It has been there right along. Thailand’s other political battle is blended and intertwined with the main battle between convicted fugitive Thaksin and anyone who does not like him. The other battle is of the same nature but on a much smaller scale.
It seems hard to believe that an entire country has been doing battle with a rich convicted fugitive for over 3 years. This battle has overshadowed the other battle that has been going on for even longer. Ironically the outcome of the smaller battle will shape how the world sees Thailand from an investment perspective as well as a tourist prospective.
Very simply we are talking about the battle between corrupt and honest people, and there is not all good or all bad in either group and Ying Yang most certainly does apply. To be totally free of corruption leaves Thailand looking a lot like the places people left to get away from the sterile high stress and everything by the book attitude. Total corruption simply makes Thailand too dangerous a place and starting to look like a war zone with scams and extortion every place you look.
Looking at pre Thaksin Thailand, we see corruption that for the most part is accepted. Nuisance laws and regulations that interfered with fun were for the most part completely ignored, and that was a contributing factor to Thailand’s sexual playground reputation. Police were paid to look the other way while adult fun was being had. Drug traffic and counterfeit merchandise was also part of it. This was all tied to corrupt police who had their hand in this as well.
Politicians were on the take as well but at a tolerable level. It was not until Thaksin came along did the real money sucking come along. Politicians were content with a 1% to 3% take and many felt it was just the cost of doing business in Thailand. So padding out the bill and sending a kickback to a politician was normal operating procedure to win a contract and stay on favorable terms.
There were some reputable businesses that simply did not want to play this game and simply took their business to another country. Ultimately that started the decline of Thailand when compared to other countries in the area. The Thai people would have significantly benefited from those high end companies would they have been in Thailand.
Essentially the corruption became the grease that kept stress low and lives simple. The phrase ‘Don’t worry about it’ is spoken frequently in Thailand as things that look like a disaster to the untrained eye simply morph into something that works with the exchange of money.
So to fight to keep this laid back lifestyle, ironically you would find yourself siding with the corrupt. The flexibility of corruption tends to effectively smooth over most all rough edges. When the headaches are smoothed over like this it can certainly contribute to a smiling face in the Land of smiles.
Next Part 2