Thailand’s National Economic and Social Advisory Council, a body that has very little influence and a limited role recently organized a seminar on “Thailand’s Strategy over the Next Two Decades (2013-2032) under the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.”
Apart from the fact that there is little philosophy in the notion of sufficiency economy, the fact that it is attributed to the king means that it has been around since the Asian Economic Crisis, and gets considerable lip service from governments. The only government that seemed to take the conservative notion seriously was the cabinet of old men under military junta appointed, Privy Council member, General Surayud Chulanont. That government’s economic policies were hopeless.
Most other governments used the king’s term and then, sensibly, ignored it. Even the deeply royalist Abhisit Vejjajiva government, while having programs in name basically did nothing more to give life to the king’s “idea.”
The Yingluck Shinawatra government appears to be following the same path. While at the sufficiency economy seminar, Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Kittiratt Na-Ranong said the “government will try its best settle the problems of social inequality and the income gap…”. Sufficiency economy has nothing much to say about this approach. In particular, he targeted “raising workers’ incomes,” which is absent from sufficiency economics.
Remarkably, Kittiratt also stated that “the government will give importance to aliens working in Thailand as they have also played crucial roles in mobilising the economy…”. Such recognition of migrant workers has been sadly lacking for decades (and missing from sufficiency economics).
At the same seminar, former Thaksin Shinawatra government minister Surakiat Sathirathai, who has always had a very high opinion of his own abilities and intellect, is reported to ave argued several vacuous points before stating that “Thai society now is not strong enough due to ongoing social divisions and too much demand for people’s participation.” The arrogant elitists seem unable to learn.