News / Science & Technology

Bribespot: Fighting Corruption in Thailand One Click at a Time

Bribespot: Fighting Corruption in Thailand One Click at a Timei
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September 12, 2013
Reporting corruption, at least unofficially, in Thailand is becoming easier with a new Thai version of an international smartphone application. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman has details from Bangkok.
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— Reporting corruption, at least unofficially, in Thailand is becoming easier with a new Thai version of an international smartphone application.
 
As it is in many developing countries, bribery is ubiquitous in Thailand.  A Transparency International survey found that one-fourth of those in the country acknowledged making a payoff at least once a year.
 
But the government's Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said it only received about 4,000 complaints annually through its telephone hotline, Website and walk-in center.
 
Now people in Thailand have a more convenient way to informally report corruption.

The local version of Bribespot, created by a Lithuanian living in Germany, allows anyone with access to a smartphone or computer to pinpoint where, to whom and how much they paid a bribe. The reports are then published and mapped online.
 
PACC deputy secretary general Prayong Preeyachitt sees such innovations as Blogspot as helping to combat corruption.

“It is a good use of technology to help solve the corruption problem. But I am worried about our office getting overwhelmed by the number of claims it could generate. However the application is very useful for our job and the prime minister endorses this project,” he said.
 
Commission officials said they were willing to disseminate information through their nine regional offices to let the public know about this new method of detailing corruption.
 
"I had to pay a policeman because he said my vehicle's number plate was too dirty to read clearly. This application may be very useful because we can be anonymous and we do not know to whom we should report such incidents," said one office worker.

"I have already heard about this application. I think it will be useful," said one young woman.

"Social networks can be valuable for this problem. But this application needs more functions to provide sufficient evidence, such as audio or a video clip," a salesman said.
 
But some, including a local newspaper, are skeptical about Bribespot's potential effectiveness here, saying while graft is talked about a lot in Thailand, it is generally tolerated by the public. Such payments result in reduced fines from police officers and faster service at government offices.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

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