Given to the audience of well-wishers
On the occasion of the Royal Birthday Anniversary
At the Dusidalai Hall, Chitralada Villa, Dusit Palace
On Friday, December 4, 1998
Thank you all for coming to wish me a happy new year - not the calendar new year. It is my new year, that new year of the speaker, tomorrow being the beginning of a new period, a new year of my life. The Prime Minister has summed up fifty years of my life, saying that I have worked and contributed to the well-being of the nation. Today, those inside and outside, have come in a record-breaking number. The prosperity and happiness of the nation and the people are not the achievement of any single person, it is a cooperative effort. Those with knowledge must use it for the stability of the country. People possessing similar knowledge must pool their ideas. Some people are knowledgeable in the same area but are different in their viewpoints. These people have to exchange views in consultations rather than argue. Consultation and argument are different. Arguments involve mostly emotion, whereas consultations involve the intellect. By using sound reasoning in discussions, the problems will be solved, because there is only one truth; there are many falsehoods, or there are many wrong ways. On the other hand, the truth, the right way, is universal and is usually the only way to success.
The Prime Minister has mentioned my various activities, such as what I said last year, about the sufficiency economy. The term sufficiency economy does not exist in the textbooks; there has never been a sufficiency economy. There are other terms but not this one. Last year, I spoke about sufficiency economy because I could not find other terms. I also added that 50 percent of its application, that is, not completely, or even only 25 percent, would be enough. At that time, last year, I thought that it was understood, but lately, only last month, somebody who should be in the know, someone who has participated in development work for quite a long time, came to see me and said that the sufficiency economy was a very good system, and he indicated his understanding that the application of one-fourth of the sufficiency economy means the coverage of a quarter of the area in the country. The meaning of sufficiency economy and only one-fourth of its application did not mean the area of one-fourth, but one-fourth of the extent (degree) of sufficiency.
I have to come right to the point because I am worried that even a person with a Ph.D. still misunderstood my point. Perhaps I did not speak clearly enough, but when I reread what I had written from my speech, I thought that it was clearly stated that 50 percent sufficiency or even only 25 percent sufficiency would be enough. I meant that the application of the sufficiency economy does not necessarily mean full sufficiency, and I may add that full sufficiency is impossible. If a family or even a village wants to employ full sufficiency economy, it would be like returning to the stone age, to that age where humans lived in grottos or in caves, where they did not have to rely on others because other communities were enemies; they fought each other; they did not cooperate. Therefore, they had to resort to full sufficiency economy. Each one had to find a cave to live in. They had to find their own food, collect fruits and leaves that were available, or use weapons that they made themselves to hunt animals for food. Those who lived in caves used a hundred percent sufficiency economy. It was feasible in that situation.
Subsequently, they came out of their caves and began to build houses. The extent of sufficiency economy was reduced to about 80 percent because some people passing by were not hostile. They brought various things to barter with local goods. For example, a stranger from afar would bring animal hides that would be suitable to use as garments. These would be bought or exchanged with food such as fish caught in the lagoon. Thus, it was no longer a sufficiency economy. As time went by, up to the present time, those of you who are either outside or inside this hall would not be able to use a hundred percent sufficiency economy, even if you want to. In addition, if you examine yourself of your own economic system, you will be of the opinion that it has not been done. It is possible that it is done less than 25 percent, that is, less than a quarter because most of the things that are produced or made by the individual must be exchanged with other products that are needed. Therefore, I say that the application of only one-fourth of the sufficiency economy should be enough, and it can be done. This is one point that I would like to clarify what I said last year.
The word sufficiency has another meaning, a wider meaning. It does not only mean self-sufficiency but also means to have enough for the individual to live on. This sufficiency was mentioned to those who were present here, in this hall-when was it? 20 or 24 years ago, in 1974. From 1974 to 1998, it is 24 years, isnít it? On that day, I said that we should strive to have enough to live on. To have enough to live on, of course, means sufficiency economy. If everyone has enough to live on, everything will be all right. Furthermore, if the whole country can subsist, the better it would be, and Thailand at that time was on the verge of insufficiency. Some individuals had plenty, but some had practically nothing. In the past, there was enough to live on, but today, impoverishment is creeping in. We must, therefore, implement a policy of sufficiency economy so that everyone will have enough to live on. This sufficiency means to have enough to live on. Sufficiency means to lead a reasonably comfortable life, without excess, or overindulgence in luxury, but enough. Some things may seem to be extravagant, but if it brings happiness, it is permissible as long as it is within the means of the individual. This is another interpretation of the sufficiency economy or system. Last year, when I mentioned the word sufficiency, I mentally translated it and actually spelled it out as self-sufficiency; that is why I said sufficiency for the individual. In fact, this sufficiency economy has a wider meaning than just self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency means that the individual produces the things to fulfill his own needs without having to purchase them from others; the individual can live entirely on his own.
