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Police reform, not political ploys

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Casino scandal to replace police chief with Thaksin's man not real reform of closely linked system of politicians, mafia, corrupt police. 

police academy Thailand

Essential background reading on this topic:

1. On the legalisation of gambling, professors Sungsidh Piriyarangsan and Pasuk Phongpaichit.

2. Magsaysay laureate Jon Ungpakorn on justice reform (and also a previous editorial).

3. Analysis this week by Saritdet Marukatat and Wassayos Ngamkham

Photo above of students who have passed the Police Academy entrance examination being welcomed to the academy after taking strenuous entrance exams.

Click button to listen to Police Reform to download

EDITORIAL: Police reform a pipe dream (2/09/2011)


It is the public outcry against systematic justice and disparity that has strengthened the red movement and propelled the Pheu Thai Party into power. Yet, in her lengthy policy statement, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra did not mention a single word about the most crucial step towards making justice a reality - police reform.

Even after the casino brouhaha which has revealed yet again the cancerous problem of police corruption, the Yingluck administration made no move to pressure the police force to shape up.

Instead, the casino scandal has become only a political ploy to justify Pheu Thai's move to replace the police chief with one of Thaksin Shinawatra's men.

Prof Sungsidh Piriyarangsan hit the nail on the head when he said the problem of underground casinos and police corruption will not go away with the appointment of the new police chief. For underground casinos, the answer is in the legalisation of the gambling business, he said.

For corruption, the only solution is police reform.

According to his study on underground gambling, there are more than 170 gambling dens, large and small, in Bangkok, generating between 180 and 200 billion baht a year. Across the country, the 700,000 to one million gambling dens generate between 640 and 820 billion baht. And 5 to 20% of the earnings go to police protection.

Mind you, illegal gambling is not the only source of tea money that has kept the big cats in the police force fat, happy, and totally corrupt. Drug trafficking, prostitution, trading in contraband arms, smuggling of diesel oil and human trafficking are other big sources of extra income for the police. It is estimated that the huge underground businesses may be as large as 20% of the country's economy.

There have long been suggestions for the legalisation of gambling and prostitution, since they are the two biggest underground businesses. Apart from reducing police corruption, the legalisation will give the country much-needed tax revenues.

But the moves have been fiercely opposed by religious groups, who are unperturbed by the fact that keeping these businesses underground generates even more widespread sinful acts and exploitation.

While the police keep mum about legalising the underground economy because they benefit from its illegality, they are fiercely open against police reform.

The police force is ridden with many structural problems. The pay scale is so low that junior police officers must resort to extortion and bribery to buy their own police gear and to support their families, while the big guns reap the cream of bribery money.

The police system is also a feudal one, where the masters come only from the police academy. The police corporals and sergeants are of a different class, with almost no career path. Promotions are done through nepotism, or money, not merit.

The closed system is also highly centralised, forcing its members to be loyal to their bosses and not to the people.

All previous moves to demilitarise and to decentralise the police force have failed. Police resistance is key, but not the only factor.

The wide network of the illegal economy means that the mafia, politicians and corrupt police are closely linked in the same network. It is why politicians do not want to upset the police force, why the lack of law enforcement and legal double standards persist, and why injustice is here to stay.

(Source: Bangkok Post, EDITORIAL, Police reform a pipe dream, 2/09/2011, link


Underground Economy Vocabulary

ploy
- a trick; something that is done or said in order to get an advantage, often dishonestly วิธีการ,แผน
political ploy - a political trick

justice - fairness in the way people are treated (See Wikipedia) ความยุติธรรม

police reform - improving the way the police force operates to reduce corruption and end its role as the center of the illegal underground economy of gambling, prostitution, human trafficking, smuggling, arms trading, drug trafficking (See Wikipedia on internal affairs and police accountability)

reform - 1. improvements in the way government or an organization operates; 2. a change that is intended to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair การปฏิรูป

police force - a police organisation in a country, region or area (Thailand has a centralized national police force, the US has a decentralized police system)

corruption - illegal and dishonest behaviour by people in power (See Wikipedia on bribery, political corruption)
police corruption - when police act so as to make money for themselves, rather than enforce the law, as they should (See Wikipedia)

demilitarise the police - make the police less like the military in the way it operates
centralised
(adjective) - when decisionmaking and power in an organization is done in a hierarchy from the center
decentralised (adjective) - when decisionmaking and power in an organization is spread out over many people and places
centralised police force - usually one massive national police force that controls everthing (as in Thailand)
decentralised police force -
a situation in which power and decisionmaking is spread over more people and more places (for example, the US has local city police, county police, state police and national police forces, that are not one national police force that controls policing even down to the local level)

