Thai Airways : tales of the daily corruption

Apichai Sangsasi, director of Thai Airways International’s Crew General Administration Department, yesterday filed a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against a selection committee chaired by Finance Ministry permanent secretary Suparut Kawatkul.

The NACC the day before rejected Suparut’s appeal against a ruling he had violated the law by appointing deputy director-generals at the Finance Ministry.

Apichai said the committee changed the list of nominations for two key executive positions at THAI without the president’s endorsement, in order to benefit certain committee members who had a conflict of interest.

He said that last September 4, the selection committee named himself and Montri Chamriang as executive vice president for operations and business administration, respectively.

However, at another meeting six days later, the committee cancelled the nominations and instead named Porpong Sanpakit and Norahuch Ployyai for the positions.

Upon investigation, the new appointees were found to be connected to some of the committee members, as a brother-in-law and classmates.

Apichai said that prior to the selection committee’s meeting, there had been an attempt to distance himself through charges he caused more than Bt10 million in damage to the company via the rental of crew accommodation in Rome. (Nation)

Thai Airways is like a crashing airplane. First the oil prices, then the economic crisis… A loss of 21 billions THB in 2008, an investment plan cut, the inability to renew an old fleet, a board in total disarray with the changes of government…

But all airlines in the world face many challenges… How come Air France/KLM for instance is (still) able to make profits ?

Thai Airways can no longer hide the uggly truth : this company is not a company. It’s a bordello. An economic bordello.

For long, Thai Airways was the whore of the military… Generals, colonels, retired or not… you have a ridiculous rank and an obscene uniform ? And a sister, a cousin, a buddy, a classmate without a job ? Send them to Thai Airways… That will do the trick…

Then of course the politicians arrived… they wanted also a piece of the milking cow. And they had also sisters, brothers, cousins, maids, classmates etc. 😉

Everything was cool : tourism was boosting… the airline received awards… the hostesses were an object of fantasy… Those were the golden times…

But it was smoke and mirrors.

Now that we have a real, and I mean, a real economic global crisis… the whore has no clothes anymore. Naked.

Her pimps are going to face some serious troubles…

And the poor suckers (AKA the thai tax payers)… will pay. Eventually.

It’s interesting to remember that Abhisit, as a payback for his election, gave the Transports Ministry to a member of the Newin’s MPs gang (Newin is the ex-friend of Thaksin who changed allegiance and gave his support to the Democrat Party, creating the Frankenstein Coalition)


Thai Airways International has witnessed a 20-per-cent drop in bookings since the government imposed a state of emergency on April 13, a move that has scared away Asian tourists – mostly from China, South Korea and Japan. (Nation)

And minor shareholders are complaining…

22 Responses to “Thai Airways : tales of the daily corruption”

  1. 1 Krid 24 April 2009 at 6:41 am

    Great article. The crisis doesn’t make them scale back their cronyism and corruption, it increases it! They enjoy the party while it lasts getting drunk on perks and kickbacks, without any long term thinking of the consquences. Surely the taxpayer will foot the bill, albeit he’s also running out of funds!? Another display of the local talent to run everything and anything into the ground, including Thailand’s once greatest company.

  2. 2 Bedwyr 24 April 2009 at 11:04 am

    Corrupton truly is ubiquitous in Thailand. They seem to have some cognitive dissonance in respect of corruption and thievery in Thailand.

    Evidently they really do think it is acceptable – a part of the culture and nothing wrong with it. Tradition. And yet, at another level they must know it is wrong because they deny it and try to hide and conceal it.

    What conclusions should one really draw about the inner nature of these people? On the surface, good honest law-abiding and compassionate Buddhists, them Monday comes and its back to the larceny and mayhem.

    It is all so confusing…


  3. 3 KV 24 April 2009 at 3:38 pm

    The naming of Newin fellas to Transport Ministry has something to do with the Purple Line mass transit plans?

  4. 4 ThaiCrisis 24 April 2009 at 5:07 pm

    KV : it has EVERYTHING to do with new projects of course, but also current projects and companies (thai airways, highway department of the Transport Ministry etc.).

    Transport Ministry is very rich, a lot of money (roads for instance) and projects go through it…

    I repeat : it was the PRICE to pay for Abhisit and his so called “frankenstein coalition”. Newin is not “working” for free !

    It’s appaling. So this is why, to see and hear our friend Abhisit talking about rule of law, democracry… is just UNBEARABLE.

    He knows it, we know it. Everybody should know and understand this point.

  5. 5 Tarrin 24 April 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Why dont the PAD protess about this? Aint they the protecter of democracy and corruption number 1 enemy??

