Ockey-Nakleng - reason women have not yet derived as much...

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Unformatted text preview: reason women have not yet derived as much benefit from this leadership style as men can be attributed to the nature and the strength of gender stereotypes in Thailand. Phudi—style leaders, while generally more acceptable than nakleng—style leaders, are also often seen as weak and indecisive. And because women are gen— erally stereotyped as being weak and indecisive, they are automatically encum- bered with all the negative images of the phudi style and have to struggle to dispel those assumptions. Gender stereotypes are discussed further in Chapter 5. CHAPTER4 IIIIIIIIII Prom Nakleng to Iaopho Traditional and Modern Patrons e have already seen that one of the impediments to the development of Wdemocratic leadership has been the distortion of patron~client ties and consequent prevalence of patronage politics. The persistence of patronage politics was partly ascribed to the wide gaps between rich and poor, city and countryside, national politics and local politics, and to the lack of policies to provide a social security net for the poor.1 Although such patronage is often characterized as tradi- tional, it has undergone considerable change in recent years and is, at most, quasi- traditional. This chapter examines more closely the changes that have come about with the rise of powerful hua khanaen who have developed political influence based on their ability to control votes, focusing on the rise of a new type of patron who has become extremely influential in Thai politics, the jaopho, or godfather. Origins The term jaopho seems to have entered into general use during the 1970s—prob- ably as a direct translation of the English word “godfather” from the movie The Godfather—~as a result of the rising influence of this group upon the economic and political changes of that decade,3 The jaopho have cultural roots in two earlier fig- ures in Thai history: the nakleng, from mainstream Thai culture; and the sia, from Sine-Thai culture. Some of the traits of both the nakleng and the sia are evident in the behavior of the modern jaopho. Although I have already briefly discussed the nakleng, in order to see the ways in which the traditional patron has evolved, it will be helpful to provide more details. The traditional nakleng has been described as “noted for his ‘manly bear- ing and courage, readiness to fight in single combat or in a riot, fidelity to friends, deep loyalty and respect towards feudal lords and parents.’ Dressed in his dashing best, the nakleng frequented market centers and gambling houses . . . ‘to meet friends or make foes in the hope of adding to his prowess . . .’” (Iohnston 1980:91).3 The nakleng developed at least partly as a result of the distance between the village and the governmental authority, and came to play an important role not only in crime but in protection of the village (Johnston 19802passirn; Sombat 1992:120). The nakleng would protect the property of the villagers from theft, prevent other nakleng from coming into the village, and himself refrain from stealing from the village.4 At the same time, he would engage in raids on other villages, on the rich, and at times even on his own village. The nakleng would then help resolve the crime by playing the role of mediator, arranging the return of the stolen goods—~per- haps taken by his own followers—in exchange for a reward (Johnston 1980:91—92; Trocki, unpublished paper). In some cases, the nakleng and his followers would gain protection from officials in return for a share of the spoils (Rujaya 1984292— 105). The nakleng was respected, admired, and necessary to village life. In some cases, the young nakleng would go on to become the village headman (phuyaiban); in others the nakleng was the headman (Johnston 1980:91; Bunnag 1977:23). He then would be the source of political patronage, and in some cases may also have distributed some of the financial rewards of banditry to the villagers.5 Through a combination of threats and rewards,6 the nakleng exercised considerable power and commanded respect within the village. The Teochiu word sia, which translates roughly as “tycoon,” has become widely used to refer to important jaopho. In fact many, perhaps most, of the jaopho are Sino—Thai. We can also discover some of the origins of the jaopho in criminal activity in Sino-Thai culture. The most important contributor to the later values of the jaopho was probably the secret society.7 The Hungmen society began to form in Thailand at least by the early eighteenth century (Skinner 1957:139).8 These societies, like those formed in China, had as their stated objective the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and the restoration of the Ming. They originally performed many of the functions of government, providing help to other members of the community and serving as a type of social security net; however, as with the soci- eties in China, they turned from their political and social goals in search of profit through illegal activities. Administration under the absolute monarchy during this period was, for the most part, indirect; the monarchy recognized the authority of local rulers in each community. In many areas, the Chinese community was administered separately, with its own leaders approved by the king to govern the community, in order to ensure fairness in disputes where Thai community leaders might side against the Chinese. Often those chosen as leaders of the Chinese communities were secret society members. Although the government banned the secret societies between 1824 and 1857, after 1857 the ban proved unenforceable. The societies were legal— ized, required to register, and ordered to cooperate with the government (Supharat 1981:chap. 6). The Chinese community during this period was comprised largely of two classes, workers and entrepreneurs. Equally