BANGKOK – When the Thai Armed Forces, led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, seized power in a bloodless coup five years ago, it promised to bring happiness back to the “Land of Smiles” and return the country to democratic rule and eliminate corruption within two years.
General Prayut Chan-o-cha said the coup was needed to stop further violence after months of street protests and to stamp out corruption which had plagued Thailand for decades.
But as the coup’s fifth anniversary approaches of the 2014 coup, the ruling junta, or National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), seem to have done little to curb corruption in Thailand.
Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index shows that Thailand dropped to 36 points, one lower than last year, slightly lower than 38 in 2014 when the military took over.
The index ranges from 100 (very clean) to 0 (very corrupt).
Among Thailand’s Southeast Asian neighbors, the Countries 36 points compared — in descending order of “cleanliness” — to Malaysia’s 47 (no change), Indonesia’s 38 (down 1), Philippines’ 36 (up 2), Vietnam’s 33 (down 2), Myanmar’s 29 (down 1) and Cambodia’s 20 (down 1). The worldwide average score was 43.
Thailand ranked joint No.99 — with the Philippines — out of 180 countries and territories in the survey. Singapore was joint No.3 in the world rankings, Malaysia No.61, Indonesia No.89, Vietnam No.117, Myanmar No.132 and Cambodia No.161.
Denmark was in the top spot, followed by New Zealand.
Overall, Denmark led the survey as the least corrupt nation, with a score of 88, followed by New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland. Rounding out the top group were Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Luxembourg, Germany and Britain.
With a score of 71, the US lost four points over 2017 and dropped out of the top 20 nations for the first time since 2011.
Transparency International said its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018 showed more than two-thirds of countries scoring below 50 on its scale where 100 is very clean and zero is very corrupt.
At the same time, the report cited Freedom House’s annual democracy survey, noting Turkey was downgraded from “partly free” to “not free,” while Hungary registered its lowest score for political rights since the fall of communism in 1989.
The ratings reflect the “deterioration of rule of law and democratic institutions, as well as a rapidly shrinking space for civil society and independent media,” the organization said.