Page 41

from now, we learn, Thailand will be a surprising success. How this success will happen is only hinted at. But note this big idea: Thailand will take on corruption and greatly reduce it.

Putting these together, in one or another of these variables Thailand does better than countries which much higher GDP per capita (see Table 1).

Impossible, many say. "The biggest obstacle to development in Thailand is corruption," they shrug. "But what can be done about that, especially here?"

Table 1 Some Comparisons of GDP Per Capita (2012)

The feeling of futility is part of the challenge. To overcome it, we must begin with Thai reality; "we" of course means Thais first and foremost. Then we must learn from experience in other countries. Fortunately, systemic improvements have been made, even in very difficult settings. Where We Stand: Thailand's Governance This section uses a few of the many available data about governance and competitiveness to help locate Thailand internationally. Transparency International publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which combines many sources of information.3 For 2012, Thailand ranks 88th of 176 countries. This compares unfavorably with Malaysia (54) and Singapore (5). Indeed, Thailand ranks below such countries as Burkina Faso, El Salvador, and Malawi. Another source of relevant information is the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013.4 This respected annual report surveys local and international people about 111 variables in each of 144 countries around the world. Overall, Thailand ranks 37 in the world. Malaysia is 24, Indonesia 38, and Singapore 2. In some of the 111 subscales of competitiveness, Thailand does even better. For example:  In terms of the labor market (hiring/firing), Thailand ranks 31 of 144 countries, which is better than many countries, including Ireland, Israel, and New Zealand.  In strength of investor protection, Thailand ranks 13, which is higher than Japan, Norway, and France.  In gross national savings, Thailand ranks 24, which is better than Australia, Netherlands, and the United States.  In business impact of rules on foreign direct investment, Thailand ranks 21, ahead of Germany, Belgium, and New Zealand.  Regarding the availability of financial services, Thailand ranks 26, which is better than Japan, Denmark, and France.

Source: Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14, which uses 2012 data for GDP p.c. not adjusted for purchasing power parity.

The median income per capita of the twelve other countries in Table 1 is over $45,000. Thailand's is $5,678. Why this enormous gap? Hints come from other variables in the Global Competitiveness Index for 2013-14. For example:  Thailand ranks 101 in diversion of public funds. This is a lower ranking than countries such as Gabon, Nepal, and Nicaragua.  In terms of public trust in politicians, Thailand ranks 127, worse than Nigeria, Pakistan, and Mongolia.  The variable called "favoritism in decisions of public officials" has Thailand in 93rd place, behind Timor-Leste, Malawi, and Cambodia.  In terms of wastefulness of public spending, Thailand rank 107, which is worse than Libya, Bangladesh, and Senegal.  In transparency of government policymaking, Thailand is ranked 93rd, worse than Ecuador, Uganda, and Mozambique.  Reliability of police: Thailand ranks 109th, which falls below Liberia, Nepal, and Zambia.

And so, in one or another of these variables, Thailand is rated worse than Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, and Zambia. The median income per capita of these countries is a little over $1000.

3 4 Transparency

International (2013), Corruption Perceptions Index, World Economic Forum (2013), Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2043. Geneva: World Economic Forum.

Anti-Corruption Update > 

Boardroom 31  


Boardroom 31