On July 8th, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha released a video on his Facebook page entitled “A Three-Pronged Strategy to Build the Future.” The prime minister, tieless and standing at an angle, looked more relaxed than in his usual speeches. Given that he last posted a video on his page one year ago, this content certainly felt out of the ordinary.
It was, perhaps, an attempt to win back some media space after the government has in recent times been swamped by the formidable public relations machine of Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt. Whether or not he succeeded is debatable; speaking for 17 minutes straight, the speech was not exactly going to be a hit with social media fans. It received relatively little public attention and the video has garnered less than 40,000 views at the time of writing.
Prayut announced three core parts of his economic strategy that will “build an opportunity to create economic prosperity for millions of people.” The first part is the construction of the “biggest and most integrated” infrastructure projects in the history of Thailand. The focus, Prayut said, must be on railway, roads, airports and sea ports: “infrastructure that is designed to increase everybody’s wealth.”
The second part of the strategy is to make Thailand a global hub for the production of electric vehicles. The prime minister noted that the automotive industry has been one of Thailand’s most important economic drivers in the past thirty years, but today faces great risk of disruption as the world transitions to the use of EVs. Hence, he has “done everything I can to make Thailand one of the world’s most important EV hubs.”
The final component that Prayut mentioned is ensuring greater access to banking services and credit. “We have over 30 million Thais who cannot access loans, and many who do not even have a bank account,” he remarked. The prime minister declared that banks must use technology to help more ordinary people access their services.
A couple of things stand out from this speech.