Given to the audience of well-wishers
On the occasion of the Royal Birthday Anniversary
At the Dusidalai Hall, Chitralada Villa, Dusit Palace
On Thursday, December 4, 1997
Thank you for coming here, bringing your good wishes. One more year has elapsed. This year’s event is similar to last year’s and in this booklet (the King shows the booklet containing his speech of the year 1996), there is proof. I mentioned that these elder citizens also came to bring their good wishes that have helped to pass the year in safety. Last year I said that those who remembered the years long past were getting fewer. I also mentioned a cute little boy with a round head. The photograph in this booklet is the evidence that, about sixty-five years ago or more, there was such cute little boy. Perhaps the elderly cannot see so well; they will have to put on their spectacles (laughter). And last year I also spoke about monkeys. I could not find the monkeys so the picture of the monkeys’ cage where the events happened sixty-seven years ago was included instead. The cage at Sapatum Palace no longer exists. I took this picture myself when the cage had not yet been dismantled, but there were no monkeys in it.
Last year I spoke about monkeys because of the “Monkey Cheek” projects. I spoke about the “Monkey Cheek” projects many years ago and I understand that, now, these projects have met with rather fairly good results. This year, in Bangkok, there have been no floods; however, projects have been implemented in places where there were floods and the results were satisfactory. Two months ago, there were severe floods in some provinces, the heaviest being in Chumporn. Even though it was not yet the season for tropical storms or typhoons, there were such heavy rainfalls that the town of Chumporn itself suffered much damage. It was reported that some places were two meters under water which resulted in heavy damage to properties of the people as well as of the government. For example, at the hospital, the X-ray machine was damaged by the flood.
So even if money had to be invested to prevent severe flooding, it must be done. A man was sent to look into the situation and he took pictures both by land and by air. And when I examined the map, I saw that there was a place that could be used as a “monkey cheek”; it was a natural location; there was a big natural lagoon called “Nong Yai” (Big Lagoon). That big lagoon was a big place as its name indicated. But it was not big enough because people had infringed on its area, and it was shallow. But the important thing was that there was a canal nearby. However, that canal had not yet been dug through; there was a distance of about one and a half kilometer that had been left undug. The water flowing into this canal could not yet reach the sea to prevent it from backflowing and flooding the town. So I inquired about the plan for the completion of the project. They said the budget for it had already been approved, but the money was not yet available. They understood that the project would be completed next year, in the year 1998.
I thought that ways had to be found to make use of this canal, in which so much money had already been put in, to use it in the event of a seasonal tropical storms. That is why I pledged support for those concerned which included the Irrigation Department, the provincial authorities and the private company so that they would promptly complete the planned project in the space of one month instead of one year. I assured them that if they needed support, I would lend that support; so work was begun. Furthermore, I instructed them to make a culvert with a water gate connecting the lagoon to the canal that was going to be completed. I told them that I gave them one month to complete the work; they shook their heads saying that such work required time. I said that I would furnish the funds; one part would come from the Rajprachanukroh Foundation which would provide the expenses for the piping from the lagoon into the canal and the water gate.
As for the digging of the canal, the Chaipattana Foundation provided eighteen million baht which, when the official budget is available, I would like to have the Foundation’s money back. But I do not know if the government will be able to provide this sum of money or not. However, it does not matter; the Foundation will not mind sacrificing this sum of money. I took this course of action with the view that, even if money is tight, an investment to improve production, for one, and an investment with the object of preventing unnecessary spending, for another, is worth it. The reason is that if we don’t do it, I believe that the floods, both in rural areas and in urban areas, governmental as well as private properties, will create havoc and much more money would have to be spent. If there is no damage, no unnecessary money will have to be spent; the people will be able to live a normal life, and the result of their work will mean a good income for them. Apart from the income, they will receive the service from, for instance, the X-Rays machine that I have just mentioned, which could properly serve the people who are sick. That is why the investment of more than eighteen million baht toward the success of the project within that one month should be worth it; the people’s as well as the government’s money will be saved.
