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Tolerance of corruption

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Citizens who won't tolerate corruption anymore, as in the case of Hong Kong over 50 years ago, may be the essential ingredient in fighting corruption.

The Bangkok Post featured a translation of a mammoth and very informative piece on corruption last week from its sister publication Post Today. Here it is in full:

Click button to listen to Corrruption Tolerance and rightclick to download

Tolerance of corruption is too deeply ingrained by Kamol Hengkietisak

bribeWhen Transparency International first launched the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) over a decade ago and Thailand was ranked very low, the government at the time reacted angrily and questioned the organisation's methodology in compiling a CPI for various countries, noted Poldech Pinprateep, writing for Post Today.

Transparency International did not answer its critics in any country but has continued to do its job punctually every year since. Its CPI is now widely accepted and quoted internationally.

Thailand's CPI score has been low for the past 15 years. With the perfect score for no corruption set at 10, Thailand usually gets less than 4 - ie, 2.8 (1995), 3.0 (1997), 3.2 (1999), 3.2 (2001), 3.3 (2003), 3.8 (2005), 3.3 (2007), 3.4 (2009) and 3.5 (2010).

Even though the CPI reflects foreign organisations and expatriates' perception of corruption in Thailand, other tools are needed to assess where the problem lies. In 2006, Asia Intelligence came out with indices measuring the degree of corruption in government, the intention of government to tackle corruption and the people's tolerance of corruption. Thailand scored very badly on all three indices.

On the severity of corruption in the government sector, Thailand scored 8.27 out of the maximum of 10. Other Asean countries which scored in a similar range were Indonesia (8.67), Vietnam (8.01) and the Philippines (7.71). The best of the Asean group was Singapore (1.42), followed by Malaysia (6.41). 

The Thai government was also judged less inclined to tackle corruption, scoring 8 (10 is the maximum score with the least intention to tackle corruption). Again, Thailand had Indonesia (8.37), Vietnam (8.57) and the Philippines (8.18) as companions while Singapore was best in Asean (0.57), followed by Malaysia (6.39). 

Meanwhile, the tolerance of the people for corruption was high in Thailand, scoring 8 out of 10. But the country was outscored by Indonesia (9), the Philippines (8.2) and Vietnam (8.14). Again, Singapore came out best in Asean with the least tolerance against corruption of 0.71, followed by Malaysia (5.91).

Poldech cited research of several decades ago pointing out that Thai people were not closely knit in terms of social cohesion and were less nationalistic than Japan, South Korea and China. The Thai people did not care so much about the public good.

Other Thai traits that foster corruption are client-patron relationships, power centralisation and a carefree attitude. Most Thais are more concerned with their daily lives and having fun. They are easily bored and indifferent towards corruption by politicians and bureaucrats.

The tolerance for corruption permeates throughout all sectors of society and the community. Even the judiciary and independent organisations are no exception. So it is not surprising when one hears of these organisations being mired in corruption allegations.

Poldech cited the lesson of Hong Kong 50 years ago. The British-administered colony had severe corruption, much more serious than Thailand - in fact so much that the Hong Kong people could no longer tolerate it and decided to do something about it. The Hong Kong government created an independent corruption agency which was quite successful in curbing graft in the government sector. This Hong Kong agency model was later adopted by Thailand in the form of the Government Anti-Corruption Office and later transformed into an independent organisation known as the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

The transformation of Hong Kong from one of the most corrupt countries in the world to one with a very clean government was due to the intolerance of the Hong Kong people who could no longer bear power abuse. However, it seems Thais are more tolerant of corruption and abuse of power and there is no real sign yet to indicate otherwise.

Poldech noted that Thailand was deficient in management and enforcement of the law. The country has had good constitutions and a lot of good laws. Thailand also has had good five-year development plans for several decades. There are good laws concerning the fight against corruption as well. Yet corruption does not seem to be diminishing.

