Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for the good wishes expressed in the
name of all those who have come to this audience, which consists of 333
groups, numbering over 8800 persons. The good
wishes are an encouragement for future life and work. Tomorrow, life
will pass the mark of 65 years
during which we have seen many a thing, both good and bad. We have
seen changes in the world
and particularly in Thailand where there are changes every year, every
month, or even everyday.
Since last year there have been many changes here, because the population of Chitralada has increased. There used to be crows and pigeons. But now, if you look out there, you can see that swans, both white swans and black swans have been added. And storks and peacocks also are new comers. I speak about this bird population because I find that when there is a change in the balance of nature, there will always be some friction and some quarrels. For instance, in the past, when the crow were sovereign, they would bully the pigeons who in turn would bully the myna-birds who also live here in large numbers. In turn the myna-birds would bully the sparrows. As for the sparrows, we do not know whom they take it out on . One can see that the stronger birds pick on the weaker birds according to a sort of a feudal system, resulting in the near extinction of the sparrows.
But the crows are still going strong. Many times, the crows have been out visiting the neighbourhood, provoking apprehension among the occupants of those houses. But these crows are still safe and sound because they have learnt to respect the painted storks. Without this respect, the crow could well become extinct, because the painted storks which are a kind of storks, even though they number only a little more than ten, are large-sized birds When they first came, they were still young and did not yet know how to behave properly. When the crows assaulted them, the painted storks kicked them and due to the greater size of their foes, the crows had to admit defeat. They could not successfully attack the storks, so they have learnt to live in peaceful coexistence, picking no more quarrels. When the storks get their food, the crows also come to get their share. Nowadays one can see peace and harmony, and the balance of nature is restored.
As for the swans, there are black swans and white swans. For a time, the black swan and the white swans went their separate ways because they did not get along. White and black are natural opposites; they usually quarrel. When they come to the pond for a swim, each group comes separately . The white ones come in a procession and the black ones come in another .But at present we can see that they have come to an agreement .When they come to the pond or go back to their home, they mix freely; there is no problem. The peacocks, which are in great numbers, some are green some are white, also mix freely. But there is one peacock which, instead of staying with the other peacocks, goes to socialize with the swans. But as he is a peacock, he does not go in the water where he would surely drown, meeting with a fatal danger. Therefor, this peacock chooses to remain on the shore.
I recount on this facts about birds so that you may see that everything begins with conflicts. But when lesson are learnt or the wisdom of cooperation is understood, peaceful coexistence can be established, quarrels are settled, mutual enmity is appeased. The balance of nature is established. I must report that, at Chitralada, we have enjoyed a year of relative peace and happiness. Life in the country now is also relatively settled. But if we look at the world at large we feel that the situation has not improved, even though the cold war has subsided, peace has not been restored because hot wars have reappeared. The resurgence of the hot war is due to lack of mutual understanding and mutual assistance. When we behold such a situation, we must be thankful that in our country, a hot war has not yet arisen. And it should not arise if everybody thinks soundly.
But in the past, this country suffered hot wars. There had been a struggle; and a process of cooling down has taken place. When reason began to prevail, the situation cooled down. The past situation has proved that nothing good can emerge from violence. Violence and fire can only scorch and burn. But too much cold creates inactivity and nothing will be done. Excessive cold can also kill. Therefore one must act sensibly.
Speaking of the changes that have occurred during the past several years, one can reflect now that many things are changing. Even when we listen to what they are saying on the radio or on television. We can notice that the very sound of speech is changing. The pronunciation used by the announcers and newscasters has changed. We must stop and ask why it is so and to think whether it is good or bad. Everything must develop. Speaking of the changes in speech or pronunciation. I must turn to look at myself. Sometime ago I did not speak or sound like I do today. Some have noticed that at some periods the king did not speak with the Bangkok accent; he spoke with a provincial accent.
I considered this and opined that, in fact, the Bangkok Thai language is not the correct Thai language. It is a rather composite language . The original Thai language is, in reality , the language that is called provincial. In the North, in the North-East, in the South, the people in the villages speak the same or a very similar language. It means that the real original language is not that of Bangkok. There are some who say that the king speaks a provincial Thai. This perhaps happened because the king has been talking with the provincial people rather a lot. Thus, it ensued that his accent changed a little. It mean that the change can come from habit and frequent listening to people talking with such and such accents.
