Fight against graft 'making headway'
More people seem to be aware of corruption and they are less afraid to file complaints about it, the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) said Thursday, suggesting the battle against graft in officialdom could be making headway.
ACT secretary-general Mana Nimitmongkol said the number of recorded complaints is rising as a result of two factors: A greater public cognisance of the harm graft does by public and government servants and accelerated efforts by the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
The annual number of graft-related complaints jumped to 4,000 after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was established following a bloodless coup in 2014, and continued climbing to 5,300 cases in 2016, he said. Prior to that, the number hovered between 2,500-2,800 cases a year, he added. Due to the unexpected spike, the accumulated number of unresolved cases reached 18,400 at the end of 2017, nearly double the rate posted one year earlier.
"We are seeing some positive signs that the NACC can process corruption cases more than twice as fast now," said Mr Mana, adding that it had to do this to keep pace with the snowballing number of complaints filed. This number jumped from an average of 2,000 to 4,800 last year.
He said broader media exposure of reports on industries where corruption is rife, such as in the fisheries industry, which is still reeling from a US red flag in relation to cases of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities, is helping to improve the situation.
Other reports, notably the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report, which also highlighted Thailand as an area of concern, have set the wheels in motion to clamp down on high-level corruption, he said, pointing to crackdowns on pirated goods as another good sign.
As a result, Thailand will become more competitive when doing business globally, he added.
"The private sector and capital markets are very alert when it comes to fighting corruption. As we can see, this is the first time the business sector has stepped forward to speak out about and act against bribes and corruption," the ACT secretary-general said.
Bandid Nijathaworn, secretary-general of the Collective Action Coalition Against Corruption, said its network of "clean" businesses -- meaning those without a record of engaging in graft -- has mushroomed from 23 in November 2010 to 905 at present.