Cut the powerful down to size with '10 commandments'
I am not sure how serious China's senior officials are about the "Eight Commandments" issued by the government and Communist Party to put a stop to all "unnecessary" activities that have been part of the "special treatment" for the country's elites. But I am reasonably sure that these guidelines to prevent corruption and malpractice among top government and party officials would be tremendously useful for Thailand.I am certain that the Anti-Corruption Network of Thailand, which has been trying to persuade the government to join its campaign to put a dent in the bad habits of top politicians and officials, would get a big boost by adopting these Chinese guidelines.
The incident in which a Bangrak police officer and his subordinates demanded Chinese red envelopes (ang pao) - containing a cash gift - from a tailor shop over the Chinese New Year should be a good case in point.
It has always been common practice among law-enforcement officials to ask for money from local residents on all possible occasions. This time, they were caught on a closed circuit TV camera. The national police chief immediately meted out punishment. Not very severe penalties, but at least prompt action was taken. However, Deputy Premier Chalerm Yoobamrung was quoted as saying that he didn't think it was all that serious a violation.
Chalerm said it is common Chinese practice to offer ang pao to police "out of kindness and mercy". He said the police officers' behaviour might have been "improper" but "nothing really serious".
That underlines the common view among politicians who consider the abuse of authority as an ordinary part of Thai social behaviour - an attitude that has contributed to the worsening of moral standards and the falling degree of integrity in the country.
Chinese people hand out ang pao on a voluntary basis. The gifts are given out by senior people to younger people to offer good wishes for the Chinese New Year. Ang pao is certainly not paid out as "extortion" demands to government officials.
That's why I suggest that the Thai government issues "10 Commandments" (with two additional ones to cover what I believe to be more serious corrupt practices here). And here are the "Eight Commandments" from Beijing, as reported by China Daily recently:
Welcome ceremonies, flowers, banners and booze - once lavished upon Chinese officials - have all been banned under tough new restrictions to stamp out corruption.
The Communist Party's ruling committee has ordered senior officials to reject "extravagance, formalism and bureaucracy" in the list of eight new requirements released at the end of last year. The move is aimed at improving the party's working style and to become more connected to the people.
Fewer traffic controls arranged for leaders' security, to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to the public, and "inspection tours" as a mere formality should be strictly prohibited.
Political Bureau members are not allowed to attend all sorts of ribbon-cutting or cornerstone-laying ceremonies, as well as celebrations and seminars, unless they get approval from the party's Central Committee.
Official visits abroad should only be arranged when needed in terms of foreign affairs, with fewer accompanying members, and on most of these occasions there is no need for a reception by overseas Chinese people, institutions and students at the airport.
All members of the Political Bureau are urged to understand the real situation facing society via in-depth inspections at the grassroots level. Senior leaders should listen more to the public and officials at the grassroots level, and solve people's practical problems.
Strictly regulate the arrangements of national official meetings and major events, improve the efficiency of official conferences and the issuing of official documents. Official meetings should be shortened, and be specific and to the point, with no empty rigmarole. Official documents without substantial content and realistic importance should be withheld.
There should be less news reporting on the attendance by Political Bureau members at meetings and activities, and such reports shall depend on work needs, news value and social effects. Publications regarding senior officials' work and activities are also restricted.
As to the two extra commandments in the Thai context? I don’t think I need to be specific here. Any disillusioned Thai could name at least a few more rules that could start to reverse the current trend of "socially disastrous habits."
Of course, if these rules were to be adopted here, the main question would be: Which rat would have the guts to bell the cat?