Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI)
A TDRI seminar concluded that the Thai society has been awakened and provided with plenty of scattered corruption information which needs systematic assessments and analyses while empirical data has not been used in any strategy to counter corruption.
A center was proposed to annually collect data, quantitatively and qualitatively, from all sources and to develop a comprehensive database of corruption statistics.
The South Korean Model was also cited as a good example and, most importantly, information is regarded as the best weapon to prevent? and reduce corruption in the long term.
The seminar titled “Corruption Situation Index in Thailand” held by TDRI and Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT) on March 10, 2014 presented findings about corruption situation in Thailand and proposed directions to develop a database of corruption statistics. The forum also noted interesting perspectives put forward by scholars.
Associate Professor Patamawadee Pochanukul, Director of Program on National Policy and Transnational Relations, The Thailand Research Fund, said that nowadays problems related to corruption have been widely reported. However, the most important factor in organizing a database is the purpose of use, for example, data for the public, data for a policy, or data for academic.
Although the Thai society has become much more complicated, a center which connects different sectors and collects information into a comprehensive database should be founded. The center shall organize data from various sources and statistics of different sectors. If the data about corruption is collected annually and systematically, changes and trends of corruption can be detected. Such information can then be used in analyses or academic citations to drive the anti-corruption movement.
Khun SopawadeeLertmanaschai, Senior Executive Director, Stock Exchange of Thailand, added that the index should go beyond mere opinions. The index needs to be scientific, with more information that can offer deeper and wider perspective.. The available indexes? are sufficient and have indicated the intensity of corruption on a certain level.
But what is needed for further development is the in-depth data in the business sector. Further action to be taken for the Thai data is collecting quantitative data, particularly of those megaprojects approved by the government, for example, the skytrain project, of which procurement and construction data should be disclosed and collected in order to compare them with international experiences.
Dr. Mana Nimitmongkol, Director of Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand, also said that the ACT is an organization that employs corruption information to construct its strategies for the anti-corruption movement. Therefore, the ACT needs comprehensive data that can be used multi-purposely. Dr. Mana made two observations about the currently available data on corruption in Thailand as followed.
Firstly, as a matter of fact, there have been information and indexes which are not directly related to corruption but can reflect the corruption situation.
For instance, the data made by the Phra Pok Klao Institute in 2011which studies the people’s satisfaction toward public services showed that one of the reasons why they were not satisfied by the services was corruption among public officials.
In addition, a study by Pheu Khon Thai Foundation reported that the people’s problems and grievances include corruption problems.
Furthermore, there are many unofficial revelations reflecting the severity of corruption problems, for example, 40% of contractors in Thailand have been involved with politicians, 30% of government officers are “black” officers who have been looking for benefits from corruption, 20% of government officers are respectable and 50% are “grey” government officers who “take the usual.”
Such information should be studied further. So we know that the majority of government officers or half of them are “grey,” meaning that they have been involved in corruption because of necessity, not because of individuals’ bad traits.
If such data can be collected scientifically and officially, it can help solving corruption problem.
Secondly, there have been some research findings which are contradictory against each other, and no in-depth analyses of the causes of such contradiction have been conducted.
For instance, some findings have indicated that people in the countryside give more importance to corruption problem than the people in Bangkok.
Or the bribery rate in Thailand reported by the World Bank was at 20-25% , which was inconsistent with the surveys conducted by organizations in Thailand that indicated the bribery rate at 25-30%, while the construction businesses reported only 7%, a remarkably difference from the previous studies.
Dr. Mana proposed that the numerous official and unofficial corruption indexes, statistics and scores, should all be organized into a system. A team of specialists should then be assigned to oversee the system and analyze the connection in each sector so we can see a clearer picture of corruption situation.
Dr. Deunden Nikomborirak, Research Director, Thailand Development Research Institute, also agreed with the idea to develop a center to collect indexes of corruption.
In addition, the government should also collect “corruption statistics,” for example, the Ministry of Justice should collect the number of government officers who have been prosecuted for corruption and malpractice. The Election Commission should also collect the statistics of vote buying, either with money or items, while local administration should collect statistics of the people’s satisfaction toward the services of local organizations.
South Korea was one of the top countries hit by corruption problems, but it managed to solve the problems due to its rigid investigation by all sectors. Corruption indexes in the country have been made annually with the 3 important issues:
1. Where did the corruption occur? The index may come from the assessment of the people’s satisfaction on services or the survey on the level and the dispersion of the corruption of the various government sectors.
2. How severe is the corruption problemin each public organization?
3. How did the corruption occur in that particular organization?
The fourth issue about the effects of corruption may be added as additional indicator. These questions will be useful in monitoring the corruption situation and designing the strategies or measures to counter corruption problem.
In conclusion, the participants agreed that the corruption indexes will be useful after being organized systematically, analysed, and arranged into a format that can be readily used to study the form and direction of corruption, as well as designing effective anti-corruption measures and strategies.
The corruption indexes and information are the important tools to counter corruption problem. , They can “take the pulse” of corruption – alerting the policy makers, influential figures in the society, and the like, about the problem. In addition, they are important raw materials in the formation of effective strategies and measures against corruption.