loyal
- willing to support, work for, or be a friend to someone, even in difficult times ภักดี จงรักภักดี ซื่อสัตย์
loyal to their bosses and not to the people

resistance - a refusal to accept something or allow it to happen การต่อต้าน, การขัดขืน
police resistance - the police refuse to accept (outside regulation and oversight)

feudal system - feudalism, a social system of the past in which people were given land and protection by people of higher rank, and then they would work and fight for them in return (See Wikipedia)
masters
- feudal masters, the "big bosses" in "feudalism"

gambling - the activity of betting money, for example in a game or on a horse race การพนัน
illegal - against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
illegal gambling - gambling that is against the law
legalisation of gambling - making gambling legal (so that the police can no longer control and profit from the illegal business)

gambling dens - secret places where people can gamble illegally 
generate - produce ก่อให้เกิด create สร้าง กระตุ้นให้เิกิด
one million gambling dens generate between 640 and 820 billion baht

exploitation - unfair treatment of someone, or the use of a situation in a way that is wrong การใช้หาประโยชน์อย่างไม่ถูกต้อง
extortion - the crime of trying to obtain something by force or threat การขู่กรรโชก รีดไถ
bribery - the crime of giving money or presents to someone so that they will help you by doing something dishonest or illegal การให้สินบน
tea money
- same as "bribes"

human trafficking - recruiting, transporting, transfering, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them (See Wikipedia and UNODC)
drug trafficking -
the buying and selling of illegal drugs (See Wikipedia)
prostitution
- the business of selling sex การค้าประเวณี

widespread sinful acts -
many people acting in a way that violates religious beliefs against immoral wrong action (in Buddhism, for example)
widespread
- happening or existing in many places, or affecting many people อย่างแพร่หลาย
sinful - against the rules of a religion or morally wrong ชั่วร้าย, ร้าย, มีบาป
acts - actions การกระทำ
unperturbed - not concerned or upset (about something that they should be concerned about)

unperturbed by widepread sinful acts


underground economy -
the illegal hidden economy (that does not pay taxes)
underground businesses - illegal and hidden businesses
underground casinos - illegal hidden casinos

strenuous - an activity that involves a lot of energy and effort
laureate - a person who has won a prize
Magsaysay laureate - a person who has won the Magsaysay Prize

Ramon Magsaysay Award - every year prizes are presented to Asian individuals and organizations in recognition for achieving excellence in their respective fields: Government Service, Public Service, Community Leadership, Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts, Peace and International Understanding, and Emergent Leadership (See Wikipedia and website)

Jon Ungphakorn - "(Thai จอน อึ๊งภากรณ์, born September 19, 1947) is a London-born Thai non-governmental organization (NGO) executive and member of the Senate of Thailand...of Chinese-Thai and British parentage. His father was the revered Dr Puey Ungpakorn" (See Wikipedia)

pipe dream - just a dream; plan, desire, or idea that will not likely work; a near impossibility ("from fantasies experienced when smoking an opium pipe") (See Wiktionary)

outcry - an angry response and protest to something that happens การคัดค้านอย่างรุนแรง
public outcry - when many people in the country have react angrily to something that happens

disparity
- a big difference between two things (income of the rich and poor, for example)
systematic justice and disparity - justice and disparity that is everywhere (that is part of the system)

movement
- a group of people who share the same aim and work together to achieve it การเคลื่อนไหวเพื่อวัตถุประสงค์ทางการเมือง
red movement - the "red shirt" political movement in Thailand (See Wikipedia)

propelled into power -
gained power by some action (or "ploy")

policy
- a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย (See Wikipedia)
policy statement - when the Prime Minister gives a speech to parliament about future policies

crucial
- extremely important because it effects the result of something สำคัญยิ่ง
the most crucial step - the most important thing to do

reality
- what actually happens, what is really true ความเป็นจริง

brouhaha - when some event makes people very excited and angry; roughly the same as "scandal" (a stir; a fuss, an uproar, a commotion) (See Wiktionary)
the casino brouhaha - same as the "casino scandal"

revealed - made known or showed something that was surprising or that was previously secret เปิดเผย
cancerous problem - a problem that grows like cancer (but is impossible to solve)

