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Phuket Anti-Corruption Movement Gains Growing Support for Change

Phuket Anti-Corruption Movement Gains Growing Support for Change

Friday, September 6, 2013
PHUKET: A fresh anti-corruption campaign was launched on Phuket by the Phuket Chamber of Commerce today.

Deputy President Jaran Sangsan said it was the responsibility of everyone to oppose corruption in all its forms.

''Educating people about the damage that corruption does is particularly important,'' Khun Jaran told a gathering at the chamber's offices in Phuket City.

The campaign comes amid an investigation into Phuket corruption led by the Department of Special Investigation.

A man recently accused of being the bagman for 17 government organisations know to be involved in Patong corruption said recently he knew the real identifty of the graft collector.

About 60 million baht a month was handed over, he said. Other government officials are well-known for demanding under-the-table bribes. Tourists and residents pay for it all.

Retiring Australian honorary consul Larry Cunningham last week called on the Thai Government to obliterate corruption on Phuket and make it a role model for Thailand's other provinces.

Today's campaign launch came with the support of the E-Commerce Industry, Phuket province, the Business Tourism Associaiton of Phuket, the Thailand Hotels Association (Southern branch), and the Phuket Real Estate Association.

''Everybody should reject and crack down on corruption, whether it's in government or private business,'' Khun Jaran said.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Yes corruption needs to be stamped out, but it'll take decades to change a way of life in a nation where corruption is endemic.
Whilst this "campaign" is laudable, practical steps need to be taken to change the attitude of the people working on the island: i.e. stop ripping off the tourists. And start with the tuk tuk taxi cartels. Its their attitude that has infected the work ethic of so many thais on the island.They all see these people getting away with extortion and want some of the action themselves. Easy money.
Major changes in public transport must be a priority. Start with municipally run "baht buses", and plan for a light railway system in the not-too-distant future. It works very well on the island state of Singapore. Surely it can be done here?
But i fear the worst. The thai government is too feeble to grasp any nettle, and things will soon return to "normal".

Posted by jimbo on September 6, 2013 16:34


Stamp out the cancer that is corruption, unless it can help me/my family that is!
It would seem this is the stance from the masses......

Posted by paul on September 6, 2013 16:40


I missed the bagman and true identity story. Please give me the reference.

Posted by juswunderin on September 6, 2013 16:40


Things start to change very slowly in Thailand when it is in the international focus. Nothing changes when it when it is reported in the local media...if any reports appear.
Bribespot (Google it) is maybe a way to make people aware what is going on here. Until access is blocked from Thailand...

Posted by Anonymous on September 6, 2013 17:33


Last time i had to renew my Cat B visa at Immigration, the nice officer wanted me to make an under the table payment so that i wouldn't have to "come back tomorrow". He actually had a University trainee sat next to him listening to the entire conversation. To end corruption, not only in Phuket but in the whole of Thailand, they need to start afresh with all officials as it's in the blood and is being passed on like a nasty virus.

Posted by phuket madness on September 6, 2013 17:43


Maybe the low wages here in the country have a lot to do with bribes. I mean: if someone makes 10,000 or 20,000 baht a month, here in Phuket, how far can you go? It's something that has always baffled me, that in a country, so rich in different sources, the people still work for 300 baht a day. ( basic salary ) that buys 1 Nutella jar in the supercheap....

Posted by Charles on September 7, 2013 09:14


"Last time i had to renew my Cat B visa at Immigration, the nice officer wanted me to make an under the table payment so that i wouldn't have to "come back tomorrow"."
Do things legally and you don't have a problem. You can not renew a visa at immigration.

Posted by stevenl on September 7, 2013 10:53


You will never stamp out corruption. It's a world wide issue. It's simply more blatant in certain quarters here. Reduce it possible. Control it maybe. Remove it 100% never.

Utopia does not & never will exist, anywhere in the world, unless you're on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere.