From 2003-2007, the National Anti-Corruption Commission had to deal with an average of 10,270 new and old corruption cases a year, but it was unable to keep up with the number of pending cases and the old cases just kept piling up. By the end of 2006, 4,975 cases were yet to be processed. The number of unprocessed cases rose to 11,578 in 2007.

In 2007, the government set up the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission to ease the workload on the NACC, but the situation is no better. Both organisations have a large backlog of cases to deal with every year.

Some academics and social thinkers did not see this problem coming. They came out to demand the government amend the law to increase the penalties for corruption. Poldech pointed out this did not solve the problem because justice delayed is an injustice. Corruption cases take years. Those who are charged with corruption may pass away, flee the country or spend their ill-gotten gains before their cases reach a conclusion in the court.

It is better if corruption cases can be resolved promptly and the guilty suffer the consequence quickly, while their punishment is publicised widely to act as a social deterrent. It is a more effective way to teach children about the adverse consequences of corruption when swift justice is administered. However, the present reality is otherwise.

Poldech saw three possible scenarios. First, the Thai people continue to tolerate corruption for the next 10-20 years as long as politicians/bureaucrats do not blatantly demand too big a portion of the cake. Maybe, the Thai people can tolerate a 10-20% ''commission'', but not as much as 40-50% for mega-infrastructure projects. If politicians/bureaucrats are clever, they should reduce their corruption demands to a more manageable level that is acceptable to the Thai people.

Second, all organisations fighting corruption should be reformed using existing laws and regulations, speed up investigations and show results every month, thus creating morale among the Thai people so they turn their backs on corruption and cooperate with these corruption fighting agencies. These independent organisations are the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Auditor-General, the Election Commission, the Administrative Court, the Constitution Court and the Parliament Ombudsman. The government organisations tasked with fighting corruption are the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, the Department of Special Investigation, the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Narcotics Suppression Bureau.

Third, some Thai people should rise up and let it be known that they can no longer tolerate corruption. The awareness and tolerance of corruption is not uniform across social strata. Some people are less tolerant than others. Poldech cited an example of retired officials of the Interior Ministry who formed a group to fight against power abuse and corruption in the ministry.

Another example is the formation of an anti-corruption alliance by 27 leading business operators including Siam Cement Group (SCG), Bangchak Petroleum, Central Pattana, Kasikornbank, Toshiba (Thailand) and Pfizer (Thailand). The Thai Institute of Directors Association (IOD) hopes to see membership rise to 200 companies next year. The alliance aims to make all parts of society more concerned about the country's competitiveness, which is shrinking due to corruption in both the private and public sectors.

Poldech concluded his article by pointing out that there are some Thais who do not want to tolerate corruption any more but they lack unity and the strategies to fight the overwhelming force of corruption entrenched in Thai society.

Abhisit overcomes internal resistance.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, as the leader of the Democrat Party, had to defend his move on amending two articles in the constitution at the party's meeting recently, noted a Thai Rath writer.

Former party leader Banyat Bantadtan questioned Mr Abhisit's move, saying it was ill-timed as the party is facing a dissolution case in the Constitution Court and the move could mobilise both the red shirts and the yellow shirts against the government.

Mr Banyat argued that the government could delay the move as the reform panels chaired by former prime minister Anand Panyarachun and Dr Prawase Wasi have yet to finish their work.

However, Mr Abhisit countered that the party had participated in the house working committee which came up with six proposals to amend the constitution and the party was not opposed to them at the time. So there was no reason to oppose them now.

Earlier, the government appointed National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) rector Sombat Thamrongdhthanyawong to study the constitution by conducting hearings nationwide. Mr Sombat's panel made a number of recommendations including support for two amendments involving small constituencies and international treaties. Mr Abhisit said he was personally opposed to small constituencies favoured by the coalition partners but since Sombat's panel had come out in favour, he had no reason to oppose them as the panel was appointed by the government. It would not look good for the government to ignore an independent academic's work at the government's behest.

