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Asean Affairs  11  March 2011

Aquino on corruption

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     11 March 2011

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It’s no secret that corruption in government is a worldwide issue.

This week several New York State legislators were indicted on corruption charges and the presiding judge commented that “they never seemed to learn,” after other legislators, some of whom the current indicted crop probably knew, were tried, convicted and incarcerated at an earlier date.

However, there are major differences between the West and Asia as in the West from time to time corrupt officials from policemen on up to US presidents are caught and made to pay for their corruption.

In Asia, the conviction of corrupt officials is few and far between. One case that was successfully tried in recent years was the corruption charge against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand. Although following his conviction, the Thai courts allowed Mr. Thaksin and his wife to travel to the Beijing Olympics as an easy escape route to avoid jail time. Yes, Thais are a truly kind-hearted people.

However, the Philippines is another Asean member that is widely known for its corruption. So this week’s Asean Analysis plaudits go to Philippine President Benigno Aquino who said dring a state visit to Singapore, “There has to be certainty of being incarcerated if you commit a crime.”

He continued in his BBC interview, “We've been filing cases on a weekly basis against smugglers and tax evaders. There was an attitude by certain quarters that they were beyond the law, we want to prove that that is not the case. We will be compiling the evidence, preparing the cases for officials who have been involved in crimes and for those that have plundered the national treasury.

It has long been held that a lot of the funds in government programs meant to help the less well-off citizenry actually ended up in the pockets of corrupt government officials. Again, Asian cannot be singled out as unique in this matter, but as Aquino says, actually doing something about corruption has been and remains the key issue.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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