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Land offices most corrupt, police second: academic survey

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Land offices most corrupt, police second: academic survey
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Land office is the most corrupt agency in the Thai bureaucracy, while police are ranked second in this dubious list where households needed to make illegal payments to facilitate their service, according to an academic survey.

The survey titled “Corruption in the Thai Bureaucracy in 2014: A Survey of Attitudes and Experiences of Heads of Households” by Chulalongkorn University’s Pasuk Phongpaichit found that 7.2 per cent of 6,048 heads of Thai households said they were asked for a bribe by officials at land offices whenever contacted for a service, while 6.1 per cent said police personnel asked for money from them.

Land offices, which come under the Department of Lands, are the key agency for all transactions and documentation involving sale or purchase of land. The office is authorised to charge a fee but officials demand extra money to speed up work or legalise some grey documents, the survey revealed.

The Departments of Customs and Land Transport also took bribes, but only 2.4 and 1.9 per cent respectively of households in the survey said they needed to offer bribes to officials for their services, Pasuk said.

However, on a relatively positive note, she said the percentage of respondents who said they had to pay tea money to officials at the land offices, police, Customs and Transport departments had decreased from 12.3 per cent, 8.5 per cent, 10.3 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively, in the previous survey in 1999.

The survey also revealed that the land office was the only bribe-taking agency in the bureaucracy that demanded more than Bt100,000 per head on average, Pasuk said. The police as well as the departments of Customs and Revenue also charge big amounts but the bribes average between Bt10,000 and Bt100,000, she said.

Public schools and local administrative organisations have also been pointed to as taking bribes from households, she said.

Officials at public schools seek bribes averaging Bt11,796 each time they are contacted for service, the Department of Customs demands an average of Bt10,538, the land-office bribes average Bt5,341, and police take Bt4,919 on average from each household, she said. Local administrations demanded only Bt1,000 on average, she said.

The survey estimated that total bribes taken by the land offices this year amounted to Bt1.9 billion, the police Bt1.7 billion and public schools Bt640 million, she said. Overall, Thai households paid bribes of Bt4.9 billion to 10 government agencies, according to the survey this year. However, she noted the amount was three times less than the last survey in 1999.

“Thai households in the survey gave importance to the problem of corruption but did not consider it more important than their own economic and income difficulties.

“Corruption is a chronic problem in the country and Thai households are less trustful of the media, the judiciary and the bureaucracy on this issue.

“Most of the survey respondents said they wanted to see tough punishment for corrupt officials and wanted the government to give priority to anti-corruption measures more than other issues,” she said.

Department of Lands deputy director-general Wanit Intarak said the department was aware of the bad reputation of the land offices because of the bribery. It is difficult for the department to control as many as 800 offices and units under its jurisdiction, he said. “But we have inspected and boosted ethics and morality among officials to prevent corruption. We also use information technology in the management system to limit the opportunity for officials to take bribes.”

Pol Colonel Mongkol Ketphan of the national police office said the Royal Thai Police had opened channels for people to lodge complaints on the work of the police to eliminate corruption from police stations.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Business

Air Asia seeks to mitigate economic losses with launch of “super app”

Maya Taylor

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Air Asia seeks to mitigate economic losses with launch of “super app” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.lowyat.net

Air Asia is introducing a super app, in an attempt to off-set – at least partially – the significant financial losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The mobile application shuffles Air Asia’s model as a flight and accommodation provider, to a broader platform of complimentary services. The app will offer users a variety of options, including digital payment services, delivery services, and an e-commerce platform. Air Asia Chief Executive and founder, Tony Fernandes, says the idea for the app was floated prior to the pandemic, but Covid-19 hastened its development.

Air Asia’s Thai subsidiary, the majority Thai-owned Thai Air Asia, has been back flying domestic routes around Thailand since the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand lifted restrictions in June.

“This journey didn’t start during the pandemic, this journey started 2 years ago, but it was accelerated because of the outbreak. This is not a Plan B, this was always our Plan A, but we still think aviation will definitely come back.”