administration - one government that a country has for a period of time
Yingluck administration - the government of Yingluck Shinawatra that is now in power

pressure - when people are being pushed or forced to so something
shape up - improve condition, get into good condition, change to get rid of problems
pressure the police force to shape up - force the police force to end corruption and involvement in illegal businesses

scandal - a shocking situation with high ranking people breaking laws or morals เรื่องอื้อฉาว (See Wikipedia)
casino scandal - when it was revealed recently that senior police own and operate casinos

justify
- provide a reason for; show that there is good reason for something แสดงเหตุผลที่ดีพอ
replace - to get rid of someone or something and to put a new person or thing in their place หาคนมาแทน; เลิกให้และนำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน

hit the nail on the head -
identified the real problem exactly

appointment
- when someone is officially chosen for a job การแต่งตั้ง
appointment of the new police chief

big cats in the police force -
police VIPs, high-ranking police officers, senior police officers

contraband
- goods taken into or out of a country illegally
arms - weapons อาวุธ
trading in contraband arms - buying and selling illegal guns and weapons (shipped into the country)

smuggling
- secretly and illegally taking goods or people into or out of a country ลักลอบขนสินค้าหรือคนเข้าและออกจากประเทศอย่างผิดกฎหมาย
smuggling of diesel oil - bringing diesel oil into the country illegally (and avoiding taxes)

source
- the place or person something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something ต้นกำเนิด, แหล่งกำเนิด
income
- money that people receive from work or some other source, used for household consumption and savings
big sources of extra income - important ways that they earn a lot of extra money (their salaries are low)

revenues - the money coming into a business or the government รายรับ
tax revenues - tax money received by the government รายได้ของรัฐ

fiercely
- very strongly อย่างรุนแรง, อย่างดุเดือด
fiercely opposed - very strongly opposed

keep mum  - remain quiet; stay quiet (when you should say something)

benefit
- to get help or an advantage from something ผลประโยชน์
benefit from illegality - gain advantages from illegal actitivities

ridden
- has a lot of something bad (guilt ridden about the kids, flea ridden blanket, debt-ridden company, for example)

pay scale
- the range of levels of pay that: 1. people receive in different jobs; 2. a person can receive in a particular job (example: Within the police department, officers who graduated from the police academy are at the top end of the pay scale)

junior police officers - low level police officers

gear
- the special clothes and equipment that you use for a particular activity
police gear - clothes and equipment that the police use

support
- help, by giving money, for example สนับสนุน
support their families - make money to buy all the things their families need: food, housing, clothes, healthcare, etc

academy
- an organization intended to protect and develop an art, science, language, etc., or a school which teaches a particular subject or trains people for a particular job สมาคมส่งเสริมความรู้หรือวัฒนธรรม
police academy - the school where high level police officers in Thailand get their training

corporals - a low-level police officer
sergeants -
a low-level police officer, one level above corporal

career
- work (job, profession) that a person does for a long period of life (See glossary) (See Wikipedia)
career path - the series of jobs a person who does during life (that can lead to a very high level job, if successful)

nepotism
- when powerful people unfairly give positions to their family
merit
- when your good performance and achievements means you really deserve some reward ควรได้รับ

closed system -
a system that outsiders cannot enter (only high-ranking police insiders)

key
- important คนสำคัญ
factor - a fact or situation which influences the result of something ปัจจัย

network - a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
wide network of the illegal economy - the illegal economy includes many people

linked
- connected เชื่อมโยง
closely linked in the same network - an important part of the network (many connections, strong connections)

upset
- make people very worried, angry or sad about something ทำให้หงุดหงิด; วิตก กังวล

lack
- does not have ขาดแคลน
enforcement
- making sure a law is obeyed and punishing people if it is not obeyed (what police are supposed to do) บังคับใช้กฎหมาย
lack of law enforcement - when police do not enforce a lot of laws (so some bad people break the law often, because they know nothing will happen)

standards
- a rule for behaving which should be obeyed มาตรฐาน, บรรทัดฐาน, กฎเกณฑ์, กรอบ
double standards - a situation in which one standard is used for one group (poor) and a different for another group (rich)
persist
- to continue over long periods; never ending ยืดเยื้อต่อไป

legal
double standards persist - the law continues to be enforced differently for two groups of people

injustice
- failure to treat someone fairly and to respect their rights ความไม่ยุติธรรม
injustice is here to stay - people continue to be treated unfairly; they rights continue to be violated

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