11 July 2024

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said today (Monday) that he is embarrassed because, everywhere he goes, there are people constantly asking him for cash handouts, budget assignments or pay increases.

“If I am rich or if Thailand is rich, I will give to them.  I do not blame them because they don’t have money,” said the Prime Minister adding, however, that it should be the responsibility of government officials concerned to clarify to the people that the government simply cannot give away money, but has to follow regulations and be transparent regarding disbursement of public money.

In his opening address at a seminar on “National Strategy in Action: Integrated Implementation for Thais”, organized by the Civil Service Commission’s Office for government officials, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of government officials building public understanding of the government’s roles and responsibilities.

Citing a question raised by some people about why the government didn’t simply give 5,000 baht to each flood affected family, he said that officials must be able to explain to the people why this could not be done, because of the rules and procedures.

“Today, we do not only have bureaucratic and political problems.  We have a problem about the people too, because many of them are used to free handouts and do not consider the regulations,” said the Prime Minister.

He said that, every day, he keeps thinking about what to do to address the problems of the people.

Without naming names, he mentioned a group of people who criticized him for not visiting flood victims in the Northeast, but visiting people in the southern region instead.

Touching on the issue of equality, which is often raised by human rights advocacy groups, the Prime Minister insisted that there is nowhere in this world where everyone is equal, as he defended himself against allegations that his government is supportive of big business at the expense of poor people.

To address the problem of economic inequality, he said that the government would step in to help the poor, such as by providing them with welfare through the welfare card scheme but, at the same time, assistance to the poor must be kept at proper level in a way that will not hurt those in the middle and higher income brackets, who pay the bulk of the income taxes collected, or investors who take risks by investing here.