Mr Abhisit said that even without the pretext of constitutional amendments the red shirts and the yellow shirts would still find some excuse to oppose the government. He said he reached his decision on his own accord, not because he was pressured by the coalition parties. He did not care if the coalition parties abandoned the government if the Sombat panel had come out against amending the charter on large constituencies. Then he would have decided otherwise. He was prepared to dissolve the House rather than see the country face another military coup.

He did not care about the yellow shirts' threat to hold a rally on Dec 11. The House is then in recess. He knew full well that the yellow shirts would agitate to convince the military to come out to control the situation and that it might lead to a coup even though the present military leaders were not thinking along those lines

Mr Abhisit cited another reason in supporting the constitution amendments. House speaker and parliament president Chai Chidchob of the Bhumjaithai Party is not under the Democrat Party's control. Mr Chai has good intentions and wants to amend the constitution in accordance with the Sombat panel's findings. If the government does not propose the constitution amendments now, Mr Chai could use his authority to call an extraordinary house session in December to consider the constitution amendments. The opposition Puea Thai Party could submit a no-confidence debate. Then Mr Abhisit could not use his power to dissolve the House if there was a disagreement with the coalition parties as the present constitution does not authorise him to dissolve the House if there is a censure debate in progress.

So with all these reasons, the government has to propose the amendments during the current session of the House, and if there is an untoward incident, Mr Abhisit can use his power to dissolve the House.

The deputy prime minister and the government's so-called ''manager'', Suthep Thaugsuban, who has had differences of opinion with Mr Abhisit on many occasions, this time was adamant that the Democrat Party must support the amendments. There would not be a free vote according to an MP's conscience. The government was in a precarious position on several fronts including the demand by Mr Abhisit that two deputy ministers from Bhumjaithai and Chart Thai Pattana had to resign before contesting by-elections while both parties had resolved to send them into the by-elections without having to resign. So the Democrat MPs must be united and should not do anything to weaken Mr Abhisit's authority as the party may face a general election soon if Mr Abhisit is forced to dissolve the House or the party is dissolved by the Constitution Court, concluded Thai Rath.

(Source: Bangkok Post, IN PRINT, Tolerance of corruption is too deeply ingrained, 20/11/2010, Kamol Hengkietisak, link

corruption - (See Wikipedia on bribery, corporate corruption, and political corruption)
mammoth - very large (from the large prehistoric animal: Wikipedia)
sister publication - publication produced by the same organization
ingrained - a deep part of something, so difficult to get rid of
launched - started เริ่มต้นดำเนินการ
decade - a period of ten years ทศวรรษ, ระยะเวลา 10 ปี
methodology - the way that something is done
critics - people who look for and point out problems in something, people who don't like something and who state their opinion about it นักวิจารณ์
punctually - done on time, without delay
quoted - 
mentioned, used in writing

reflects - shows
expatriate - a person who lives in a foreign country, lives outside the country they were born in and is a citizen of
perception - the way you see and think or feel about something, the way you see an issue การรับรู้
assess - to carefully consider a situation, person, or problem in order to make a judgment ประเมิณสถานการณ์
(singular) - a number that shows the price, value, or level of something compared with something else ดัชนี
indices (plural) - more than one "index" , the plural of "index"
intention - wanting to do something, wanting to achieve a goal, a plan in your mind to do something ความตั้งใจ เจตนา แผนการ
tackle - to make an organised and determine attempt to deal with a problem จัดการ, แก้ปัญหา

sector - a part of the economy ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ  (public sector = government, private sector = all businesses, household sector = families and consumers, banking sector,...) (See Wikipedia)
maximum - the most possible ที่สูงสุด ที่มากที่สุด
range - numbers that are close together (and between two numbers)
inclined - likely to
less inclined to - less likely to do
intention - what you want to do or achieve
companions - people you are together with, casual friends