Some people literally translate it from English into Thai as standing on oneís own feet. Some say that this expression is rather odd. Who would stand on our feet? If anybody stands on our feet, we would definitely get angry. Anyway, if we step on our own feet, we would surely stumble. These are perhaps rather strange thoughts, but they derive from the expression : to stand on our own feet which means to be independent. This means that our two feet are firmly set on the ground, so we can stand without stumbling. We donít have to borrow other peopleís feet to support us. However, sufficiency or to have enough has more extensive meaning than this. The word to have enough is sufficient; sufficiency is moderation. If one is moderate in oneís desires, one will have less craving. If one has less craving, one will take less advantage of others. If all nations hold this concept - I donít mean sufficiency economy - this concept of moderation, without being extreme or insatiable in oneís desires, the world will be a happier place. Being moderate does not mean to be too strictly frugal; luxurious items are permissible, but one should not take advantage of others in the fulfillment of oneís desires. Moderation, in other words, living within oneís means, should dictate all actions. Act in moderation, speak in moderation; that is, be moderate in all activities.
I once mentioned that if, among the audience in this hall, anyone wants to sit on his neighborís seat, it would not be a moderate action, and it would be impossible to do so. If such action is done, there would be trouble because people would feel constricted, and it would result in frictions. When there is friction, it is of no use at all. Therefore, one must act moderately. The same thing applies to thoughts, not only to physical actions. An individual who has any opinion, which may not be right, should not impose it on other individuals. Such action is not a moderate action. Moderation in thought consists of expressing oneís own ideas and opinions, and allowing others to speak out too, and then carefully considering what they say and what we say in order to find the way which is more moderate or reasonable. If the idea does not make sense, it must be rectified, because talking without coming to an understanding will lead to arguments. From vocal arguments, it could result in physical arguments which would eventually bring about damage to both antagonists. If the conflict is between groups, the quarrel could become more serious which will cause trouble to more people.
Thus, sufficiency also means moderation and reasonable thinking. I have to speak about this because I have to explain the word sufficiency that some people misunderstood last year, and the misunderstanding lasted until about two or three weeks ago. Most surprising was that the person who missed the point was someone who should have understood for the fact that we had talked at length about this kind of topics: economy, and the meaning of words. However, it happened. I, therefore, have to explain it in rather great detail. I donít know whether todayís explanation will be understood or not. If todayís clarification is not successful, I may have to further my explanation next year (laughter), because it is rather tedious to drag on. Moreover, some individuals here in front are getting drowsy (laughter). Thatís good; your laugh means you are beginning to understand it a little. Understanding a little is better than not understanding at all.
I would like to turn to another topic. The Prime Minister has mentioned that I have done many good things, implying that I did these things single-handedly. In fact, everything that has been done, has been made in cooperation with other parties. For example, the application of the New Theory involves the participation of many people: the development officers and the farmers who utilize the New Theory themselves. The New Theory was introduced or publicized around the year 1994. I put it down in the computer as a principle with three steps, trying to keep it very brief. However, this brevity itself may make it rather difficult to fully understand, but stating it in concise terms that were easy to understand should have made it comprehensible. I had the people concerned look at it, and gave it to them. I did not expect that the New Theory would be easily implemented, but those who got it happened to understand and have been able to put it into effect.
