Because His Majesty the King is aware of how high economic growth has led to imbalances of development in various areas, he has devoted himself to reducing the imbalances through the concept of Sufficiency Economy and royally initiated projects.
Director-General of the Crown Property Bureau Dr. Chirayu Israngkun Na Ayuthaya spoke about His Majesty the King and balanced development at an academic seminar, organized recently by the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
He said that over several decades, Thailand has experienced production restructuring; the manufacturing sector has expanded rapidly, while the agricultural share in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has declined. The country has also enjoyed high economic growth.
From 1946 to 2009, the population in Thailand rose from 17 million to 63 million, representing an increase of threefold. During the 63-year period, Thailand’s GDP also increased 32 times and per capita income rose tenfold.
In terms of poverty, 24 million Thais were classified below the poverty line in 1986. In 2007, the number dropped to five million, accounting for 9 percent of the population.
Dr. Chirayu said that economic development during the period led to inequities and disparities in several dimensions. For example, wealth distribution was not diverse enough, leading to a wide gap between the rich and the poor. Large segments of society, such as rural farmers, were not benefiting from economic development. Natural resources were not used wisely, leading to more environmental degradation. There was also an imbalance of urban and rural development. Other problems included debt issues, corruption, and declining standards of morality.
The Sufficiency Economy philosophy
His Majesty the King has offered advice to tackle problems concerning imbalances of development through his royal addresses and speeches on many occasions. He also warned of great risks caused by the imbalances. His Majesty initiated the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy as an innovative approach to development. The philosophy seeks to lay foundations for the stability of the nation.
The Sufficiency Economy philosophy has three key principles: moderation; wisdom or insight; and the need for built-in resilience against the risks which arise from internal or external change.
His Majesty has also initiated more than 4,000 projects classified into various categories, such as agriculture, water resources, the environment, occupational promotion, public health, public welfare, and communications. Six Royal Development Study Centers have also been established to conduct research and development activities to ease problems faced by local residents in each region of the country.
Dr. Chirayu said that His Majesty the King has played a leading role in increasing balance to ease the country’s problems. The United Nations has cited His Majesty as a scientist, philosopher, visionary thinker, practitioner, and leader. He has made efforts to reduce imbalances and was clearly concerned enough to issue advice, with perhaps the occasional warning. The world’s problems are likely to increase in the future, such as those concerning global warming and energy. The Sufficiency Economy philosophy and royally initiated projects should be publicized and extended even further to help ease the problems, he said.
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