In 1999, a team of experts worked on distilling King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s sufficiency economy theory into a concise and clear explanation.
Bhumibol himself checked and approved the final summary. Here it is:
The Sufficiency Economy is an approach to life and conduct which is applicable at every level from the individual through the family and community to the management and development of the nation.
It promotes a middle path, especially in developing the economy to keep up with the world in the era of globalisation.
Sufficiency has there components: moderation; wisdom or insight; and the need for built-in resilience against the risks which arise from internal or external change. In addition, the application of theories in planning and implementation requires great care and good judgement at every stage.
At the same time, all members of the nation — especially officials, intellectuals, and business people — need to develop their commitment to the importance of knowledge, integrity and honesty, and to conduct their lives with perseverance, toleration, wisdom and insight so that the country has the strength and balance to respond to the rapid and widespread changes in economy, society, environment and culture in the outside world.
The sufficiency economy theory has proven notoriously difficult to translate into a set of clear principles for small-scale farmers, canned fish factory workers, billionaire business tycoons and others to follow. And yet it is a clear contribution to one area of thought at least: the Thai theory of kingship.
Thailand’s monarchy is in crisis because of the failure of its royalist supporters to follow the sufficiency economy principles. Far from promoting a moderate, wise and insightful monarchist establishment that is flexible and balanced enough to withstand both internal and external shocks, many Thai royalists believe that defending the palace requires intolerance, extremism. ignorance and inflexibility.
As King Bhumibol has taught us via his sufficiency economy theory, this kind of approach is doomed to failure and may indeed destroy Thailand’s monarchy forever.
The only way for Thailand’s royalist establishment to survive over the long term is to follow Bhumibol’s principles and accept a system of “sufficiency monarchy” in line with the theory that he has so clearly explained. Let us hope Thailand’s wayward and misguided royalists soon realize the recent error of their ways and fall in line with the king’s clearly stated wishes and wisdom, before it is too late.