Thursday, January 28, 2010

Film festival bribery scandal 'damaged our reputation'

Time again for an update on the case of Juthamas Siriwan, the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand who has been indicted in the U.S. for taking bribes from convicted Hollywood producers Gerald and Patricia Green so the husband-and-wife team could run the Bangkok International Film Festival and other projects of the TAT.

Yesterday, The Nation had a report quoting various officials in the tourism industry who say the bribery scandal has damaged Thailand's reputation and makes it harder for Thais to conduct business with overseas tourism promoters.

And why were the corrupt dealings allowed to happen in the first place? That's what Dusit International CEO Chanin Donavanik is wondering:

Chanin questioned why the government had not been aware of the allegation and said if anyone did know, no action had been taken, nor had anyone been arrested.

Chanin said Thailand's problems stemmed completely from its politicians, who always sought benefits and were prepared to remove anyone opposing them. Therefore, officials who do get promoted are often corrupt and have poor attitudes.

"This highlights the inefficiency of the administration, as well as the country's weak law enforcement," he said.

Juthamas was head of the TAT from 2002 to 2006, under the administration of Thaksin Shinawatra. There's a different government in place now, but inefficencies still remain.

By the way, there were several updates to last week's initial blog post about Juthamas' indictment. The indictment document is here and here (PDF download).

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