The water gate has proved its efficiency when the tropical storm “Linda” came. At first, I thought that it would hit Chumporn; the Department of Meteorology had forecast that the storm would enter the vicinity of Chumporn. In fact, I thought that it would go past Chumporn and slam further north into the province of Prajuab Khirikhan and the province of Petchaburi. Thus, Chumporn would not bear the brunt of the storm. Even so, as the Thatapao Canal - it is called a canal - that is, the river that flows past the town of Chumporn, has its sources in the province of Prajuab Khirikhan, it was therefore expected that the water would come down in torrents. When the storm came in, rain fell from the north of Chumporn all the way up to Petchaburi. There should have been floods, but as the water had been drained out of the “Big Lagoon” into the canal that had been dug to allow the water to flow freely to the sea before the water from the storm arrived, the “Big Lagoon” was able to receive the water that came down and gradually drained it out to the sea, which is the function of the lagoon as a “monkey cheek”. Finally, the Chumporn town and the adjacent areas did not suffer the new flood even though there was a severe storm. This can be considered a great victory for the Chaipattana Foundation. The Chaipattana Foundation has lived up to its name. (Chai means victory and Pattana means development.)
The achievements of the Chaipattana Foundation and the Rajprachanukroh Foundation - the name of which means the manual help between the King and people - have encouraged some people from Chumporn to donate money to support the projects. Usually they are not so keen about donating money but, seeing the swift results of the project, they did donate in the sum of hundred thousand baht. It was encouraging to see that the miseries from the floods in the past two months have been expeditiously alleviated. I understand that there are ways of doing the same thing in other provinces, with modest investments which would result in economizing expenses on welfare for damages such as the destruction of the crops. When the crops are destroyed, the government has to help replace them with new seeds, or assist the people in their daily lives. The projects are, in that way, a worthwhile investment.
The Prime Minister has said that we are facing a crisis. We must always be aware of what should be done and what should be avoided. What you see on this stage will perhaps amaze you. You may think there will be a drumdance show or something like that. But the highlight is the box that encases this drum; on it is written very clearly that it is MADE IN THAILAND. This MADE IN THAILAND is very significant. If we use Thai products, buy Thai goods, travel in Thailand, eat Thai food, it will be salutary. However, it will not yet solve the problems. The issue lies in the fact that the manufacturer of this drum has a company that has to import the goods and sold them at the price previously agreed on because the contract had been struck at the original price. When the goods arrived, the price was higher. He said he was selling at a loss. But he had an idea; he could manufacture this drum and export part of the production to America and the other to Europe.
He had to work very hard. He has just shipped the product of his work. Averaging this with the price of his imports, he can still make the ends meet. If his drums are popular, he can make a profit, and the country will also profit from this. Importation of some goods from abroad is still necessary in some instances. Anyhow, exportation of products that are made in Thailand is better. The wood that is used in the manufacturing of this drum is the wood that is found in Thailand; it is the wood that is usually not much used; it is not prohibited wood from the forest; it is from the rubber trees which have to be replaced to improve production. Normally the wood from the rubber trees that are cut down is not much used. Recently it is sometimes used to make furniture. In this case, the man himself went down south to purchase the rubber tree wood and used it to manufacture this drum.
There are two kinds of drums: the long drum (conga drum) and the small drums (bongo drums). Wood from Thailand is used, and the hide on the drum is also produced in Thailand. So it has been possible to export things made of Thai raw material and manufactured by Thai craftsmen. This is a good way to deal with the crisis. It is a private enterprise; he does this by himself, and it is hard work. He said it was very tiring and he nearly had a nervous breakdown because of the fear of not meeting the deadline. When the shipment was on its way, he came to see me and presented me with the product of his work, saying that he was more relieved. This is one way of dealing with the crisis and it can be done. However, perseverance as well as determination is needed.
