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Asean Affairs  27 April 2011

More than termites eat up cash in Asia

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     27 April 2011

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A news story out of India describing the consumption of “millions of rupees” by termites nesting inside a bank is currently making the rounds of “odd stories” on the Internet.

However, in Asia and Asean, there is another way that funds are eaten up and that’s not from termites but from humans and it is called corruption. It is a serious issue throughout the globe, but often seems more flagrant in Asia, as the lack of transparency in government often obscures the illegal acts for some time, perhaps forever. The slow pace of the judicial system in many Asian countries also hinders the enforcement of anti-corruption laws, which, of course, are on the books in most Asian countries.

A scan around Asean on any day provides reports of corruption cases surfacing. Today it is Philippines’ turn.

In the Philippines, three members of President Aquino’s Liberal Party have been accused of involvement in a program that resulted in a fertilizer scam. Also,today, Philippines former Solicitor General Frank Chavez filed plunder and criminal charges against former President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga and several of her allies over alleged misuse of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration funds.

The results of the Transparency International Corruption Index in 2010 for Asean countries are (with 10 being the highest possible good score):


Brunei- 5.5









Looking at the rankings, one might conclude that Singapore might be in a good position to give the other Asean member states a course on corruption reduction.

There is a special name for corruption in every Asian country. The Thais call it gin muong (nation eating). In Chinese, it is known as tan wu (greedy impurity), in Japanese oshoku (dirty job), and to the Pakistanis, it is ooper ki admani (income from above).

There has been improvement in Asean with active campaigns in Thailand and other countries to have firms sign agreements that they will not give bribes and payoffs to government officials. Let’s hope that trend continues.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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