By Pooky, this blog economics journalist
The level of corruption under Abhisit is getting to the level that both Red Shirt and Yellow Shirt are greatly perplexed of what to do. But both appears to have a common objective on this issue.
The Massive Corruption:
“The weakest point about the Red Shirt is corruption under Taksin and the strongest Yellow Shirt message is an anti-corruption message, and both are now very perplexed as what to think of the Abhisit corruption, and they both will likely be doing the same thing on this one,” said a political commentator Somphot, on Thai TV today.
In fact, Somphot is not the only one going on TV to complain. The pro-Abhisit head of the Thai Federation of Industries just also went on TV and said the US$44 billion “Strong Thailand Stimulus” spending, is seeing those in control of the fund asking for a corruption cut of 20-25%.
Then on top of that figure, Thai Rath reported that some researchers did a study of the government set “Fair Market Price” for government contracts, and found that the fair price this year, is up by about 40% from last year’s fair price, across the board.
Combined, the stimulus and normal government spending, some Thai press like Thai Rath now estimates the corruption under Abhisit will be in the US$ billions-with this blog calculation that it may be between US$10-15 Billion.
Red and Yellow Perplexed:
And this is leaving many perplexed, including both Red Shirt and Yellow Shirt. Post Today, the mass circulated daily that is part of the smart right wing Bangkok Post group said, “The Thai society is very confused now because corruption under Taksin was the reason for ousting Taksin, but now corruption is back, and it looks like De Ja Vu all over again with Abhisit.”
Taksin himself, told his group of supporters that, “I am not corrupt, but paid the price for it, but the Abhisit is corrupt, but does not have to pay the price. It has never been about corruption, but about my popularity.”
Then Sondhi Lim, of the Yellow Shirt and head of the New Politics Party said, “I have always fought against corruption as the root cause of Thailand problems and that is why I am against Taksin, but the Abhisit government is now worse than Taksin.”
Politics of Corruption:
As to the root cause of why such widespread corruption is taking place, Post Today said, “The corruption is massive and if the Democrats fail to control the game, it will lose power.”
Simply said, many Thai academic sees the Abhisit corruption as a political fire power game, where dirty money is being used to buy political allegiances across Thailand’s political landscape.
Somphot said, “Before Taksin, it was a 5-10-% cut and business people can accept that, but during Taksin it went up to 10-20%. And now with Abhisit it has gone up again to 20-25%.”
Not juts business people like Somphot are complaining, even the US Ambassador made a statement that said corruption at Thailand’s custom house is hurting American business greatly. And everyday, new corruption associated with the Strong Thailand Stimulus shows up.
The latest is in purchasing new flag poles to make the Abhisit government’s 18.00 pm singing of the national anthem across the country look good, in a Nationalism building binge, which is seeing unusually above market price paid for new flag poles.
Thailand Second Worse in Asia:
The bottom line is that Thailand is now ranked as the second worse corrupted country in Asia, and this is bad because in Asia, under the table payment is considered normal part of business, and it is the worse on the globe.
And the Abhisit government is sounding a great deal like Taksin, “If you have proof bring it out and just don’t say it without proof,” said Abhisit cabinet minister in charged of road building-where much of the US$44 billion stimulus is heading into.
While Taksin got kicked out of office, mainly because of a reputation of being highly corrupt and a monkey court was set up to go after Taksin’s billions made in the telecom business before entering politics, Thailand’s monkey courts have now gone in “Neutral” when it comes to any corruption associated with Abhisit government.
For example, in cases where there is proof, like when Abhisit took a gold ring from a political supporter, which has a value higher than the 3,000 baht limit on gifts government officials can accept, Abhisit simply said, “Sorry, I will return it. I took it so the giver will not feel hurt.” That off-course is after the opposition bought the issue up to attention.
Earlier, Abhisit also accepted a pair of rare Elephant Tusk, valued about 600,000 baht. The ring and the elephant tusks have not even got the Thai monkey court to look into these cases-which have gotten high profile in the Thai media.
Thais Go After Corruption:
If you think I am writing about “Divine Comedy” think again. A government that supported Taksin was kicked out of office by a series of monkey courts that got real serious about that government’s prime minister accepting transportation money worth about 5,000 baht, when he went on a series of TV cooking program.
And now, because former Taksin supporters are in the government with Abhisit, corruption charges bought against them, while they supported Taksin, have all suddenly turned up “Not Guilty” and the government, is bringing up corruption cases that are only linked to Taksin, up for attention-all at a time, its own corruption is getting great media exposure.