  6. 6 George P Tuckeer 24 April 2009 at 6:04 pm

    In Thailand Corruption is an ravenous beast that knows no bounds, harbors no moral ambivalence and hides in the semi-shadows only because it is technically illegal.

    But there is always hope. In the Sixties, HK was so corrupt that firemen arriving at a burning building would wait for the owners to come pay them before putting out the fire. Consequently owners often arrived, cash in hand, before the firemen. Postmen would throw your mail on the side of the pavement unless you paid them monthly to do their government job to deliver mail to your door.

    Yet they managed to tame the beast and proceeded to prosper to levels undreamt of. Sad to say, things in Thailand will have to get a lot worse before they get better. Or, like in some Sub Saharan countries things will get worse beyond what one thought was possible. And just when you thought it can’t get any worse, it does. Again.

    When I began this post, I was hopeful. As I end it, not so much.

  7. 7 ThaiCrisis 24 April 2009 at 7:51 pm

    You’ve got a good point George. The example of Hong Kong (or Singapore for that matter) can give us hope.

  8. 8 Mr. Wrigley 24 April 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Frankenstein coalition! I sadly get a good laugh every time I read that word. It should receive more common acclaim/usage.

  9. 9 ThaiCrisis 24 April 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Indeed. I’m really proud of it. 😉

    It’s funny and it summarizes perfectly (and visually) the situation.

    The so called “coalition” that pushed Abhisit is nothing less than a monster. A political monster.

    Newin was a big friend and big fan of Thaksin. This guy is a godfather. The worse kind that the thai political system is able to produce.

    He’s even able to command squad of thugs. Because he is a thug. Look at the picture and the video (Pattaya during the Asean summit and the “blue shirts” drama) !

    He just changed allegiance, against large payment, and gave his MPs to the Democrat Party, so Abhisit was able to be “elected” (ah ah ah ah) Prime Minister.

    Tell me if you find a more appropriate expression than “Frankenstein Coalition”.

    I don’t.

    From the outside, people don’t get it. Because they don’t know who is Newin. So they just read on their newspaper : Abhisit was elected PM by the House. “Okay fair enough. And he looks good. And younger than all the old thai politicians. So it’s good”.

    We shall repeat it over and over. Abhisit is a tartuffe. A facade. A wall. A wall from the Potemkin Village.

    The Democrat Party bought the premiership and they used an historic opportunity (the conservators wanted to totally block Thaksin, and crush him, before the royal succession).

    If Abhisit had an ounce of decency he would stop hurting our ears with big words like “rule of law”, “democracy” bla bla bla.

  10. 10 chinesethai 24 April 2009 at 11:17 pm


    Last time you said Abhisit ordered the Blue Shirts but I argued that these people belong to Nevin and Abhisit has no control over these Blues.

    That Pundit usually just follows what English language newspaper writes and would only pick up what is bad for Abhisit/Yellows/Whoever Anti-Thaksin and good for Thaksin.

    Read my lips…

    Right after the Red VS Blue clash, the two colours met behind the scene and apologized each other because the Blues were red before.

    If you think Nevin is already the worst kind the Thai political system ever produced. Think again. There are many more that are totally unheard of to farang newbies to Thai politics.

    Do you still believe that elections can solve Thailand’s problems?

  11. 11 fall 24 April 2009 at 11:34 pm

    For long, Thai Airways was the whore of the military… Generals, colonels, retired or not…

    You forgot to mention one other major institution. 2 Billion baht, gone without a trace.

    Thai Airways, ran out of suitable degrading word for such a company. Let’s just say it is best for it to file Chapter 11 and start anew…

  12. 12 ThaiCrisis 25 April 2009 at 12:09 am

    Hold on CT… At that time we didn’t have the pictures and video showing Newin giving order to the thugs… From the outside, and at that time, I thought that the government was coward enough to use the “blues”, against the reds, in order to save face and to appear not using the public force (army and police).

    It was rational to think this, since the “blues” were obviously in Pattaya, on the gvt’s side, as counter-protesters.

    Furthermore, I remind you that Abhisit signed an Evil’s pact with Newin… They are on the same boat… So how can you say that Abhisit has nothing to do with Newin’s initiative ?

    The fact is : the thug on the motorbike, giving orders, was Newin. Not Abhisit. But again, maybe he gave his agreement.

