Graft fighter says Thais turning against corruption

Thais are becoming more active in fighting systemic corruption, and the environment for fighting corruption in the Kingdom has improved, the head of the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand said last week in response to local and international surveys that showed overwhelming percentages of Thais are willing to join the fight against graft.

“Nowadays, I see the phenomenon of people growing more alert and doing whatever they can to fight corruption. We see the exposure of corruption play out in novels, movies, pocket books and newspaper columns,” said Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general of the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT), an independent network of activists, businesspeople and academics.

A recent survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce found that 86 percent of respondents said they were ready to join the fight against corruption. Also, the Global Corruption Barometer released by Transparency International in mid-2017 said that 72 percent of Thais believe people have the power to create the changes needed to defeat graft.

Thais who responded to the Transparency International survey gave good marks to the government on this issue, as the same percentage said they agreed with the measures taken by the government against corruption.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has made fighting corruption a key plank in his government’s platform. He has dismissed or transferred scores of government officials and bureaucrats suspected of graft, conflicts of interests and other wrongdoing. Prosecutions are also being pursued.

“Thai people must reject and no longer tolerate any kind of corruption. Corruption is not an easy problem to solve, but if all parties help one another to fight against it, I believe we can do it,” Prayut said at an event last week to mark International Anti-Corruption Day.

While instances and cases of corruption have still surfaced, most Thais appear to feel they are fewer than during many previous governments. They recognize that corruption is a longstanding and deeply ingrained problem that will take time to eliminate.

No country is completely free of corruption, and even countries rated in the top levels for transparency still report instances of corruption.

Speaking at the same event as the Prime Minister, Jeremy Douglas, regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, lauded the Thai government for dealing with corruption as an urgent issue.

“Now companies, not just their employees or agents, can be punished for violating the anti-corruption laws. Investors doing business in Thailand should therefore be aware of the risks and their responsibility to comply with Thai law,” he said.