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"More Destructive to Thai Society than Terrorism"


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#1 fountainhall

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 12:34 PM

It’s “far more destructive to Thai society than even terrorism could be” said the country’s National Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Wicha Mahakhun, last month. The Commissioner was talking not just about general corruption, but about the particular form that plagues Thailand and impedes its development – the patronage system.

"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.

http://www.bangkokpo...error-says-nacc

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.”

http://www.bangkokpo...ss-sector-urged

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.

http://www.bangkokpo...ekly-highlights

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

http://www.bangkokpo...ss-sector-urged

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."

http://www.icac.org....ory/main_6.html

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!

#2 Bob

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 06:41 PM

I'm not sure how one substantially reduces corruption when it's so endemic to the history of the country. And law enforcement (if what one means by that are the cops, prosecutors, judges or even the legislators who make the laws) is right in the middle of it and unlikely to behave any differently without a major change in the attitude of the Thai people.
While a few academics or editors might think corruption is a real problem, I don't believe that the average Thai cares much about it or even thinks it's either illegal or unusual.

#3 fountainhall

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:13 PM

I believe Khun Bob is 100% correct. The studies prove that the vast majority of Thais realise corruption takes place and most probably are involved in some small-scale activity that benefits them but which could be termed as corruption. And they don't seem to object. Thaksin was certainly a big fish in that very big pond when he persuaded the court (by a slim one vote majority) that the huge number of shares in his companies 'owned' by his gardener and housekeeper was a genuine mistake :o . Similarly when his majority government passed the law which meant he did not have to pay tax on the US$1.9 billion he received for the sale of Shin Corp to Temasek Holdings. The view of many was: they're all corrupt - why pick on Thaksin?

With that mentality, defeating massive endemic corruption is never going to happen, even over generations. But surely the acceptance of corruption on this scale is like a cancer gnawing away at the nation? We know it adversely affects the price of imports - airport scanners, Film Festivals run to boost the piggy bank of a corrupt TAT governor etc., just as it does inter-Thai business deals. The end result over the longer term surely has to be -

1. It robs the country of massive resources;
2. It always favours the rich over the poor;
3. It breeds an even more accepting and docile population.

If there is to be a war on corruption, then it will have to be prepared and tackled as though it is a physical war. This means a strong independent body planning and executing strategy totally independent of existing legislators, the forces of law and order - and the judiciary.

One proposal that has been discussed in this forum some years ago is that the lot of the average Thai has first to be improved so that there is less incentive to resort to corruption. Thereafter the 'war' can be started. But how do you improve that lot if ever-increasing amounts keep on lining the pockets of the rich, the wheelers and the dealers instead of the national coffers? I believe the war has to come first.

#4 Rogie

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 03:38 AM

I believe the war has to come first.


This topic follows on naturally from the More Fighting in Thailand in the next two months threadwhich has probably run its course as clearly there wasn't any.

There's the war of ideas and action needed to fight corruption - that's the kind of war meant by khun FH in the quote above.

The other kind of war involves fighting the enemy, whether it be with cudgels or with tanks, the kind discussed in the thread I referred to above.

Which kind of 'war' is more likely to happen?

Almost certainly the 'fighting with cudgels' version is the more likely to happen because there are several possible reasons for it to happen. Here are three, no doubt there are others:

1. The Thaksin issue
2. The issue that cannot be discussed on this Forum
3. Inequality, unfair treatment, corruption

My hunch is #1 is less likely to happen with the passage of time. I have no evidence for that belief other than the old saying 'time is a great healer'. Maybe a poor comparison, but look at Bill Clinton, left office in disgrace but now heralded, at least by many in the Democrat Party, as some kind of Grand Old Man having given a speech at the meeting to confirm Obama as their candidate for the forthcoming election.

#2 is not open for discussion

As for #3 the obvious way to hopefully prevent that happening is to wage the war on corruption. But any war on corruption is in for the long haul, surely time is not on its side. And its chances of success are pretty poor, let's face it.

