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Vol. 24 No.2
April - June 2007

ISSN 0125-0159

Editor’s Note
International Forum
Thailand Moving with ASEAN Towards a Caring and Sharing Society
Prayong Ronnarong: Prime Example of a Community Leader
BOI and Its Important Roles in Promoting Investors in Global Business Arenas
Special Feature
China - ASEAN Cooperation Program
Human Security
Protecting the Rights of Immigrant Workers
Foreign Relations
The Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge: A New Link between Thailand and Its Close Neighbors
Trends of Energy Use and Development in Thailand
Thai Touch
Ko Phra Thong: A Savanna Paradise

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Prayong Ronnarong: Prime Example of a Community Leader

Local sage Prayong Ronnarong of Mai Riang village in Nakhon Si Thammarat province won the Philippines’ Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership on 2 August 2006. He is recognized for teaching and encouraging communities to stand on their own feet. His contribution began with a master plan for rubber production that led to Thailand’s first community-owned rubber-processing plant that was in accordance with the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy.

Mr. Prayong, 63, is a native of Tambon Mai Riang in Chawang district of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Though finishing only Prathom Suksa 4 (fourth grade), he has followed the path of self-learning so effectively that local people recognize him as their “wisdom leader,” who has inspired them to learn and find ways to self-dependence instead of simply waiting for government assistance.

Mr. Prayong is truly someone special. He is a lifelong learner who devotes himself to pondering solutions without waiting desperately for others’ help. He also encourages Mai Riang community members to help one another find solutions and collectively develop social innovations that serve their community. Mr. Prayong has never used money or power to secure his role as a leader but applies wisdom that he has been accumulating through learning. He knows how to learn through gathering information and applies what he has learned to achieve results that aim at a better life. He and his community dwellers help one another in integrated development, which is based on community needs and realized by community members.

From the master plan that he developed in cooperation with rubber farmers in Nakhon Si Thammarat province in 1996, Mr. Prayong later worked out a community development master plan that has become an important guideline for the government and the private sector, as well as educational institutions that want to develop poverty eradication strategies. The government has urged all tambons (groups of villages) to have their own development master plan. Mr. Prayong also pioneered a community-based enterprise that was established with the capital of his community for the sake of sustainable self-dependence—and “capital” in this case means not only money but also resources, products, knowledge, and the social capital of his community. Today, Mai Riang has several community-based enterprises, the businesses of which are related to and support one another. They effectively cut expenses and raise income for residents.

Mr. Prayong bases his ideas for community development on his knowledge and experience. He knows that people cannot depend on outside help forever and must depend on themselves in order to survive. He has learned that, to achieve objectives, development plans must be practical, meet a community’s needs, be implemented and adjusted to changing economic and social situations, and be followed up and evaluated. Community members’ determination and cooperation can make this come true.

The local economic development projects that Mr. Prayong has initiated for his community have proved that Sufficiency Economy is realistic and works. Employing the sufficiency philosophy, the projects have enabled families to stand on their own feet, community members to form a network and depend on one another, and their community to introduce some competitive products to outside markets.

Mr. Prayong played an important role in developing the rubber-processing plant in Mai Riang some two decades ago. It is the first rubber-processing plant that a Thai community built with its own capital, and it is the first community-owned plant in Nakhon Si Thammarat province that does the exporting itself.

The sustainable development of a community depends not only on a community leader but also on the cooperation and confidence of community members. Collective efforts to make their community independent teaches residents that they belong to their community and vice versa. The feeling can fuel collective progress towards a community’s goals.

Mai Riang community demonstrates how a community leader and community members can work together for community empowerment. This is a tangible example of sustainable development and clearly justifies Mr. Prayong Ronnarong’s Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership.

Story: Sirinan Rojanatum
Photos: Apichai Suananantapoom

Foreign Office
The Government Public Relations Department

Rama VI Road, Soi 30, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Tel : (66-2) 618-2323 ext. 1700 Fax : (66-2) 618-2358 E-mail : prforeign@gmail.com