This made me think about how this crisis has evolved. Our country is rich in natural resources and we have been designated to become an economic power. How is it that we are facing this crisis? In fact, this crisis could have been detected a long time past, about forty years ago, but nobody was aware of it Forty years ago a man, a junior official, came to see me to ask for money*. Actually I used to give him small sums of money regularly; he said that it was not enough. He wanted to borrow some money. As he wanted a loan, I agreed to give it, but he had to keep an account book, indicating the income and the expenses. The income would include his salary as an official and the money that I gave him. The expenses would be his family expenses. But there was something that I did not understand at that time and never knew about; there was an entry called “for share”. And again another item was entered “for share”.
I asked him what a “share” was. He explained that it was the money he had to pay the “dealer” monthly. When he was in need of money, he could “bid for the share”. But this “bidding” would mean… say, that one “share” would involve paying one hundred baht per month and he would have the right to get a kind of loan. In principle, it would mean he could get twelve hundred baht anytime in a year, with a monthly pay of one hundred baht. This should be helpful, but he did not get the twelve hundred baht. He got only eight hundred baht anytime in a year, with a monthly pay of one hundred baht. This should be helpful, but he did not get the twelve hundred baht. He got only eight hundred baht anytime in a year, with a monthly pay of one hundred baht. This should be helpful, but he did not get the twelve hundred baht. He got only eight hundred baht or less according to the “bidding”. Those who did not need the money would not bid for it but would leave their money in the “share pool”. When time came, they would receive their money back in full, plus the interests of the “bidding”. I asked the man if he would be able to make the ends meet with this system. Then I asked him why was it that there was another entry also for a “share”. He explained that, to be able to pay for that monthly “share”, he had to resort to the weekly, the seven-day “share”. He would bid from the weekly “share” to pay for the monthly “share”.
He thought that he was very clever. In fact, the “share” that this man was engaged in is not restricted to this one, but it is widespread among government officials, in all ministries, departments and sections; in many companies, everywhere, even among private individuals this system is practiced. I told him to stop using this “share” system, to stop this and continue to keep an account book. Later, as he did what I advised him to do, he showed me his account book and he did not have a loss anymore. He could make ends meet because I had told him that one had to live within one’s salary. Practicing the “share” system is equivalent to living on loans. Loans that are used on things that do not yield income are bad*. This is important because if a loan is gotten and is productive, it means that it can be repaid; one will not be indebted to anyone; one will not be in trouble or lose one’s honor.
In that same period that was more than forty years ago**, another man came to ask for a loan; he said he wanted to borrow thirty thousand baht. I asked, “What for?” He said he was going to buy sewing equipment for his wife to open a dress-making shop. I decided to give the loan and said that he could repay it anytime. Eventually, after the shop was established, he repaid the loan regularly, every month until the loan was fully repaid. With his intelligence, his honesty, and knowledge that this venture could bring a profit, he was able to repay the loan in full, and after that, it was net income. I congratulated him commending that he was a good man. This man was honest, and he became my good helping hand with his craftsmanship. He served loyally until his death. The first man who used his money for “shares” is also dead now.
Another case concerned a man who came one day***, bearing a gift; in that case, it was a belt buckle. I asked him why he was bringing me a belt buckle. Finally, I understood that he wanted to borrow money. This was amazing; he did not have enough money, why was it that he bought that buckle which was not cheap? So I told him to go elsewhere for the money; I would not give it because I knew but too well that if I gave it, he would not be able to repay it. I had enough money to lend it to him but if I gave it to him, he would use it foolishly and would not make a good use of it, as the one who borrowed to establish a business. It would only degrade the person. In this case, the lesson should be that borrowed money must bring a profit, and not for just playing around doing useless things.
is another case. This man was planning to get married and came to borrow money*. I thought that this man had worked well so I should give him a reward. Therefore, I gave him 10,000 baht. At that time 10,000 baht was a lot of money: ten thousand baht for his wedding. So he got married. However, he did not repay his debt. I thought it did not matter; he got married and was happy; that was good; he should be able to work well. I did not expect that one or two years later he would come to me asking for 30,000 baht more. I said, “Heh! 30,000 for what?” He said that when he got married, he did not have enough money, so he borrowed some more elsewhere. He was not able to repay the debt. Moreover, he had to pay the interests and did not have any money left.