There is another thing that changed. Even though the Thai language has many letters representing many sounds, there are still some foreign sounds that cannot be expressed in Thai. But listening to the radio, you will be surprised to find that now, this fact has been overruled. In the past, the railway station was call "station", pronounced "sa-tay-chun" because "stay-shun" could not be pronounced. The letter "S" and "T" cannot be pronounced together as a consonant cluster "ST". But nowadays, it is the other way around. What in the past could not be pronounced, now it is overdone. For Example, the word "satang" has been pronounced "sa-tung" for a long time. But now, it is different. Perhapsis it because "satangs" are not used so much, being rather worthless. However, the word "satang" is still in use, but it is often pronounced "stung". It is rather puzzling, about the correct pronunciation of the word. Is it right to pronounce it "stung"? The surprise is that, in the original Thai language, nobody could say "stung"; it was impossible for the Thai tongue to produce such a sound. A similar thing happens with the Indian people; they cannot pronounce that consonant cluster "ST" either. As in the case of the English word "star", they are not able to pronounce it. The Indian pronunciation would be "is-tar". If they don't say "is-tar", they will be not able to say "star" . In the Thai language, "star" cannot be read "star" either, it must be pronounced "sa-tar", the same way as the word "satang" ("sa-tang").
Here is another example of change. The letters "sh" in English or "ch" in French, would be pronounced "tch" in Thai like the Thai letter "Chor". But nowadays that same letter is pronounced "sh", a sound that does not exist in Thai . It is suprising. The sentence "Chun maa tee nee" would be pronounced "Shun maa chee nee", or something like that. And there are numerous other examples of change.
Apart from this, there are changes in tones. The tones become higher and higher. The second tones becomes the third tone, the third becomes the fourth. This sounds rather strange to the ear. How did this come about? Perhaps it comes from listening to European languages. But then, some of the speakers are not proficient in foreign languages; they nevertheless speak that way. There is a definite change. What has brought about this change? I have once spoken with a Swedish professor, who has knowledge in linguistics about the causes of such changes. We concurred that it comes from many factors. One of the factors would be from listening to foreign languages and the desire to speak with a foreign accent, so it becomes a habit. But it could come from a change in the vocal organs, due to a mix with foreign blood. Each race has characteristic intonations caused by different formation of the vocal organs. If we listen to someone on television. Even before we see the face, just listen to the voice only, we can distinguish the speaker as having Indian blood, or Chinese, or European. We can tell them apart because they have their own characteristic sounds patterns.
But why has the language changed like this? Thai people have not changed so much, racially. There may be some mixed blood. It could be so, but not that much. Perhaps it could be because the style of living has changed. For example, eating habits can probably produce a physical change. One can notice that there has been a physical change; people in the past and now seem to have different appearance. This may cause a difference in pronunciation. It means that food or living conditions and improved physical care are the causes. If this is the case, it is tolerable. By and large, the Thai people seem to be healtheir. This is not to proclaim the efficiency of the government. Thailand has changed; public health has improved; eating habits have changed. Nevertheless, from what we have observed in past years, We cannot say that there has been no improvement. There have been changes for the better.
On this topic, we are inclined to say: "Oh! The good old days; those were the happy times. Nowadays we only see trouble and confusion." This is what I once mentioned to Mrs. Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel who came here. She has since died. I remember that in the course of the conversation, I said that in the past, life was better, easier than nowadays. Mrs. Golda Meir said: "No! Do not misunderstand. In the past, life was very hard, very difficult. At the present time, the situation may be bad, there are many clashes, but life must be considered much better. People have a better attitude. And can air their opinions more openly. Life conditions have, on the whole, much improved. "When I met her, Mrs. Golda Meir was already an elderly lady, and I was much younger. Now I should be considered elderly because many years have gone by. Therefor, I begin to agree with Mrs. Golda Meir. I have this opinion, not because I also begin to become elderly, but because I think that conditions have really improved. And why have the conditions improved? It is because people have a better understanding of the fact that we have to work together.
