Transparency International has just published its annual survey on corruption around the globe. The results for Thailand are, to me, unsurprising. For example:

  • 38% of respondents said that corruption has increased “a lot” over the past two years
  • 74% said that corruption in the public sector was a “problem” or “serious problem”
  • 68% said political parties were “corrupt” or “extremely corrupt”, and
  • 71% said the police were “corrupt” or “extremely corrupt”.

It’s an open secret that corruption has increased massively under the Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration. The kickbacks for government projects are much more than they were under the previous government, and government policies such as the rice pledging scheme appear deliberately designed to facilitate corruption.

However, I then looked at the UK figures and compared them with the Thai figures.

  • 32% in the UK said that corruption had increased “a lot” in two years (Thailand: 38%)
  • 61% said that corruption in the public sector was a “problem” or “serious problem” (Thailand: 74%)
  • 66% say political parties were “corrupt” or “extremely corrupt” (Thailand: 68%)

The differences between the two countries are far less than I had expected. It might be because it takes a lot more in Thailand to be considered “corrupt” or “extremely corrupt” than it does in the UK. However, when I dug a little deeper into the figures it became apparent that something wasn’t quite right.

  • 37% of the Thailand respondents reported they had paid a bribe to the police in the last 12 months (UK: 8%)

The Thailand figure seems possible. Police regularly collect small bribes from motorists – particularly motorcyclists – to turn a blind eye to a traffic violation. And a bribe is usually needed to get any crime investigated. However, 8% having bribed a policeman in the UK in the last year I find unbelievable.

  • 9% have paid a bribe to education services in the last 12 months (UK: 7%)

The Thailand figure again seems reasonable; a large bribe is usually required to secure a place for your child at any of the better schools – but 7% in the UK? Unbelievable.

  • 14% have paid a bribe to the judiciary in the last year in Thailand (UK: 21%)

This is a surprisingly high figure for Thailand; the judiciary has a reputation for honesty here. However, the UK figure is even higher.  At 21%. this is simply not credible.

Much as I admire the work Transparency International does in highlighting the scourge of corruption across the globe, in my opinion there is something very seriously flawed with its methodology; all its figures and conclusions should be taken with the very largest grain of your finest Maldon.

The Transparency report is available at the website


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