Gen Prayut has before said that he is a funny guy.
A year later, Prachatai has found that besides his humor, Prayut is also a wise man who has given lots of cool, practical advice. For example, when the seafood price soared early this month because the junta enforced regulation on illegal fishery, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said “If you can’t afford seafood today, just eat something else first. If it’s too expensive for you, then just don’t eat it. Let rich people eat it. I can’t make everyone equal. I just can’t do that, you know?”
Prachatai has collected some interesting 15 suggestions from the junta leader on expensive seafood, expensive lime, drought, low rubber price, to bikini!
1. Expensive seafood? Find something else to eat or work hard to have some.
“ If you can’t afford seafood today, just eat something else first. If it’s too expensive for you, then just don’t eat it. Let rich people eat it. I can’t make everyone equal. I just can’t do that, you know? If you really want some, then work hard and make money. The government will do our part. We have provided markets for low income people. We have done all that we are capable of. However, we cannot make everyone equal.”
Gen. Prayuth, through the Return of Happiness TV program on 3 July after the military government enforced laws to reduce the illegal fishing boats.
2. When limes are expensive, plant them at home.
Prayuth mentioned this issue on 18 March, around when Thailand was struck by drought. He found that there were some people who planted limes and he urged every household to do so. He also said that people should learn to help themselves instead of complaining so much.
3. In times of drought, Thais should dig ponds.
After the cabinet meeting on 26 May, Prayuth informed that there would be less rainwater which may affect people in terms of consumption and agriculture. He suggested people to be vigilant and dig ponds to reserve water. The government would help by finding water sources and creating artificial rain using dams.
However, on 26 June, Prayuth declared through the Return Happiness program that the government would implement emergency measures to manage the water system, and cooperate with local authorities to dig pools to collect underground water. The procedures would start in at-risk areas, especially mountanous areas around the Chao Phraya, amounting up to 850,000 rai.
4. To end the drought, Thais should plant more trees around the river sources and move away from there.
Prayuth said through the Return of Happiness program on 19 June:
“Deforestation has been going on for a long time so we can’t solve this problem quickly. Everybody must plant trees at the river sources and move away from that area, and that should do it. If we leave the forest alone, it will grow by itself. However, our current problem is that the water supply is lacking so trees won’t just grow. Therefore, all of us must help and take care of it.”
5.If you don’t have enough water, grow crickets or earthworms to sell.
Besides encouraging people to dig ponds, the government also asked farmers to do only in-season farming and suggested an integrative farming method that consumes less water. He said that the government would do everything to help and asked farmers to reduce water consumption.
Prayuth said that growing and selling edible, high protein animals such as crickets and earthworms should compensate any insufficient income and improve the soil quality at the same time.
6. When you cannot grow rice, then grow other crops such as cowhage.
On 8 July, Prayuth mentioned in his speech for the Thai Youth in United States Visit Motherland project:
“Meanwhile, we are selling cowhage at 800 baht per kilogram. But India transformed them into medicine that becomes 80,000 baht per kilogram. Why do keep stupidly planting such low profit plants? However, our rice is still in good shape, and any bad rice supply is the government’s responsibility. And that’s an incorrect way of thinking in strengthening farmers. His Majesty said that we must teach people how to fish instead of giving them fish in order to develop them. We are now teaching farmers to use farming machinery. In the past, farmers had been borrowing money and their lands were seized since they could not pay the debts.”
7. You want to sell rubber at a high price? Go sell it on Mars.
On 15 September, Prayuth said about the decrease of rubber prices, “Some people said why don’t you do this, why don’t you do that. Talk is cheap. Action takes more. For example some people want me to produce beds made out of rubber since each one costs 20 to 30 thousand baht. ‘Why don’t I make some?’ they ask me. ‘We’ve got so much rubber in Thailand.’ Fine, go ahead and plant some rubber, and support it amongst yourselves. When they’re grown, go sell the rubber on Mars since everyone on Earth already bought so much. We’re gonna develop so much that we’re taking off for Mars.”
8.You want to be safe wearing bikinis in Thailand? You better be ugly.
Prayuth said on 17 September during his explanation to the administration board about the two English foreigners who were murdered at Koh Tao, Surat Thani;
“Let me ask you, how are you gonna survive wearing a bikini in Thailand, unless you’re ugly?”
However, his speech was slammed by many critics domestically and internationally. As a result, Prayuth had to apologize and said that he did not intend to insult the dead. He said felt sorry for what had happened. He also said that both Thai people and foreigners should know that Thai culture is different, so people should be careful about their safety in Thailand.
9. You want to increase minimum wages? Go evaluate yourselves at the Ministry of Labor.
On 25 June, some laborers called for the government to increase the minimum wage from 300 to 360 baht per day. Prayuth said that it was impossible for now. He said that laborers can increase their wages by getting qualified at the Ministry of Labor, but that the labors don’t actually follow this procedure.
“Tell me, how many workers are in Thailand? If we were to increase the wage, how much more must we spend? You gotta help me out and understand me instead of just pressuring and demanding for stuff. When I said no, you just started pressuring the workers instead, and now we’re all just throwing punches. Do you even know how to do anything else?
If the wage is increased, then other projects are done for. You say that I am not taking care of them, but what I’ve been doing is my way of caring. We must build up a strong framework first instead of wasting money irrationally. Let me ask you, is Thailand even that stable today? What and where can we invest in? And you are complaining that you earn too little, and whining because you’re unable to sell crops. That’s because there weren’t programs in place to help with these issues. The government has had to put out fires as they come up.