Now I would like to tell you something about what we have been doing. Let me tell you a story, no not a story; it is a report about what happened a few days ago. We went to the North-East for about two or three weeks. And we went to a place, that is, the district of Khao Vong in the province of Kalasind. We went to see how they were doing and we had the feeling that they had made much progress since we went there ten years ago. Ten years ago, the place was quite desolate. Now life there is still difficult, but the people are diligent and they are more development conscious. They work much better now. They are smiling and pleasant. They performed a reception ceremony called a "baisri" ceremony for us, a ceremony during which the elders of the village gave us their blessings. It was a touching and happy occasion. Such goodwill encouraged me to find my way to a location that I had seen from the helicopter, a place that could be developed. That day we flew by helicopter from Sakol Nakorn to Khao Vong.
Going by helicopter is very convenient and less strenuous because going by car would have taken one hour and a half to two hours. Going by helicopter took us only 25 minutes. It spares us time and energy. It is costly to go by helicopter. But if the use of the helicopter yields maximum benefit, then it is worth it. Therefore, we must keep our eyes open and survey the terrain. We happened to pass a place that seemed to be a suitable site for building a reservoir because it would not create any problem for the people. It would not inundate any agricultural land of the people. Thus, it is a very appropriate site. I saw that form the helicopter and put it down on my map.
When we landed, I told the officials that I would like to go and see that location. At the appropriate time, we started out in a motorcade. We arrived at a village near that place. The officials, police and irrigation engineers were not sure that there would be a way to that location, so they found a villager to act as a guide. Accordingly, this guide led the way. At one place, there was a bifurcation, left or right. The guide said left, I had a notion that we should go right, but he said left, so left we went, passing the school. After the school, we turned right. We turned right into a road that was, to say the least, rather like a cross country trail. It was a trail where they do the "disco". The "disco" because the car swayed from side to side like doing the "disco". Thus the name of the "disco trail". We went along this trail rather far, about two kilometers until we arrived at a place where out guide said, "We stop here." The place was dark and we could see only paddyland. Our guide said, "I though you wanted to come here." I said, "No! I want to see the stream where it would be appropriate to build an irrigation project. That place is like a rapids." So we turned back. Two kilometers more of "discoing". We arrived at the village bifurcation, this time we went straight on. Then, after walking 200 meters more. We arrived at the right place. And the irrigation officer concurred that it seemed to be suitable for an irrigation project.
Thereafter I asked the villagers in the neighbourhood about the past year. They said that they had got in the harvest and pointed to a heap of rice. We went in for a closer look. The rice had grown well but did not produce so many grains, about two or three to an ear. The production could have been estimated at about one "bucket" or less per "rai". On inquiry the villagers explained that it was due to lack of rain. They had sown the rice, but when it came to transplanting the seedlilngs, there was no water. They had to make holes in the sand and stick the seedlings in them. In the daytime the plant withered and drooped, but at night it straightened up with the dew. In the end it developed ears but not so many grains of rice. That was a very revealing lesson and they spoke to us very straightforwardly. This is a proof that rice is a very rugged plant, surviving with just a little humidity from the dew. Although that was ordinary rice, not upland rice it could survive, If we only gave a little help, there could be and improvement and the people could survive. The project to be done need not be a big one to meet with success. It could be a modest project. So it dawned on me that in such a place rainfall is not small, but it just did not come at the right time. When it rains, it is not needed; when it is needed, it does not rain. So rice is not plentiful.
To remedy the problem, we must save the rain water that comes down. An idea came to me; we must do an experiment using ten "rai" of land typical of that place. Three "rai" will be used for making a pond that would keep the rain water; if it is necessary to use plastic sheets to prevent seepage, we will use plastic sheets; we must try. And further six "rai" will be used to plant rice. As for the remaining "rai", it will be used as "service area", that is for paths, huts or other things. To sum up: Water, thirty percent, paddyland sixty percent. I believe that, with the water thus saved, the production of one or two "buckets" of rice per "rai", could increase to ten or twenty "buckets" or more, perhaps thirty. Suppose we have a harvest of ten times the original amount, that would be twenty "buckets"per "rai". With the improvement brought by a project area of ten "rai", we will receive the equivalent of the production of at least sixty present time "rai". That should be worth it. We have to try to implement this project.
