Inequality and patronage culture to blame for graft

national July 22, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Economic inequality and Thailand's patronage culture are the key reasons for corruption, National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) member Vicha Mahakun said yesterday.

"Corruption is deeply rooted in Thai society. People are willing to pay officials in exchange for favours. They don’t consider it corruption, but more a gift of gratitude. That’s why, people on both sides of the transaction don’t feel guilty," he said at a seminar on the role of lawmakers and economists to tackle corruption.

He said economic inequality was another key reason. People in authority who do not earn enough are tempted to accept bribes, which in turn allows the wealthy to lose their fear of law and pay their way out of anything.

He went on to say that a government that relies on populist polices is backed by people because their material needs are being covered, hence people are not concerned about whether these policies are corrupt or not.

Vicha said it was this "trap of inequality" that is preventing Thailand from moving towards economic, political and sociological equality and justice.

He urged lawmakers and policymakers to consider the historical and cultural backgrounds of the Kingdom and become dynamic and responsive to changes in society.

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