27 Dec 2018
by H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister,
at the event "Thailand Together for the ASEAN Chairmanship 2019"
21 December 2018, Government House
Dear Thai Citizens,
Your Excellencies the Secretary-General of ASEAN,
Executives from government agencies, the private sector, and civil society organisations,
I am very pleased to preside over today’s launching of the ASEAN Chairmanship in Thailand here at the “Thailand Together for the ASEAN Chairmanship 2019” event. On the 1st of January 2019, or in only 10 days from now, Thailand will officially take on the ASEAN Chairmanship from Singapore, and begin our duty as ASEAN Chair.
ASEAN was born in Thailand over 50 years ago and today comprises 10 countries and a population of six hundred million, and is the sixth largest economy in the world. It has played a constructive role and gained the recognition of the international community. Therefore, assuming the ASEAN Chairmanship is an opportunity and an important duty. It is indeed an honour for Thailand and the Thai people, and is something in which we should all take pride.
The theme of the Thai ASEAN Chairmanship is “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”.
On “Partnership” – Today, the countries of the world are deeply interconnected, whether economically, socially, or in terms of security. Thailand needs friends and our ASEAN Community needs friends. We must depend on each other to resolve problems together or take advantage of the opportunities that arise.
We have here, at today’s event, representatives from across the country, including students, indeed the new generation full of constructive and creative energy. Also present are representatives from the government, the private sector, and civil society organizations, actors and actresses, well-known personalities, as well as the media, all of whom will help drive our ASEAN Chairmanship. We also have here the youths from the Wild Boar football team, whose story is symbolic of the power of cooperation between Thailand and our friends in overcoming obstacles and achieving the miraculous. And the world-class Thai women’s national volleyball team, are also here. They are an example of unity and solidarity – a team that brings hope, inspiration and pride to all Thais. And (of course) we have all of you, who have come together at this event.
ASEAN must also be a team to be strong. The members of this team are all of the ASEAN Member States and every person in ASEAN. All 67 million Thai people are part of the ASEAN Community, and will be a positive force in the resolution of problems, both regional and global. ASEAN must, therefore, be united and connected in partnership. At the same time, ASEAN must promote good relations and create seamless connectivity with our friends outside the region, based on the Principle of the 3Ms, namely, mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual benefit, for sustainable peace and prosperity in all dimensions.
The word “Advancing” in our theme means to move towards the future in sync with the world, in which there is much competition and many challenges. Standing still is no different from moving backwards. Therefore, we must enhance the Thai and ASEAN peoples’ readiness for the 4.0 era, so that they can benefit from technological progress, and move towards a Digital ASEAN that will improve livelihoods and increase incomes for the people of ASEAN, while leaving no one behind. In addition, we will benefit from the ASEAN Centres that will be established in Thailand, such as the ASEAN Centre for Active Ageing and Innovation and the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre. We will also continue to develop the ASEAN Smart Cities Network.
On “Sustainability” - Development in all areas for the people’s prosperity and security must take into account long-term sustainability. This is why I sincerely hope that ASEAN will work together to promote sustainable development, which is a global agenda. As for Thailand, we uphold the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, which His Majesty the King of Thailand has continued to carry forward by using the Philosophy as an approach to promoting development towards a green economy; to developing smart farmers capable of applying technology in agriculture; and to building and running smart cities. To help mitigate the effects of climate change, next year, we will, for example, launch the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue in Thailand and host an ASEAN meeting on the subject of reducing marine debris. You can also play your part by using the souvenir cloth bag from today’s event in place of plastic bags, which will support our policy to organise environmentally-friendly, or green meetings throughout next year.
Dear Thai Citizens,
All Thais will have a role in hosting ASEAN next year, such as the 321 youths who submitted entries for the ASEAN Chairmanship logo contest. Each entry, including that of an eight year old child, is on display in the foyer just outside this room. I wish to congratulate Mr. Khemphong Rungsawang (นายเขมพงศ์ รุ่งสว่าง) and Miss Chayuta Homhnug (ชยุตา หอมหนัก), the designers of the winning logo to be used during our ASEAN Chairmanship next year. The logo is inspired by flower garlands, a Thai symbol of welcome and hospitality; and the inter-weaving of flowers in the garland represents the ASEAN Community’s unity, cooperation and support for each other.
Finally, 2019 is indeed a very important year for Thailand because, in addition to the Royal Coronation and the elections, which will lead to sustainable democracy, Thailand will play a key role in driving forward the ASEAN Community and in welcoming Leaders and foreign dignitaries from among our ASEAN friends as well as our Dialogue Partners. Thailand will host over 180 meetings across the country. In this room, we have representatives from provinces in all regions of the country which will host ASEAN meetings next year. A large number of delegates will attend meetings in Thailand, and this will stimulate the economy; and if we can make a good impression on them, they will return as tourists. I, therefore, invite all Thais throughout the country to join hands as good hosts for the success of these meetings for the dignity and pride of Thailand and the Thai people, and the recognition and standing of the country on the international stage. I also wish to stress that you are doing this not only for Thailand, but also for ASEAN. Indeed, ASEAN’s success depends on the partnership of all sectors to drive forward and advance the ASEAN Community in a sustainable manner.
I wish to thank our partners from of all sectors for their support in making today’s event a success and for continuing to play a part in driving forward our ASEAN Chairmanship next year. I thank all distinguished guests here today for coming in such numbers and with such spirit, and I thank all Thais. Thank you Secretary-General.