He had to pay the interests on his loan. The total amount, the loan plus the compounded interests, was 30,000 baht, without counting the original 10,000 baht that I had given him. That meant he was entangled in debts which he was unable to pay back. I did not know what to do because I learned that if he could not get out of this situation, he was contemplating committing suicide as the last resort. His salary was not sufficient to repay his debts. The interests kept piling up. Each time he had to pay the interests he sank deeper into debt for compounded interests. I thought that the first time he came to me to borrow money for his wedding, he should have been happy, but it had turned into great distress. So I thought that, as I had already given him the 10,000 baht, I should give him more so that he could get out of his misery. Eventually, he was able to live and carry on with his duties. However, that should be a good lesson for him. This means that he asked for money and I gave it to him; I had saved his life.
Still another man came**, this time an outsider. He came and told me that his son had an accident, and hurt his eyes. If nothing was done, he would lose his sight. I felt sorry for him and gave him 30,000 baht. He never informed me whether the son’s eye operation had been successful or not. However, one day, that man appeared again, saying that the operation had been successful, but the object of his visit was that he wanted a house. He had made inquiry and found out that the house was vacant. He wanted to occupy it free of charge; I could tolerate him no more because he should be in a position to have a house on his own. The house that he requested was a rather big one. If I gave him that house as he requested, he would later on ask for housekeeping expenses. Furthermore, as the house was big, he would probably bring relatives and friends to live in it. That would further increase the expenses, so I said no. I felt rather uneasy in doing so because anyhow, I felt sorry for him. When anybody asks for anything and one is unable to accede to it, one feels uncomfortable. After that I heard no more of him. I tell you these things because they are the causes of the crisis we are going through.
I must tell you another story. Once, I went to Cholburi*; this was many years ago. There was a businessman who told me that he was building a canning factory for pineapples. He invested millions - I don’t remember how many millions - to build that factory. I told him that I did not approve of investing such a large sum of money because I once built a small factory in the North**. I used 300,000 baht for canning the produce of the people and the hilltribemen and marketing it. That small factory was successful. I told him that I felt investing millions was risky. He said that it was necessary, so he did it. Eventually, the pineapples from the district of Ban Buang in Cholburi was not sufficient, therefore he had to order the pineapples from Pranburi. Pineapples from Pranburi had to be transported at high cost. Eventually, the factory collapsed. This shows that in any venture one must consider the size that is suitable to the characteristics or the environment of the venture.
As I am talking, I still think of another case. In Lampoon there was a factory for freezing agricultural produce. I went to visit it. They complained that the maize that they obtained for freezing was of inferior quality so they could not buy it at a high price. At that time I could not foresee the fate of that factory. I told them that they should assist the farmers with funds to help improve the quality of the maize and, in that way, the venture would prosper. They answered that they could not do that because the quality was mediocre. This was a vicious circle: if they did not give a good price or give assistance to the farmers for their plantations, they would not get the benefit; they would not obtain good quality; they would have corn with uneven grains which they would have to discard because their machinery must have corn that were of adequate size and quality. With this policy - I did not mean to wish them ill - I said to myself, this factory would not be able to survive. Finally, it came true; the factory went bankrupt. The buildings still stand there, an eyesore, to this day, but the owners are nowhere to be seen*.
Any venture must be done with circumspection, and one must not be too over-enthusiastic; I mean that some individuals see the opportunity to establish such and such projects without thinking that some conditions are not fully considered. One factor is the size of the factory or the operating machinery. But the most important factor is the raw material; if an adequate price cannot be given to the farmers who provide that raw material, they will not produce it. Moreover, if the raw material used in the factory is one that must be transported from afar or even imported, it will be even more difficult because the price will be even higher. In some years, the raw material is plentiful, the price will perhaps be lower, but the finished product will also be more difficult to market because of the oversupply resulting in lower price. This is the rule.
