly designate a responsible agency, in particular for rice under the Blue-flag label and other rice-based products, so that the public can truly benefit and farmers will benefit from the fair pricing of rice sales.

-For the export of rice, there has to be a clear distinction between high quality, medium quality, and lower quality rice, so that overall prices do not fall for the whole system and confidence can be created for Thai rice in the international market. Companies found to be in violation of export regulations will be put on a list prohibiting further sales, which will be made public.

-The inspection of rice stocks in warehouses and concerned companies involved with domestic and foreign rice sales has revealed many irregularities such as incomplete stock in some warehouses, damaged stocks from storage, and sub-standard companies involved with nontransparent sales transactions. The NCPO has initiated legal action against these companies, both at the civil and criminal proceedings, in cooperation with the NACC. There will be the continued distribution of an appropriate amount of high quality rice stocks through free and fair competition to the domestic and international markets so that prices do not fall.

-Progress in the inspection of rice stocks in warehouses between 3 – 8 July in the central region have been completed in 48 out of 653 stockpiles, 194 out of 309 stockpiles in the northeast, 92 out of 767 in the north, and 9 out of 58 stockpiles in the south. We can see that there are a large number of warehouses. We have deployed over 100 inspection teams and expediting the process. Through random inspection there have been 262 places with normal rice stocks and 65 places with irregular rice supplies which can be attributed to 5 main causes, including quality decay in 20 locations, tainted in 17 locations, false registration in 6 locations, counterfeit rice in 10 locations and insect contaminated rice in 12 locations. There are still many more to check.

2. As for the citing of NCPO in government procurement projects such as water management, canal dredging or other issues from ministries or departments at the central and regional levels, NCPO would like to reiterate that we have never assigned any individual to implement any of these projects on our behalf. Please do not let anyone claim personal interest and do not hesitate to inform NCPO for investigation immediately. There have been rumours surrounding construction projects in the provinces whereby middlemen demanded commission for themselves and for NCPO. Do not believe them for the NCPO does not want even one baht. The Ministry of Interior will assign the inspection staff and will be responsible in every province and district.

3. As for the prevention and suppression of corruption on the cases where legal action has already been taken, we will proceed according to the normal course of justice. Unfortunately, there are a lot of pending cases. NCPO has assigned the relevant agencies to continue the judicial process before the case is barred by prescription in order to prevent the wrongdoer from escaping the judicial process. As for the guideline to solve the corruption in procurement, NCPO has designated the Committee on Public Budget Expenditures together with the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand to consider using international measures of corruption inspection to apply with the government or state enterprise mega-projects such as Cost, starting with the Suvarnabhumi Airport development project – Phase II. Besides, the Committee on Public Budget Expenditures has inspected many projects and reviewed their cost-effectiveness and necessity in utilizing budget that comes from the money of the tax-payers, for instance the meeting allowance of governmental sector (Parliament), the committee and commission, and the construction of governmental buildings which may not be worthwhile. The prevention and suppression of corruption is one of the agenda which will be considered by the Reform Council so that Thailand will be free from corruption.

4. Preserving natural resources and environment, forest and wildlife are extremely important. Presently, NCPO has designated concerned agencies to oversee the forest preservation, prevention of additional forest encroachment, restoration of damaged forest, prevention of illegal logging, wildlife hunting, smuggling of carcass and ivory as well as defining necessary measures and strictly following the obligation of CITES Convention. Recently, the Royal Forest Department has inspected the forest encroachment by business groups to bring back the encroached forest land to be owned by the Thai people. NCPO has reiterated that the implementation is to be carried out with due consideration of the livelihood of the people who have been residing there before the proclamation of the forest area. There must be a method in resolving this issue and it should be carefully considered to minimize impacts on the impoverished.

