A balanced approach: His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, on his philosophy for sustainable development
When considering development, first and foremost we must keep in mind humanitarian considerations. If we are to be kind to our fellow countrymen, known to be in dire need, the authorities endowed with both knowledge and wealth must go to their assistance.
When the country is faced with difficulties and people in the remote areas are suffering, we cannot simply stay put in this paradise of a capital. If we want the people to be prosperous, we have to invest in development projects which will involve budgets that may cost hundreds or even thousands of millions of baht. But this expense is justified. If the project is a good one, the people will very soon derive benefits from it.
When people talk about solving the current crisis, one of the things they talk about is “globalisation.” We say we are now in the age of globalisation, and we must “comply” with it and follow its rules. If we fail to follow through with what we have committed to, others will be dissatisfied. Why? Both because they are also in trouble and because we would find it more difficult to recover from the crisis ourselves.
The countries in this region are not the only ones affected by the crisis. Even prosperous and stable countries are in trouble. This is because if a problem is not solved in one corner of the world, other parts are also affected. So we must try to support the people, providing them with jobs, so that they earn an income and can survive the crisis.
Development must take account of a country and its people’s physical, sociological and cultural environments. By the local sociological environment, we mean the certain characteristics and ways of thinking which we cannot force people to change. We cannot require people to do those things they will not choose to do. We can only suggest. If we go in and find out what the people really want, and then fully explain how they can best achieve their aims, the principles of development can be fully and effectively applied and implemented.
“Sufficiency economy” applies to conduct and a way of life at individual, family, and community levels. At the national level, this philosophy is consistent with a balanced development strategy which will reduce the nation’s vulnerability to shocks and excesses that may arise due to the effects of globalisation. At the same time, it is essential to strengthen the nation’s moral fibre so everyone, particularly public officials, academics, business people and financiers adhere to principles of honesty and integrity.
A balanced approach with patience, perseverance, diligence, wisdom and prudence is indispensable to cope with the challenges arising from extensive and rapid socio-economic, environmental and cultural change. It requires thoughtful planning with consideration for contingencies, and maintaining the reserves of money and resources necessary to tide one through any bad times that occur. Self-sufficiency means having enough to live on and to live for. If everybody has enough to live on and to live for, that is good. And if the whole nation is able to reach this status, that would, of course, be even better.
Self-sufficiency means that whatever we produce, we have enough for our use. We can rely on ourselves – as people say, we can stand on our own legs.
But sufficiency carries a broader meaning. It is having enough and being satisfied with situations as they exist. If people are contented, they are less greedy.
With less greed, they will face fewer problems. Countries should value having just enough, which means being contented, being honest and not being greedy. This will make people be satisfied.
Being sufficient does not restrict people from having a lot, or possessing luxury items, but it does imply one must not take advantage of others. Everything must be within limits. We must say what is necessary, act as is needed and work as is adequate. Thus, sufficiency here means within the proper bounds and reasons of the country and the people.
Adapted from His Majesty’s royal speeches in 1974, 1997, 1998 & 1999 and His Majesty’s speeches on the Royal Development Projects in 1970.