Sufficiency economy may mean sustainable economy
- วันเสาร์ 14 มิถุนายน 2557 21:50
- Thai King
- อ่าน 255 ครั้ง
K I Woo explains why some people may be misinterpreting HM the King’s sufficiency economy philosophy
On September 29, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
suggested that nations in our globalised world should seriously consider adopting HM the King’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy.
Although HM the King’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy has been credited with mitigating much of the potential damage the current global financial crisis may have inflicted on the Thai people, few foreigners understand or fully appreciate them.
A major reason is the word “sufficiency”, which some people have interpreted as implying an inward-looking philosophy that will return the Thai economy to the Stone Age.
Perhaps, HM the King’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy would be more widely accepted overseas if it were renamed the “Sustainable Economy” philosophy.
Many well-respected foreign experts, including Peter Warr, of the Australian National University have looked carefully into His Majesty’s sufficiency economy speeches over the years.
“Sufficiency Economy is a philosophy that stresses appropriate conduct and way of life while incorporating moderation, due consideration in all modes of conduct, and the need for sufficient protection from internal and external shocks,” Warr quotes from a November 1999 speech.
In a recently published article in the GH Bank Housing Journal, Warr said that five central themes can be seen from His Majesty’s sufficiency economy speeches during the past decades.
“These include the importance of establishing sensible, non-excessive, material goals; the importance of avoiding unnecessary risk in the pursuit of material aspirations; the desirability of attaining self-reliance; while still maintaining concern for the protection of others; and remaining aware of the non-material aspects of life,” Warr said.
Quotations from the King’s speeches and references to his other writings, Warr said also illustrate each of these five themes.
“The Sufficiency Economy theme’s relevance can be understood at several levels. At individual levels, they provide a sensible approach to economic life and are also helpful at firm and community levels. Nationally, the themes are highly relevant for countries adjusting to rapidly changing global environments,” said Warr.
According to Warr, HM the King also said that sufficiency means to have enough to live on. Sufficiency also 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.
Many initial critiques of the sufficiency-economy philosophy read too much into His Majesty’s use of farming and agricultural analogies. Some observers began thinking that the sufficiency-economy philosophy stressed going back to a self-sufficient agrarian life-style and subsisting on the bare-necessities of life.
However, as time has evolved many people realised that the philosophy centres on practising moderation around the five key themes of establishing sensible, non-excessive, material goals; avoiding unnecessary risk in the pursuit of material aspirations; attaining self-reliance; while still maintaining concern for the protection of others; and remaining aware of the non-material aspects of life.
These central themes have been carefully followed by all sectors of Thai society and have insulated us greatly from the current global crisis. “To be a tiger is not important. The important thing for us is to have a sufficiency economy, which means to have enough to survive,” His Majesty said in another speech.
According to Warr, the sufficiency-economy message states that economic growth is not a necessity for improving human welfare.
“Excessive emphasis on economic growth, to the exclusion of more important matters, can lead to suffering. In short, it is an argument for the Middle Way,” he said.
Recent events in Thai history, Warr added, show the wisdom of this approach and the dangers of disregarding it. “This set of ideas is strongly supported by recent developments in economics and psychology,” he said.
He also said that in most countries, public policy has yet to catch up with these insights. “The human value of economic growth in the rich countries is greatly over-estimated,” he said.
Let’s hope that Prime Minister’s Abhisit’s views on HM the King’s sufficiency-economy philosophy can help others attain more sustainable economic growth and national happiness.
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