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Pattaya Daily News

13 November 2010 :: 16:11:06 pm 45901

Corruption-free THailand in 5 years NCC vows

It is very apt that Thailand is currently honoured with hosting a conference on international anti-corruption because Thailand is one of the countries that have such a bad reputation in terms of corruption. Although we are not the world’s champion, we nevertheless rank high in the corruption stakes; 78th, in fact, out of 178; in a descending scale where the least corrupt are designated by the lesser numbers. We can take a modicum of pride in that we are not as bad as most of our SE Asian Neighbours, but that hardly gives us cause for celebration. Let’s face it the 78th position is a pretty damning one.
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The Prime Minister delivered a speech at the anti-corruption conference, the crux of which was that corruption is a moral issue, not merely one of law enforcement. His opinion is consistent with that of the Secretary of the Thailand Transparency Organization. The corruption in Thailand is multifaceted and has been very lenient with its malefactors, especially politicians, many of whom arrogantly assume they are above the law.

This sorry state of affairs hasn’t been helped by the frequent changes of government. It used to be said that the history of many South American states could be gauged by the number of revolutions they’d experience, the same could also be said for Thailand to some degree, albeit the changes have ostensibly been through the legal elective process (we won’t mention vote rigging and buying votes at this juncture). Inevitably, elections cost money, vast sums thereof; money which could have been better spent on ameliorating the pitiful state of the poor, of whom Thailand has many.

Moreover, Thai people also have a passive acceptance corruption, which is inordinately dangerous. They have apparently started to think that if the government practises corruption, it does not matter, as long as the populace benefits from the results; a somewhat myopic and delude attitude it must be said. We are not alluding to some altruistic Robin Hood-type mentality here, of thieving from the rich to give to the poor; in reality, the majority of the ill-gotten gains go into the pockets of the self-serving corrupt and the poor get poorer.

This frankly shocking attitude of regarding corruption as not too bad a thing has been revealed in a recent survey that polled 17 provinces, in an attempt to gain a representative sample. According to the ABAC Poll Research Centre, in October 2010, the research found that an alarming number of Thai people consider that cheating by the government is perfectly acceptable. In fact, those so considering rocketed from 63.2% in 2008 to76.1% today, while the results of an international corruption survey in 178 countries, showed Thailand’s score had improved from 3.4 to 3.5 (full 10), frankly negligible and hardly something to write home about.

Corruption in Thailand is mainly as a result of the complicit conspiracy between “the three coordinated sectors”, consisting of politicians, government officials and business people. Those three main sectors have been working strongly together each year. Billions of Thai baht have been corrupted openly, especially in the construction projects of the state which account for at least Bt25,000 million each year. The Chairman of the Office of the National Anti Corruption Commission(NACC) went as far to state that he considers that fully 70% of the purchasing by the government is fraud!

Thai people tend to accept corruption more and more. Respect for authority and wealth, regardless of whether people are buying power or the votes is high. The attitude is that if you have money, you are worthy of respect, no questions asked about how the person actually came by this wealth. The younger generation, especially, apparently believe that the rich get richer from cheating the country, something that is acceptable as long as they provide something for the poor, even though it may only be a pittance!

When it comes to morality, a person might abhor murder, sexual misconduct, alcohol abuse etc., but seemingly respects cheating authorities. The majority of Thai people apparently believe that the acquisition of power and wealth by fraud is acceptable. Politicians buying the right to sell votes, trading positions for money, the top police buying their positions etc. all these instances are legion. Corruption is apparent everywhere, and this more than anything else highlights the moral and spiritual degeneration of society.

Before hosting the International Anti-Corruption Conference, the Office of the National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC) set as a target the goal for the country to achieve a “passing” score of 5 or more within five years because since the first survey in 1975, Thailand has failed every year. The NACC has set an idealistic and unrealistic goal for itself and the country unless it follows through. This will entail ruthlessly routing out the corrupt in whatever field they are hiding, granting no immunity and prosecuting these malefactors to the full extent of the law. Then they must begin to re-educate the masses and show them the error of their cherished beliefs. Unless these two measures are carried out consistently and relentlessly, Thailand will slip further down the slope to ruin, its reputation in tatters, only able to co-operate with fellow corrupt regimes, notably the 177th on the scale Burma and then there will be no hope whatsoever.

Warina Punyawan
Pattaya Daily News

Reporter : Warina Punyawan   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Editorial

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