The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) is known for its strong stance against inefficiency and policies that cause inflation and force consumers to pay needlessly high prices. In May, it targeted the telecommunications sector over the exorbitant cost of phones and the calls made on them, a failing it blamed on the industry's lack of liberalisation and inadequate competition. It makes sense that if prices can be lowered and the quality improved by opening up the market further, then that is what should be done.
Now comes another initiative from the country's foremost think tank. This time, though, it is not designed to save people money. Instead, it would hit certain individuals where it hurts most - in their bank balance, a sizeable chunk of which would be transferred to the state as a penalty for wrongdoing. Our criminal justice system has long been in need of reform and this is amply demonstrated by the fact that many fines imposed for breaking the law are still at the same level as when they were first set in 1957 - 55 years ago.
Any deterrent value that a fine of a few hundred baht might once have had has long since fallen victim to inflation. It is the poor who are unfairly penalised under this "one size fits all" system.
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