How did the New Theory begin? It began with practical work by a number of people. In fact, the New Theory had already been practiced for many years by the administration before it was recognized as the Royal New Theory, meaning the cultivation of different crops on the same land at different times with rotation crops. After the rice crop, comes the beans crop. This was, in fact, the New Theory, but it was not called a theory yet. This was how the concept had evolved, and eventually been accepted as a theory. Once it was accepted, the theory was put into practice. The first application of the New Theory was at Saraburi, before it was known as a theory. There, I purchased a fifteen-rai piece of land which was not very fertile. Part of the money used for the purchase of these fifteen rais came from my personal funds - truly my personal money - not taken from the national budget. It was from the money that I had saved and kept in cash. My friends used to say jokingly that I was a cash millionaire, not one who invested his money for interests. Some of them criticized me for keeping cash in a suitcase, in my room; they said I should put it in a bank or a finance company. They said that keeping money in that manner was not right, according to the principles of economics. I, therefore, spent it to purchase a piece of land.
There were others who approved the purchase of such land for experimentation, so they contributed some money; these were private and friends. We bought 15 rais, and provincial officials from the Ministry of Interior as well as from the Ministry of Agriculture, helped with the work. I told them to dig a pond because this place still lacked water. The owner of this land told us that there was a company who came to buy land in this area but with the condition that water should be found. It happened that they dug and found no water. That was strange because once we bought our land, only 200-300 meters away, we fortunately found water. Luck was on our side because we found water. Once there was water, year-round agricultural activities and fish-raising were also possible. Thus, the fifteen rais were used for rice, vegetables, trees, fruit trees and even folk medicinal herbs, poultry and livestock farming; all that in the fifteen rais. People said: ďHow can everything be done in such a restricted space?Ē Within one year, the efforts bore fruit. The first crop was distributed to school children of the temple school, and enough was left to bring a profit of 20,000 bath. As I said earlier, I did not do these things single-handedly; I just laid down the principle that it could be done. Those who helped in the implementation were the officials and other private persons. It meant that cooperation between the officials, workers and other experts was needed. Nevertheless, it had rarely occurred to them before that it could be done in a fifteen-rai plot of arid soil; anyhow it has succeeded.
As the initiator of the plan, I was quite impressed with my own idea, if I may say so. Speaking like this may sound like boasting, but I really was amazed that what I had outlined was really working, so I summed it up as the New Theory. When the theory was written down, I gave it to the Chaipattana Foundation, specifying at the bottom as The Chaipattana New Theory. Later on, it was evident that it was practicable and could be used in arid areas. I have already told you about its successful application in the district of Khao Wong in Kalasin Province. There, a plot of twelve rais was used. After one year, the people had enough rice for their own consumption. The first time I visited them, they had no rice to eat; each ear of rice yielded only a few grains. When the local people saw the viability of the project, they asked for assistance. The next year, the number of New Theory plots increased to ten. In subsequent years, it increased to one hundred and expanded to other regions. It was the implementation of a theory which yielded practical results. The Sufficiency Economy followed the New Theory. Those who apply the New Theory must be reasonable and realistic, and must not be extravagant. I put down in the New Theory that it was not easy to implement, because the one who uses it must have perseverance and endurance. It is not easy; it does not follow that being a royal theory, it can be done easily, and it is not that it can be applied everywhere; the location has to be chosen. If it is gradually done, it can be expanded, and a great number of variations can be found according to the physical characteristics of the locality, or it can be improved with the addition of new water sources.
In fact, the New Theory that was implemented in Saraburi was done before it was enounced as a theory. The project was initiated in Saraburi before the establishment of the Chaipattana Foundation. This project became the first project of the Foundation, and it was before the Pasak Dam project began. I thought that if the Pasak project was realized - now it is nearing completion - the Saraburi New Theory project would be able to benefit from the water that would pass near the location. Should an irrigation canal pass nearby, the project would be complete because the infrastructure was already there. Furthermore, the areas surrounding the New Theory project, belonging to individual farmers, would also benefit, resulting in a better living condition if they adopted the New Theory system. If the project was implemented in harmony with the local conditions, prosperity could be achieved for a larger area which could eventually spread to the whole country. However, for the achievement of this goal, it is necessary to have a good cooperation between every side, both the experts and the administrators. With this objective, I have thus said that both the Sufficiency Economy and the New Theory will be the instrument for the prosperity of the country. The important thing is that everyone must have perseverance and steadfastness; they should not be impatient nor talk too much, nor get into futile arguments. If understanding prevails, I am sure that everyone will be satisfied.
