By The Nation
Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand secretary-general Mana Nimitmongkol said yesterday that corruption in Thailand is still widespread and difficult to tackle. However, he said awareness among people to fight it has also increased, which is a good sign.
In the international community, Thailand’s image of a highly corrupt country is still an issue of concern, he said, and referred to the latest survey conducted by an international agency that monitors corruption around the world.
Transparency International has published its 2017 report of global corruption barometer entitled “People and Corruption: Asia Pacific”. It estimates that more than 900 million people across 16 surveyed places had paid a bribe in the past year when trying to access basic services such as education or healthcare. Bribery rates for countries vary considerably across the region – from 0.2 per cent in Japan to 69 per cent in India.
The bribery rate for Thailand is 41 per cent compared to Cambodia and Myanmar on 40 per cent. Vietnam’s rate is 65 per cent, while bribery rates for Indonesia and Malaysia are 32 per cent and 23 per cent respectively. The bribery rate for China is 26 per cent.
Thailand, however, does better than peers in terms of the level of corruption increasing last year. There is only 14 per cent sample of people who said that the level of corruption in the country had increased last year, compared to 35 per cent in Cambodia and 22 per cent in Myanmar. Around 65 per cent of people surveyed in Indonesia and 59 per cent in Malaysia said corruption in their countries increased last year.
Mana added that there are some encouraging signs as more and people and businesses organisations in Thailand participate in public campaigns against corruption. For example, recently local institutional investors teamed up to promote good governance among listed companies, saying they would not invest in companies listed on the stock market with less-than-transparent management.
While the government may have tried to grill corrupt politicians it, however, has been criticised for turning a blind eye to its ministers and associates. “The role of the present government is a subject for criticism among the public,” said Mana.
Transparency International interviewed nearly 22,000 people about their recent experience of corruption in 16 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region.
Police top the list of public services most often demanding a bribe. Just under a third of people who had come into contact with a police officer in the last 12 months said they paid a bribe, according to the report.
Overall, 38 per cent of the poorest people surveyed said they paid a bribe, which is the highest proportion of any income group.
Interestingly, younger people are being squeezed harder.
People aged under 35 are more likely to have to pay a bribe to access a public service, according to the report.
Similar proportions of both men and women have paid a bribe in the last 12 months, or 30 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women.
The agency also noted that what is clear is that public-sector graft is a crime that affects men and women, young and old, and rich and poor, and must be urgently addressed in order to further social progress in the region.
The report suggests lawmakers across the region need do much more to support whistleblowers and that governments must keep promises to combat corruption.
This report comes at a key moment when many governments in the region are preparing their agendas to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs set out development priorities for 2030, which include reducing corruption and bribery in all their forms.