I would like to stress that if we carry out an adequate project of a moderate size, it would perhaps not be so showy, but it would not fail, or even if it fails, the loss will not be so great. One example is the canning factory that was established in the district of Fang. One day I received the report that a flash flood from the mountains had damaged the factory. I told them not to worry; I would send some more money. The land had already been bought and the machinery had not been totally destroyed. I supplied 400,000 baht more; it was 400,000 baht, not 300,000 baht as the original cost because money had depreciated. Thus, it was rebuilt and was soon in good working condition bringing about profits. This was many years ago. Recently, so many projects have been implemented; so many factories have been built that it was thought Thailand would become a little tiger, and then a big tiger. People were crazy about becoming a tiger.
In fact, I have often said to such audience as this one that to be a tiger is not important. The important thing for us is to have a self-supporting economy. A self-supporting economy means to have enough to survive. About this, I have often said that a self-sufficient economy does not mean that each family must produce its own food, weave and sew its own clothes. This is going too far, but I mean that each village or each district must have relative self-sufficiency. Things that are produced in surplus can be sold, but should be sold in the same region, not too far so that the transportation cost is minimized. Doing so might prompt some distinguished economists to criticize that it is out-of-date. Some other people say that we must have an economy that involve exchange of goods that is called “trade economy”, not “self-sufficient economy” which is thought to be unsophisticated. However, Thailand is a country that is blessed with self-sufficient productivity.
Concerning the growing of rice, I have encouraged the people to grow it for their own consumption. Each family would keep their rice in small silos, and the surplus can be sold. Other people retort that it is inappropriate. Especially in the North-East, the experts say that “fragrant rice” should be cultivated for sale. This is true; “fragrant rice” sells well, but once it is sold, the farmer must buy rice for his own consumption. From where would it be bought? Everyone cultivates “fragrant rice”. In the North-East, the people usually prefer consuming “glutinous rice”, and who would cultivate “glutinous rice” as it is publicized that those who cultivate “glutinous rice” are dumb people? This is an important point. That is why I have encouraged the people to cultivate their own consumer rice. They like “glutinous rice”, so let them cultivate “glutinous rice”. Whatever kind of rice they prefer, let them cultivate that kind of rice and keep it for the whole year consumption. If there is a possibility of making off-season cultivation or if they already have enough to consume for the whole year, they can plant “fragrant rice” for sale.
I say so because rice that is cultivated for home consumption does not have to go round the world. If the rice that is bought has to go around the world, well, perhaps not around the world, but has to go over provinces or across the country, the transportation cost will be added to the price of the rice. It follows that the farmers will have to sell their rice at a lower price because that rice must be exported abroad where it will fetch a high price. To be able to have a good profit, transportation and other overhead charges have to be added to the price of the rice. It means that the price of rice at the farmers level will be cut down. They (the economists) say that “fragrant rice” fetches a good price; this is quite true only when it is sold to the consumers in foreign lands, but at the starting point, the farmers will not get much profit, and they will have to buy their own consumer rice which will be more expensive because of the transportation costs.
On this subject, I have some knowledge because when there are natural disasters, wherever it could be, for example in Chiangrai, welfare workers go out there and report that rice will have to be distributed. Rice is bought at the Bangkok price; this means that it could be the rice from Chiangrai - as Chiangrai is a big producer of rice - and transported to Bangkok, bought in Bangkok, and sent back to Chiangrai. What is the cost of transportation? In fact, the rice can be obtained in Chiangrai; it is bought in Bangkok but is delivered in Chiangrai. The rice itself doesn’t have to travel, but the price must “travel”. It means that the businessman sends the rice only in name, in the document, to Bangkok, and when we buy the rice, the order must travel back to Chiangrai. However, it is not only the order document that travels, the transportation cost of the rice from Chiangrai to Bangkok, plus the transportation cost of the rice from Bangkok back to Chiangrai are also included in the charges. In the end, we have to pay a higher price for the rice. Thus, the consumers of rice in the northern region have to pay a high price. In the southern region, it is the same though it is nearer; Narathivas buys rice from Patalung.
