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Corruption In Thailand - Bribes, Kickbacks, Payoffs And Dirty Deals - All Business As Usual

Updated on March 5, 2012

Thailand And Corruption

Corruption exists in every society, and to think that it only happens in developing countries would be quite naïve. The difference between the corruption in Western society and what you see in places like Thailand, is that the Thais generally accept it, therefore it is a lot more out in the open. It also makes it difficult for any politician to point the finger at anyone else and accuse them of being corrupt, because almost all of them have paid and accepted bribes and kickbacks at one time or another. The most vocal of any Thai politician when it comes to issues of corruption, is Khun Chuwit Kamolvisit, the leader of The Rak Thailand Party. He is also a former brothel owner and pimp, who has admitted to paying bribes to police in the past, but has since claimed to have changed his ways.

In an interview with The BBC in 2010, Khun Chuwit likened corruption in Thailand to the way Thai people share their food, as apposed to the way foreigners are more inclined to eat off their own plate. It seemed as if he was defending the ways of corruption in his country, however just over a year later, he is now making headlines for his attacks on corrupt police officers, underground casinos and even his former business of selling sex. Perhaps because of his background, or his wild theatrics, very few people actually take Chuwit seriously.

If he really wants to make a name for himself as a crusader against corruption in Thailand, there is no greater opportunity than to solve the latest mystery of alleged corruption within the government. Recently, a panel investigating permanent secretary for transport Supoj Saplom's alleged unusual wealth has decided to scrap it's investigation, citing a lack of evidence. This leaves many questioning the origin of an alleged 200 million in cash found in the secretary's home, if Chuwit can solve this case, he would certainly put himself in the spotlight. Below is a detailed account of the events that uncovered this mysterious case of unexplained wealth.


Mystery Cash

During the flooding in Bangkok last year, Police were called to investigate a robbery on the night of November 12, 2011, at a home in Bangkok's Lat Phrao district. The home belongs to permanent secretary for transport Supoj Saplom. Mr Supoj initially told the police that he was robbed of 1 million baht, but later the story changed, and he claimed a loss of 5 million baht in cash, which he reported was a dowry from his daughter's marriage.

This case was already attracting a lot of suspicion, but then in a strange turn of events, police were able to recover over 16 million baht after capturing the burglars that were responsible for the robbery. Pol Lt Gen Winai Thongsong has since reported that based on information obtained from the suspects, the robbers had made off with more than 100 million baht in cash. The suspects have told police that they were simply unable to carry all of the money, estimated in the hundreds of millions of baht (5-10 million USD).

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung later claimed that the money involved in the robbery was a result of kickbacks in connection with bidding for extension of subway lines. Chalerm has since reported that from tracing the ring labels of the seized cash, investigators found that some of the banknotes were from a bank in the Northeastern province of Udon Thani, where a construction company from that province was involved in fixed bidding that allowed the company to win project bids, thanks to their payment of kickbacks.

Khun Supoj has since been transferred from his post as permanent secretary for transport, pending an investigation into alleged corruption. Despite the allegations made by deputy PM Chalerm, a government appointed panel has dropped the case, saying that there is not enough information to warrant an investigation. If this case remains unsolved, it will leave a lot of people wondering if there are any limits to the state of corruption in this country, and if Khun Chuwit Kamolvisit expects anyone to take him seriously, he might want want to start with this case, it would carry a lot more weight than the casino busts he has been making so much noise about.


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