Last month an Abac Poll revealed that 64% of Thais think corruption is acceptable if the country or themselves benefit in some way from the corrupt schemes. 70% of youngsters under 20 endorse this view.
Due to lack of transparency, accountability and effective punitive measures, corruption in government now accounts for as much as 30% of state investment and purchasing budget. So investors transfer these costs onto taxpayers and consumers
through more expensive goods and services. In public infrastructure projects, corruption results in cost-cutting and poor quality, which often leads to tragic consequences.
Corruption is not limited to the government. Thailand's gigantic underground businesses are well protected by the police. The combined worth of illegal businesses, gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking, human trafficking, trading in
contraband arms and the smuggling of diesel oil, is believed to total more than 20% of the nation's economy.
But before we rush to condemn, one has speculate that Pattaya fun would simply not exist if all the laws of the land were followed to the letter
Public nudity, such as tourists on a beach is a petty crime, punishable by a fine of 500 baht. But what about nudity in entertainment and nightlife? That, too, is illegal. As with beach nudity, those going nude in private clubs and bars are
considered to be doing so in public, because it can be seen by members of the public, however willing.
Furthermore, the same Section 388 prohibits revealing clothing in the same context. There is no hard and fast definition of revealing clothing and this is defined by Thai custom and local tradition and the context of the act.
However these laws are little enforced. From the point of view of the law-enforcement tax dollar, arresting a bunch of low-income go-go dancers and fining them each 500 baht is not a high priority. However there are periodic crackdowns where the
police do in fact make arrests for nude dancing.
So what happens if you're innocently sitting in a nightclub enjoying a little nude entertainment and the police show up and start arresting people? Generally, under Section 106 of the code, you cannot, because violations of Section 388 are petty
crimes and supporters of petty crimes are not punishable.
Things can get more serious if the police take the position that one or more of the nude dancers is a prostitute, or that there are prostitutes on the premises, all of the penalties in connection with prostitution would be applicable. For
example, Section 6 of the Prevention and Supression of Prostitution Act BE 2539 provides that anyone mingling in a place of prostitution for the purpose of prostitution of others or themselves shall be imprisoned for up to a month and a fine.
Walking along Sanphawut Road at around 4.30pm on Thursday, my son and I were stopped by a group of three men, one in uniform, standing opposite the Chinese temple.
They nodded at each other then stopped us and asked whether we were Indians. Assuming they were policemen, I answered yes and showed them my driving licence and ID card for The Nation, where I work. One of the group then snapped: You don't
talk anymore. We are from Immigration. We want your passport. Another man emerged from the rear seat of a Toyota Vigo pickup and pushed us into it, taking away my wallet with ID card, driving licence, credit card, debit card and money, while
two of the original group got in the front.
We told them our passports were at home, and they said they'd take us there. Instead, they sped past our building, telling us to shut up and that they were taking us to Immigration. After demanding my wallet, I succeeded in snatching it
Instead of taking a right-turn for Suan Plu and the Immigration Department, the pickup went left to Thanon Thangrot Fai Sai Kao and towards Samrong.
I said I needed to call my office and inform them I was being taken to Immigration, but they would have none of it. In the commotion I realised that the man next to me was trying to prise the wedding ring off my finger. It was obvious that all of
them were drunk and looking to make a quick buck from innocent foreigners.