    Now to say that the blues were red, before, or vice and versa…

    As for Newin, I spoke about his “kind”. We all know that, unfortunately, he’s not alone. His “kind” represents a large number…

    As for the elections, I don’t have the answer. But to have a real change in the country, it’s a prerequisite. When the godfathers will be history, then Thailand could move forward. Those people (plus all the conservators) have only one ambition : to freeze the situation, to perpetuate it, so they can continue to benefit from it.

  13. 13 ray 25 April 2009 at 11:46 am

    what about this notion that nesin is the “trojan horse”? after the parliament sessions it is clear that all poitica parties are putting the pressure on the democrats to amend the constitution in favout of the 111 and 109 who are banned from politics. i feel that
    after these guys come back to life they will clear thaksin of all his crimes.

    there was a question when the yellows will come to the streets.. if the pariament goes aheah with the amendments they will come out in huge numbers much more than b4.

  14. 14 antipadshist 25 April 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Nick in his post on NM has clearly mentioned that he recognized former PAD guards among “Blue”, and also was told that many of them are Navy dressed in blue shirts.

    I love though how some people keep trying hard to rather implicate Reds. Thanong on Nation has even named BP and NM a “red mouthpiece” ! 🙂

    meanwhile clown Kasit said that 5 “special” people are now targeted by assassins. and brave Kasist, surrounded by 10 marines – is not scared at all. hahaha

    Korn was named by Kasit as one of those 5 targets.

  15. 15 Fish 25 April 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Interesting about how bent HK and Singapore were in the 60’s..i still don’t hold any hope for this place in the levels of corruption declining soon ( or mush hope in anything really )..Those places had a power running them that new what the word democracy meant so it seems it was sorted out a little bit.

    People from HK and Singapore don’t seem to have the same childish “mai pen rai” attitude to everything and anything that happens in life.

    Plus the Thai’s think their shit does’nt stink and they are light years ahead of the rest of the world..

  16. 16 pete b. 25 April 2009 at 7:00 pm

    well chinesethai is partially right but to be fair all the different colored teams get their ‘muscle’ from the same source. these young thugs work for whoever pays them.

    regarding hong kong and Singapore , there was a British governor to clean shop in hk, lee in Singapore but the only one with the power to do it in thailand is part of the problem.

  17. 17 Tarrin 27 April 2009 at 10:34 am

    Chinesethai, if not election who would be the most suitable body to govern?

    remember, you give a man too much power then he will become a god, same as Hitler.

    In the history of mankind, there is a very rare case (Lee might be an example) of good dictatorship. But then, there is an old greek philosopher who said that “The Worst Democracy is still better than the Best Dictatorship”

  18. 18 antipadshist 29 April 2009 at 9:34 am


    talking about “corruption”

    here is a fresh news:

    Cabinet approves loan guarantees to help tourism sector

    well, guess who is the Minister of Tourism ? 😉

    Chumpol Silpa-archa – son of Banharn, the banned (last Dec) politician from the party which jumped the ship and helped Abhisit to form a coalition for certain benefits (same as Newin’s “friends”).

    so, Abhisit and Korn continue pleasing their patrones and those who helped them to form a government by giving away taxpayers money. sure, before that they gave some peanuts (those 2000 baht) to some (not all – far from all the needy !) ordinary people .

  19. 19 George P Tuckeer 29 April 2009 at 2:26 pm

    pete b. @ 25 April 2009 at 7:00 pm said:
    “regarding hong kong and Singapore , there was a British governor to clean shop in hk”

    The British administrators rode that corruption whore as wildely as any local. It was the case of a relatively lowly British policeman named Godbar who obsconded to Britain with something like HK$4m of corrupt gains that finally lead to public anger. The New British governor (McClehose, I think) responded by setting up the Independent Commission Against Corruption to tackle the matter head on. The police (the best organized—organized for corruption, that is—in the world) responded by going on strike since they were practically all implicated (part of the beauty of the organization was that everyone got their cut, whether they wanted it or not). The governor’s response was brilliant: with some exceptions, there was a blanket amnesty and an across the board wage hike (to somewhat make up for loss of corrupt income). The whole system could start with a clean slate. One of the key laws was that your were guilty of corruption if your assets and lifestyle appeared incompatible with your stated income. Also, bribe payers were held as equally liable as bribe takers.

    It was mostly public pressure and the changing times that prompted the British administration to act. Forgive me if my response to that is not “Kudos to the British”

  20. 20 sammy 1 May 2009 at 11:43 am

    I would like to know who is the lucky guy to get the garbage contract for hauling away all the plastic and paper waste in a Thai Airways “meal”

    To TC: I dont think you can believe Singapore is not corrupt. Corruption there is big at the top, at the policy level. Think Temasak. Think Lee family Inc. And let’s not forget the country got its start not with an economic miracle but with money laundering through its banks.