These transactions are called the TRADE ECONOMY, in contrast with the SELF-SUFFICIENT ECONOMY. Wherever SELF-SUFFICIENT ECONOMY can be practiced, we can survive; we don’t suffer. In the present situation, the trouble we have with rice is evident. The people need to use many other commodities and these can be produced in Thailand. Moreover, These can also be exported. We can use the products at home as well as export them overseas. However, for exportation, there are many procedures that have o be satisfied; the result is that there is nearly no profit left. But if direct contact can be made, as they have done in the case of these drums in sending a full load by using ships that are called CONTAINER, the price of transportation is not too high.
I repeat myself again and again on the subjects of trade, goods consumption, production, and sale because I think that everyone is concerned with the crisis. All people - from the have-not to the well-to-do - are in trouble. But if the situation can change back to an economy that is self-sufficient - it does not have to be a hundred percent, or even fifty percent, but perhaps only twenty-five percent - it will be bearable. The remedy will take time; it will not be easy. Usually one is impatient because one suffers, but if it is done from this moment on, the recovery is possible. In fact, in this gathering, there are economists in various fields who must understand why I speak in this way.
The car I drove here - I don’t know if you saw it or not - is the handiwork of Thai workers. Furthermore, it has been built mostly with Thai resources, especially Thai workmanship. Now, the factory cannot produce because there is no buyer; perhaps there are people who want to buy cars but the buyers have no more money. There is no liquidity; that is why they produced this car. More than 200 people were involved in building this single car. It made me think that something should be done to assist the workers in this factory. The company has been good to them; they look after the workers; they have seen to it that the workers do not suffer too much by providing them with a kind of welfare. Work has slackened down, and the pay is not as high as before, but it is sufficient.
The company is planning to cultivate the vacant land they occupy. They indicated their wish to go to the Khao Hin Son Center for the Study of Development to see what is being done in cultivating in poor soil that is not very suitable for agriculture. I encouraged them to set up a rice-mill of the same type as the one here at Chitralada which is not very expensive. Once the mill is established, they could plant some paddy themselves and buy some from the farmers. After milling it, it could be sold at an adequate price as it is done in cooperatives. At the Chitralada mill, we do not use the paddy which is cultivated here because the paddy which is produced here is used for the Ploughing Ceremony. The paddy which is used in our mill is bought directly from the farmers at a reasonable price. The farmers are happy to sell their paddy at a good price, and the consumers can buy the rice at a low price because transportation and middlemen are kept at the minimum. The result is that the producer and the consumer are both happy.
I have encouraged some military units to establish this kind of rice-mill and to support the neighboring farmers; they seem to be happy. In various settlements, such as the settlements in the province of Prajuab, in the South, and in other places, they have a rice-mill, and the buying and selling of rice is done to the satisfaction of both the sellers and the buyers. I have advised some big companies to do this kind of project, but I do not know if they have done it or not. If what has been done in some military units and some self-help settlements is implemented, it will be possible to keep within one’s means and have enough to eat. Of course, building a rice-mill needs some funding; planting and producing paddy or engaging in other activities also need some funding. Where would these fundings come from? I think that there are kind-hearted people who would be ready to support such plans. Some businessmen have already contributed toward the establishment of similar projects.
Even activities such as the ones the Prime Minister has mentioned, namely the “New Theory”, need public support because the villagers or the farmers perhaps do not have enough money to start their projects. However, if there is support from private persons of from the government, the funds involved will become productive, performing loans. Money that is productive means that it will yield profits, profits for the farmers, and overall profit for the whole country. The national economy will not be sluggish anymore, and this won’t be slow to implement.
