Thailand has fallen another three places in the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) published this week by Transparency International.
The country ranked 104th among 180 countries surveyed, down from 101st a year earlier, with an overall score of 36 out of 100.
In 2014, the year Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha staged a military coup to overthrow the Yingluck Shinawatra government, the country was ranked 85th, an improvement from 102nd in 2013.
Its ranking rose to 76th in 2015 but plunged to 101st place the following year. It recovered to 96th in 2017 but slipped to 99th in 2018 and 101st place in 2019.
The top two countries in the index, Denmark and New Zealand, had a score of 88 points. They were followed by Finland and Singapore at 85.
In Southeast Asia, Thailand was tied with Vietnam in 104th place, two spots behind Indonesia. Malaysia ranked 57th with a score of 51 points. Farther down the list were the Philippines (115), Laos (134), Myanmar (137) and Cambodia (160).
The Corruption Perceptions Index, compiled annually since 1995, ranks countries and territories based on perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to surveys of experts and businesspeople.
The index uses a scale of zero to 100, with zero meaning highly corrupt and nations scoring close to 100 points being almost free of corruption.
Transparency International said it was frustrating to see that the average score in 2020 was only 43 points, with two-thirds of the 180 countries scoring below 50.
“Almost half of all countries have been stagnant in the CPI table for about a decade, so all of these nations have failed to move the needle toward combating public-sector corruption more efficiently,” it said.
The 2020 CPI report also highlighted the impact of corruption on government responses to Covid-19, comparing countries’ performance in the index to their investment in healthcare and the extent to which democratic norms and institutions have been weakened during the pandemic.
Corruption has plagued Thailand for much of its modern history, with both the private and government sectors partaking in various forms of corruption. Corruption is embedded within Thai society due to its history and culture, where patronage plays a huge role and those with connections thrive.
Research shows that the cost of bureaucratic corruption alone in 2018 amounted up to a 100 billion Thai baht, with state officials at various levels embezzling funds from large and small governmental projects. As of 2018, Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International has ranked Thailand as the 99th least corrupt.
A year after the 2014 Thai coup d’état, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) declared a war on corruption, a common mission by all military dictatorships following the numerous coup in Thailand’s history.
However, the junta was also entangled with various embarrassing corruption scandals itself. – TNR staff and Thai language newspapers