    Chinese Thai has a good point about elections. How can elections bring change if only mafia bosses can become candidates? There is no rule of law; there is no shame; there is no way out from inside Thailand. That is why foreign powers like China and US are fighting to fill the vacuum.

  21. 21 George P Tuckeer 1 May 2009 at 12:24 pm

    As Sammy says, there’s serious high level corruption in Spore. Similarly, corruption in Hk has taken on new forms: note the informal cartels and monopolies—from electricity generation, to supermarkets, banking and property. Note how government bureaucrats, at the behest of vested interests have dragged their feet for two decades on issues like minimum wage and fair competition laws. Still, the situation is a huge improvement from the Sixties. Thailand is at the stage where HK was in the Sixties.

    As for big power interference in Thailand, Sammy’s hit the nail on the head (here and in another posting). Power abhors a vacuum and there exists a power vacuum in Thailand. China and the US are vying to fill it.

  22. 22 buddy 14 October 2009 at 5:55 am

    The Good, The Bad and The Ugly > History, Culture, Situation > Commentaries > Corruption

    This is a controversial piece, but I’ll go ahead and publish my opinion and commentary.

    It’s well known that government salaries are quite low and inadequate to support either the civil servants’ families or many government departments’ operations. Thus, unofficial fees are often requested or required.

    Is this good or bad? On a case by case basis, that depends, in my opinion, on whether it’s helpful or hurtful, especially if it creates victims or not.

    The Good

    You are driving and violate some road law in a harmless way. A policeman stops you. Instead of taking a ticket and going to the police station, you pay some cash on the spot and it becomes just a warning. This saves you and the police considerable time. I think this is good. Some people call this “extortion” but I disagree if you did something illegal.

    Note: If you are driving correctly and a policeman stops you and threatens to fine you for something you didn’t do, whereby he just wants money, then take the ticket and go to the police department. That would be bad corruption. Note: I’ve never had such a bad experience with a policeman in Thailand, nor has anyone whose stories I trust. The police in Thailand have always been correct, and usually quite polite, with me. I would bet there are bad cases, like most everywhere, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the nature of the police in Thailand by my own experiences, which is much better than the average traffic cop in the U.S. However, I do know many hot-headed people who have cursed the police for stopping them for gross violations of the law.

    Another case of where corruption is helpful is in expediting applications for various things. A tip can speed things along. There is no victim. Everyone benefits. It’s the price of doing business, whereby you pay a reasonable fee for the government operation to process your application. Otherwise, you just follow the normal cheap route and wait.

    The Bad

    I worked in the engineering and construction business for several years. On infrastructure projects, the business often went to the highest briber, not the best technical operation, and surely not lowest bidder. Technical competancy was often not considered seriously, as the winner figured they could always find cheap enough technical people after they win the contract. (The mismanagement and problems of some projects are legendary.)

    The victims are the entrepreneurial companies which have high technical skill and who do proper business. They get blown away by those offering bribes but who usually have less technical skill.

    More victims are the government budget, its taxpayers, and the consumers who pay higher prices for poorer service from monopoly service providers who got a license by bribing government officials while other entrepreneurs were denied. (This is discussed in the section on monopolies.)

    Sometimes, criminals who commit crimes with victims offer very large bribes to avoid capture and/or prosecution, and then continue creating more victims. This includes scamming businesses, scamming their own workers (e.g., unpaid wages), and of course human trafficking (whereby people are offered a high paying job overseas for a fee, but arrive to find they’ve been tricked into working for a sweatshop at menial wages, or worse yet, imprisoned prostitution against their will and with rapings, beatings and/or threats of violence).

    The Ugly

    Look around Bangkok at all the unfinished and abandoned highrise buildings, which have been rusting and decaying for years.

    Most everyone knows about corruption in the construction and banking businesses, which caused Thailand to have an economic liquidity problem, which in turn brought down almost all of the rest of Asia’s economies.

    What’s not known is just how much corruption helped bring this about. On these big projects, the offers of bribes and kickbacks encouraged many decisionmakers with authority to approve the loans and licenses for these projects. If those bribes and kickbacks had not been offered, and decisions had been made solely on the economic merits of each project in view of all the similar, competing projects, and market supply and demand, then the Asian collapse would have been much less, or perhaps would never have happened.

    This is something to think about every time you look at all the ugly, decaying buildings in Bangkok’s remarkable skyline.

    There is a related section in ThailandGuru on the 1997 Asia Economic Collapse.

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Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.

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