Thai Corruption Survey Results Make Grim Reading

Originally published at Siam Voices on November 8, 2010 Matichon Online had a story on Sunday on the most recent ABAC poll on people's view on corruption in the government. This survey has been conducted among 1,349 households in 17 provinces nationwide and the results are compared to a similar poll done in February 2005. And the results are extremely worrying.

All questions have recorded a more negative attitude among the participants, whether it is on the notion that vote buying exists (2005: 66.3 percent, 2010: 75.1 percent) or that politicians only benefit for themselves (73.9 percent to 77.6 percent).

A smacking 90.1 percent in the survey believe that government officials continue to maintain corruption, whereas in 2005 'only' 84.9 percent agreed with this notion. Furthermore, the amount of people having no trust in the justice system to solve corruption cases has nearly tripled from 12.1 percent to 32.1 percent.

The most striking and disturbing figure of the survey showed that 76.1 percent accept corruption on government level for the sake of the prosperity and welfare of the country! In other words, three thirds of the questioned are okay with corruption and cheating if they benefit from it as well! ("โกงไม่เป็นไรขอให้ตัวเองได้ผลประโยชน์ด้วย") That's an increase of 13 percent from 63.2 percent compared to 2005. Also worrying is the percentage among different occupation groups regarding the same question, most students (67.1 percent), employers (79.3  percent), civil servants (65.1 percent) and employees (70.4 percent) also accept corruption if there are perks for them as well.

While the results are not surprising, especially the youth's disenchantment with politics, it is a worrying trend and probably also a sign of resignation that corruption is part of the daily political business in Thailand at the moment. If the most recent political scandals with leaked videos and disqualified MPs are any indication, then things will not change anytime soon. And there's nothing more to add to the irony that Thailand will host the International Anti-Corruption Conference this week.

The only upside of the poll is that 78.5 percent still believe that a committed democratic system is the best way out of the crisis. The question is though: Which Thai democratic system has ever been and will be committed enough to solve these problems?