The many dimensions of corruption
- Published: 10/11/2010 at 06:19 PM
- Online news:
A conference held this week in Bangkok explores the many dimensions of corruption and possible ways to reduce it.
The 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference 2010 is taking place from November 10-13 in Bangkok (See website: http://14iacc.org/ Twitter: 14iacc Hashtag: #14iacc).
Today's article discusses Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that compares countries by their level of corruption (See Wikipedia, the source of the map above).
A score of 10 means there is no corruption and a score of zero means the country is completely corrupt. For the last 15 years Thailand has hovered around three.
The police, parliament and government construction projects are said to be especiallly corrupt. Also mentioned are the bribes or "tea money" necessary in Thailand if a parent wants to get their child into a better school, documented by a previous Bangkok Post article (Read article also as political favours or "dek faak").
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Experts' objective is a graft-free Thailand, SPECIAL REPORT: Ridding Thailand of corruption is the aim of a special conference this week in Bangkok by Aekarach Sattaburuth and Saritdet Marukatat
The National Anti-Corruption Commission launches its first anti-corruption exposition today with the lofty goal of making Thailand corruption-free. Some people say the aim is so grandiose it's laughable when compared to the ignominious reality.
The expo is being held as part of the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference which Bangkok is hosting for the first time.
NACC chairman Panthep Klannarongran said the event, to run over three days until Saturday, is an opportunity to show the world that Thailand is serious about its efforts to rid itself of corruption.
Whether it will come true or not depends on public collaboration," he said.
Where does the country stand when it comes to corruption and its attempts to rid itself of this blight?
The latest 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index report released by Berlin-based Transparency International last month showed that Thailand had done slightly better this year in eliminating public sector corruption.
The country received a corruption rank of 3.5 out of 10, a small improvement from last year's 3.4.
A score of 10 in the survey reflects a state where there is no official corruption, while 0 indicates a completely corrupt nation.
NACC member Pakdi Pothisiri said the country aimed to get to a "pass" score of five within five years. But the NACC alone cannot make it happen, he said.
Getting rid of corruption must be the common aim of every citizen, starting with an awareness not to vote for politicians whose names have been associated with graft, he said.
Mr Pakdi said he realised it was a formidable task. Thailand's CPI scores since 1995 have ranged from 2.79 to 3.60. He said Thailand had never received a pass score since the CPI was introduced in 1975.
It's going to take such a long, long time," Wilas Chanpitak, a Democrat MP who is chairman of the anti-corruption committee, said when asked if Thailand really could rid itself of corruption.
Mr Wilas estimated that some form of graft existed in about 70% of procurement and public works construction projects proposed for the national budget
"Corruption is rampant," he said. "Everywhere you look, you will find it. It's in the mindset. It has become part of the culture. It's difficult to fight greed.
In a survey on corruption and the public sector in Thailand prepared by Pasuk Phongphaichit and Nualnoi Treerat in 2000, the police and members of parliament were rated as the least honest among public institutions.
National police chief Wichean Potephosree said the problem of corruption in the police force had many causes; one of them being a poor welfare scheme for low-ranking officers.
The agency has 180,000 non-commissioned officers," he said. "Less than half of them are provided with accommodation by the national police office. Better welfare and higher salaries will help put an end to the problem
To get the message across, good, clean officers must be rewarded and promoted. Promotion must be based on performance instead of cronyism.
Another factor is internal bribery. Low-ranking officials have to collect dirty money for their supervisors.
If their bosses are not corrupt, other officers will not do it, too," he said. "In fact, what should happen at the police organisation should be the other way around. High-ranking officers should take care of their subordinates and look after them.
Mr Pakdi, however, said while the traditional form of corruption - menial bribe collection often associated with low-ranking officers like the police - still occurs, it is the corruption by policy or "state capture" usually associated with collusion among politicians, state bureaucrats and private business that is more worrying.
This form of corruption is more subtle and often sanctioned by the law issued especially for the purpose," he said. "It usually occurs with big projects and the amount of graft-taking is growing higher."
In 2003, Somkiat Tangkitvanich of the Thailand Development and Research Institute estimated the amount of kickbacks in construction projects had risen to about 20%.
The amount of bribes related to construction is estimated to be 25 billion baht a year, he said.
