The Royal Initiatives
The term “Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy” was introduced by His Majesty the King in 1997 when Thailand and many countries in the region faced an economic crisis. Before the crisis, Thailand followed the mainstream development which aimed at high GDP rate. Money represented success. The government strived to become ‘industrialized’ and ‘internationalized’ as the fifth tiger of Asia regardless of the fact that Thai economy is based on agriculture. The Thai people’s way of life were also modernized and globalized with luxurious spending and eagerness for office jobs which offered high salary while de-linking themselves from their local identity and culture. The situation led to broken families and weak communities.
The Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy granted by His Majesty then provides guidelines for the Thai people to survive through the crisis. He continuously stressed in many of his speeches. Since then the term has become popular and seen as an alternative development framework for Thailand in the future.
Although the word “Sufficiency Economy” was first mentioned in 1997, it is in fact the core idea and the driving force behind all of the Royal Development Projects which have been launched since His Majesty’s accession to the throne and have now reached more than 3,000. According to the official definition, Sufficiency Economy stressed appropriate conduct and way of life for the people of all sectors and levels while incorporating moderation, due consideration in all modes of conduct and the need for sufficient protection from internal and external shocks. It requires the application of accurate knowledge and morality such as care and giving, mutual assistance, and collaboration. The aim is to create bonds which closely link people from all sectors and boost positive creative forces in order to lead to unity, balance and sustainable development as well as readiness to cope appropriately with critical challenges occurring as a result of globalization.
Therefore, from the official definition, it can be concluded that Sufficiency Economy comprises three main elements: moderation, reasonableness and self-immunity, and two conditions: knowledge and morality. In addition, it offers an alternative development aiming to reach three aims: unity, balance and sustainability.
‘Moderation’ means sufficiency at a level of not doing something too little or too much at the expense of oneself or others. ‘Reasonableness’ means evaluating the reasons of any action, understanding the full consequences of the action, applying accumulated knowledge and experience along with analytical capability, and having self-awareness and foresight. ‘Self-immunity or risk management’ means the ability to withstand shocks, to adjust to external changes, and to cope with events that are unpredictable or uncontrollable. ‘Knowledge’ comprises all-round knowledge in the relevant fields and prudence in applying the knowledge especially in the planning and to ensure carefulness in the operation. ‘Morality or virtue’ comprises the awareness of honesty, patience, perseverance, and intelligence in leading one’s life.