Now Iíd like to turn to a different topic, a topic from the news programs or discussion programs. Right or wrong, I have to apologize, because a personal feeling occurred to me when I listened to them arguing. This may be trivial; they had discussions about businessmen who were exporters, complaining that the exchange value of the baht was too high. Previously, the baht floated; it just soared - no need for airplanes or balloons. Opportunists in the know, who were good at speculating, anticipated the floating of the baht and bought a lot of dollars beforehand; when the baht was floated, they made a big profit. If they invested a million baht, they reaped a profit of two millions in a couple of months. Thus, the fluctuation of the baht doesnít seem to be right. The stabilization of the baht at the present time is much better. It does not matter at what rate, let it be stable, not highly fluctuating. At present, it is near 36 (baht to a dollar), sometimes touching 35; it fluctuates in the range of ten or twenty satang. This is acceptable. If the baht is at the present state, exporters may complain that they are in difficulty because they cannot manufacture their goods for export. But they donít realize that the producers themselves, or the country, is not self-sufficient; raw materials or some components have to be imported. If the value of the currency fluctuates, some individuals who are not so resourceful, may have to buy the raw materials at a high price, then sell their merchandise at a low price. These people will become bankrupt. Most ordinary businessmen do not know when the exchange rates will rise or go down; it follows that they might make a wrong move and will lose out. In business circles, they say that they might make a wrong move and will lose out. In business circles, they say that it is disastrous. Anyway, those who are considered astute or business wizards will speculate on the exchange rates, knowing that the rates fluctuate, and wait for the opportune moment to but raw materials at a low price and sell their goods at a high price. Such state of affairs cannot be controlled, and these astute people will prosper.
In fact, there still is a number of people who are quite comfortable. If the economy, the finance, and the exchange rates donít fluctuate too much, those who are industrious will be able to successfully conduct their business. Recently, it was said that the economy was improving. What criteria were used to say that the economy was improving? If the Ministry of Finance, or the Ministry of Commerce said so, nobody would believe them. They said that what the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Commerce said could not be trusted. These ministers tried to explain to the point that donít do it any more. They talked and talked; nobody listened, so they stopped talking. The one who was approached was not the minister or the ministry but a master astrologer. The Master Astrologer was not inquired about the situation of the economy. What the astrologer said about the economy would not be believed either; it would be taken as being too gullible, blindly believing in astrology. Anyhow, the Master Astrologer did not say that economy was good or not; the Astrologer said that his own economy was getting better (laughter) - his own situation, not the countryís; it was not the businessmenís economy, not the politiciansí, not the oppositionís, not the governmentís, but it was the Astrologerís own economy that was getting better. And what criteria were used for saying that it was improving? It was because there were, now, more people who came to ask for auspicious moments. Last year, the Master Astrologerís situation was quite bad; nobody came to consult him; his own business was rather low. However, in recent months, he had more clients for his services, meaning that business was picking up. This is one criterion that shows us that the situation is improving.
This is an opinion, a viewpoint that is impartial because it is a personal experience of the Master Astrologer himself; it is a valid fact that cannot be contested. In this way, if the economy is stable, it can only improve. The improving situation must be fostered by maintaining a stable exchange rate. Without doubt, the nation will emerge from the crisis. This crisis originated from wasteful extravagance or from cupidity; I donít want to say from corruption, because even without corruption, it is bad enough. The situation, coupled with corruption, will be worse because where there is corruption, nobody will be able to do any work; nobody will trust anybody, and those who try to work will not be able to do so, for fear of corruption. The main thing is that if there is no stability, honest businessmen and industrialists will not be able to estimate the budget, their own budget, so they have to estimate a bigger margin of profit to avoid loss. However, there are a number of people who try to work moderately by reducing wasteful extravagance.
I have conversed with foreign businessmen. It is not that we have to believe foreigners, or foreign economists. Some of them only look for their own interests; they come, it can be said, to dig for gold in this country. These foreign industrialists and businessmen are pleased: Thailand is in a mess. They come to dig for gold because Thailand is still the Land of Gold (Suvarnabhum), but when we see gold, we throw it away, so it is of no use. Seeing us throwing away gold, these foreigners pick it up. This is an observation that should be food for thought. All that I say here may be worrying, but looking at it from another angle, it may be reassuring because one can see that, if one is willing to work in a straightforward manner, with just a little - I say just a little - diligence, it will be enough. One does not have to be too intent or too serious, but one must be consistent. It is the same as the aforementioned sufficiency: be consistent and moderate in all things.
