The title of this entry should have a ? or an ! after it. The problem is we don’t know just yet witch one is the right one to use. In either case there is significant major activity by the Junta with a full on attack against corruption and graft because things are all coming to a head and Thailand’s face is at stake.
It is really hard to tell even for Connecting the Dots at this early stage of the corruption cleanup push by the junta. Certainly Thailand has taken some serious hits in the past year. The cleanup push could be from the Junta looking to put a better face on the word Junta. It could be the Thai people have had enough of bad talk with various reports and downgrades in globally respected reports. It could also be it is just the right thing to do.
Typically the Thai people are very forgiving. They often turn their heads away from wrong doing be it a cultural accident by a tourist who simply did not know better, or minor corruption that the victim can’t be named. However when they reach a certain tipping point and say enough is enough, they simply become a juggernaut and attack the problem head on relentlessly.
In most cases this attack is targeted against non-Thais, but every now and again a Thai will anger the masses and seemingly the entire country will turn on them. The last Thai that happened to was non other than Thaksin Shinawatra when his greed and desire for power was too much for the Thai people to digest. Ironically Thaksin did not reach that level once, he actually did it twice.
The first time Thaksin hit that level was when he tried to avoid paying taxes on the sale of the Shin Corporation. The amount of tax money that involved was so far beyond the level of tolerable corruption, it turned the entire country on him. The second time was when through is proxy Pheu-Thai Party (PTP) tried to push a blanket Amnesty bill that would have returned 46 Billion Baht of ill gotten money that was taken away by the court, as well as whitewash him of crimes, and setting him free and back to near the state he was at when he was removed by the 2006 Coup.
Other notable changes were when Thailand started it’s crackdown on tourist visa abuse. The last straw on that was triggered in 2006 by an American teacher who confessed to being the killer in a very famous US murder of a high society child model. In the end it turned out he did not do it but he was so obsessed with that particular crime he confessed to it. Even that he did not do the crime he did manage to get a free first class flight back to the US compliments of the FBI for further questioning on the flight over cocktails and back in the US. That visa crackdown is still ongoing and evolving further screening out undesirables with the focus on routing out organized crime and people operating companies in Thailand that are not legal.
Other motivational slaps in the face Thailand got that pushed them to the tipping point was the downgrading of Thailand to the lowest level in regards to Human Trafficking. That globally respected US report put the human trafficking issue in Thailand’s face and no matter what way they turned they could not escape it.
Ironically a Pulitzer-winning series by Reuters news agency journalists on the Rohingya boat people has won a second major international award as Thailand’s military proceeds with a criminal defamation suit against two Phuket-based journalists. So when you combine the US downgrade of Thailand, and the fact that the Thai navy is looking to sue journalist for reporting on the Thai Navy’s involvement in human trafficking, you naturally start to side with the journalists and start to see the lawsuit as possible intimidation by corrupt navy officers looking to cover their back sides and trying to leverage the court to get a conviction.
Other corruption issues that pushed Thailand to the tipping point is organized crime in tourist areas that is giving Thailand loads of bad press. After all, when a short taxi ride from the Phuket airport into town costs more than the domestic flight to get to Phuket, corruption really starts to stand out in big bold letters.
Collectively all of this and loads more seems to have done it. The only unknown is this just a short lived effort that will soon fade away like so many other because of corruption in the ranks of investigators. Or is this coming down from the top levels of the Junta who would look to punish their own as well for contributing to the problem. We really don’t know but because it is now past what Thailand can effectively conceal, along with efforts on political reform that look to make it difficult for corrupt politicians to prosper, we are leaning towards that perhaps finally this is the real deal and an ! Is the proper punctuation for the title of this entry.