The latest Global Competitive Index rates corruption as the most problematic factor of conducting business in Thailand. According to Transparency International, Thailand has slipped from 60th in the Corruption Perceptions Index in 2001 to 102nd out of 177 countries surveyed in 2013. The price of doing business in Thailand includes kickbacks that routinely range from 25-35 per cent of the project value. Shady breach-of-trust tactics go by many names – intimidation, impropriety, extortion, malfeasance, nepotism. Whistleblowers like activist social-networkers and Wikileaks help by inspiring people to demand greater efficiency and transparency. Perceptions related to streamlining administrative procedures, applying fair-minded justice, rule of law, diversion of allocated funds, public confidence in political decision-making and public spending must be carefully scrutinised and monitored on an ongoing basis.
“Power doesn’t corrupt; people corrupt power,” noted Steinbeck’s fellow American author, William Gaddis.