Prayut bids farewell to a 'memorable time of life'
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Prayut bids farewell to a 'memorable time of life'

Thailand's 29th prime minister takes to social media to share his experiences

Parting message: Gen Prayut hails govt progress.
Parting message: Gen Prayut hails govt progress.

Outgoing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha reckons his government has helped accelerate national progress in nine major areas during his nine years in power.

In a parting message to the nation on his Facebook, Gen Prayut described his nine years at the country's helm as the most meaningful and memorable period of his life.

As prime minister, he spent his time protecting the country, which he said has grown leaps and bounds and is now on par with many other nations. Thailand is also on its way to becoming a leading nation of the world, he said.

Gen Prayut attributes this progress to developments in nine areas.

Firstly, the country made an unprecedented move by drafting a national strategy that spans 20 years, which will steer the country's direction and ensure key policies are implemented.

Secondly, the government has poured investments into building infrastructure at a major scale, covering land, rail, sea and air transport -- all vital for the economic expansion.

The Gen Prayut government's ultimate aim was to transform Thailand into a hub for aviation, transport and tourism.

Thirdly, investments were also made to upgrade digital and platform economies and strengthen telecommunications infrastructure, such as 5G technology.

Thailand is now shifting its role towards becoming a hub for 5G, data centres and cloud services in the region. People's living standards and income have also improved.

Fourthly, 12 industries have been targeted as future industries, with the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and special economic zones already up and running, and creating more specialised labour skills.

The fifth area of development lies in the backbone systems which were introduced to manage key resources such as water, land and forestry, with the creation of the Office of National Water Resources and the Office of the National Land Policy Board.

The One Map programme was introduced to resolve overlapping land problems in maps and assist in the re-allocation of plots to landless farmers. Laws were also issued to recognise community forests where people and nature can co-exist.

In the sixth area of development, various funds were set up to promote the welfare of vulnerable and marginalised groups and lay the foundations for equal access to education.

In the seventh arena of development, laws were reformed to remove obstacles to national development and step up the country's competitiveness.

Such reforms increased the ease of doing business and attracted foreign investment while law enforcement was standardised.

Legal reforms also tackled crises stemming from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) red-flagging Thailand in 2015 over air safety standard issues and the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing industry.

In the eighth area of development, Gen Prayut said the country's bureaucracy was modernised with new technology brought into streamline services offered to people, such as the state welfare cards and convenience in seeking medical treatment afforded by the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (Ucep) Plus scheme.

Lastly, in the ninth area, Gen Prayut said the government has forged strong relations with countries around the world through bilateral and multilateral engagements as well as through the signing of free trade areas.

A major break emerged with the thawing of long-strained Thai-Saudi diplomatic ties, normalised in January 2022 during Gen Prayut's visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi crown prince.

"The country's journey in the past nine years hasn't been smooth or easy, with disputes raging elsewhere in the world which affected energy prices, the cost of living and inflation.

"However, we must unite and get through it," Gen Prayut said.

He added: "I'm truly confident Thailand will not go back to square one and that everything we've built will be expanded upon. That will push us forward toward triumph."

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