All serious no-nos in Thailand and the only charges to stick so far, despite the initial accusations of the Tranlee group of companies, 17 in total, operating illegal “zero-baht” tours, which prompted the investigation into Tranlee in the first place.
However, not mentioned at the press conference is that Tranlee’s assets both here in Phuket and their offices in Bangkok were seized by court order – then auctioned off before any court had ruled.
That’s not good. If Tranlee was holding tourists hostage at extortionate prices in specific venues, that is what the company should have been held accountable for. What’s at stake in this is the perception of juristic transparency.
What’s more, this news was handed down at a press conference led by no other than the top-ranking police officer for Phuket Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen – who has yet to reveal any details about any of the dozens of officers under his command who last year were under investigation for corruption, including for allegations of systemic extortion of cash payments from employers over illegal migrants.
You couldn’t come up with a better example of mafia-style profiteering from human trafficking if you tried.
If PM Prayut wants to know why Thailand’s ranking in Transparency International’s annual index of perceived most corrupt countries in the world has improved very little since his rise to power, this might shed some light on it.
This so-called crackdown on corruption has targeted specific people and operations while institutions such as the Royal Thai Police are left to run roughshod over justice.
At their own discretion they choose whether to acknowledge any claims of corruption against them, or others, and reserve the right to withhold the results of any graft investigations.
Transparency International, the global civic organisation leading the fight against corruption, says that level of government transparency is the one key indicator of corruption and in Thailand, this is what transparency looks like.