The next day, news came that at that place we "discoed" to, there were two villagers who said that they were willing to contribute five "rai" of land each for a development project and to be used as we deem fit. We did not have to buy or expropriate the land. They understood that we want to help. Even though this development project is an experimental one, not a proven one, they were willing to contribute to it. This shows that the villagers understand development. They were real local villagers, not villagers from Bangkok posing as local villagers. One of them owned ten "rai", he contributed five; the other had nine "rai", he contributed five. Thus, we are going to be able to implement this project. If this project is successful, it means that, in the district of Khao Vong which is rather dry or in other dry areas, it will be possible to solve the problem of drought. Next year will show the result of the experiment.
I have told you all this at length to show you that nowadays, the people have learnt to sacrifice some land for the development of their own place. And they have neither set conditions nor asked for anything in return, should the project be successful. They just gave unconditionally. It show that the provincial people, called pejoratively "peasants", really know how to develop the country. Usually, the word "provincial" is used in a condescending manner, but the real villagers know that for everything there must be experiments and research. We must experiment, taking a chance. But in this case, It should be successful. Thus, Thailand has a chance to develop for a better living. But we must use the word "sacrifice". Perhaps one is fed up with the word "sacrifice". We must know the word "unity". Perhaps one is fed up with the word "unity". "Unity" here, "unity" there; "compassion" here, "compassion" there. However, these old words are still very meaningful, but we now perhaps forget them, because things have changed; conditions have changed. I told you a while ago that I would tell you a story, now I have told it. It is a story, not a fairy tale; it is a real story that happened just two or three days ago. You will understand why I recounted you this story. This is to assure you that you should have hope that development can be made. The situation is not hopeless, but we must all think straight.
Just now, I used the word "tale", because I was thinking of folk tale, to illustrate my point that today's people have changed. In former times, everybody knew this folk tale, but today I understand that only a few know it. I was thinking of the tale: "Granny and grandpa planted beans and sessame." I don't know whether anybody is familiar with this tale: "Granny and Grandpa planted beans and sesame and entrusted their Grandchild to look after the crop. But the Child did not keep the vigil and went to fly a kite." This seems to be rather natural that the Child would not like to stand guard, he would prefer to go and play with his kite. But nowadays, nobody plays with a kite anymore; now they play computer games. It means that the story becomes; "Granny and Grandpa planted beans and sesame and entrusted their Grandchild to look after it. But the Child did not keep the vigil and went to play a computer game."
This changes the whole story. If it is told in this way the whole plot crumbles down; it is not the original story. If it is told: "…the Grandchild did not stand guard, he went to play a computer game…", in the first place, the modern listener would, anyway, comment: "Why did 'Granny and Grandpa plant beans and sesame'? Nowadays agriculture is not the adequate policy anymore; we should not cultivate plants, we should build manufacturing plants, so we become a "NIC". Granny and Grandpa are so antiquated; this is ludicrous!" But in the story, Granny and Grandpa planted beans and sesame. In fact, this story did really happen, about only a little more than ten years ago, when Grandpa, not Granny, planted beans and sesame and entrusted his Grandchild to look after it. The Grandchild did not guard it, because the Grandchild was not yet born. Today the Grandchild is already ten years old. If Grandpa now planted sesame, the Grandchild would probably be willing to guard it, or perhaps not; the Grandchild would perhaps prefer to draw pictures. Nowadays the tale would be topsy-turvy, that is, the story will be completely changed.