cited - mentioned (to support an argument or point you are making) กล่าวถึง
decades - periods of ten years เป็นสิบๆปี
X pointing out Y - X showing that Y is true (and people probably didn't know or notice that)
closely knit - closeknit, when people do a lot of activities together and look after one another
X in terms of Y - X as shown by or measured by Y
cohesion - when people or things combine well into one unit
social cohesion - when people combine well and work well together
nationalism (noun) - 1. love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it, 2. the doctrine that nations should act independently (rather than collectively) to attain their goals, 3. the aspiration for national independence felt by people under foreign domination, 4. and more negatively: the doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other (See Google Definitions and Wikipedia)
nationalistic (adjective) - done from a belief in nationalism, with nationalism as the motive
the public good - what is good for everyone in society or the country

traits - characteristics that can produce a particular type of behavior ลักษณะพิเศษ
foster - help it grow and get bigger
client-patron relationships - when a more powerful person (the patron) takes case of all the needs of the less powerful person (the client) in exchange for their support, loyalty and help 
patron - someone who supports the work of others, usually by given them money ผู้อุปถัมภ์
power centralization - energy in the form of electricity produced in large quantities and used to operate lights, machines, and heating
carefree - happy and not too serious, cheerful, lighthearted, not worried or troubled  ที่ไร้กังวล, See also: ที่ไม่มีความกังวลใจ
attitude - the way you think and feel about something, as shown in behaviour
concerned - worried about something มีความกังวล
bored - be certain of the truth
indifferent - not concerned or interested in what happens, don't care about it ซึ่งไม่เอาใจใส่, ซึ่งไม่สนใจ
bureaucrats - people who work in government departments ข้าราชการ

permeate - spreading into and through every part of something, penetrate, pervade, diffuse ซึม, ซึมซาบ, ซึมซาบเข้าไป, กระจาย, ฟุ้ง, อาการปลิวฟุ้งกระจายขึ้นไปทั่ว
community - the people living in one particular area, people who have something in common (job, hobby) and are friends ชุมชน
judiciary - the part of a country's government which is responsible for its legal system and which consists of all the judges in the country's courts of law คณะตุลาการ, คณะผู้พิพากษา
independent - not taking help or money from other people พึ่งตนเอง, free from outside influence เป็นอิสระ, separate, not connected, working by yourself with your own resources
exception - different, something that does not follow the general rule, something that is different in some way from other things and so cannot be included in a general statement ข้อยกเว้น, เป็นที่แตกต่าง, ที่พิเศษออก,ไปจากกลุ่ม
mired in - stuck in
allegations - accusations ข้อกล่าวหา

cite - mention to support an argument that you are making (in a paper or a speech)
severe - very serious and worrying ที่รุนแรง 
tolerate - to accept something unpleasant without becoming impatient, angry or complaining ทน ยอม
curb - stop or reduce a lot
graft -
corruption การฉ้อโกง
transformed - changed

transformation - change
intolerance (noun) - the state or condition of not being tolerant 
bear - to accept, tolerate or endure especially something unpleasant ทน
could no longer bear - could no longer accept something difficult to accept
abuse - to use or treat someone or something wrongly or badly, especially in a way that is to your own advantage ใช้ในทางที่ผิด
power abuse - use the power that you have in a bad way
abuse of power -
another way of saying: "power abuse"

deficient - not having what is needed to achieve goals, not complete, not adequate, not sufficient ขาด, ขาดแคลน, ไม่ครบ, ไม่พอเพียง
enforcement - making sure a law is obeyed and punishing people if it is not obeyed บังคับใช้กฎหมาย
constitution - a set of rules for the government of a country, lists the functions and powers and limits on the power of various government entities (bodies, agencies), also known as a "charter" รัฐธรรมนูญ (See Wikipedia)
development - the gradual growth and formation of something
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
pending - waiting to be dealt with, settled or completed ยังค้างอยู่, ซึ่งยังไม่จบสิ้น, อยู่ในระหว่าง
cases just kept piling up - getting more and more cases and cases are not finished, so more and more cases to deal with
processed - having work done to it already (gone through all the steps of a process)
ease - to make or become less severe, difficult, unpleasant, painful, etc ทำให้ง่าย, บรรเทา
workload - the amount of work that a worker must do each day ปริมาณงานที่คนหรือเครื่องจักรทำได้ระยะเวลาหนึ่ง
backlog - all the tasks not yet done that must be done, a large amount of things that you should have done before and must do now