One of the things that some find irritating is when a 'noisy' farang complains about something in Thailand. Some will say in very many cases he is being unrealistic, it's not his country, leave them (the Thais) to get on with it and what's more don't try to tell them what to do! Fair enough, but most of those things are trivial in comparison to what we are discussing here. Corruption is not trivial, it is ingrained and it is insidious. I hold the strong opinion that farang should speak out against corruption. If they come across it in their dealings with Thais speak out. Speak out man! Don't just shrug your shoulders and mutter under your breath, make your objection known. Now I know some will say, don't ruffle any feathers or upset the (cosy) apple cart. Yes, it can be cosy for ex-pats. They don't want their nice easy life disturbed. But surely anyone coming across corruption and keeping quiet or making some lame excuse why they shouldn't object is helping to perpetuate the system.

I would be interested to know if any ex-pats reading my comments think I am talking a load of baloney. If so, please tell me why. I'm quite prepared to be told I am naive but that's no crime. What is a crime IMHO is turning a blind eye to obvious corruption. And it is obvious, bleeding obvious.

If things in Thailand go badly wrong, it could easily be a matter of life and death. One of our posters, khun KhorTose, said this on the More Fighting in Thailand in the next two months thread:

Furthermore, if the Yellow shirts were to seize power, my red shirt friends seem prepared this time to make it a civil war. In which case I would hate to be a farang in Thailand



#5 Bob

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:00 AM

A discussion about what may occur and/or what events might trigger some dramatic changes in Thai society probably can't be complete or make any sense without discussing that which we can't discuss.


#6 KhorTose

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:14 AM

That damn elephant in the room is always getting in the way.

#7 fountainhall

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:24 PM

I believe there can indeed be a discussion on this topic without resorting to elephants and the certainty of certain future events, for I just do not see they are connected. Let's face it, whatever happens, corruption will remain and grow even more insidious unless someone puts on the brakes and starts reversing course.

Perhaps because I have experience of the Hong Kong model, I believe it is the only one that can really root out most corruption in a short space of time and it has been proved to be highly effective. Of course, some corruption clearly still exists - and in today's election for legislators corruption is one of the hot issues.

A few months ago, Hong Kong was shocked when the brothers who run one of the world's largest property companies, Sun Hung Kai Properties, and a former top civil servant were charged with corruption. Were there even a whiff of such a charge being about to happen in Thailand, tokens of gratitude would see their way to appropriate accounts (or houses or lunchboxes ;) :lol: ) and it would all be nicely swept under the carpet. In Hong Kong, it was all front-page news for many days. But whatever corruption is discovered in 2012, it's a far cry from what used to be the case prior to the 1970s.

In Thailand, I don't believe a 'war' need involve the hardware of war - the cudgels etc. (When I mentioned armed bodyguards, I meant to protect the anti-graft personnel). It needs to be planned like a full-scale war and executed with ruthless efficiency. Once a few big fish are in the net and put away, change will begin to happen. Perhaps, though, this being Thailand, some will resort to weaponry to protect their fiefdoms. That, too, has to be considered and panned for.

#8 Rogie

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 04:10 PM

I believe there can indeed be a discussion on this topic without resorting to elephants and the certainty of certain future events, for I just do not see they are connected. Let's face it, whatever happens, corruption will remain and grow even more insidious unless someone puts on the brakes and starts reversing course.


This topic was started to discuss corruption and so it is only fair to return to that. I got carried away a little by broadening the terms of the word 'war'. I hope I did not offend any of out mermbers who live in Thailand permanently, what I was suggesting is easier said than done and of course myself as just a frequent visitor ought to take up that particular 'cudgel' too, although an ex-pat is going to see more and be more aware of what's happening around him because he's living in Thailand 24/7. One could also point the finger at resident foreigners in high places who really ought to do more. I am thinking of people attached to Embassies and Consulates. Some of these people fit into the category of 'cosy' I used before. They don't want to rock the boat, certainly, but seem to fight shy when they could be more outspoken. The attitude of the American ambassador in the Joe Gordon issue comes to mind - enough said.

Perhaps because I have experience of the Hong Kong model . . .

