Executive summary

Anti-corruption laws in Thailand have been expanded over time and the current National Anti-Corruption Strategy includes bold efforts to mitigate corruption risks. To support the Government of Thailand’s commitment to public integrity, the OECD Integrity Review of Thailand provides in-depth analysis of the country’s public integrity system. In line with the 2017 OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity, the Review offers guidance on how to strengthen Thailand’s integrity frameworks and policies, based on good practices from OECD countries.

Towards co-ordinated integrity institutions

Although Thailand has an extensive legislative framework in place for public integrity, the mandates of various institutions overlap, reducing the effectiveness of anti-corruption and integrity policies and hindering their implementation. For instance, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), alongside the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC), have conflicting responsibilities in relation to developing and implementing integrity policies. Furthermore, multiple bodies are currently responsible for investigating cases of corruption, weakening the investigative process. This overlap could be addressed by building on the mandate of the NACC for the overall co-ordination of anti-corruption and integrity policies, and on the specialised role of the PACC in preventing corruption in the executive branch. A clear co-ordination mechanism among these bodies, as well as others such as the Office of the Civil Service Commission, would allow integrity and anti-corruption policies to be developed and implemented more consistently.

Thailand has broad guiding principles for managing conflict of interest in the public sector as well as practical guidelines to assist public officials in identifying and preventing conflict-of-interest situations. However, there are positions in the public sector that are considered more at risk from conflict of interest and integrity violations, such as procurement and custom officials. An increasing number of OECD countries have developed specific, detailed guidance for such individuals, enabling them to better manage potential conflicts of interest. Thailand could look at these experiences and consider further developing the guidance for public officials that are susceptible to conflict-of-interest situations. The PACC, with its preventative mandate, would be the ideal body to develop such guidance in the executive branch.

A robust asset disclosure system is an effective tool for ensuring the accountability of public officials and facilitating the detection of illicit activity. In Thailand, the NACC expanded the scope of the provisions for asset disclosure to include senior political positions. While this is a positive development, Thailand’s asset disclosure system could be further broadened to include senior civils servants and at-risk officials in order to mitigate conflict of interest risks. This could be complemented by strengthening the auditing capacity of NACC with an online system to facilitate submission, effective auditing and verification, and subsequent publication by NACC.

Cultivating a culture of integrity

To promote a culture of integrity in the public sector, all public officials are expected to understand the public sector values underpinning their role as well as how to apply them in daily operations. In the Thai public sector, the Code of Professional Ethics for Civil Servants is known to employees, but a comprehensive training programme would help civil servants apply the Code in fulfilling their duties. PACC could carry out such training for civil servants and institutional partners, and provide guidance and support on integrity issues in the executive branch. Awareness-raising activities could also be extended to include the broader public and promote a whole-of-society approach to anti-corruption, enhancing public trust in Thai institutions.

To foster an open organisational culture and allow for detection of integrity violations, individuals must feel that they can raise concerns freely and without fear of reprisal. In Thailand, some protection is afforded under witness protection and related laws, but the provisions do not go far enough. In line with an increasing number of OECD countries, Thailand could consider adopting a dedicated whistleblower protection law that offers comprehensive protection measures to assure public officials that they can report suspected wrongdoing without constraint. In particular, such legislation is expected to clearly identify the scope of whistleblowers, stipulate the reporting channels available to employees, and define prohibited forms of retaliation. Furthermore, OECD good practices show that such measures are more effective when accompanied by awareness-raising activities to ensure that individuals have a clear idea of how to make a disclosure, and what protection is afforded to them when doing so. Once a dedicated whistleblower protection law is in place, PACC could be the agency in charge of overseeing its implementation and training public officials in the executive branch.