Thai politics ruled by ‘culture of impunity’
Observers say political division is intensified with the rich and powerful immune to the rule of law.
Bangkok, Thailand – The charge was murder. The accused was a former prime minister, once the political darling of his country’s urban middle class, and now leader of the opposition.
Abhisit Vejjajiva reported last week to the Criminal Court in Bangkok to be formally indicted for allegedly ordering soldiers to gun down scores of people protesting against his government in 2010.
Whether the case has merit or is politically driven, the sight of a former prime minister voluntarily walking into Criminal Court to be booked for murder would normally lead observers to conclude that justice, accountability, and the rule of law are core values of the society in question.
But this is Thailand. And in Thailand, the rich and powerful almost never pay for their crimes. Along with glittering Buddhist temples and respect for elders, impunity is an integral, although darker part of Thailand’s culture.
Impunity has acted as motivation for continued violations. It has played an enormous role in Thailand’s national problems.
In the “Land of Smiles”, scions of wealthy families accused of killing police officers are somehow allowed to skip the country to avoid prosecution. The police in turn have been accused of taking percentages of illegal businesses, extorting bribes from honest citizens, and executing alleged wrongdoers without trial.
Generals stage coups and grant themselves immunity, and security forces kill Muslims in the deep south and then receive promotions. Politicians enrich themselves through corruption and conflicts of interest, and some openly incite mobs
Unlike in Japan or South Korea, no one resigns in disgrace. And almost no one in a position of power ever goes to prison for his or her misdeeds.
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Thai politics ruled by ‘culture of impunity’ – Features – Al Jazeera Englishhttp://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/12/thai-politics-ruled-culture-impunity-2013121513355246150.html