5. As for the renovation of the Government House, NCPO has designated Police General Adul Saengsingkaew and the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister to propose the overall renovation plan, including the area of the Government House, Santi Mitri Building, buildings within the area of the Government House as well as Phitsanulok House which has beautiful traditional architectures but are in a decadent condition, with the budget of the Office of the Secretary of the Prime Minister under the 2014 Fiscal Budget which has originally been allocated. The renovation will be conducted in cooperation with the Fine Arts Department to restore the beauty and functionality of the traditional buildings, not the adjustment of Fengshui or with other intentions whatsoever. Minimal budget will be used.

6. The reform of the police has not been conducted yet. Presently, the police are operating under the existing structure. Police reform will be initiated during the Phase 2 whereby suggestions from all party concerned will be considered. As for the temporary adjustment of the Board of the Royal Thai Police and the Office of the Police Commission, it is aimed to maintain the integrity and dignity of the police due to the allegation that there is unfair process in appointing, so the direct commander will have the authority to appoint capable officer to be in charge. In this regard, NCPO will not intervene in any appointments and let the Royal Thai Police oversee this matter similar to the practice of the Ministry of Defence Administrative Act by the military.

7. The appointment of the new Police Committee is to initiate the police reform in the future and to gain the fair and just appointment at this moment. The police commanders must be responsible in appointing the subordinates whom they are very well acquainted with. This is the transition period and NCPO has placed importance on Security Cluster in particular. NCPO has no intention to dishonour the reputation or destroy the police organization. NCPO has used similar principles of appointing military officers who have been appointed on seniority basis. The Police Chief must be responsible for the positive and negative result in making the appointments, especially if incompetent police officers were promoted to command the subordinates. As for the reason for including the Permanent Secretary for Defence in the Committee, this is only to oversee the transparency and attestation. Also, the Border Patrol Police has been continuously working together with the military. There are other police units as well that has combined operations on security matters. Consider this as an attempt to create a transparent organization and build trust and confidence among the general public in law enforcement.

8. As for the election of the Provincial Administrative Organization, NCPO has considered that should there be such election while no clear conclusions on political reform has been reached, it may be cause for renewed conflict. We need to maintain the conducive environment for the reform. I appeal for cooperation and more time. NCPO has therefore ordered that the election of the Provincial Administrative Organization be deferred until the new constitution is promulgated. In the meantime, should any member of the Provincial Administrative Organization were to complete their term of duty, a selection process will be used to seek the replacement so there will be a quorum to carry on the duty. The selected members must have a minimum political involvement so it may be necessary to select partly from the government officials.

9. On the auspicious occasion of the birthday anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen on 12 August 2014, it is a great opportunity for all Thai people to join hands in paying tribute and expressing loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen. The NCPO will organize the commemorative activities during 8 – 13 August 2014 at King Rama V Monument and the Royal Plaza. On 12 August 2014, there will be a candlelight ceremony at the Royal Plaza and in every province, as well as many other related commemorative activities. I would like to urge all Thai people to express your loyalty on this auspicious occasion.

10. On the issue of religion, everyone must help out. We will use all available mechanisms to accelerate the inspection, rid of deviants and heretics and support Buddhism and every religion to be respectful for the Thai people throughout the whole country, with full confidence and faith.

To conclude, NCPO is very well aware of all the concerns from domestic and international fronts, both supportive and non-supportive of NCPO’s operation. I would like everyone to understand and ask for cooperation in swiftly solving problems of the nation. It is definitely better than doing nothing. We will not be able to fix anything if we continue to neglect and do not cooperate with each other or let the situation return to the previous state of feuding. For those who disagree, please do not oppose just yet. Some people do not have full knowledge of the information and try to counter everything that NCPO does or on every issue that I have proposed. Sometimes they listened but often not and imposed their own opinions. I believe that what I am doing today has been thoroughly screened from multi-sector proposals. A majority of the people has encouraged us to do our work. So please reconsider. Those people who are abroad should return and we will ensure fairness. Why should we keep on fighting if we can cooperate with each other. I believe that Thai people will forgive, so please come back. We cannot remain in conflict. We must join hands and lead the country to a better future.

Thank you once again for listening to me. I have already taken much of your time but I had wanted to speak so that we understand each other and swiftly rectify the problems. Good night.