A few months ago, a person came to present me with a piece of land in the district of Pakthongchai. At first she meant to give me nine rai. When we met, she was pleased and mentioned that she owned 30 rai; she made a request to keep nine rai for her three children, three rai each. She would donate the remaining 21 rai for any project I wished to do. 2.53 rai = 1 acre 0.395 acre = 1 rai
Originally she intended to build a temple. Some of her friends opposed the idea saying that there was already one. She then decided to build a rest-house for the hospital which was about one kilometer away. Finally she decided to present me with that piece of land, saying that I could use it in any way I wished. I thought that building a rest-house for the hospital would not be of immediate priority. So I decided to implement a “New Theory” demonstration project on that land. One area would be reserved for traditional plantation, the way the people do it, using only rain water, the natural way, without special technical assistance. The other area would be cultivated according the “New Theory” system. A pond would be dug and a part would be set aside for planting rice, another part for planting trees and other crops. The project was begun only a few months ago. I received a report just yesterday saying that the assignment of the land for different activities had been done, and there was a photograph showing the pond that had already been dug. The problem lies in the fact that the water is too alkaline; it cannot yet be used for raising fish. It must be corrected so that the water would be neutral and suitable for raising fish. In fact, it is strange because at other project sites, the water was mostly acid; here it is alkaline. The method for correcting water which is alkaline is to put manure in the water to render it neutral.
A piece of land was given to me by another person. This year, this place was used for experimenting to find out whether the water would also be acid if the acid soil was dug up. The experts said that, the deeper you dig, the more acid it would become. Actually, I already knew that, but I needed actual proof. And when it was done, the water was really acid. Those who tasted it said it was acid, really acid, sharply acid like vinegar making any cultivation or pisciculture impossible. Anyway that is only experimental. I asked the experts how to correct the acidity if it persisted. They said that the only way was to put some lime or limestone dust in; that would do the trick. I told them that this was only an experiment, that I did not want to use that water right now. Anyhow, an additional plot of land nearby has been purchased for experiment. Further studies will be conducted. The ground will not be dug as deep because in digging deep, we will come across acid soil. If we dig a shallow pond and bring water from a nearby canal, cultivation can be attempted. For small plots of land, this can be promptly done. This has only been a few months and there is already some results.
The place with the acid soil is in the district of Ban Na, in the province of Nakorn Nayok. It is not “Nayok”, short for “Nayok - Ratmontri” (“Premier”, short for “Prime Minister”); it is “Na Yok”, meaning the fields (Na) that are exempted (Yok) from taxes because year after year, the crop there has been bad since ancient times. However, if the soil can be made free of the acidity or if a successful cultivation system in acid soils can be found, the province may have to change its name to Nakorn “Nasomboon” (Prosperous Fields) or something in that vein. In this province, there are many thousand rai of rice fields that are all “Na Yok”. If the experiments are successful, I understand that the people will have a much higher income. In the South, in the province of Narathivas, where the place is swampy, that is, the soils are reputed to be really acid, experiments have been carried out resulting in successful cultivation of rice and other crops in the swamps. Some ponds have been dug and lined with limestone; some lime dust has been added to reduce the acidity of the water which was then sent through canals and pipes. It was successful and the result was visible in the smiles and radiant faces of the villagers in that vicinity who used to be starving and very poor. They can now successfully till their land.
In this country, there is a rather vast expanse of land. Even though there is big population growth, there is still sufficient land for everyone. However, most land is not fertile; the soil is bad. In some places the soil is either acid, alkaline, or salty. In some places there is no soil at all. Now a way has been found to correct this. Some progress has been made in this direction, using “vetiver grass”. The grass will “explode” the hard pan. Perhaps this research activity will not yet meet with success in time for the present situation, but in one or two years, it will be possible to increase the arable land for the people. By using this new technique we will be able to increase productivity. We will have to invest some funds for research for the benefit of the farmers. The funds we still have will have to be used in this direction, and it will be beneficial; it will help this country surmount the present crisis. I believe that Thailand will be able to pull through the crisis better than many other countries because this land is still a good land to live in, as I said some years ago that this land is suitable for sustaining life. Anyhow, we must not be extravagant. We must live within our means and in the right way.
Today I have spoken about ways to remedy the present situation, the present crisis. As we are in the “globalization” era, we also have to conform to the world because, if we do not comply with the existing agreements, they could be discontented. Why should they be unhappy? It is because they themselves also have a crisis. As Thailand’s neighboring countries in this region are also facing crises, it will be more difficult for us to recover from our own crisis. Furthermore, it is not only that the countries in this region are affected, even countries that still seem prosperous will also become entangled. If the problems are not solved in any corner of the world, other parts of the world will also be affected. We have to strive to support our people so that they have work to do, and have an income. In this way, we will be able to surmount the crisis. But the original policy of placing too much emphasis on the production of industrial goods will not succeed as the local market has been reduced because he people now have a lower purchasing power.