academics - professors and lecturers at universities and colleges
social thinkers - professors and other writers who provide general theories "to explain actions and behavior of society as a whole, encompassing sociological, political, and philosophical ideas" (See Wikipedia)
demand - ask or request strongly that something be done, insist
amend - change a law to improve it การแก้ไขกฎหมาย
penalties - บทลงโทษ
justice - when people are treated fairly and equally (See Wikipedia) ความยุติธรรม
pass away - die
flee - to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger หนี อพยพ
ill-gotten gains - money that a person made by doing illegal or dishonest things
conclusion - a final decision การสรุป การตกลงขั้นสุดท้าย

resolved - when a problem has been solved
promptly - done quickly, without delay ทันที
guilty - having been decided by a court of law that you committed the crime you were accused of มีความผิด
suffer - to experience physical or mental pain
suffer the consequence - after doing something bad, have something bad happen to you
deterrent -
something (like a punishment) to prevent people from acting in a certain way
effective - producing the result that was intended ได้ผลดี
adverse - having a negative or harmful effect on something ในทางลบ, เป็นผลร้าย
consequences - results of some actions or events
swift - happening quickly อย่างรวดเร็ว โดยด่วน
reality - what is really or actually happening ความเป็นจริง

scenario - one situation that could happen in the future (among many possible situations) การสมมติสภาพ
X as long as Y - X will happen or be true if Y continues to happen or be true
long - to want something very much ต้องการ ปรารถนา
blatantly - in an obvious or open way โจ่งแจ้ง โอ้อวด อึกทึก
portion - a part of something ส่วน
portion of the cake - a part of the profit or benefits received
commission - a percentage of a sale taken by a person (salesperson) for helping make the sale possible
infrastructure - the high-cost facilities that everyone in the economy shares (water, roads, electricity, trains) สาธารณูปโภค (See Google Definitions)
clever - very smart (too smart) ฉลาด (แกมโกง)
demands - the things that someone is asking you to do

regulations - official rules that control the way that things are done ระเบียบปฏิบัติ, ข้อบังคับ
results - what is produced in the end by an activity or task
morale - the enthusiasm and energy of the people in a company or organization, spirit กำลังใจ
turn their backs on - not accept 
cooperate - work together to reach a common goal ร่วมมือกัน
ombudsman - someone whose job is to deal with complaints that people make about an organization or particular type of business
money laundering -
hiding the origin of money obtained from illegal activities by putting it into legal businesses
anti-money laundering -
legal controls that require financial institutions  to prevent or report money laundering activities (See Wikipedia)
Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) - the Thai government office that investigates people for the crime of money laundering
rise up - rebel, resist, not accept a bad situation and choose to do something about it
let it be known that - make people and the public know about something (here: that they do not accept corruption)

awareness - the state of knowing about something การรับรู้, การทราบ
uniform - the same throughout, regular, does not vary
retired - no longer working because you have reached the age where you are officially too old to work เกษียณอายุ
ministry - a government department dealing with an area of activity กระทรวง

alliance - a group of people, organisations, or countries who have united to work together to achieve something สหพันธ์
operators - businesses doing a certain kind of business
competitiveness - how well a business can do compared to other firms (does it have lower price or higher quality?) การแข่งขัน
concluded - ended
lack - does not have ขาดแคลน
force - strong and violent action กำลัง ความรุนแรง
entrenched - firmly in place and difficult to move out ตั้งมั่น
internal - existing or happening inside a person, object, organisation, place or country ภายใน
resistance - a refusal to accept something, not doing what people are forcing you to do การต่อต้าน, การขัดขืน

