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His Majesty the Kings Advice on the Sufficiency Economy

13 January 2015 (Readers 1272)
A great deal has been written about the Sufficiency Economy philosophy, bestowed by His Majesty the King on his subjects. The concept has also attracted interest from countries in Asia and Africa.

A publication, issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, also mentioned Sufficiency Economy principles.

According to the publication "King Bhumibol: Sowing a Future for Farmers," although His Majesty has been promoting self-reliant or sustainable farming since the 1950s, it is generally accepted that the idea of the sufficiency economy was first broached in His Majestys annual birthday speech to the nation on 4 December 1974. It came after a decade in which GDP growth per year sometimes reached 10 percent and was never less than 4 percent and all predictions were from another decade of the same. However the gap between rich and poor was widening and large segments of society, such as rural farmers, were not benefiting from economic development.

His Majesty was clearly concerned enough to issue advice, and perhaps also a warning. He said, "If one focuses only on rapid economic expansion without making sure that the plan is appropriate for our people and the condition of our country, it will inevitably result in various imbalances and eventually end up as a failure or crisis as found in other countries.

The concept "sufficiency economy appeared over 20 years later in His Majestys birthday speech on 4 December 1997, a few months after the financial crisis. This time His Majesty was perhaps more direct and more forceful in his comments on the countrys development path and the aspirations of its economic planners.

His Majesty said, "Recently, so many projects have been implemented, so many factories have been built, that it is thought Thailand would become a little tiger and then a big tiger Being a tiger is not important. The important thing for us is to have a sufficient economy. A sufficient economy means to have enough to support ourselves It doesnt have to be complete, not even half, perhaps just a quarter, the we can survive those who like modern economics may not appreciate this. But we have to take a careful step backwards.

But His Majesty wasnt advocating a "step backwards to the era of isolated rural village producing almost everything for their own use. What he was advocating was relative self-sufficiency with any surplus sold to earn income and preferable sold in nearby markets to avoid transportation costs.

He further elaborated the idea of the sufficiency economy in his birthday speech the following year:

"I may add that full sufficiency is impossible. If a family or even a village wants to employ a full sufficiency economy, it would be like returning to the Stone Age This sufficiency means to have enough to live on. Sufficiency means to lead a reasonably comfortable life, without excess, or overindulgence in luxury, but enough. Some things may seem to be extravagant, but if it brings happiness, it is permissible as long as it is within the means of the individual

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