However, more importantly, the economists say that we must export to other countries, but those countries also have their own difficulties and will not buy our products. If there are industrial products and there are no buyers, the efforts will be of no avail. We may be able to produce good quality goods, but many countries in this region have industries that are of top quality too. This crisis originates from the fact that there has been an overproduction and no purchasers because nobody has enough money to buy. Take the car I drove here, the manufacturer still have cars in stock but they cannot sell them. It is not that there are no buyers, but those who want a car have no money. If all cars are bought on credit, the company cannot survive either. That is why they slowed down their production, and they built this car for me using more than two hundred workers. This is one way to cope with the crisis. But those who like modern economics would perhaps not appreciate this. A careful step backwards must be taken; a return to less sophisticated methods must be made with less advance instruments. However, it is a step backwards in order to make further progress. If no such action is taken, the crisis will be difficult to surmount.
I haven’t yet spoken about what I usually speak about, that is, unity. One must refrain from provoking too much discordance. This does not mean what some people intend to do. Everyone must have the chance to work on one’s job. As each one is doing his job, there must also be mutual goodwill. This is an important rule. Work must be done with mutual compassion and with perseverance too. What I am saying is repeating myself, but I don’t know how to put it. Five years ago, I told the audience about birds, here, at Chitralada. Let me tell you that five years ago, there was a lone pelican; then we bought three more making it four. These birds produced a family and invited friends to come here. One day fifteen of them were counted meaning that they were happy. But today, there is only one floating in the pond. I suppose that the others have gone to visit relatives (laughter), or perhaps they have formed new families and have to look after them.
To the one that is left, I have given the name of Mr. Smith. And in this audience, there are two more Mr. Smith who each came alone. One Mr. Smith came alone and the other also came alone. Other people may have no way of knowing who Mr. Smith is. But Mr. Smith himself knows. The other Mr. Smith was given such a name because when he floats in the pond in one direction, it means that the wind changes directions. When the direction of the wind changes, we know that it will be rainy, windy, or dry. You may have wondered how I manage to make accurate weather forecasts. It is through this “Mr. Smith”. “Mr. Smith”, the man, makes forecasts and “Mr. Smith”, the pelican, also makes forecasts. I combine both forecasts and come up with my own forecasts. “Mr. Smith” himself used to wonder how I could make accurate forecasts. I never told “Mr. Smith”, the real one, that “Mr. Smith”, the pelican had helped me because I did not dare to. However, now, “Mr. Smith”, the real one, is no longer the director of the Meteorology Department, I, therefore, can reveal the secret (laughter) that “Mr. Smith”, the lone pelican, was the one who made the forecasts. Apart from this, I also had the support of “Mani Mekhala”, the goddess. This was to the astonishment of “Mr. Smith”, the real one.
Today, cool breeze has arrived. Yesterday, there was a military parade and the soldiers did not suffer from the heat. The parade was carried out with grandeur and dignity. I think the people have been encouraged by the fact that we have soldiers of all services who are energetic. Moreover, the Supreme Commander has reaffirmed that the armed forces are ready to carry on with the development duties. In fact, I have benefited from their assistance in development work. The digging of ponds that I have already mentioned is an example of the Engineer Corps’ swift work. The flood prevention work is another example of the Engineer Corps and other units’ work. I, therefore, believe that if everyone remains united in doing the duties that lie before each one, we will be able to lead the nation to peace and happiness. Today, I have spoken about things that should be food for thought. Since you are all knowledgeable, you should use your knowledge, your intelligence to solve the problems that lie before us. And to this end, I wish that all of you who have duties strive to use your brains and your will-power for the benefit of the community. Thus, the nation will achieve prosperity and security. May you all benefit from prosperity, a good physical and mental health, and an acute mind so that you meet with all success in all your efforts.