To return to the original story, the Child did not guard the crop. The Crow came and ate up the beans and the sesame, seven grains and seven coconut-cups of it. Granny returned home and was furious; Grandpa came back and beat the Child. So the Child went to see the Hunter and asked him to shoot down the Crow. The Hunter flatly refused. The Hunter of yore used a bow and arrow; the modern Hunter would use a shotgun. To use an arrow to shoot the Crow is so old-fashioned. But in the story, the Hunter used the bow and arrow. So the Child went to ask the Rat to gnaw at the Hunter's bowstring. It was so vexing, the Rat refused. When the Rat refused, the Child was angry at the Rat, so he went to the Cat, asking the Cat to bite the Rat. The Cat would not do it; no, the Cat would not bite the Rat. The Child was angry; so he went to the dog, asking the Dog to bite the Cat. The Dog said he wouldn't. The Child was angry once more. At this point, it is a little difficult to understand why the Child went to find the Hammer. The Child asked the Hammer to pick the Dog's ear. Perhaps, was it that the Hammer was asked to hit the Dog on the head. But the Hammer refused to hit the Dog on the head. When the Hammer refused, the Child went to the Fire, asking the Fire to burn the Hammer. The Fire wouldn't burn. So the Child went and ask the Water to douse the Fire. The Water refused to douse the Fire. So the Child had to go to the Embankment, to ask the Embankment to crash down on the Water. The Embankment wouldn't crash. What else could be done? To go and ask the Elephant to crush the Embankment. The Elephant refused saying it's none of his business. So the Child went to the Fruit Fly, asking him to fly around the Elephant's eyes. The Fly said "Can do!"
There it is. The Fruit Fly agreed to do it. It would pester the Elephant. The Elephant was afraid and was willing to crush the Embankment. The Embankment was afraid and was ready to crash on the Water. The Water was afraid and was willing to douse the Fire. The Fire was afraid and was willing to burn the Hammer. The Hammer was afraid and was willing to hit the Dog on the head. The Dog was afraid and was willing to bite the Cat. The Cat was afraid and was willing to bite the Rat. The Rat was afraid and was willing to gnaw at the Hunter's bowstring. The Hunter loved his bow and said that he was going to shoot the Crow. Finally, the Crow was terrified and spat out the beans and the sesame, all the seven grains and seven cups that Granny and Grandpa had sown. Granny and Grandpa were satisfied. When they came back, Granny was no longer raving mad and Grandpa didn't beat the Child. The Crow had given back the seeds. This is a strange thing, indeed. The Crow ate the grains and spat them out. How will the grains germinate and grow? That we don't know. The technology of yon times was not the same as that of today. Anyway, I have told you the whole story because some of you could have forgotten some parts of it. My intention, for one thing is to show the way of thinking of people in former times, how they told children stories, for another thing. And still another, is to clearly show that, in any affair, if everybody says: "This is none of my business", nothing will get done. And that Child, instead of searching for a direct solution to the problem of "the Crow eating beans and sesame", strayed farther and farther away from it, until the story seemed to go out of hand, when finally the fruit Fly agreed to go and fly around the Elephant's eyes.
It seems that this story is confusing. But finally is came to a happy ending: the Crow spat out the beans and sesame. Granny returned home and did not have to curse. Grandpa did not have to beat. The situation, nowadays is like the story, confused. On any subject, one person says something, another come to refute it, using irreconcilable arguments. And how can the country be governed, how can work be done, how can we have anything done, if everything is done out of tune, erratically? If we have a well defined goal, any problem can be very easily solved, Furthermore, when saying anything, one must say it simply, factually and to the point. Any problem must be solved according to the facts, directly, not digressing from the problem to the point of pestering the Elephant. But in the story, this latter way succeeded. Pestering the Elephant resulted in the Crow spitting out the beans and sesame. It worked then; the results were obtained; but the modern Child will consider the Child of former times extremely lucky to get any result; it was a fluke. But now, it yields no results. Usually present times individuals don't get any result from their actions. For one thing, it is because each individual speaks in his own way, invoking inconsistent premises. In the end, the obstinate, dogmatic one will win the argument; but that is not good; that is not right
Now we come to the topic that should perhaps better not be mentioned because it could be detrimental to good international relations. Or are they already strained? Anyway, it's deafening, listening to that Four-Nine-One. That Four-Nine-One, it is said to be Thai; over there they say it is Burmese. In fact, in principle, Four-Nine-One is the frontier. It is half Burmese and half Thai. Then how could it be settled? If a Burman stands on the top of the hill, we must cut down half of him. In other words, if he extends his head to our side, we can chop off his head; it would be legitimate. But if we extend one arm over their side, they can also cut us down; they would not be wrong.
And then what policy should we follow? According to the accepted frontier, the border line passes exactly on the summit of this Four-Nine-One. But the width of the border line has not been decided. If it is traced on a map, that line enlarged to life size, would have a width of many meters, quite wide. No one knows to what country that area should belong. This is just an example. Along the Thai frontier with other countries, there are similar problems. The frontier lines are not well defined. That is why civilized countries delimit their frontiers with a strip of neutral territory to avoid problems. But in some countries in Europe, some houses are right on the frontier, a door on one side being in one country and a door on the other side being in another country. Such situations exist.
