There is a misconception that bribery and corruptions are endemic to Thailand. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen because that would be a total lie. What I am saying is that the average government worker isn’t going to accept a bribe from you. Sadly, it’s not that easy contrary to what some may think.

Reality Vs. Perception

Let’s start this off. In certain areas, yes, a bribe will move things along. Some need to be extremely hefty in their sum and others are minor and its just to avoid an inconvenience of dealing with other shit.

I have now had enough dealings with Thai officials that I can tell you that most aren’t on the take. They follow the rules as annoying as they are and don’t sit there and slyly ask you for a small donation to their tea fund to expedite procedures.

Does this mean it doesn’t happen? Hell no. It happens, I see things and I know who will and who won’t. Just saying, the average clerk at whatever office you are dealing with isn’t going to take your money and make all your problems go away or process your request any faster.

Corruption Is An Issue

Please don’t think that corruption isn’t an issue here. It is, it’s just not as blatant as you think and the average Somchai isn’t on the take. People with power and influence are the ones that benefit the most from it. This isn’t some revelation that suddenly I’m shedding light on. Hell, it’s not even a uniquely Thai problem.

All countries have some form of corruption. If you think your Western country doesn’t I have some really bad fucking news for you. While I was an IT person I spent 18 year essentially working for a lobbying organization. You figure out what I saw and what I didn’t see. That’s right, your trusted representatives who you freely elect into office doesn’t get campaign funds magically. They do things. Ethically, likely legal, but if I stroke a healthy check to Mr. Politics re-election fund I can guarantee you he will make sure my interests are now his interest.

Let’s say in looser countries that don’t have such stringent rules and morally upstanding political figures, well you can just kinda outright buy what you need provided you got the money to back it up. Just because you are in a 3rd World or Developing Nation doesn’t mean that things are cheap. It just means they are more willing to deal because its legally easier to move things around.

Ignorance On Bribing

What I do find frustrating is people just assume because of a countries reputation and the presumed moral righteousness of the West means you can bribe your way through life is just bullshit. Trust me, it doesn’t happen that way in reality.

I have to sit and wait for forms and go through the due process just like everyone else sitting around me. There is no magic number that I slide in with my paperwork that makes things suddenly become kittens and rainbows.

It’s how normal happens. You go and do what you need to do legally, pay your fees and get out the door regardless of the number of hours it may or may not take out of your day. No different than any other government or official office in the world. Trust me, if I could have bribed DMV officials back home I would have but the reality is, like here in Thailand no one was on the take. They were just overwhelmed government workers trying to do a job the best they could. Some days good and sometimes bad.

Why Write This

I just want people to understand that while Thailand has its issues, again the average person isn’t out fishing for a bribe. They are just trying to get through life like the rest of us. Why risk your job for some small money when you aren’t in a position to really gain anything from it.

The comments that you can walk into any place like Thailand and just toss money to get what you want is foolish. You need connections, you need to know people and the average Somchai ain’t the person you are going to deal with on stuff like that.

Just because you move to a new country and have money doesn’t mean that government agencies suddenly become easier because you toss some money at a clerk and you are now coasting through life.