important, the community was made up almost entirely of males, with the businessmen seeking opportunities to benefit not only from the work of their fellow immigrants but also from their pleasures: gambling, liquor, prostitution, and opium became commonplace. Both the secret societies and the government cooperated to share in the profits. This cooperation became manifest in the tax farms created to benefit both the government and entrepreneurs, who contracted to collect the taxes from these activities. As the secret societies increasingly turned to crime, they took control of these tax farms, fixing the bids and applying violence and coercion to collection (Hong 1984:103).9 Secret societies flourished both in the provinces and in the capital, and by 1906, there were at least thirty such societies operating in Bangkok alone (Supha— rat 1981:58).10 While the government had tolerated and even worked with these groups because of their usefulness in controlling disputes in the Chinese commu— nity, riots in Bangkok in 1869, 1883, and 1889, as well as a number of lesser distur- bances, eroded this tolerance, and after the riot of 1889, secret societies were banned, this time with a more effective administration to enforce the ban (Supha- rat 19812212—213; Skinner 1957:144).“ The role of the secret societies had gradu- ally evolved from being mutual assistance groups to organized crime, and now, with the ban in place, other types of organizations expanded to fill the traditional assrstance services formerly performed by the secret societies. Secret societies, like nakleng, played both positive and negative roles in soci— ety and were accepted, perhaps grudgingly, by both the Sino-Thai community and the government. They provided welfare services both to members and to the larger community. Leaders were often made representatives of the government. As with the nakleng, the secret society leader was a respected member of the community and an important patron as well as a protector. After the decline of the societies, much of the patronage moved into dialect and lineage associations. However, help— ing members of one’s own group and building up the reputation of one’s family remained important values. The Transition to Iaopho After the overthrow of the absolute monarchy, the Promoters found that in order to maintain their political sway, they needed to develop economic power. That meant forging links of their own with the Sino'Thai business community: in some cases, with the same powerful families that had cooperated with the absolute mon- archy as tax farmers and in other roles; in others, with newly emerging families (see Sungsidh 1983). As part of this process of exerting control and developing eco— nomic power, the new government cracked down on organized crime. Police Chief Adun Detcharat, who was appointed to monitor political enemies (Stowe 1991286), was responsible for this operation. Perhaps due to this crackdown, other than a brief revival of the secret societies during World War II to support Nationalist China (Skinner, 1957:254—255, 264—265), there was little visible role for the nakleng and sia during this period. I ‘ I It was during the lead-up to the Sarit coup that organized crime again became heavily enmeshed in politics. During the mid—19505, a power struggle was under way between army commander Sarit Thanarat and police chief Phao Siyanon that would determine who would succeed Prime Minister Phibun (for details, see Thak 1979). Both Sarit and Phao built up extensive networks of supporters, not Just in the army and police but in society as a whole. Each developed a busrness network and media outlet, and sought to extend their ties into politics and foreign affairs. Phao, as police chief, was in a position to cultivate criminalsiwho proved to be important allies in carrying out illegal activities. Within the pohce force, Phao had his own asawin (knights) ‘2 who would compete for the favor of the boss by per— forming his errands, up to and including killing his opponents, many of whom were killed while “resisting arrest” while others simply disappeared.” Phao had police forces for every purpose: from the railroads to the oceans, from horseback to airborne. The asawin specialized in crime. They were given specral treatment and bonuses for their services, and were heavily involved in the illegal opium trade. Under the leadership of Phao and his asawin, and at their direction, cooper— ation between police and the underworld became systematic. This assocratron reached its political height in the 1957 election, when Phao made a b1d for power in his role as secretary—general of the government political party. He used the nakleng and 5ia to break up the rallies of other parties, extort money for the use of his own party, intimidate and generally harass other candidates, and to get out the vote. In return, the gangsters were issued cards declaring them phukwangkhwang (prominent people) and reading, “the holder of this card is a close assocrate and servant of the director—general of the police. If there is a problem, please contact me” (Suriyan, n.d.:9). This card in effect made them immune from arrest. Phao (and Phibun’s) political party won the election, widely believed to ‘be the most fraudulent in Thai history, and Phao was appointed minister of the interior. The dirty election, with its fraud and tactics of intimidation, however, provrded- the pretext for the Sarit faction to stage a coup later that same year, forcmg Phao into exile. Phao was the first to use criminal elements in political electlons in a system- atic way. As head of the police and secretary'general of the government political party, he was able to hold a virtual monopoly on the use of such persons in the election of February 1957. No other government has been able to so monopolize the support of the nakleng and sia. Later democratization brought about compe— tition between political