Air Asia was hit with losses of US$238 million in the second quarter of 2020 and says it desperately needs to seek new sources of revenue while the economic effects of Covid-19 continue to be felt around the globe. The Bangkok Post reports that from October 8, users in Thailand and the wider ASEAN region can access the new app through the company’s website or through its existing mobile app.

Fernandes says payment and logistics services will be provided by the airline’s subsidiary operation, Air Asia Digital. Users will be able to book flights (including those of other airlines) and hotels, as well as enroling in a rewards programme.

“Air Asia’s roots are from moving people from A to B and moving cargo from A to B, and that is the basis of Air Asia Digital and the basis for our platform AirAsia.com.”

The app is expected to face tough competition from super apps Grab and Gojek, currently understood to be in merger talks. Should a merger go ahead, the combined operation would create a monopoly on food delivery and car-hailing services in the ASEAN region. However, Fernandes remains optimistic, with the airline hoping to complement existing services.

“I don’t believe we are here to compete, but here to complement. Airlines always see us as competitors, but we complemented the full service and created a new market that was not there. Before, only a few people could fly, now everyone can fly, and in the same way we will complement the market.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: Protesters gather outside the Thai parliament - Tanaporn Choopanya

Thailand’s MPs and Senators have kicked the constitutional can down the road at least a month after the parliament failed to agree on charter amendments. A panel will be sent up to examine 6 motions that were proposed and debated over the past 2 days. Meanwhile, up to 2,000 protesters were gathered outside the unfinished parliamentary buildings as an act of solidarity for the MPs supporting the changes to the current Thai Constitution.

The reality of the vote, and the setting up of an investigative committee, could push any votes on real reform well into 2021.

The 2 Houses of Parliament voted 431-255 to delay the vote. Opposition Pheu Thai and Move Forward MPs stormed out and missed the opportunity of nominating anyone to the new 45 member parliamentary committee to examine the motions, whilst the remaining members chose members for the committee. Move Forward Party’s, Pita Limjaroenrat, described the vote as “a way to stall for time” complaining that the decision “was moving the country towards a dead end”.

It was not known how the NCPO hand-picked Senators would vote on the bills. Many were thought to side with the idea of constitutional reform but the reality was that, in most scenarios, they’d be voting themselves out of a job if any reforms went ahead. Thailand’s entire upper house is a military-appointed rump of conservative former businesspeople and Army officials, mostly men.

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

The protesters viewed the afternoon’s proceedings as a blunt stalling tactic to keep the current parliament, and its unelected senators, in power. The session ran until 8.30 last night. Rather than face the angry mob of anti-government protesters at the front of the building, most of the senators escaped on boat at the rear of the building, which backs onto Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.

The demonstrators, with a consistent theme of reform over 3 months of rallies, are demanding changes to the current constitution because it was drafted by the NCPO who kicked out the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014.

The protesters specifically point to the NCPO-appointed senate and the power they wield to elect the country’s prime minister, even though none of them were elected (nor was Prayut Chan-o-cha).

Protesters say they will now organise the next lot of rallies in October. Meanwhile, the Parliament is now is recess.

PROTESTSLive scenes from today’s protest rally to lend their voices, albeit from outside the The Parliament, to the debates inside about amendments to the Thai Constitution. The Thai parliament buildings are unfinished and, so it seems, are the student and anti-government protesters.

Posted by The Thaiger on Thursday, September 24, 2020

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree

Maya Taylor

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Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Thailand’s Covid-19 task force is advising the government to extend the country’s state of emergency by a further month… again. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the matter next Tuesday and put it to Cabinet for consideration on Wednesday.

The state of emergency, or emergency decree, which has been extended several times since its introduction in March, is due to expire at the end of this month. It has been extended, on a month by month basis, many times this year since it was introduced to short-circuit the process of implementation of Covid-19 preventative measures. However, the CCSA says an extension is vital to ensure various government agencies can work speedily to combat any threat from Covid-19, particularly as neighbouring countries experience a spike in infections.

Thailand has already taken steps to seal the porous border with Myanmar after a surge in cases means that country is now recording over 500 new infections a day.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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