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Thailand: Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and Civil Society in Anti-Corruption Efforts
Source: thailand.prd.go.th
Source Date: Thursday, November 11, 2010
Country: Thailand
Created: Nov 15, 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stated that the Sufficiency Economy philosophy, initiated by His Majesty the King, directly tackles corruption at its root cause. He also cited civil society as a major driving force in raising awareness of corruption and its harmful effects.

The Prime Minister gave a keynote speech on the topic “Momentum for Change: Take Action against Corruption” at the opening of the 14th International Anti-corruption Conference at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok on 10 November 2010.

Taking place every two years in a different region of the world and attracting up to 1,500 participants from over 135 countries, the conference is the world’s premier forum that brings together civil society, heads of state, and the public and private sectors to find ways to fight corruption.

In his speech at the four-day conference, Prime Minister Abhisit said that each society had to find its own way to containing corruption. International experience and best practices may enlighten the process, but each country ultimately has to devise its own home-grown solutions to best suit its local requirements and context. Thai people consider themselves fortunate to have His Majesty the King to guide them with invaluable principles for living.

He explained that, at a time when the world is facing unprecedented threats from a global economic crisis and climate change, the Sufficiency Economy philosophy is of great relevance, not only to Thailand, but also to countries and communities across the globe. Based on the principles of moderation, rationality, and self-immunity, the philosophy teaches the people to be fundamentally conditioned not by their greed, but rather by their basic needs. It also teaches them to make a conscious effort to cut excessive consumption and be prepared for any contingencies. If all Thais were to heed the kind advice of His Majesty, he said, they will be able to build a stronger moral foundation for themselves and future generations.

Prime Minister Abhisit also stressed the need for greater cooperation with civil society, saying that civil society and the media can act as key catalysts in promoting a culture of zero-tolerance for corruption. By reaching the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens, they can reinforce the message that corruption is an unacceptable social norm.
He pointed out that political will and leadership are cornerstones of any effective national anti-corruption strategy. Politicians and public officials must lead by example and practice what they preach.

The Prime Minister also said that businesses are both perpetrators and victims of corruption. In spite of an increasingly stringent legal framework, corruption remains a challenge for companies in many parts of the world. There is little incentive for an individual company to take an anti-corruption stance in a disconnected business world.
Responsible enterprises that take a zero tolerance stance on bribery and corruption find it very challenging to live up to this commitment in countries or industries where bribery is pervasive and extortion is a routine occurrence. There is thus greater need than ever for a clear demonstration of ethical business leadership.

According to the Prime Minister, Thailand is currently pursuing this strategy as a measure to combat corruption in public procurement. Although the country is still at a nascent stage, it has received very promising feedback from various government agencies, civil society organizations, as well as local and international corporations doing business in Thailand. Its aim is to be one of the first countries in the world to implement a national collective action strategy against corruption in public procurement. On 9 November 2010, 27 leading Thai businesses signed on to a collective alliance against corruption, and next year it is expected that membership will grow.

The Prime Minister said that Thailand is currently working toward the prompt ratification and implementation of the Convention. Although the country has yet to ratify the Convention, concrete steps have been taken in aligning national corruption strategies and operations with fundamental values of the Convention. Most of the key provisions already have congruent and corresponding legislation in place.
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