"As the saying by the Chinese philosopher Confucius or Master Kong goes, dishonesty is the most serious problem and hardest to resolve of all.
"Compared with corruption, terrorism is just a mischievous kid whereas corruption is a giant," he said. The patronage system is a serious disease that has plagued society for many years, added Mr Wicha.
The patronage system is a specific form of corruption in which the party in power rewards groups and families for their electoral support using illegal gifts, political appointments or fraudulent government contracts.
Mr Wicha said the "wicked" system has been well protected and inherited simply because nobody is prepared to lose their vested interests.
Claiming the government has to be transparent in all of its projects, the Commissioner’s admonition will inevitably fall on deaf ears. Several times this year we have heard of the study which found “86% of business operators admitted to paying bribes, some as much as 30% of a project value, to state agencies.”
In a recent newspaper interview, the Commissioner said he had even heard of payments amounting to 50% of contract value.
This week, there were more pearls on anti-corruption uttered by the Deputy Prime Minster, again destined to land in the slime. To mark Anti-Corruption Day on September 6, he called on everyone to join forces to resist corruption and set the elimination of graft as a national agenda. Yet in the same breath, he acknowledged -
. . . a very disturbing attitude among Thai youths, citing a recent opinion poll which showed more than 70 per cent of the young people polled agreed that corruption is all right as long as they also benefit from the scourge.
This was an Assumption University poll conducted between September 1 and 6. With something like 40 million Thais not rejecting corruption and, specifically, 79.1% of young people under 20 finding it acceptable if it is to their benefit, mere words and exhortations will achieve absolutely zilch! Not one baht will be tossed out of the corruption bandwagon!
This is even more true when advocate Mechai Viravaidya suggests that one answer is to “to educate children to help eradicate the problem.” Khun Mecha has earned huge accolades in this country for his family planning programme and condom use campaigns. But he then goes on to state –
"Law enforcement can't reduce corruption. But a change of attitude can
That is just plain bullshit. Education is important, but when kids see their elders benefitting from corruption, there is no way they will take to heart what they are being taught in school. A draconian anti-corruption campaign similar to that of Hong Kong is the only way to drive out corruption from the very heart of Society. As the Hong Kong Governor announced in 1974 –
"I think the situation calls for an organisation, led by men of high rank and status, which can devote its whole time to the eradication of this evil." Sir Murray told legislators. "A further and conclusive argument is that public confidence is very much involved. Clearly the public would have more confidence in a unit that is entirely independent, and separated from any department of the Government, including the Police."
Hong Kong works because of its three-pronged approach – independent law enforcement, prevention and education. You cannot expect one leg of the stool to be effective: all three must be in place. Hong Kong recognised that corruption is a crime involving a satisfied relationship between two parties. It is therefore particularly difficult to investigate and prove. Special legal powers were therefore established. That has to be done in Thailand.
Will it? Not until there is an enlightened and effective leadership – with a small army of armed bodyguards!