My Van Driver Paying a Bribe

July 12, 2013


On the way to the airport in Udon Thani, our van driver got pulled over by some traffic cops. The policemen were pulling over most cars on the road. They asked him for his drivers license first and then walked back to his desk by the side of the road. Our van driver then followed him. From the back seat of the van I could clearly see what happened next. Open on the desk was a book of tickets. I couldn’t hear the discussion that was going on but it was obvious that the cop was taking his time in starting to write the ticket. The next thing I saw was that the van driver quietly gave the policeman some money in his closed hand. No ticket was written and the license was returned to the driver. I asked him afterwards and he said that the bribe was 200 Baht. If he had agreed to the fine, the cop had made it clear that he would have to go to the police station the next day to pay the fine and collect his license. Both of them knew that would have been inconvenient as he was based in Loei and needed to return for another tour group. He felt he had no choice.

This happens every day and every where in Thailand.

11 Responses to My Van Driver Paying a Bribe

  1. Leeshaaad
    July 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    One of the (many) reasons I am happily leaving and moving back to the cold and wet of Europe.

  2. Win
    July 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    It not only happens in Thailand. It happens in many countries across the globe. What is important to understand, though, is that unless an irregularity occurred (i.e. a regulation or law has been transgressed) no money will change hands. The amount is normally no more than the fine, is a lot more convenient than having to stay until the next day, costs the taxpayer a lot less money for justice facilities and salaries to law enforcers, and in most countries (including Thailand) goes back for centuries to something we call in the West the patronage system. It is , simply put, efficiency based on favours. It would be very interesting if you could let us know what the driver believed his transgression was and what the fine in court or at the police station would have been.

  3. Steve
    July 12, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Ya, it happened everywhere and everyday here in Malaysia too!!! So much so that one of our Prime Ministers asked all policeman on duty to wear a “Jangan rasuah” or “Dont bribe” badge when they are on official duty!! Still, corruption is everywhere and everyday.!!

  4. Steve
    July 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Indonesia used to be like that also during Suharto era. But due to restructuring following the fall of Suharto or ‘reformasi’ and also increase in policma salary, Indonesian policemen or civil servants no longer do that anymore openly. But , of course, there are some who still continue to do that, secretly.

  5. Jim
    July 13, 2013 at 6:59 am

    I despise leeches…

  6. tom
    July 15, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    seems he is getting a receipt. For a bribe?

    • Richard Barrow
      July 15, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      The receipt book is just for show. They take their time getting ready to write the ticket giving you chance to offer the bribe. The conversation usually starts by the policeman saying “maybe there is another way of doing this”.

      • Robert T. Snow
        July 18, 2013 at 9:03 pm

        With 200 Baht tightly concealed in his hand Somchai the mini bus driver leaned slowly towards the traffic cops ear and whispered the words that make the transaction acceptable , I’m one of the 65% that thinks corruption is acceptable

        • Markus
          August 10, 2013 at 7:27 pm

          So, a bribe to escape murder is ok?

  7. Stanley
    January 26, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Malaysia’s even worse. Most government prefer not to clean up corruption. It’s not that they cannot. They don’t want to, no need to guess why. Anyone can guess the reason.
    I don’t agree that it’s a matter of convenience or favour for both parties. If laws are strict and enforced, such traffic offence won’t even happen. Corruptions and briberies encourage them.

  8. Wipa
    January 30, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Thanks for sharing Richard. I don’t agree with any form of bribery (despite being thai) and I don’t believe this will really get better in thailand unless efforts are really made by the authorities and the population. Problem is if you insist on paying an official fine, this will piss the policeman off and you will end up paying even more than if you had agreed to pay “under the table”.

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