It seems these are interesting times in Hong Kong.

There is an article on the BBC website.

The Hong Kong government has backed down over plans to make schoolchildren take Chinese patriotism classes, after weeks of protests.

City leader Leung Chun-ying said the classes would be optional for schools. "The schools are given the authority to decide when and how they would like to introduce the moral and national education," he said.

Critics said the plans were an attempt to brainwash the city's children by the Chinese government in Beijing.
The government had said the subject was important to foster a sense of national belonging and identity. Anti-Beijing sentiment has been on the rise in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, a city of seven million people

The proposed curriculum, which consisted of general civics education as well as more controversial lessons on appreciating mainland China, was due to be introduced in primary schools in September and secondary schools in 2013.

According to AFP news agency, course material funded by the government extolled the benefits of one-party rule, equated multi-party democracy to chaos, and glossed over events like the Tiananmen Square crackdown and the mass starvation of Mao Zedong's regime.

Unlike the rest of China, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of freedom, including a free press, the right to assemble and transparent, accountable institutions. (my italics)

Our correspondent says the row is the latest example of the cultural, social and political gap that exists between Hong Kong and its mainland masters.

It also highlights the deep suspicion with which many Hong Kong people continue to regard the Chinese government, she adds.


As China appears to be a corrupt country, or rather a country whose rulers and decision makers and those in positions of authority are corrupt, this suggests to me Hong Kong is aware of this and is fightling tooth and nail to keep its institutions 'transparent and accountable', in other words as corruption-free as possible.

Maybe khun FH would like to comment on these developments in Hong Kong.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...-china-19529867

#9 fountainhall

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 06:14 PM

Oh dear! This is such a big topic! Here are some thoughts.

The formula for the return of Kong Kong proposed by Deng Xiao Ping and accepted by Margaret Thatcher (who had no cards in her hand and, despite a lot a table thumping, had to cave in on virtually all her demands) was – and remains - the subject of considerable concern in Hong Kong itself. The “one country two systems” idea whereby China took over the defense of the territory but promised to leave everything else in the hands of Hong Kong people – matters relating to education, the law, taxation, way of life etc. – was regarded with deep suspicion by some. Would China keep its word? Within China itself, after the last governor Chris Patten had done his best unilaterally to dismantle some of the agreement, there was huge concern that Hong Kong’s vast financial reserves, meant to guarantee its financial future and stability, would be spirited back to London prior to the handover leaving the territory bankrupt. So there was great distrust on both sides.

I well remember all TV channels showing troops from the People’s Liberation Army crossing the border at the stroke of midnight on 1 July 1997, and this just added to the concerns. To, I believe, China’s great credit, however, it has generally abided by the letter and the spirit of the Joint Declaration which stated that Hong Kong would continue to enjoy all its existing institutions, freedoms and way of life for 50 years. (Those Chinese troops were never visible for, when outside their barracks, they had instructions to dress casually. Mind you, seeing groups of tall, slim handsome guys chatting in Mandarin was often a giveaway in the early years :P ).

The thinking of a lot of people was not that Hong Kong would change much by 2047, but that China itself would have made so many major changes that it would become far more like Hong Kong. Whether that will be the case, only time will tell!

Re corruption, I have mentioned this before, but it’s perhaps worth stressing again. In a public opinion poll taken at the start of the millennium, Hong Kong people named the establishment of the anti-corruption body (the ICAC) as the 6th most important event in the 150-year history of Hong Kong. Now that's a helluva long time and, I believe, speaks volumes for how Hong Kong people now view the effect corruption had in their society.

China, on the other hand, turns a blind eye to a high rate of corruption, no matter what the leadership says publicly. But I think it is important to remember once again where China was 40 years ago. A country that had not enjoyed any kind of stability for almost 200 years, where for millennia authority had resided in powerful despots assisted by a ruling appointed mandarin class, where “squeeze” (corruption) had been endemic for most of that time, where the people’s revolution of 1949 had resulted in the slaughter of tens of millions, famine and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. I have friends who lived through some of these times. What they wanted after the death of Mao was primarily one thing – stability. A country free from internal division and strife.