parties for the assistance of these criminal groups (Ander— son 1990). th While Sarit agreed to elections after the coup, he soon began the moves at would lead to a new system of government, “despotic paternalism,” his form of centralized authoritarian rule. Among the first moves toward dictatorship was the elimination of those gangsters who had cooperated with his enemy, Phao. Sarit implemented a new law allowing the arrest of anthaphan (gangsters)—in most cases, the same individuals Phao had designated phukwangkhwang—without evi- dence or trial, and imprisoned nearly all the most powerful figures in organized crime. However, Sarit did not really intend to wipe out crime; he simply wanted to bring it under his control, and new leadership gradually emerged. When the old leadership got out of prison, organized crime, infused with both new and old blood, and with the influx of cash from the beginning of the Vietnam War, became more prevalent than ever. Current jaopho come from the combination of the nakleng and sia traditions, modified by the rapid growth of the provincial economy and the emergence of democracy.M Thus, to describe the rise of jaopho, it is necessary to examine the interconnections among nakleng, sia, economic growth, and democracy. After the coup of 1957, the Sarit Thanarat government, on the advice of the World Bank, began to promote private-sector-led economic development. This marked a change to the state—enterprise~led development pursued earlier and allowed the rise of powerful, often newly rich provincial notables. Much of the money flooding into the provinces during this period came by way of develop— ment and counterinsurgency funds, and those who had close relations to the gov— ernment were often in the best position to benefit financially. Political influence thus became even more closely tied to economic wealth. Many of these relation- ships involved corruption, and nakleng and sia were well positioned to profit from the new wealth. Furthermore, narcotics, smuggling, and especially gambling all allowed nakleng/sia now becoming jaopho to enjoy particularly high profits dur— ing this period, which could then be invested in legitimate, profitable businesses. The establishment of democracy during the seventies further enhanced the political power of the jaopho. When democracy was revived after the student—led uprising of 1973, there were no political organizations in the provinces capable of mobilizing votes. In the past, government parties had used the bureaucracy to win elections; however, government parties disappeared after the 1973 demonstrations that overthrew the military government. As parties scrambled to form organiza- tions (see Chapter 3), they found that some of the most effective already existing ones belonged to the rising jaopho. Jaopho employed numerous young men who often had time on their hands. They had networks for selling tickets for the under- ground lottery. And they often had construction companies that could build roads or bridges in exchange for votes. As coercion and patronage, often in the form of vote buying, soon proved crucial to winning elections, jaopho became valuable political allies. By the end of the 19705, jaopho realized that success in delivering votes meant they could elect their own candidates, or even contest the elections them selves. By winning elections and becoming members of parliament and even cabinet min— isters, jaopho became national figures, increased their access to government resources, and placed themselves beyond the reach of the local police. All these factors have made the jaopho the most powerful individuals in many provinces (Ockey 1992:chap. 4, S); and the resulting power has enhanced their capabilities to act as criminals and benefactors within their own provinces, and even to extend their influence to other provinces and to Bangkok. While the jaopho have their origins in the nakleng and Sid, and in fact invari— ably refer to themselves as either nakleng or sia, they have obviously gone well beyond those origins. Pino Arlacchi (1987) has traced a similar process for the Sicilian mafia in Italy that may be useful in understanding this evolution from nakleng/sia to jaopho. Arlacchi argues that the Sicilian mafia went through a period of crisis during the 19505 and 19605 as the state took back powers that had been abrogated to the mafia at the time of the Second World War (Arlacchi 19872xiii— xiv). The new mafia that emerged from the crisis, according to Arlacchi, “have ceased to play the role of mediators, and have devoted themselves to capital accu- mulation”——have, in effect, abandoned many of the elements of the traditional mafia to become mafia entrepreneurs (Arlacchi 1987zxiv—xv). Two other factors, stated Arlacchi, influenced the development of this new mafia: preeminence in the international drug trade and political autonomy from the state (Arlacchi 1987zxiv). This new mafia is more ruthless, more preoccupied with profit, and less concerned about community or family.15 Similar events, though in a milder form, have taken place in Thailand and help to explain the difference between the jaopho and the nakleng/sia. Police General Phao Siyanon had used the nakleng/sia as a part of his political and economic organization. When Sarit came to power, Phao went into exile and Sarit cracked down on crime in an attempt to eliminate Phao’s allies. This crackdown was of lim- ited duration and scope, but it did reduce some of the power and influence of the nakleng that had developed under Phao. Also, as in Sicily, highly profitable con— struction contracts with the government became a reality during this period, as counterinsurgency and development projects focused on building up infrastruc— ture. As in Sicily, Thailand and the golden triangle became a major player in the international narcotics trade during the 19605 and 19705. And finally, as in Sicily, the rise of parliamentary rule allowed