His Majesty’s Sufficiency Economy: Timeless Wisdom
On 13 October 2016, the saddest news arrived, the kind of news unimaginable for most Thais: His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away at age 89. For decades, as the King of Thailand, his life and time were dedicated to his people and to enhancing their lives. This dedication inspired a deep love in the heart of all Thais, the kind of love unknown to billions in other parts of the world.
His passing occurred at a time when the world is seeking what has been forgotten, time and again, in modern economic history. In the post- 2015 era, both developed and developing countries are placing a greater emphasis on inclusive growth, which is expected to create opportunities for people from all walks of life. Member countries of the United Nations, in 2015, adopted a Sustainable Development Agenda with a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.
The world is taking an important step to incorporate inclusivity and sustainability as key components of economic development. This notion, though timely, is by no means new. In 1997, His Majesty brought to the public the philosophy of “sufficiency economy”, a concept he had previously introduced in the 1970s. Its foundation comprises sustainability, moderation and broad- base development. With three principles, including moderation, reasonableness, and selfimmunity, and two conditions including knowledge and application of moral principles, there would be harmony, security and sustainability.
The 1997 crisis was a great lesson for Thailand. It cost the country thousands of businesses and years of opportunity. Had the country not been too optimistic with unbalanced growth and not relied heavily on capital inflows and external markets, it might have escaped the calamity. Had Thailand adopted the philosophy of “sufficiency economy” more widely, it might have distributed economic dividends more fairly across society and enjoyed a more sustained period of economic prosperity. Inclusivity and sustainability might have occurred to a far larger extent.
Today, in the digital era where economies and citizens are digitally driven, his wisdom applies even more strongly. Digital technology provides a wide array of benefits, while at the same time creates a lot of threats.
Moving forward in this era, where such benefits and threats happen at a fast pace, is full of challenges. The ques- tions as to how to utilize the technology in an appropriate manner and how to make sure the benefits reach as many citizens as possible remain in large part to be answered. But Thailand has embraced the fact that the world is moving in this direction, and Thailand has put in place a plan to drive itself toward becoming Digital Thailand, not to cherish the technology itself but to create a prosperous and more equitable society through the use of digital technology.
People are now at the core of modern Thailand’s development agenda, in accordance with His Majesty the King’s timeless wisdom.
Sarut Wittayarungruangsri, Ph. D. is Director at Bolliger & Company ( Thailand). He can be contacted at Sarut. W@ bolliger- company. com.