Deng realised this. He realised, too, that the only way to quickly build the country and drag hundreds of millions out of dire poverty was to tap the huge wealth of the overseas Chinese. And without a proper legal framework to undertake such massive development so quickly, as Deng’s most recent biographer, Ezra Vogel, points out in his mammoth tome Deng Xiao Ping and the Transformation of China, he knew that corruption was an inevitable result. Indeed, he was fairly relaxed about it. What he did not realise was how widespread and how out of hand it would become.

Deng’s goal was to make everyone much richer than they had been; not just a few hundred million. Vogel suggests he would not have tolerated the degree of corruption now evident in China. Be that as it may, a lot of China’s leadership are pretty savvy. Yet, their biggest fight is to ensure that the deeply entrenched old guard who loathe the direction the country has taken in the last 40 years stays firmly in the background. For if they were ever to gain a foothold on power again, goodness knows what might happen.

My guess is that as the old guard fades away, much more will be done to tackle many key problem areas, like the legal system and corruption. And the government will probably call on Hong Kong's expertise in doing so. But I somehow doubt if corruption will be tackled with quite the same zeal as has been shown by Hong Kong.

#10 Bob

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 10:32 PM

I believe there can indeed be a discussion on this topic without resorting to elephants and the certainty of certain future events, for I just do not see they are connected. Let's face it, whatever happens, corruption will remain and grow even more insidious unless someone puts on the brakes and starts reversing course.


Every country has different issues underlying endemic corruption and, in Thailand, I firmly believe that the Thai history and situation have much to do with why the issue is not being dealt with or considered by most Thais to be either unusual or even wrong.

Wyatt, in his "Short History of Thailand" (which is neither short nor all that easy to read), discusses at some length the beginnings of the patronage system in Thailand. A thousand years or more, the most powerful king* sent his people out to rule far off places (in those days, I suppose a "far off" place then was 50-100 miles away). The king* had no money to pay them - heck, it was the emissaries' job to gather goodies and wealth for the king* - so they were encouraged/told to simply take a cut of what they collected for the king*. Those in power in Thailand have done it ever since....from paying for royal patronage (those royal symbols over bank bulidings and other places aren't free), taking a cut of the security systems at the airport or wherever, cops grabbing money from the citizenry, etc.

There's a sense of entitlement by the rich and elite to grab what they can and it's always been that way. Big trouble always brews (and often occurs) whenever that bloc perceives that some other group (even those nasty "masses") might be even thinking about grabbing any part of the same piece of pie they've grabbed for years. In my view, the 1996 coup can be directly linked to this type of system and thinking. The "yellow shirts", the upper echelon of the military, and other elite are, in my view, all have the same motivations and work towards (and in some cases together) to retain the old order of things.

There has been a deep historical and cultural effort to teach Thais from birth to respect and not question their elders and the various elite blocs and, until the average Thai believes otherwise (or even begins to question the program), I can't see any significant chance of uprisings or substantial change occurring in how things are run or done in Thailand. Thai Rak Thai and its progeny have been a threat to the old order and that's largely why they're not around any more, largely neutered, and/or inherently fearful of pushing very hard for any meaningful change.

*I'd note that when I refer to the "king" above, I am not referring to the current King. The current King, no doubt, is hugely revered by the Thais and the general citizenry and other elite blocs afford him utmost deference. And it's my belief that the current King has been the glue, so to speak, that has kept much of the societal peace in Thailand for the last 50+ years. It's probably unwise/impermissible to discuss or speculate about what may occur after succession occurs (heck, I'm not sure we can even discuss the notion that succession might occur someday) but, to me, that event might be the beginning of a completely different ballgame that might allow conditions to exist to begin to deal with the issue raised in this thread.

#11 fountainhall

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 10:51 AM

There is a pattern that spells out a cultural norm. When something goes wrong, the first impulse for the rich and fabulous is to think, ''I can get away with it!'' – while the less privileged among us would go, ''Oh crap! I'm chocolate fudge!''

