'No sincerity in tackling corruption'

The Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand holds an event under the theme.

THAILAND - Thailand is entering an era of massive corruption, as the authorities have no sincerity in tackling the problem, while business people remain willing to pay bribes and even the media now lacks the courage to dig deep, the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) said yesterday, at a press conference launching its "Act Now" campaign.

The government, despite declaring its intention to combat corruption, has made little efforts, especially in high-budget schemes like rice pledging, said ACT chairman Pramon Sutivong, at an event at Siam Paragon to launch the "Act Now" campaign.

Business people are selfish and willing to bribe officials or politicians to secure high-cost government projects, he said, adding, "Honest officials have been abused or demoralised by the 'sales and purchases' of high-profile positions." He said even the media lacked the courage to hound corrupt officials and politicians, as those who were professional had been frequently abused, either legally, or secretly through indirect methods.

"There are no concrete measures adopted by the authorities in combating corruption, and we would like to call on the present government to study many expensive projects already carried out successfully, with anti-corruption measures put in good effect," said Pramon.

He said ACT staffers had jointly probed several Industry Ministry projects granting licenses, with the ministry's cooperation, or taken part in biddings for government projects, or attended government seminars on large-scale projects, including the water and flood management scheme worth Bt350 billion.

Thai Rice Exporters Association of Thailand honorary president Chukiat Opaswong said the corruption associated with the rice-pledging scheme remained and would continue. He said he wished to see a change in the government's scheme, from the current pledging to measures that would directly benefit the farmers.

Many eminent guests and participants attended yesterday's launch, including senior citizen Prawase Wasi, former prime minister Anand Panyarachun, and Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt.