The conflict of compromise and accountability
One of the things that the Thais pride themselves on has become a
public millstone around their necks.
It is the ability to find a compromise.
On first coming to Thailand it was always heartening to see the Thais’
ability to interpret the law.
At first glance it seemed better than some rigid notion from the West.
There always seemed so much wriggle room and, perhaps in a blessed
state of rose tinted naivety, one thought this was a national trait to
be proud of.
I still do to a certain extent but those initial days of youthful
optimism have now been replaced with more heard hearted realism.
Because compromise often leads to a complete lack of justice with
particularly the weaker and less influential members of society on the
And ultimately what began as a worthy spirit of compromise – seeing
both sides of a conflict perhaps satisfying a mutual satisfaction for
a semblance of justice as well as face – leads inexorably to just one
inevitable and unwanted conclusion:
An utter lack of accountability.
How often do we see in high profile news stories where officialdom is
not held accountable for their illegal and negligent actions?
That is rather a rhetorical question – countless fires, boat
accidents, building collapses and the like have largely gone
Corruption is one thing – but hiding behind a veil of compromise as if
this is a human virtue to be cherished above the rule of law is quite
It lends a kind of legitimacy to the result of cases and is fed to the
public like cake.
And leaves victims in a limbo where social mores seem to have been
given priority while the law is merely paid lip service.
Last week’s case of a gun toting cop threatening bank staff who came
to repossess a car is a clear case in point.
Despite ridiculous claims of extenuating circumstances the actions of
the cop, a supposed upholder of the law, were threatening in the
extreme and left the leasing employees scared and bewildered.
Not only should the cop have been stripped of his job but there should
be no doubt what awaits people who do this kind of thing – jail.
There is no need for an inactive posting and an investigation. He
needs to be locked up.
But what do we see instead?
Talk of a prosecution, yes, but the whole case then becomes muddied by
The wife – who shouldn’t be part of what her husband did – goes on TV
then shakes hands with the bank staff.
The smokescreen of luvvy-duvvy compromise with handshakes all round
tells everyone that a supposedly satisfactory solution has been found.
The Thais have done it their way again and the whole world can rejoice!
Who leaned on who is irrelevant.
What matters is that by inference a man who should uphold the law is
seen as somehow innocent for brandishing a gun at people doing their
jobs in a lawful manner.
The employees of the bank are left to wonder what will happen to them
next time. For there will certainly be a next time if people are
allowed to get away with such scandalous behavior.
Maybe they will be shot….and the compromise will be a payment of
20,000 to help with funeral expenses.
No justice was served in the case – either for the bank staff or the
interests of the public at large.
No one was held accountable and compromise was seen as somehow
triumphing over evil.
The police can talk all they want about the law running its course –
it is almost a euphemism for letting time run its course until
everyone has forgotten what happened.
Then we had the tragic case of the four year old girl falling down the
drain while playing at a housing estate south of Bangkok.
It was heart wrenching to see the hapless little child step on some
flimsy sticks and fall to her death on CCTV.
Where will be the justice for Yosita and her grieving family?
Just like countless negligence cases before and doubtless after one
fears there will be none.
The case will get lost in a mire of compromise and lack of
accountability as the authorities who acted so negligently in leaving
the drain open find excuses. And effectively are allowed to hide
For what – for face and dignity. Where is the dignity for a little
girl who should be protected?
Hiding behind a curtain of lack of funds is no good. Any right minded
person knows that you need to cover a drain – especially in places
where children might be playing.
It is basic common sense.
And what is the cost in some sturdy wood and a few bricks before the
cover is properly repaired as was promised.
Not a lot – certainly worth a lovely little girl’s life.
Those concerned should already have been charged and held. And not
just the workman. But their bosses right up to the top.
But no one will hold their breath on that.
The wais will come out, the forgiveness will be offered along with a
paltry sum and everyone will go home.
There will be pictures for the press as everyone slaps themselves on
the back for the Thai way of doing things.
Foreigners may look on aghast – but foreigners don’t understand our ways….
But Yosita will still be dead – there will be no justice for her. Who
doesn’t grasp that conclusion?
And what is the inevitable consequence of this compromise and lack of
It will just be repeated, again and again.
Because just like a schoolboy is not cowed by a teacher who threatens
without applying sanction, a body of laws that exist without
implementation are toothless and will make no one bother to obey them.
Time and again compromise, the wai, the graap, forgiveness – noble
tenets of Thai culture are used as tools of subjugation and injustice.
The time has come for the law to be applied.
The time has come for some Thai smiles to be replace by a sterner visage.
The time is well overdue for accountability.