For Epicurus, a Greek philosopher, BC 341-270, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by the absence of pain and fear, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.
On Monday, July 2, 2007, Mrs. Somjai Saisomsup, Director of Public Relations Department, Region 3, welcomed 50 media representatives at the Chiangmai headquarters on Prachasampun Road. The first day of the 5-day event covered advice on writing techniques of public relations documents. After lunch at the Suriwongse Hotel, a three-member panel spoke on the philosophy of Sufficient Economy. The travels would include The King's Chitralada Residence, Goh Gred, (Nontaburi), Damnoen Saduak (Rajburi), Baan Laem, Cham-am, Gueiburi (all three districts in Petchburi) and Hua hin (Prajuab Kirikhan).
That evening our group left for Bangkok. In the early morning of Tuesday, July 2 after almost 10 hours on the VIP bus, We checked into the Grand Tower Inn. We have lived away from Bangkok for many years and had no idea where the hotel was located. We found out the hotel was located near the intersection of Pradipat Road and Klong Prapa (water supply canal). We formerly lived next to the Government Mint (now being converted to the Office of the Secretarial of Parliament.) After a quick breakfast, we headed for the Chitralada Villa, Dusit Palace, we arrived at the royal gate opposite to the horse racetrack around 9.30 am.
It was a thrill to enter the Chitralada Palace after living in Bangkok for so many years. So often we would drive by and wonder what the Royal Villa grounds were like inside. After our group joined a student group from upcountry, we were briefed at the Public Relations pavilion. We visited several pilot projects that H M King Bhumibol wishes to bring to his citizens for a common purpose.
The Royal Chitralada Projects are in a class by themselves and have become almost a legend in their own time. They are now 54 years old and the Royal Villa compound is about to burst its fences: Foreign visitors are sometimes surprised to learn that the King of Thailand "lives on a farm" in the heart of the capital city.
Year by year the Royal Villa grounds change as old projects are relocated to different parts of the compound to make room for new ones growing plants and trees, or buildings to accommodate research or simply to expand – as the interesting tissue culture laboratory has done several times. It just keeps growing!
Oddly enough, despite all the many workers tending to assorted jobs, the project area is usually peaceful and relaxing place, except, perhaps for the crows who find a safe haven there and loudly boast about it. The air smells fresher there, even with traffic almost constant on all four sides of the compound - perhaps the many huge of old trees now sharing space with younger and smaller ones and the several ponds help in this.
Some of the older projects located there are: fish breeding, forestry, rice planting, rice mills, a dairy farm, and fresh and dry milk processing plants. Newer ones have been added for devising ways and means to help raise the standard living of the Thai people, the majority of whom are farmers. At the moment, there are altogether 30 Royal Chiltralada Projects. Ten of these pilot projects are still non-commercial purpose: fish breeding, forestry, rice planting, biogas, biodesel, organic compost, tissue culture, herbs garden, spirulina nursery, hydroponic plants. Meanwhile, the semi-commercial projects include dairy farm, fresh and dry milk processing plants, milk pellets, cheese factory, rice mills and compressed rice husk fuel logs, dried vegetable, juice and vegetable canning plants, alcohol factory, fish meal, mushroom culture, saa mulbery paper and beeswax-candle making plants. A total of 700 people work in the royal project area.
Every year thousands of people visit and tour the Royal Chitralada Projects. Some are farmers who come to learn. Most are excited about being inside the Royal Villa grounds. Other groups of visitors include busloads of teachers and children in school uniforms. Long lines of blue and white follow the paths leading to different parts of the projects - all of the students busily taking notes, for they know they will be questioned about what they have seen and perhaps be assigned essays to be written about their tour.
For whatever reason, one is privileged to enjoy a tour of the Royal Chitralada Projects; it is an occasion to be amazed, to wonder, to learn and to enjoy the beautiful surroundings - truly a home "fit for a king".
Later, we visited Office of The Royal Development Project Board (ORDPB) located in a vintage building that was previously the Chulachomklao Royal Army Academy what is now connected with the office of the Prime Minister. After we were treated with a pleasant lunch, the ORDPB's senior advisor gave us an hour lecture. We were informed how the administration office looks after the 3,000 countrywide development projects undertaken through royal initiative.Royal Development Projects have characteristics that set them apart from other projects. The projects are initiated to help provide the people with solutions to problems that they have been unable to overcome on their own; and the projects also enable and teach the people to live a better life without destroying the environment or natural resources. His Majesty has far-reaching knowledge in many fields and he is not an extravagant man. He believes in sustainable living – use only what is needed and nature will replenish herself. He does and he learns and he experiments. The best equipment and the best methods are not always the most expensive. Sometimes things don't work as well as was hoped, but he doesn't give up. The costs of unproductive projects are always borne by the projects, never by the farmers. The projects initiated by H.M. the King are never for his personal or financial gain. The royal ‘profit' or ‘dividend' is the satisfaction of seeing improvement in the lives of his people. Royal Development Projects can be divided into four sub-headings. The First are "Projects Initiated According to His Majesty's Wishes" These are projects on which His Majesty himself conducts study, experimentation and implementation. Those experiments are often carried out within the Royal Chitralada Projects area, but also are sometimes tried in other project areas. These are financed by H.M. the King's own funds."The Royal Projects" cover development and preservation of water resources and watershed areas; and crop substitution to curtail opium planting by hilltribes, and encourage them to settle in permanent villages where they can have alternative sources of income."The Projects "Under His Majesty's Patronage" are those for which His Majesty gives advice and guidelines for implementation by the private sector that also provides its own funding, staff and on-going supervision."Royally Initiated Projects" are those planned by His Majesty and for which he gives advice to appropriate government agencies to undertake study and implementation. The Royally Initiated Projects are spread throughout all regions of the country and focus on both short-term and long-term development.
His Majesty emphasizes "development work which aims to strengthen the community to the self-supporting level". Progressive technology brought into a village or region that has no foundational structure to help local people to cope with the tremendous change is usually of no value to them.
Continued in Next Issue
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