Thailand has survived because of the fundamentals and the structure of the country, or the characteristics of the Thai population. The population, meaning the people in the city, the people in the rural areas, the people along the coasts, and the people in the mountains, are still good. They still have the courage and daring to think and act. If things are done according to the spirit of the people, that is, the innate good qualities of the people, Thailand will be well-off. There is no need to have foreigners come to dig (our treasures). Even if they come to dig, they will dig for us. We can have a mutual share of profit which will amount to sufficiency economy of one-quarter, or more than a quarter. It will be a sufficiency economy in the sense of being moderate and reasonable which is returning to the sufficiency economy. I think that it should be a thing to be reflected on.
There is another topic that I mentioned last year, and this year, changes have occurred. This concerns what the Prime Minister has touched on, that is the subject of natural disasters, namely the floods. Last year, there were floods, but this year there were none in the Muang district of the province of Chumporn. Last year, there were two severe floods that resulted in damages, costing nearly one billion bath each, amounting to a total of nearly two billions. This year, there was little spending because there was no flood. On the other hand, some money was spent on the project that I mentioned earlier, about the completion of the canal. The irrigation canal had already been dug, but it was not dug through. I asked them about its completion plan and when that would be: they answered that it would be in two yearsí time. At that time, it was at the end of 1997, so in the years 1998 and 1999, there would still be floods. Therefore, I planned to have the canal dug through in one month. They had no money, so I provided financial support. Last year, I told you that the Rajprachanukhroh Foundation and the Chaipattana Foundation advanced the money, and whether we would get it back or not was not an issue.
Eventually, we got it back. We got the money back the people themselves and from the government agencies. The people saw its advantages so they donated money. Last year, I complained that the people of Chumporn were not willing to contribute, but this year they were willing to help, so we were able to do additional projects, aside from the flood control, for a safe and sufficient agriculture. From the money that we recovered, a fund was set up to help the farmers form mutual-help groups for agricultural activities.
This year, at a particular period when we monitored the water level in one location, we found that it was even higher than the previous year. However, the project helped to control the water, so the previously flooded areas were not flooded, because the water could flow into the monkey cheeks that functioned like I explained last year. The monkey cheek, in this particular case, is a natural monkey cheek that has been improved and has to be properly managed. This is a big monkey cheek; it could, thus, adequately retain the water, and if it is well-managed, there would be no floods.
This year, those who are outside, near the path I walked from my car, please look behind you; there is a cage with monkeys inside. Last year, I asked if anyone had ever seen a monkey eating bananas; it seemed that nobody had. That was why I brought the monkeys here so you can see. They are in the cage. Just turn around and look at them. When the monkeys are given bananas or rambutans, they cram them into their mouths and save them in their cheeks, hence the expression monkey cheeks. After that, they slowly swallow the fruits. It is the same with the water in the Nong Yai Monkey Cheek. The water keeps coming in and then is slowly released. As it is retained, the water will not flood the town of Chumporn. When the flow of water recedes, the retained water is released from the retention area. It is the same with the monkeys. I have tried to take pictures of monkeys eating bananas. At that time, the monkeys were not here; they were near the circular pond. I gave them peanuts; they crammed the food into their mouths; the monkey cheeks bulged, but I was not quick enough, and could not get their pictures because there were cage bars which rendered the pictures fuzzy. But next time, in this cage, I will perhaps be successful in taking good pictures of the monkeys and their cheeks. Anyway, last year, after having heard my description of the monkey cheeks, you might have gone to the Khao Din Zoo to see the monkeys eating bananas or rambutans. You should have already seen the monkey cheeks because you happened to get interested in the monkeys
Now I have told you with reference to what I spoke about last year, and what the Prime Minister said about my activities. So it is time to let you go to have a well-deserved rest. According to the list that was announced, 20,009 of you came today. I do not know if it is exact or not (laughter), because originally, it was 20,007, but there were two additional persons making it 20,009 persons. It was perhaps the wish to have an auspicious number (laughter). I thank each one of you, all the 20,009 persons for coming with your good wishes and encouragement to give me strength. I wish to reciprocate this encouragement so that you will be able work for the good of the community. I wish you success in whatever activities or duties you have. Be cooperative for the peace and prosperity of the country and people.