Friday, May 22, 2009

Harsh Words for the Police

The Nation:

The police have not lived up to the mandate given to them by the public and they have failed to deliver the services that we the public are entitled to.

Like in any entity or organisation, if the product does not satisfy the customer, then somebody has to take the heat. The question for the Thai police force is where to start. In US cities, for example, the police force is answerable to the mayor of that city. This explains why crime is a big issue in any mayoral election.

During the Surayud Chulanont government there was talk of adding a civilian layer to the police force to strengthen accountability and provide a channel for public participation. It was a good idea that was vigorously resisted by senior officers.

While there should be more discussion on the idea of reforming the police force, how about starting with something that Thailand's finest can do by themselves? Important notions such as professionalism, accountability to the public and social activities within communities are some of the things that police officers could be striving for while the policy-makers debate reform.

Like it or not, the public tends to associate the police with corruption and extortion, not law enforcement, and much less a source of security and comfort. A quick glance around the city, and there are plenty of examples. We see the police set up checkpoints to issue tickets to drivers and motorbike riders without proper documents or helmets. Are these the only times they can catch traffic offenders? How about going after the lunatics who speed down dark sois without their headlights on?

I found this editorial interesting and harsh. The Nation usually doesn't go after anybody except the politicians it despises and usually gives every other criminal enterprise in government a free pass.

If Abhisit really wanted to score some big points with the people, he should call for comprehensive reform of the bureaucracy, the police, and the military. I really believe his popularity would soar.

The problem is that Abhisit knows he would never last without institutional support. He can't rock the rice bowls of those he owes his power to.

If you really think about Abhisit's record so far, it is pretty weak. The only thing he has accomplished is handing out a couple thousand baht to the poor and crushing dissent.

Abhisit would be a hero-- and probably receive more universal acclaim from the mainstream media than he already has-- if he went after all the sacred cows in Thailand and put a major effort into reform at every governmental level.

But you know he would rather look cute and fuzzy rather than tackle the big issues.

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