defend - to say things to support someone or something ปกป้อง
amending - making changes to a document, law, agreement, etc. การแก้ไขกฎหมาย
meeting - when a group of people come together to discuss issues and make decisions การประชุม
party - short for "political party"
political party - a group of politicians that work together and campaign together to win elections (See Wikipedia)
timing - the skill or luck that is involved in doing something at the best or most suitable time
good timing - doing at the right time (when the situation is right)
ill-timed - done at a bad time (the situation was bad, should have waited for another situation)
dissolution - officially ending a group or organisation การยุบ
mobilise - organising a group of people to do something เกณฑ์, รวบรวม, ระดมกำลัง
delay - to make something happen at a later time than originally planned or expected เลื่อน
reform - improvement, change to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป

countered - say something to oppose or disprove something that has already been said
working committee -
a group of people working on solving a problem
reason - an explanation of an event, why an event happened เหตุ ; เหตุผล ; สาเหตุ
oppose - to disagree with or not approve of a plan or policy คัดค้าน

appointed - given a position within an organization
rector - the person in charge of a university อธิการบดีของมหาวิทยาลัยหรือวิทยาลัย
hearings - an official meeting to collect facts about a situation or problem
nationwide - including the whole country ทั่วประเทศ
panel - a group of people brought together to discuss, investigate, and give advice on a subject
support - helping
international - ระหว่างประเทศ between countries
constituency - an small area of the country that elects a set of representatives (one or more than one) to parliament
coalition - a government formed by two or more political parties working together รัฐบาลหลายพรรค
partners - two people or organizations working together in some activity
come out in favour of Y - to support proposal Y, to publicly announce that you support proposal Y
ignore - to fail to pay attention to; to pretend that you have not noticed or do not know about something เพิกเฉย
at the government's behest - doing something that the government asks them to do

pretext -
constitutional amendments - changes in the constitution
on his own accord - did by himself (without the influence of others or being forced by others)
parties - political parties
abandoned - leave and stop supporting 
charter - constitution, a set of rules for a government, usually in written document รัฐธรรมนูญ, กฎบัตร (See Wikipedia)
dissolve - when a group or organization stops existing (example: dissolve parliament), break up; disperse; abolish สลาย, สลายตัว, ยุบ     

threat - a danger อันตราย
rally - a large public gathering of people to support someone or to protest against something การชุมนุม
recess - a period of time in the year when the members of a lawmaking body or a court are not meeting
agitate -
convince - saying things to make a person believe something
thinking along those lines - thinking in this way

intentions - plans in you mind about what you are going to do ความตั้งใจ เจตนา
findings - what the committee decided was true, after looking at all the evidence
authority - power อำนาจ
extraordinary - done in addition to the normal activities of an organisation เป็นพิเศษ
session - a formal meeting of an institution such as a parliament or a court การประชุม
opposition - of a political party that is not part of the government or a group which is against the government ฝ่ายค้าน ผู้ต่อต้าน
submit - to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
confidence - the quality of being certain and feeling sure about something ความมั่นใจ
debate - a discussion or formal argument on an issue between people with different views (See Wikipedia)
no-confidence debate -
the debate that follows a parliamentary "no confidence motion" put before parliament by the opposition to defeating or embarrass a government (See Wikipedia)
censure - to express strong criticism or disapproval ตำหนิ, ติเตียน
censure debate - same as "no-confidence debate"
authorise - to give official permission for something to happen, or to give someone official permission to do something รับรองตามกฎหมาย ให้อนุญาต
progress - advance, go forward ก้าวหน้า
in progress - currently happening, happening now, not finished yet

current - of the present time ปัจจุบัน
untoward - unexpected and inconvenient or unpleasant ซึ่งไม่เป็นผลดี
incident - an unpleasant event

deputy - the person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง, ตัวแทน,ผู้รักษาการแทน
adamant - determined not to change your belief or decision about something ยืนกราน
precarious - not in control, may fail anytime, unstable and uncertain
resign - to leave a job permanently ลาออกจากตำแหน่ง
contesting - two or more people are competing to get something that not everyone can have
election - the process of choosing a person or a group of person for a position, especially by voting elect (v) electoral (adj) synonym: the polls การเลือกตั้ง
dissolved - (of a group) ended ยุบ (พรรค), ที่ถูกยุบ


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