In 2004, the Engineering Institute of Thailand put the amount of damage incurred through embezzlement and bribes in large-scale corruption involving major projects over the past 15 years at 1.2 trillion baht
Mr Pakdi said a national campaign to fight corruption - which has been in place for two years - could help rectify the situation. However, he emphasised that a campaign to bring back the value of honesty, especially among the young generation, would work better in the long run.
Mr Wilas disagreed. He said the usual talk of instilling awareness of corruption into young minds will not work.
How can we teach children to fight against corruption when they see for themselves at an early age that parents must pay tea money for them to get a seat in school?" he said.
A survey of school children by the Clean, Open and Transparent Thailand group suggested an attitude of resignation to graft.
Of the children in 38 schools surveyed, 34% said corruption had become a part of Thai culture and could not be eradicated. Forty-five per cent did not object to giving small sums to government officials to iron out inconveniences; another 54% could tolerate corrupt politicians as long as their work benefited the country.
Thai adults share a similar attitude. In a survey on moral integrity by an Abac poll conducted in 2007, 50.5% of 4,753 respondents would accept a corrupt government if it would help improve their lives
For Mr Wilas, it boils down to the need for a strong, clean leader to fight corruption.
Not only must the leader be graft-free but he must also ensure that people in the cabinet are above suspicion as well. We need serious punishment. That is the only way for us to succeed.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Experts' objective is a graft-free Thailand, SPECIAL REPORT: Ridding Thailand of corruption is the aim of a special conference this week in Bangkok, 10/11/2010, Aekarach Sattaburuth and Saritdet Marukatat, link)
Transparency International - an international organisation that fights corruption and tries to raise public awareness of corruption (See Wikipedia)
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) - "Since 1995, Transparency International has published an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ordering the countries of the world according to 'the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians'. The organization defines corruption as 'the abuse of entrusted power for private gain'." (See Wikipedia)
National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) - an independent agency of the Thai government "responsible for the ethical conduct, financially or otherwise of elected politicians and civil servants. The commission have both powers of investigation and prosecution." (From Wikipedia; see website) คณะกรรมการป้องกันและปราบปรามการทุจริตแห่งชา
objective - what you plan to achieve; goal; aim; purpose เป้าหมาย
graft - corruption, using political power and authority to get money illegally (take bribes) การช่อโกง
corruption - (See Wikipedia on bribery, corporate corruption, and political corruption)
aim - purpose; goal, the thing you hope to achieve by doing something เป้าหมาย จุดมุ่งหมาย
grandiose - very big and elaborate (more than is necessary)
ignominious - very embarrassing because of some failure (example: the general suffered an ignominious defeat) (Get sound of word pronounced)
reality - actually happening ความเป็นจริง
expo - a show or fair, to display certain things
host- provide a place for an event to take place and also making arrangements for it and welcoming and taking care of guests and participants
opportunity - a situation when it is possible to do something that you want to do (See glossary)
efforts - the work done towards achieving some goal ความพยายาม
rid - throw away, eliminate, remove or stop something from happening
get rid of - remove, throw away
collaboration - when people work together to achieve a goal
blight - something that damages and spoils other things, a very bad plant disease
released - made available to the public
Berlin-based - located in the city of Berlin (headquarters, center of for activities)
eliminating - getting rid of, stopping removing, ending (See "rid" above)
sector - a part of the economy (public sector = government, private sector = all businesses, household sector = families and consumers, banking sector,...) ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ (See Wikipedia)
public sector - all the governmental organizations of a country
rank - 1. the position or level within a group, 2. a measure of how well they have done
improvement - when something gets better or when you make it better การปรับปรุง, การทำให้ดีขึ้น
survey - gathering information about what people think about different subjects by asking people questions and counting their answers, and then using statistics, graphs, and tables to present results (See Wikipedia) การสำรวจความเห็น
state - government รัฐ
official - approved by the government or some authority ที่เป็นทางการ
common - done or shared by two or more people ที่ร่วมกัน
common aim - when people have the same goal
citizen - someone who has the right to live permanently in a particular country, and therefore has legal rights and responsibilities พลเมือง (See Wikipedia)
awareness - the state of knowing about something การรับรู้, การทราบ