Posted by Logic on September 7, 2013 12:31


For 'Steveni' - 'do things legally and you don't have a problem'. That's generally sound advice. However, what about all these lawyers offices and agencies around the place offering all sorts of visas for a certain 'fee'. For example, retirement visas for 29/30,000 baht (instead of showing 800,000 baht for an unmarried expat/or 400,000 baht married to a Thai national lodged three months in advance in an acceptable - to immigration - type of Thai bank account; forget certain types of investment funds offered by various Thai banks - immigration doesn't consider these appropriate even if you have millions of baht deposited in them for long periods)? Such cheaper (30,000 baht) visas are from what I have seen personally entirely legit. The only thing is that you will not have your passport in your possession for anything up to five months - they do something with them on the border with Malaysia. As for 'corruption' (which is a loan word in Thai 'khor-rap-chan') or 'thuk jarit' as shown in the photograph accompanying this story, it has long and deep roots in Thailand/Siam that go way back to the Thai feudal 'sakdina system' and something known as 'kin muang' whereby officials were appointed (or they purchased their positions - much like high-ranking police do to this day) without a salary as such and used their position to generate a cash flow for themselves and their retinue/entourage ('phak phuak'). 'Kin', by the way, the normal word for eat, is also the common Thai slang term for corruption - mainly with reference to public officials. In the almost 40 years since I first came to Thailand there have been innumerable 'anti-corruption' campaigns with no noticeable improvements in sight. If you read old Thai newspapers - you'll even see this sort of thing during the birth of the popular press in the decades prior to WWII. During the Thaksin era things reached a new height, or should that be, low. And so it goes. To genuninely oppose corruption in this country you have to be extremely brave. One can only hope for a change for the better. I think many expatriate readers should try and learn a little bit more about the country that they are living in. Learn some more history (athough not the rubbishy, hagiographic sort of stuff taught in Thai schools) and gain a deeper understanding of the language and culture and its variations in the different regions of the country.

Posted by Kaen Phet on September 7, 2013 14:34


I had a similar experience to phuket madness when I went to renew my Non- Imm O extension based on marriage to a Thai National I was treated with utter contempt and abruptly told ''cannot'' without even looking at my meticulous paperwork / bank book with a letter from the bank.
One month later via a law office with exactly the same paperwork and paying multiplies more than the cost of the visa, my visa was granted.

Posted by Rod. on September 7, 2013 14:42


"However, what about all these lawyers offices and agencies around the place offering all sorts of visas for a certain 'fee'."
Those services are illegal, so using them opens you up to corruption.

Sorry, I did not read the rest of your post. Without any interpunction whatsoever it is illegible.

Posted by stevenl on September 7, 2013 15:35


Perhaps it's annoying for expats to pay a little "service fee" to get their visas prolonged easily, but it is not damaging for the whole society.

On Phuket's west coast everybody is dependent on income from tourism.

The real problem is transport, illegal occupation of public land and plan less construction everywhere.

That destroys the possibility of making an income for the great majority with unemployment and bankruptcies as ugly consequences.

Posted by Sherlock on September 7, 2013 16:47


nothing will change !!

Posted by x on September 7, 2013 18:57

Editor Comment:

We'd prefer to hear what y and z have to say about that.


@ Kaen Phet , thank you. Great comment. Totally readable and great insights.

Posted by Lena on September 7, 2013 20:03


@ Kaen Phet:
Yet another long-term expat preaching that we should learn about thai history, culture, and language, as if that's relevant to the corruption-culture that is at an absurd level on Phuket island.
If our precious hosts want to save themselves they need to learn a bit about Western culture and manners, rather than just rip us off in the surly way they do at the moment. This is a tourist island not some hillbilly settlement in Nakhon Nowhere.

Posted by jimbo on September 7, 2013 21:48


Sure Jimbo - 'it's a tourist island' but also part of an independent sovereign state. Nowadays Phuket is indeed on odd place - sort of in Thailand but not in Thailand at the same time. I think 'preaching' is hardly the appropriate word - some historical and linguistic understanding simply help you cope a little better. In an ideal world it certainly would be nice if 'our precious hosts .. learn a bit about Wetern culture and manners' (occasionally, believe it or not, I habour similar - almost colonial - thoughts myself). When I first visited Phuket in the late 70s and early 80s it was a very friendly welcoming place. That's ancient history now. These days it's mainly bad vibes, people on the make, and incredible levels of misunderstanding in both directions (Thai/non-Thai). It's ugly and getting uglier. For some reason I doubt the 'Thais' (please excuse the blanket generalisation) will adapt in ways that we may see as desirable. You, I and many other 'westerners' have helped make this island the way it is today. But as long as there is 'fat' in the global economic system international tourism will continue to grow. 'Western tourists' will gradually be replaced by other nationalities (ever more Chinese like canned sardines, and Russians who aren't really 'westerners' for us from the Anglosphere, and God knows who else?). It's a bummer, I know, but that's the twenty first century for you.

Posted by Kaen Phet on September 8, 2013 06:14


dear editor !! dont interest me what say y and z !i know u can`t write evrythigs! but u know well too will not change !

Posted by x on September 8, 2013 09:14

Editor Comment:

I know change is inevitable, x, as anyone who knows anything about anything knows. y and z would tell you the same.


whats so wrong with corruption?? its the bad rip offs thats the problemm. i wish when i lived in my "perfect" western country which i left 10 years ago that there was corruption. its so much easier to get things done when people take bribes... i love to solve things quick and easy and u know, after all..Kaen Phet is right in the bulls eye...

Posted by frog on September 8, 2013 15:04

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