Survey shows that Thais feel “less safe”

PHOTO Paramedics help a man wounded during the Aurora gold shop robbery in Lop Buri on January 9. - AFP

A recent survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, the Suan Dusit Poll, shows that Thais are more concerned about their safety than ever before, citing the country’s economic woes as the reason.

The poll was conducted from January 15-18 on 1,365 people throughout the Kingdom of varying education levels and occupations. The survey followed a spate of serious crimes in the news, including rapes, robberies, shootings and drug dealing, culminating in the high-profile Aurora gold shop robbery in Lop Buri province where three people died.

On January 9, a man shot and killed three people and injured four others during a gold shop heist in Lop Buri.

Numerous CCTV cameras captured the man’s brief rampage, during which he casually strolled into the shop and shot customers and staff. One of the victims was a two year old boy who was shot in the head while walking past the shop with his mother.

67.6% of those polled say that they’ve become more serious about their personal security over the past year as a result of the economic slump, deteriorating social conditions and low moral standards.

In August the Government revealed that the country’s economy grew at its slowest rate in nearly five years in the second quarter of 2019. It cited slowing exports, a struggling farm sector and US-China trade tensions, saying all had taken their toll on Thailand.

The Government also blamed falling domestic demand and weakening export performance, due in part to the strong baht. The Thai baht was one of Asia’s strongest performing currencies in 2019, which hurt Thai exports and the key tourism sector, which generates more than 20% of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product. To make matters worse, the farming sector is currently in the grip of the worst drought in decades.

When asked what causes risks to their personal security, 53.8% pointed to the poor economy; 24.4% cited “deteriorating social conditions, social disparities and a low standard of living”; 21.3% cited the government’s inability to solve economic problems, forcing people to help themselves; 18.2 percent said it was caused by low public moral standards, and 14.5% cited poor law enforcement.

(Figures are rounded to to the nearest one tenth of a percentage point)

When asked to identify what they feared most, 67.5% pointed to robberies and banditry; 32.7% said the use of violence and weapons such as guns and knives; 25.1% cited the spread of drugs; 21.3% pointed to sex crimes and 15.1% said they fear toxic smog.

Survey shows that Thais feel "less safe" | News by Thaiger
SOURCE: Suan Dusit Poll

Whether a slowing economy leads to crime or increases it remains a topic of debate. In 2015, the World Economic Forum published an article titled “Do Recessions Increase Crime?” which quoted American economist Gary Becker’s seminal 1968 work on criminal choices, saying low expectations on returns for legal activity may lead to initial involvement in crime and subsequently to a first encounter with the criminal justice system.

Whether an economic slump inevitably leads increased crime is still up for debate, but the recent poll shows many Thais believe it does.

SOURCE: The Asean Post

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Jack Burton

Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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