June 18, 2012 00:00 By Achara Deboonme
Last week, two events happened.
At a glance, they are not connected, as they involved different groups of people.
The first started off with the finding that applicants for the police entrance examination to get a place in a police constabulary school in Si Sa Ket were found with a vibrating device that was used to indicate answers to multiple-choice questions. This led to the arrest of six people who were allegedly given Bt10.5 million in cash from 30 applicants.
The second took place on June 13 when a maid was shot dead on the bus near Rangsit area, as a result of students’ shooting.
Matter-of-factly, the two events differed in nature, but they pointed to a fundamental fact in Thai society. Hardship of low-level citizens and wrong social values are pushing all to do everything to climb up the social status. It seems to be a right tactic, as higher social level should guarantee higher wealth and greater comfort of life. In short, these people are yearning for more choices.
If she earned more than Bt9,000 a month, the bus victim would not need to ride the non-air-conditioned bus, which are frequently caught between student fighting. The shooting was frightening and the shooting which claimed innocent lives like this was not the first and should not be the last. Aside from this danger, riding it involves many discomforts.
It is unfortunate that all are willing to resort to anything, including immoral means, to improve their life. As the civil service considered the most secure job, with many benefits attached, it is unsurprising that most people want to get a place in the civil service. Despite relatively low pays than those offered by private companies, they can look forward to free medical expenses for their parents and free tuition fees for their children. To all, that costs a lot, particularly for those who earn less than Bt10,000 a month.
Recently, I learnt sad news. As Bangkok is recruiting new teachers, there is a movement towards corruption. One applicant is tipped off by someone in the crony ring, that they are guaranteed a place if paying Bt400,000.
It’s tempting, even when considering hard time in getting a job at a private company for someone with a degree in teaching. It’s tempting even considering the huge debt involved. For a pay of Bt15,000 a month, how many years would the applicant repay all debt? What these teachers could do to support their monthly expense and debt repayment? Aside from offering after-school tutorial classes, they could sell paid-on-installments products for may direct-selling companies. Needless to ask, these would consume their time, better allocated to improve their teaching skills.
We in Thai society need to admit that offers are usually flowing to high-level civil servants and not all are ready to shove off the offers. No matter how much we are campaigning to honour “good” people, Thais tend to pay respect to anyone carrying high social status despite the person’s track records. All that status would not matter only if we live in society where social status matters less than the persons’ virtues.
All that explains why corruption is rampant, regardless of vehement denial from all parties. It is not surprising that Thailand is now among the top countries in terms of corruption perception. Under the Transparency International's corruption perceptions index, Thailand was in the 80th place, with the score of only 3.4 out of 10 points. Notably, there are altogether 182 countries on the ranking, with Somalia (1 points) at the bottom and New Zealand (9.5) on the top.
As few adults serve as good examples of how to live a decent life without hurting others, it is unsurprising why our children are getting more edgy and resorting to violent means to end conflicts, no matter how tiny they look.