This belief comes from the trust and reliance on the well-entrenched patronage system that ensures connections triumph over justice, that if you are a part of or affiliated with a gang or a tribe (whether political, business or one in uniform), you will get away with it.

With the right connections to a patronage network, a phu yai (an elder, a powerful person in society) will wing-ten (literally ''run and dance'' on your behalf to get you off). In the Ferrari case, even the police admitted some phu yai had been wing-ten on behalf of the son of the Red Bull empire.

These are societal norms. In this latest tragedy, public outrage erupted, but read the online forums and you will see that everyone pretty much takes it for granted that eventually the Red Bull heir will get away with it. This is because we know how the system works in Thailand.

So if we were to wonder why there's such disrespect for the rule of law, why justice is blind to justice itself, but bright-eyed to money and power, why the process and function of democracy is continually stalled – all of this is because the most privileged individuals in our society flaunt it and abuse it with impunity, favouring the power-play of feudalism over the standards of democracy. While the rest merely express impotent outrage.

http://www.bangkokpo...o-your-daddy-is

The above quote is from a perceptive article in yesterday’s Bangkok Post which echoes what we have been saying in this and other threads. As Khun Bob points out above –

I firmly believe that the Thai history and situation have much to do with why the issue is not being dealt with or considered by most Thais to be either unusual or even wrong


So outrage always gives way to passive acceptance. Feudalism triumphs, the average man and the poor have no alternative but to kowtow, because they know the system, they know resistance is futile, they know this is how things work.

Will all this change with the changes that are coming in the fullness of time? As I said earlier, I don’t think so, but for obvious reasons I cannot go into detail. As Khun Bob illustrates, Thai history is clearly very like the history of China where what we now term corruption is concerned. When the concept of “squeeze”, kickbacks, bribes, pocket-money, corruption – call it what you will, is so deep rooted and accepted within a society, the changes required to eliminate it are massive.

I still believe it can be done. But I cannot see anyone or group on the political horizon who would have the guts and the determination to implement such reforms.

And then there is that little voice which naggingly whispers: history has also taught us that change itself can go out of control, and that what was hoped for becomes instead a different form of evil. Isn’t it often better to put up with the devil you know? So what, if a high-so 16 year-old gets off virtually scot-free after seemingly murdering 9 people? So what, if a pampered billionaire 20-something chooses to treat Sukhumvit like his personal race track and just happens to pulverise a policeman? So what if a policeman charged with murder gets out on the pittance called bail? We can do nothing about it. So why bother? Mai pen rai!

#12 Rogie

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:12 PM

We can do nothing about it. So why bother? Mai pen rai!


Indeed. No point in bothering about anything that can't be changed. The unstoppable force of impotent outrage meets the status quo of the immovable object.

But of course it can be changed! Perhaps undermined is a better way of thinking of it. If the present system of patronage can be undermined. But can it? Undermined suggests a change from within. So for example if the head of the extremenly wealthy Red Bull dynasty denounces his son who killed a policeman. Is that so unlikely? In Thailand yes it is. But I would like to think if something similar were to happen in my country, the UK, the reaction would be different. Richard Branson has two children, so let's suppose one of them, his son Sam, had partied, got behind the wheel of a fast car and killed somebody by careless driving, the whole nation would be hanging on his every word. Would he condemn his son or would be try and make excuses? As a loving father he would probably do his best to stand by his son, but his hands would be tied, justice would prevail, the courts would hand down the sentence and the son would have to live with the consequences of his actions. Branson would also say how sorry he was that an innocent person or people had died and make other suitable noises. Justice would be seen to be done.

#13 Bob

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 09:20 PM

So outrage always gives way to passive acceptance. Feudalism triumphs, the average man and the poor have no alternative but to kowtow, because they know the system, they know resistance is futile, they know this is how things work.

.......it what you will, is so deep rooted and accepted within a society, the changes required to eliminate it are massive.


I rather agree with that although I think the way we typically phrase it sounds like "resignation" versus "acceptance." They just see it as normal and very few of them demonstrate any irritation at all.