But they are not so foolish as to have a tug-of-war over such territory. There must be an agreement that there will be no activities on either side of the set frontier. Or if any, they will have to be conducted in concert. In fact, if each side retreats and each side fires artillery shells on the Four-Nine-One, so that it becomes the Four-Nine-Nought, the problem may vanish. The problem will no longer exist; nothing else will have to be done. But don't let anybody stand on that hill, may he be Thai or Burman; nobody should stand there because both sides will fire artillery shells at that same target. This is an agreement that can possibly be concluded. And it can be beneficial; it will be a good target practice for the artillery so that they will become sharp-shooters. If they shoot exactly on that frontier line, they will not be penalized. If they shoot too short, they will hit their own country. If they shoot too long, they will become aggressors. Perhaps there will have to be an agreement about the width of the strip which will form the delimitation line. Here is a suggestion on how to solve the problem. If we let this problem go unsolved, quarrels among Thais will ensue. In addition to a foreign war, we would have a civil war on our hands, which would be most undesirable. Nothing will be gained; we will surely lose the Four-Nine-One, if we have internal quarrels. Therefore, we must pin-point the problem.
If we can pin-point the problem, we can solve it. Here a solution has been offered about what use that area an be put to, in a co-operation between the two countries. If it is to be used as an artillery firing range, the firing must not go beyond the area. It can become a war game, a venue where artillerymen have a contest of marksmanship, if each side scores a bull's eye on that summit, we can then celebrate: "Ah! Both countries have sharpshooters." And other countries in the world will see that, in this part of the world, there are people who are rather clever.
The day before yesterday, I told the village scouts to reflect on how good Thailand is. Nowadays we are relatively peaceful. In every continent of the world there are severe quarrels. And what advantage do they achieve? There is death everywhere, in the thousands, perhaps millions. And for what purpose? Don't we follow their example, We did follow bad examples for some time. In fact, we even set the example in many instances. But now we should not follow what they are doing in all the continents. The continents I mentioned to the village scout is Africa, America, Asia and Europe too. There is fighting everywhere. Don't we be like them.
If we want to avoid these situations, it means that anyone, be it bureaucrats, businessmen, the people at large, or everyone who considers himself a Thai, should develop a little clear, sharp thinking. Just stop and ponder a little is enough. That is, when any problem arises, instead of immediately opening the mouth to speak, we should stop to think a moment. And with practice, just one second will suffice. And we will not make a mistake. If we don't make a mistake, that problem will not lead to a detrimental action; it will always be a beneficial action. I call on you to stop and think because we see what is happening all over the world, all these sad happenings. If Thailand, for one, would be a peaceful country, that would be great. We could become a model for the whole world. We don't have to do anything else. Just think, and we will be Thai.
Here we are. I have been speaking for a long time, telling you stories and tales. If you all help in putting our heads together, everything will be better. Let bygones be bygones. It is perhaps not right to say this. The past must be considered a lesson; it is not unprofitable for the future; it is useful. Anyone who does something, will reap the result. But one must not stipulate too many conditions. Any action must be constructive and everyone will be happy. Constructive thinking means thinking honestly, with understanding, with a cool head and without too much self-interest. It must be done in the interest of the nation, or at least for the community. To have discussions is not forbidden; there must be discussions. It must be done with reason, with the knowledge that any cause is bound to have effects. That is why I have told all these stories and tales. Everyone should understand that I only wanted to say just this: "Be constructive in all your endeavours and do not create any incident. Please understand, be cooperative and constructive."
I speak so today because I am not yet 65 years old. Tomorrow I'll be 65 and I will not guarantee that I will talk this way anymore. Perhaps I will talk about other things. Last year I said we would meet in two years' time, that is on the 4th of December 1993. Today does not count, it seems; in fact, it does count. So see you in 1993, December the 4th . And in the meanwhile, keep in good health, physically and mentally. May you all meet with success in all good thinking and good actions. May you meet with prosperity.