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Should Bribe Givers be let off Lightly?

Should the PM should reconsider current Bribe laws?
DEMOCRAT PARTY leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to reconsider his instruction on amending bribe laws that would spare bribe-givers from criminal charges.

Abhisit said he wanted the premier to think thoroughly about the issue, as bribe-givers are also offenders and should be subjected to legal action. He said not doing so would convey the message that they had not committed any wrongdoings. This would send a wrong signal in corruption suppression, as absolution of such offences would suggest bribery is not illegal.

The Democrat leader said he wanted the government to look for alternatives from regulations set in other laws, including an election law that allows voters who sell their votes to inform authorities and. The penalty for their offence could then be reduced or waived.

He said with such an approach, the offences would still be illegal but there would be a channel for those wanting to correct their wrongdoings and cooperate more with the authorities, he said.

Abhisit said the most problematic issue is still law enforcement. In the Rolls-Royce bribery case, he said most of the tip off has come from foreign agencies, not those in the country. He said the state should improve its investigation efforts.

During his visit to the water database Mekhla centre at the Water Resources Ministry, Prayut said on Friday that he had instructed the Finance Ministry to come up with measures, including legal amendments, to secure the cooperation of bribe-givers, who may have succumbed to pressure for bribes from state officials. The current laws on corruption both bribers and those receiving bribes are liable to criminal prosecution, undermining their cooperation to help the state, he said.

The premier broached the possibility of more flexibility in prosecution by charging the bribe-givers with only civil lawsuits, like some other foreign countries, so that the state can benefit from their cooperation.

The PM tapped his absolute power under the interim charter’s Article 44 to press the idea, but the Democrat Party leader disagreed.

Pichai Naripthaphan, former Energy Minister of the Pheu Thai Party, said the premier’s idea was just a mere ruse to deflect attention from Thailand sliding lower in the latest Corruption Perception Index.

Put out by the Berlin-based Transparency International, the index saw Thailand’s rank fall from 76 last year to 101 this year.

The use of Article 44 would not be of help as corruption has long plagued the country and needs more sustained legal action, Pichai said. Corruption takes place in countries without democracy, rather than the other way around due to lack of checks and balances, he added.

Credit: the Nation

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