We have these problems but I’m not blaming anybody. So don’t say that I am, or I’ll get pissed.”
Before, on 8 June, He also said that the 300 baht minimum wage discouraged invesment.
“Think like I do. If this was a rich country I’d raise the wage to whatever they want. Do not incite them to protest. Everyone’s poor, not just laborers. What more do you want! You all know I’m already trying to strengthen the country by attracting investments. 300 baht is already such a fatally high price that people don’t wanna invest. And that’s not my fault at all. Go ask who established that wage. We have to increase the wage step by step instead of leaping up the stairs. I can’t do that for you. I’ve got no cash.”
10. To be able to compete in global rice market, Thais should consume more brown rice and organic crops.
On 3 July, Prayuth said in the Return of Happiness program that in order to compete in the global rice market, farmers have to improve their production and productivity. All countries are able to grow and export rice now, so quality is more important than the quantity. He urged Thais to consume more brown rice and organic crops to assist farmers. From now only only high quality rice would fetch a good price, like grade-A jasmine rice and premium rice. Low-quality rice would keep decreasing in price, he said, so our farmers should decide by themselves what kind of rice to grow, how much water to use, what soil to use. Farmers should use the least amount of land and water they can while reaping maximum profit. In this way, farmers would be happy. This reform plan has been implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of the Interior, and so many other Ministries.
11.Lottery tickets are too expensive, so let’s force sellers to sell at 80 baht. If they cannot do so, then stop selling.
On 12 May, Prayuth said on solving the excessive lotteries prices that he already ordered that the pricee to be 80 baht within the upcoming prize drawing day (16 May). If sellers cannot do that, they will have to stop selling.
“We have to make sure no one drops the ball on this because the lottery quota has to stay stable. This should be solved progressively, not violently, as there are millions of lottery ticket sellers. If they’re forced to stop selling, will they start whining about what they’re gonna eat? We can use our power, but we also have to think about the consequences. We can’t give everyone 100 per cent of what they want, since I don’t go walking around, selling tickets with them. We should look at the end result to see what form of selling is best, such as selling books of lottery tickets or at wholesale prices or online. Selling online is a back up plan, because online prices will make it so that sellers are too scared to increase the prices.”
12. People should live their lives according to the Sufficiency Economy to solve the motorbike gangsters problem.
On 16 June, Prayuth said about the motorbike gangster [Dek Van], Thai youngsters who disturb neighborhoods by riding motorcycles at night, that it is the press’ duty to teach them to abide the law.
“By nature, no one wants to commit crimes, so there is probably something causing them to do so, probably their mental and emotional state. They probably grew up without love and a caring household. They didn’t live according to the Suffciency Economy, you know? So the idea of sufficiency wasn’t embedded into their hearts.”
13. If you want neighbors to be courteous (greng jai), buy submarines.
Prayuth also spoke about the Ministry of Defence’s proposal to buy three submarines from China at 36 billion baht.
“It’s currently in progress. To buy or not to buy? It’s an internal affair of the military, and it’s been planned for like 10-20 years. The military also has plans for reform, so does the police, so does the bureaucracy. So you ask, why isn’t there a political reform as well? It’s never been done because everyone just wants power like everyone else before them. So we have to wait and follow procedure. If we are able to buy it, we should consider if it is necessary, and what we will use it for. Will we use it to go to war with people, or not? Where will I put the submarines? The Gulf of Thailand? The Andaman Sea? And will I need to look after marine resources there? Submarines aren’t just for bombing other countries.”
“They are not for battles. These are for the sake of deterrence. How can we oversee navigation, fisheries? There are problems in other countries’ waters. Won't we have problems in the future? This is just to show our potential. It does not mean we will use them right after we have them. There are installments need to be paid in long term that the submarines are in crumbles once we complete the installments.”
14. When people say the Thai economy is in decline, don’t believe them.
On 5 June’s airing of the Return Happiness program, Prayuth responded to the stream of criticism regarding the economic downturn. He said that the Thai economy is gradually recovering. The tourism sector’s recovery is even very apparent. There were large amounts of unofficial reports that number of foreign travellers in May 2015 increased by 30 per cent, he said. “With these numbers, don’t even believe it when others say the economy is in decline!”
15. The media’s duty isn’t just to relay facts, it’s to foster understanding and a good consciousness among the audience.
On 3 June, Prayuth said that the media that had been criticising the junta should help regulate the social order instead.
“Why didn’t you tell me that the press always goes on and on about problems? You guys have to warn [the press] to not do that, because it makes you guys go and try to kick out officers. You gotta help me out here. Help me create understanding and consciousness. This is the media’s job. Your job isn’t just to relay facts or criticize. It isn’t!”
“You have to understand me. Whatever I did, I did with good intentions, and past events are done with. You guys just keep digging up graves and selling them. Don’t do that! It’s done and over with.”
“Can’t you guys cooperate with the authorities? Do you even know how? Do you? You don’t!”
“The media was taught to say facts, criticize, and warn. The government and the PM are public figures, so you guys think that you can just yell at me? Do I have to endure everything, and speak politely all the time? Are you just gonna force me to do that?”
“I already said myself that I wasn’t elected. So stop criticizing me so much, I get enough of that.”
Yiamyut Sutthichaya and Asaree Thaitrakulpanich contributed to this report.