If people were asked to compile a list of Thailand’s most pressing issues “corruption” would likely take the top spot as the kingdom’s biggest and most persistent problem. And while it’s debatable whether or not corruption is really the root cause of all evil it’s certainly deeply ingrained in Thai culture and an issue that needs (not only) political attention.
All Thai governments know this and invariably vow – and fail – to fight corruption in the country. The current military government certainly makes no exception to this rule and has put anti-corruption reforms near the very top of their agenda.
So almost two years after the military takeover – has the junta achieved to reduce corruption in the country? Or is the whole anti-corruption discourse but lip service and populist rhetoric?
To judge from the perception of corruption in Thailand as reported by Transparency International – an NGO that monitors corruption worldwide and yesterday released their annual report – it certainly looks like the latter.
The new Corruption Perceptions Index 2015, which “measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide,” ranks Thailand again at 76th out of 168 countries, the same position as in 2014, suggesting that the junta’s anti-corruption efforts had yielded no visible improvements yet and that much remains to be done.
With a score of 38 out of 100 (where 0 is “highly corrupt” and 100 “very clean”), Thailand remains a country with a “serious corruption level”, putting it in the same league as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, India, Tunisia and Zambia.
On a positive note, relatively speaking, the level of corruption in Thailand is perceived as less severe than in many other countries in the Asean region such as Indonesia (with a score of 36), the Philippines (35), Vietnam (31), Laos (25), Myanmar (22), and Cambodia (21). But that’s hardly something to be proud of.