ByÂ Richard S. Ehrlich – Special to The Washington Times
BANGKOK | When Thai voters recently elected a joke-cracking, former massage parlor tycoon to parliament, they probably did not expect him to expose police corruption and topple the countryâ€™s police chief.
All the drama is thanks to the wise-guy tactics ofÂ Chuvit Kamolvisit, who is using his status as a lawmaker to fight the same kind of crime he used to promote.
â€œYou need an expert â€¦ to fight corruption,â€Â Mr. Chuvit said at a recent news conference. â€œI can become the specialist about corruption because I know corruption.â€
He has openly admitted bribing police officers when he owned several huge Bangkok massage parlors packed with prostitutes.
After winning a July election, he stunned parliament a month later by displaying an elaborate video sting operation he arranged to show thatThailandâ€™s biggest illegal casino appeared to be protected by police.
Bangkok has more than 170 illegal gambling dens of various sizes that bring in a total of up to $6 billion each year. Five percent to 20 percent of the profits go to police, according toÂ Rajabhat Universityâ€™s Good Governance program.
Hundreds of thousands of illegal gambling sites exist throughoutThailand.
Mr. Chuvit said he exposed the biggest one in Bangkok, which raked in about $500,000 every night from 1,000 gamblers in the heart of the city.
â€œSo it becomes about [$15 million] per monthâ€ in profit for police and others to share from just that one casino,Â Mr. Chuvit said, grinning with delight that his â€œanti-corruptionâ€ crusade is wildly popular withÂ Thailandâ€™s media and public.
He speculated that â€œ100 percentâ€ ofÂ Thailandâ€™s illegal casinos pay bribes to the police.
Mr. Chuvit showed his first video in parliament on Aug. 23. It revealed the lush interior of a huge, expensively equipped illegal casino packed with gamblers.
He voiced mock outrage that police had not closed downÂ Thailandâ€™s biggest casino.
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