X associated with Y - X connected with Y, people think of X when they hear Y
realised - understood
formidable - very difficult
task - a piece of work that someone does หน้าที่; ภารกิจ
score - to get points on a test or in a competitive คะแนน
pass score - the points needed on a test to succeed and not fail
procurement - buying supplies for a company or other organisation การจัดซื้อ
construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
proposed - suggested (but not yet chosen or decided upon)
national - for the whole country
budget - the amounts of money that an organisation has available to spend on different things during a period งบประมาณ (See Wikipedia)
rampant - existing, happening or spreading in an uncontrolled way รุกลาม อาละวาด กำเริบ รุนแรงจนควบคุมไว้ไม่ได้
mindset - the general way that people think about things, their attitude
greed - strong wish and desire to have more money, power, and things than you really need ความโลภ
institutions - large and important organizations, such as the government, universities or banks สถาบัน
police force - all the police officers in a police organization (local or national)
welfare - good care and living conditions ความสะดวกสบาย, ความมีสุขภาพดี, สวัสดิภาพ
welfare - help given, especially by the state or an organization, to people who need it; good care and living conditions สวัสดิภาพ
scheme - a plan that is developed by a government or large organisation in order to provide a particular service for people แผนการ โครงการ
Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) - an officer of low rank in the military or police (See Wikipedia)
promoted - moved to a higher position in the organization
performance - how well or badly something works (or whether an investment provides a reasonable return)
crony - people who receive special favours from powerful friends (See glossary)
cronyism - the practice of giving favours, positions and opportunities to friends and family (instead of the people that really deserve them, who would benefit the organization)
factor - a fact or situation which influences the result of something ปัจจัย
internal - existing or happening inside a person, object, organisation, place or country ภายใน
bribery - the crime of giving money or presents to someone so that they will help you by doing something dishonest or illegal การให้สินบน
traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
menial - very low level unskilled work เกี่ยวกับงานที่ต่ำต้อย
bribe - money or a present given to someone so that they will help you doing something dishonest or illegal สินบน
policy - a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย a plan of action to guide decisions and achieve outcomes (See Wikipedia)
capture - to take someone as a prisoner จับกุม
collusion - secretly working together to do something dishonest การสมรู้ร่วมคิด
bureaucrats - people who work in government departments ข้าราชการ
subtle - not obvious เบาบาง
sanction (noun) - approval, permission, support, การอนุญาตเป็นทางการ, การอนุมัต, การสนับสนุน [this is the definition here, not also the next definition]
sanction (noun) - punishment, penalty การทำโทษ, ทัณฑกรรม
sanctioned by the law - supported or permitted by the law
issued - made available ออกใหม่
kickbacks - 1. a secret payment made to receive an illegal favour, 2. a seller pays money to a buyer in a company or government so that the purchase will be made with him
bribes - money given to someone to get them to do a favour for you (usually illegal or against the rules) สินบน
embezzlement - the crime of secretly taking money that is in your care or that belongs to an organisation or business you work for การยักยอกเงิน, การฉ้อโกงเงิน (See Wikipedia)
scale - size (relative size)
large-scale - large size (compared to other things)
campaign - a series of actions intended to produce political or social change การรณรงค์, การกระทำการหรือวางแผนเพื่อให้บรรลุตามเป้าหมาย
generation - a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
instil X into Y - to create a belief or deep feeling in people
awareness - knowing about something such as an issue, subject or situation (gaining knowledge or understanding)
tea money - same as "bribe"
attitude - the way you think and feel about something, as shown in behaviour
resignation - the feeling or attitude that you cannot change or prevent some bad thing that is happening
object - to disagree with คัดค้าน
tolerate - to accept something unpleasant without becoming impatient, angry or complaining ทน ยอม
share - to have or use the same things as someone else ใช้ร่วมกัน
share a similar attitude - feel the same way about some issue (or controversial thing that happened)
moral - about what is right and wrong, about how people should behave
integrity - the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change ความซื่อสัตย์, ความซื่อตรง
poll - an occasion when a lot of people are asked about what they feel about something
improve - to make better ทำให้ดีขึ้น
X boils down to Y - the meaning of X is Y, X can be summarized as Y
ensure - to make certain that something happens or is done ให้ความมั่นใจ ให้การยืนยัน รับรอง
suspicion - not trusting and believing someone or something ความสงสัย ความไม่ไว้วางใจ ไม่น่าเชื่อถือ
above suspicion - you can trust and believe a person completely, there is no reason not to believe them
About the author
- Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Assistent Manager Educational services