TRUTH-UNITY-SACRIFICE

 

This speech deals with the Pali motto of the Thai Bankers’ Association, Sajjang-Samaggi-Jago, which means Truth, Unity and Generosity or Sacrifice.

This is a departure from usual speeches dealing with political economy, banking, and public finance. Election battles have just ended; we have had enough of politics for the time being. Bankers will continue to serve the public and the nation, whichever party wins the election. Also, a governor of the Central Bank must be neutral in politics; he therefore takes refuge in Pali words tonight. A sermon-like speech is called for to do justice to these Pali words. Several Buddhist Pali proverbs will be quoted during the course of the speech.

Individuals and societies need moral principles to guide them through life. It is praiseworthy that the Thai Bankers’ Association has chosen a good motto. It can be expected that each member will act according to the motto: to seek truth, be united and give. Wise men seek the good and useful and avoid the evil and useless.

Truth and truthfulness are fundamental virtues. They create mutual confidence among members of an association. We bankers must trust one another and create credit. However, truthfulness should not be practised only among members of the Association. They should also be truthful to the Central Bank in different ways; reporting by true rates of interest to depositors, avoiding fictional accounts, and truthfully reporting exchange control matters. Lies to the Central Bank can also lead to hell.

Unity is strength for all concerned and will lead to happiness. Unity can exist and be maintained on two important conditions: altruism and justice. It is vain for each bank to insist that others act according to its wishes to create unity. Each must be unselfish; none must resort to unfair competition. Injustice and suspicion of inequity destroy the spirit of unity. Infringements of rules create injustice and suspicion of inequity.

Of course self-sacrifice strengthens the spirit of solidarity. Generosity to outsiders creates cordiality. Generosity toward the weak, crippled, and poor is a noble virtue. Generosity is good, provided we are not over-generous with other depositors’ and shareholders’ money, while usurping credit for ourselves.

Reverting to truth, the speaker thinks that the pursuit of truth would result in better knowledge.  In their fourth annual conference at Bali early this month, governors of the Southeast Asian Central Banks decided to initiate joint research into economic and monetary prospects of the 1970’s, taking into account probable cessation of hostilities in Vietnam, new development in rice production, and industrialization efforts of every country in the region. The Bank of Thailand has been entrusted with working out the first stage of this project. This should benefit all governments, commercial banks, and people in the nations concerned.

In seeking truth, one should be careful how one goes about it. Ask no foolish question and you will get no foolish answer. It is right that one should be concerned about how the nation’s international reserves are managed. But to ask in public whether the Central Bank is going to support the American dollar is to miss the point. It is not the duty of the Bank of Thailand to support or not the American dollar or any other foreign currency. The relevant question is whether international reserves management is sound from the point of view of the Thai nation. On this question, one should hear of actions rather than words. The law provides that currency reserves be held in gold, pounds sterling, and American dollars. In practice, reserves are mostly invested in dollars and the Exchange Equalization fund also deals exclusively in dollars. The most recent information on our reserves is that about 89% is invested in American dollars to earn interest. About 9% is held in gold for security purposes, and the rest in sterling. A little observation will readily reveal the truth.

In conclusion, let us invoke the traditional Buddhist blessing: “As the eternal spring fills waterways and enriches fields, so may good deeds of the Thai Bankers’ Association fulfil every need, every aspiration of its members. May our hosts’ wishes promptly come true. May their thoughts be as complete as the moon in the mid-month, and as brilliant as the rarest precious stones.

May our hosts successfully avoid every mishap, every illness. May they have long life and happiness. O cordial and gentle hosts, may you be blessed with the four dharma: longevity, good complexion, happiness and strength.”

Let every guest raise his or her glass and drink to the prosperity of the Thai Bankers’ Association and the happiness of its members.

 

Address to the Thai Bankers’ Association,

12 February 1969, Bangkok.