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Thailand’s ‘sufficiency economy’ philosophy may provide guidelines for survival in low- or no-growth economy, according to Bronwen Evans. former Radio New Zealand economics correspondent and now entrepreneur in Thailand, Evans says the country’s King Bhumibol developed the idea of sufficiency economy after the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Speaking at the IncrediblEdge conference in Auckland recently, Evans said the principle now forms part of the country’s public policy and has been adopted by many in Thailand’s private sector.
Rather than focusing specifically on goal, sufficiency economy homes in on human behaviour with the underlying ideas of moderation, reasonableness, and adequate immunity against unforeseen events and crises.
“You could say this is Thailand’s version of the gross national happiness index in Bhutan,” says Evans.
“Given that Thailand is Buddhist country, the philosophy naturally draws on principles of Buddhism, such as following the ‘middle path’ and avoiding extremes – of either self-deprivation or excessive consumption. It can apply at every level of society – from the individual, to the family, business and the nation.”
Evans says sufficiency economy centres around people “rather than stuff” and includes ideal characteristics to emulate.
“We should aim to possess broad knowledge, be thoughtful, careful and ethical in our behaviour. We should act with honesty, integrity, diligence and self-control. Through following this path, we can become resilient and can experience balance and harmony in our lives.”
An integral part of the philosophy is that people aim for independence in their daily lives. “We should not be wasteful but take just enough of our earnings or production to sustain ourselves,” says Evans. “The rest we should divide up – give away some, save some, and sell some.”
Evans says it is interesting to note that in Thailand in 1997 and Greece in 2012, large number of people still owned their own land in the villages.
“When crisis struck, many people in both countries left the cities to go back to the countryside where they were able to live simply and cheaply,” she says. “This sufficiency provided them with lifebelt in times of trouble.
“Even big and successful companies can subscribe to the Thai concept of sufficiency. As form of human ecology it focuses on values, quality of life, sustainability and intergenerational skill development.” M

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