Thailand introduces new anti-corruption court

Ruling generals seen as trying to prove their sincerity by fundamentally reforming country’s legal process.

Bangkok – Thailand is to open a specialised corruption court after Prime Minister Prayauth Chan-ocha promised to eradicate corruption in the country within 20 years.

Thailand’s first ever corruption court will open on Monday and initially try 70 cases.

With a dedicated court, the government hopes that the reach of corruption cases will expand into the private sector and to lower levels of government.

Also, analysts believe that the new court may make it possible for such cases to be finalised more quickly than in regular courts.

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“When the case involves politicians or the private sector, it will have to go directly to this court,” Weerasak Krueathep, a public-policy expert from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, told Al Jazeera.

“We believe that changing the procedure will speed up the process.”

But he said he views the corruption court as a “symbolic move” by the government to gain ground in the court of public opinion.

“The government is trying to show that they are making good on their promise of cracking down on corruption.”

Prayauth has promised to eradicate corruption within 20 years [Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters]
Prayauth has promised to eradicate corruption within 20 years [Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters]

Corruption was one of the main reasons given by Thailand’s generals for staging a coup two years ago.

Corruption was so rampant, they said, they had to “take over and root it out”.

There have been many high-level corruption cases in Thailand over recent years, with most steeped in politics and tried in the Supreme Court.

Now the ruling generals are trying to show that they are serious in their fight against corruption by fundamentally reforming the legal process.

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But some analysts say that resources should not only be used to bring more cases to court but also to break the culture of corruption.

“Enforcing the law is not enough,” Kan Yuenyong, from the Siam Intelligence Unit, told Al Jazeera.

“We need to improve the condition of the people first and get them to understand that corruption is not good for the country as a whole.”

A lot of people agree that the success of the new court will not be known for a few years.

But before that, there will be indications of how the people of this nation feel about government officials – and whether they trust them more, or less.

Source: Al Jazeera