Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, addressed the nation on Wednesday, announcing the launch of a “new normal” for post-coronavirus Thailand.
In his speech, he announced three “new normal” ways of working, and mapped out a future for Thailand over the coming months.
Below is his speech in full:
“It is a time of change. It is time for a change. And it is a time of great opportunity to improve our country and our lives.
The covid-19 crisis has shown me the willingness of all Thais to work together as one and that there are people, everywhere and at every level, with an unbounded willingness to work for their country.
So, why doesn’t the government and the country work as if there was a crisis every day so that we can move further and faster to improve the lives of people, just as we did during the Covid-19 crisis?
I would like to kick-off, today, a national mission to plan a great Thailand together under a nation-building program I have called “Thais Together Build Thailand”. And I would like to invite every citizen to resolve to do their part and be ready to contribute to that plan.
Fellow citizens, brothers, sisters.
For the first time in months, I can stand in front of you and tell you that we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Covid catastrophe that has attacked the world and destroyed the livelihoods of so many millions of people here in Thailand .
While we are still some way from being able to declare total victory in this fight, we can at least see that the situation is being brought under control and that we have been recognized as one of the best countries in the world in managing the pandemic.
We are now relaxing as many restrictions as possible, but at a time like this, it is especially important that we not let our guard down as the Covid virus can quickly begin the second wave of attacks.
We must be extremely careful, continuing to wear masks, practicing social distancing and hand hygiene, and generally being careful about gathering together.
As we look at the future, we must prepare to face the even bigger challenge that is hitting every person in Thailand: restoring people’s ability to earn a fair living.
This virus has ruined people’s ability to earn an income; it has wrecked businesses of all sizes, and it has drained away our family savings. And worse, the entire world fears that things will not go back to the way they were for a very long time.
I am determined that Thailand should be as successful a world-leading example in its economic recovery as it was with its health management in the face of the Covid catastrophe. Today, I want to talk about how we might be able to do that.
The Covid-19 crisis has shown me two things about the spirit of Thai-ness and that are among our nation’s greatest strengths and which give me hope that we will be able to take charge again of our own future.
First, it has shown me the willingness of all Thais to work together as one; to pull together in times of crisis and help each other; during these difficult days, I have seen people with hardly enough to eat themselves, sharing their food with others on the street, and others who risk their own lives so that others may stay healthy.
It is something that is repeated across cities, towns, and villages of our great country. And it is something that has left a deep impression on me.
The other most amazing thing that the Covid-19 crisis has shown me is how many great people there are out there, at every level, with great ideas, great capabilities, great energy, and an unbounded willingness to work for their country.
So, I have been asking myself – with so many great ideas and capable people out there, and with so many willing to work together in a spirit of national collaboration, why don’t we, as a nation, work like this always?
Why doesn’t the government and the country work as if there was a crisis every day so that we can move further and faster to improve the lives of people, just as we did during the Covid-19 crisis?
In the post-Covid era, it’s time for us to look beyond the daily distractions of politics, and for us, as your elected officials, to accelerate our work to better the lives of people.
As the Covid crisis recedes, we will all be entering a new world with “new normals”: a new world in which we must work in new ways to survive and be successful. The need to work in new ways applies to everybody, including the government.
So, today, I would like to tell you that I will lead by example and make the first ‘new normal’ ways of working in the way that the government works.
1. The first thing I have resolved to do in the way the government works is to make sure all sectors and all levels of society have a greater role in developing the nation’s way forward in the post-Covid era.
In the post-Covid era, I would like to change the way we make policies and plans in government. The drawing up of policies and plans must become more inclusive of the people who are directly affected by the decisions of government.
We must move away from the old world where the public discovers how their lives will be affected by new government policy only after reading about it in newspapers or online, and, instead, the public must become a more integral part of the development of policy.
The public’s point of view must be heard more as we shape and make policy decisions.
During the height of the Covid crisis I visited a number of business and trade associations and saw how useful it was to hear directly from people in each sector. I would like to expand on that way of working.
What I, as the leader of this nation, will do in the future is to better harness the great body of talent in our country and help it to do greater good for the country.
There are so many people who are willing to do more for their country, but they just need the opportunity to contribute. I will do my best to give them that opportunity.
In the weeks ahead, I will be asking various sectors to conceive and propose a plan on how they can contribute to helping Thailand make giant strides forward.
I will ask to hear their vision for their sector and transformative ideas that can transform their sector and improve people’s lives and incomes.
I will ensure that government studies those proposals transparently and then helps in the implementation of ideas that are right for the country in a way that is based on consensus, and is coordinated with the rest of the economy and the interests of all citizens.
I firmly believe that people at every level throughout the country have a role to play in bringing prosperity to our country – from ministers, civil servants, business owners, professionals, employees, farmers, teachers, and representatives of civil society…everyone has a role.
If each can improve their ability to work and earn, even in some small way; if each can improve their opportunities for a better future, then we can, at least, make a start to creating a better society.
This country has a lot of talent. And this country belongs to us all. So, this is the way we should work – together. Nobody has all the answers. But between us all, working together, I know that we will find most of the answers.
2. The second thing that I have resolved to do in the way that the government works is that, having made plans together, we must also look and see if what we are doing is actually benefiting the people in the way we intended… and if not, then to make changes to those programmes.
The way we implement must also change. It must become more effective, and we must eliminate waste. This is especially important after we have already spent so much as a result of the covid emergency, and which has left us less with which to do things to develop the country.
People must be able to give direct feedback to the highest levels of government on whether programs are working and whether they are being implemented well. I will find a way to make this happen, too.
3. The third new way of working for government is to move forward with even greater proactive purpose.
In this time of rapid global change, we, too, must change and run government in a more proactively coordinated way between the agencies. I will, therefore, designate certain urgent priority policies for ministries to submit for cabinet consideration, and I will monitor these projects closely for their efficient and prompt implementation.
As we move forward with these new ways of working, there may, of course, be some critical voices along the way. But I will reach out to those people, too. I will hear them, and I will ask them for their ideas for improvement. The people of this country can no longer wait to get on the path of prosperity.
We cannot spend endless months and years debating while the people wait. We no longer want to be discouraged from striding forward towards our destiny and prosperity by political distractions. It is a long road, but one that we must start down now.
I would, therefore, like to kick-off today a national mission to plan a great Thailand together under a nation-building program I have called “Thais Together Build Thailand”. And I would like to invite every citizen to resolve to do their part and be ready to contribute to that plan.
I am determined – completely and resolutely determined – that this crisis must help us re-shape our nation and that we should emerge from this terrible Covid ordeal a new nation that is stronger, more respected, and as one nation bound together tightly by our common heritage, our common sacrifices, and our love for each other.
We must now lay down the fundamentals for sustainable prosperity, and open the way for Thais to rediscover who and what they really are and all that they are truly capable of achieving.
It is a time of change. It is a time for change. And it is a time of great opportunity to improve our country and our lives.