Thailand is a culture of relationships
Many people write to Thai newspapers complaining about the endemic corruption that exists here. They get very hot under the collar at what they see reported in the media every day - particularly inside state institutions such as the police, the courts, the Army and government ministries. Thai politicians excel at using their power for personal gain - to support their own networks of family and friends. In Thailand this kind of behaviour is completely normal (bunkun - the patron-client relationship) which has been reinforced by the long historical stratification of society along feudal lines, where everyone knows their place and accepts their fate/karma. To do otherwise is, well, just "un-Thai".
When I hear another angry soul bleating that there is no rule of law in Thailand, I want them to remember that Thailand is a culture of relationships, so the rule of law exists only in name and does not apply to those who have real power.
When someone complains that there is no democracy in Thailand and politicians operate inside an ideological vacuum, I want them to remember that Thailand is a culture of relationships, and that's all that matters. Everything in political life stems from this.
When someone complains that there is no justice in Thailand, I want them to remember that in the Thai mind the poor are poor because of their karma, and that the conviction rate is high because they don't have powerful patrons to protect them. The powerful and the rich are, of course, powerful and rich because of their karma too - even if their power was appropriated through corrupt means. Everything is "negotiable" for the rich and powerful - even justice - because Thailand is a culture of relationships.
So next time you rush to the keyboard to rattle off another despairing email to the newspapers, I want you to think twice and remember one thing: Thailand is a culture of relationships first and foremost. And this affects every dimension of social, economic, and political life and will continue to do so for many years to come.