Back when the generals were still running Thailand, here at New Mandala we paid almost daily attention to what then passed for national economic policy — the ephemeral notion of “sufficiency”. As a key discursive crutch it seems to have been largely folded away under the government of Prime Minister Samak. Of course, it has faded from the agenda right at the time when real economic problems are starting to bite…everywhere.

But, never fear, “sufficiency” is one of those ideas that seems to always make a comeback in one form or another.

In today’s Bangkok Post Suranand Vejjajiva, who was a Prime Minister’s Office Minister under Thaksin, provides an interesting set of “prescriptions” for Thailand’s economic woes. Among other things, he suggests that:

The sufficiency economy must be seriously implemented at the village level, providing a base for sustainable development for the rural areas.

This leaves me scratching my head. Why does he only mention “sufficiency economy” as a way of improving village life? Is he actually taking it seriously as a set of economic policies, or is he just uttering the shibboleth for good measure, or is he, in fact, using it for something else entirely?

My question for Suranand is — if the “sufficiency economy” will save rural Thailand, why shouldn’t it be “seriously implemented” across society? Why does the “village level” bear the brunt of “sufficiency” attention? Nowhere else in his article does Suranand mention the idea and, in fact, he offers a number of other suggestions for economic reform and re-structuring which, one must imagine, would upset some “sufficiency” advocates. There is no explicit mention of “sufficiency” for Bangkok or its residents. Are the questions just too hard? Under a “sufficiency” regime what would be first to go for the urban elite? Meals at posh places in Siam Paragon? Trips to Europe? Any superfluous income?

And a question for New Mandala readers — have you had enough of sufficiency?