Dr. Deunden Nikomborirak, Research Director, Thailand Development and Research Institute (TDRI), offered a sober analysis of corruption in Thailand and how it can be combated. Corruption is rampant in Thailand and there is very little enforcement of those laws already in the books, so she sees little hope in trying more top-down approaches to deal with corruption. For instance, from 1992 to 2009, only 12 of the 220 executives against whom the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against faced legal sanction. And even if you are caught, the fine is very low, so there is little incentive for people to follow the rules.
Dr Deunden concluded Thailand needs a three-step bottom-up approach to fighting corruption: 1) increase anti-corruption network building among NGOs, academics and the media; 2) communicate the anti-corruption message to the public; and 3) demand political parties commit to key reforms including disclosure of public information, public consultation and hearing procedures, and the abolition of broad discretionary powers of politicians and administrators.
“I think South Korea serves as a good model for Thailand in its corruption fight,” she said. “The country has a large population and lots of big businesses, just like Thailand, and it had to fight from the bottom-up. There was one professor there who bought one share in every listed company so he could go to all the shareholder meetings and scrutinise all the numbers. It was just one person, but he was trying to provide accountability.”