His Majesty’s Suf­fi­ciency Econ­omy: Time­less Wis­dom

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents - Writ­ten by: Sarut Wit­ta­yarun­gru­angsri

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.

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