On Sunday evening, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released one of the largest leaks of financial documents ever. The leaks, now known as the Pandora Papers, showed how business and political leaders across the world stashed their cash overseas in real estate and other investments to escape local taxes or to avoid corruption investigations.
For example, the paper reveals how King of Jordan owns a GBP70 million villa in Malibu or how Czech politician Andrej Babis used an investment company to purchase two multimillion dollar villas in the South of France and never declared it. For full access to the leaks please read here.
The Pandora Papers will likely cause political headaches and scandals across the world due to its sensitive nature.
In ASEAN, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines all had sensitive financial data of leaders and businesspeople that were leaked.
Conspicuously missing though was Thailand.
That is not to say that Thai politicians and leaders were/are ‘clean.’ But one can’t help but think that if Thai leaders were somehow implicated in such a leak, Thais wouldn’t bat an eye.
So accustomed have we become to the corruption of our leaders that its more of a surprise when our political class is not involved in something like the Pandora Paper than if they were name.
But then again, should we be surprised that no Thai person was implicated?
Our leaders have no need for slush funds and shady investments overseas because they can park their ill-gotten gains right here at home and no one would care.
Remember how little surprise we showed when ‘Joe Ferrari,’ the cop-turned-murderer was revealed to have more than 40 luxury cars in his possession.
Remember how unsurprised we were that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s brother Preecha was found to have a company registered to property on an army base and that his son was running a construction company without proper registration.
Remember Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watches which he was just “borrowing” from a friend?
And that’s just our political and public leaders.
Our business leaders have such close integration with the political class and operate between the margins of the law so readily in this country that we would be more surprised to find out they were completely clean.
It says a lot about our country that such corruption is so widely accepted. What’s more shocking is the surprise we feel when a party like Future/Move Forward attempts to highlight these corruptions in parliament – but the surprise is not aimed at the content they are presenting but that they would have the audacity to mention something so taboo in broad daylight and in view of the entire country.
The boldness of the new parliamentarians has also engendered young Thai people from across the country to start speaking up about this endemic corruption and the symbiotic relationship between business and politics.
Who knows, maybe in 20 years time when the next Pandora-like paper leaks, we will all be shocked to find Thai leaders implicated in the reports.
What a day to look forward to.