Joshua Kurlantzick at the Council on Foreign Relations has a short post related to much of Southeast Asia, but which has particular resonance for Thailand. He begins with the “awful stampede that took place at a water festival in Phnom Penh in late November, killing as many 350 people” and concludes that “no one will be punished.”
Apart from the fact that he thinks this culture of impunity that protects state officials and the higher ups does not infect Singapore, his observations about the way, for example, in Thailand, the police and military can torture and kill and get away free from any responsibility is amazing and tragic. He says:
In Southeast Asia, punishing wrongdoing is exceedingly rare, outside of Singapore [sic]. Yet it is one of the pillars of a functioning democracy, a democracy in which citizens have the degree of trust in the state necessary to conform to the laws. If this trust in the state does not exist, you wind up with a privatization of essential functions, tax avoidance and people paying for public services like water and sanitation and policing, private militias, and other corrosion of state control. You also wind up with a total lack of trust in the law, so that average people become less likely, in the future, to report crimes, testify as witnesses, or generally punish illegal activities.
Thailand has plenty of that.