When riding with a Thai driver pal who's stopped for no reason and then extorted a few hundred baht by a greasy cop, I've subsequently reacted rather negatively (such as "it pisses me off that that dirty bastard just stole your hard-earned money!") whereas the Thai driver calmly just responds without any anger: "hey, he has to eat too!"

While I like the concept of Rogie's suggestion that change must come from within the ranks of those grabbing the patronage/spoils, it seems a bit far-fetched to me that the idea is realistic. I've never read any comments by anybody "within" that's condemned the practice at all. And those few that might have raised the issue with some impact haven't done so because they'd be criticizing their own support structure.

#14 billyhouston

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:30 AM

But I would like to think if something similar were to happen in my country, the UK, the reaction would be different. Justice would be seen to be done.


Unless, of course, those involved were Members of Parliament.

#15 Rogie

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 05:37 AM

I've never read any comments by anybody "within" that's condemned the practice at all. And those few that might have raised the issue with some impact haven't done so because they'd be criticizing their own support structure.


The press in Thailand are often seen as a bit toothless, by which I mean the English-language papers the Bangkok Post and The Nation. I can't comment on the Thai language papers as I don't read Thai.

Some people, far more knowledgeable than me, reckon The Nation is skewed in favour of the 'establishment'. Well I don't know if it is or not and I realise the article quoted by FH is post # 11 appeared in the Bangkok Post with the rather catchy title . . .

Yes, We do know who your daddy is

. . . so the press are quite capable of putting into print what many of us are thinking on Forums such as this one. It's not like we're some group of raving extremists! We're just saying the obvious. It is the privileged few - those protected by the power of patronage - who have their heads in the sand. However, I could be wrong but suspect the Thai-language press are more restrained in their criticisms; hopefully I am wrong and they aren't afraid to vent their spleen too. Unless those 'with the right connections to the patronage network' can hear the mutterings of discontent getting louder and louder they'll just laugh and dismiss it as nothing to worry their precious little heads about.

The press is in the vanguard of trying its best to keep the flag flying for justice for all irrespective of one's position in society, but really and truly it should be the people, not the press. People like university professors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, bankers, businessmen, indeed all the professions that in an ideal world would wield influence. The universities seem to be particularly quiet, maybe there are some noises but I haven't heard any.

One group that could 'wield influence' if done in the right way would be the Buddhist clergy if that's the right word to use. The top monks. Does Thailand have anybody equivalent to say the Archbishop of Canterbury? Yes, he is head of the Church of England, but Archbishops over the years have never shied away from criticising governments or percieved inequalities in society.

In a country such as Thailand where, unlike Britain where religion is fairly low-key these days, Buddhism is taken very seriously by most of its people, whatever their social standing, perhaps religious input into the problem we are discussing really could make a difference.

#16 snapshot

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 10:31 AM

A lot of the thinking, beliefs and values that are ingrained in the masses of poorer Thais out there is so absurdly flawed and limiting.

 


There has been a deep historical and cultural effort to teach Thais from birth to respect and not question their elders and the various elite blocs and, until the average Thai believes otherwise (or even begins to question the program), I can't see any significant chance of uprisings or substantial change occurring in how things are run or done in Thailand.

 

It's setting up generation after generation for failure. 

 

In fact while reading this, I just realised... All the Thais I know who became successful starting from a very poor roots had one common trait.

 

They questioned and refused to do everything their elders asked and are quite selective about the ways they respect their parents. They're usually A-type personalities too. 

 

Relationships with parents are pretty mixed. On the one hand, there's a lot of friction and upsetting of the parents. On the other hand, the kid becomes more successful than the parents could ever fathom. 

 

One of my ex's brought his parents to Australia. Until then, the furthest they had been was Bangkok. 

 

He argues a lot with his parents (in a good natured way) and they get frustrated that he almost never does what they ask, unless it's something simple like to send them money. But he's got a history of making them proud... everything from graduating from university to picking up a fairly prestigious job to showing them the string of businesses he owns here. 

 

Their reaction to everything was priceless. I admit it almost brought tears to my eyes seeing it. 






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