Thailand’s Abhisit takes on corruption Part 1

Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is seen as Thailand’s White night. Taking on corruption was always a big part of the game plan for him. But as white clothes are natural magnets for dirt, Abhisit finds himself facing the motherload of corruption sooner than expected, and that motherload has only a little to do with politicians.

As English teachers often do in Thailand, they attempt to engage students in English conversation. A typical question is ‘What do you want to do when you finish your schooling?’. More often than not the answer comes back ‘I want to be a policeman.’. Then when the student is asked why, the answer is almost always ‘They make a lot of money.’. The fact of the matter is, the police in Thailand are amongst the lowest paid in the country. The money the students were referring to was corruption money.

With students in their early teens connection that the police are corrupt, it is no secret that this is a major problem. In a recent article in a popular weekly Thailand Nightlife column, there is clear reference to police shakedowns of venues and how much some pay. Read it here.  In fact if you sit down with some bar owners, they will openly say some popular disco/dance venues are paying over a million baht per month to the police. Most of that money is for being allowed to say open late. As it would be for a tourist city, closing hours are ridiculously early. Discos do not really get going until 11:30 pm, and being asked to close at 1:00 am leaves little time for trade. Realistically discos and other night clubs around the world stay open often to 3:00 am to 5:00 am. So the law as it is allows the opportunity for police corruption.

The greed is so intense by the police, they still demand the same take no matter what the economy will yield. One popular disco in Bangkok closed its doors forever at the end of July because very simply the police bleed them to death. The managers were deathly afraid to announce any promotions to attract patrons because every time they did the police came with their hand outstretched looking for more money even if the promotion flopped.

Driving around Bangkok people just build into their thinking that the police will pull them over for no reason and invent some violation on the spot. That simply results in a fine that is paid on the spot. Seeing that the police often have money to make change says how organized this is. On the bright side, it does encourage the use of public transportation that is quite ample in Bangkok.

So now when it comes to investigation of a crime, the police are often seen as inept in that simple crimes that are easy to solve go unsolved. The news is riddled with these stories almost daily. The fact is, the police are often on the take with these crimes.

Next Part 2

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