the nakleng who had now become jaopho to develop considerable autonomy by winning elective offices in their own areas, at the village, tambon, city, provincial, and national levels. And also as in Sicily, these developments created a new, more ruthless, and less “honorable” nakleng, now called ajaopho,16 interested in capital accumulation rather than in the community, power, and prestige. The transition to a more ruthless form has been less abrupt and complete in Thailand; nevertheless, the jaopho of today is far more concerned with capital accu- mulation than was his predecessor. The role of patron is still important for most Jaopho, perhaps partly because political influence and autonomy depend on the ability to win elections: both coercion and patronage are useful in earning votes. Patronage can be seen as a means of buying protection, either through elected office or more simply through information concerning police officers. In the Jaopho of today, then, we can identify both criminal and benefactor, mafia entre— preneur and mediator. This contradiction partly explains why the jaopho is both accepted and resisted by the people and the government. Only when we come to a better understanding of the role of benefactor can we disentangle the part of the criminal. Only in looking at the development of the entrepreneurial role can we determine the changes in the relationship between benefactor and recipient. I shall now turn to the social—welfare types of activities of three jaopho: one relatively unassimilated Sino-Thai, who more nearly resembles the traditional sia' one Thai, a jaopho direct from the nakleng tradition; and one highly assimilated Sino-Thai, a modern jaopho entrepreneur. Two are in the provinces and one in Bangkok. All are involved in illegal activities, although one, the traditional sia is perhaps more inclined toward corruption than Violent crime. All are wealthy respected, and feared in their own communities, and known as jaopho by those who read the national press. All are also active in politics, if not directly, then behlnd the scenes. And all have legitimate business activities in addition to their lucrative illegal activities. Kamnan W., Phichit Province I<amnan W. was kamnan of Hua Dong, a tambon in Muang district, Phichit prov- ince." He served as a Village headman for just one month before becoming kam— n-an, and a month later was elected the head of the Kamnan and Phuyaiban Asso- cranon. His enemies claim that he uses threats, violence, and killing to maintain control over the press in Phichit and that his close ties to police in the province allow him to flaunt the law at will.18 Kamnan W. lives, not in Hua Dong, but in the nearby provincial capital, Phichit, in a compound that occupies the middle of a downtown block. On one side is a building housing the offices of his finance com- pany. On the other side of the block is a high metal gate with a guard at the entrance to the home of the kamnan. Entry is difficult; the guard says he only admits visitors on the personal authorization of the “sia.” Upon passing the guard and the gate the v151tor is confronted with a traditional Chinese-style residence, with the kamnizn’s office on the right and the house directly in front. The kamnan served Chinese dishes, ate with chopsticks, and discussed Chinese and Thai politics. He retained many Chinese traditions and bore a strong resemblance to the old-style sia. Kamnan W. and his family have long been powerful in Phichit. Their influ— ence also extends to Bangkok. In Phichit and nearby provinces, the family busi- nesses, managed by Kamnan W., included three rice mills; a finance company with four branch offices, including one in Bangkok; at least one sawmill; and the con- cession to produce and distribute liquor in twelve nearby provinces. In Bangkok, the family businesses, managed by Kamnan W.’s younger brother, included major shareholdings in one of the banks and in one of the largest and most successful department store chains. Financial success has also been accompanied by political participation. Kam- nan W.’s older brother was a kamnan for sixteen years before resigning to run for parliament, where he served two terms before his death.19 Kamnan W. himself was not eligible to run for parliament; he lacked the education required of candidates whose fathers were not born in Thailand. However, he had been kamnan of Hua Dong for more than ten years}0 Furthermore, his enemies claim that no member of parliament in his election district could win a seat without his support.” Kam- nan W. admitted to supporting candidates for parliament but downplayed his influence on the results. Given his financial resources, his position in the Kamnan and Phuyaiban Association, and the resources and organizational networks of his businesses, his support as a hua khanaen in an election would be crucial, perhaps decisive. Kamnan W. took his role as kamnan very seriously. He had been named the Outstanding Kamnan of the Year once and, he claimed, was recommended for the award a second time by a neutral committee in 1989. The governor gave the award to another kamnan that year in the midst of a series of demonstrations against the governor led by the Kamnan and Phuyaiban Association. Kamnan W. was so angry when he did not win that award that he stepped up efforts to have the governor transferred; after numerous demonstrations by his supporters and much lobbying, he was ultimately successful, despite strong support for the governor in Bangkok. After the new governor arrived, among the first issues he faced was a petition to withdraw the award from the recipient and give it to Kamnan W.22 Kamnan W. saw this award as a means of expanding the reputation of his trakun or $1516.23 This desire to build up the family reputation is crucial to understanding his motivations. Kamnan W. believed that the rich have a responsibility to serve as patrons for the poor. As a corollary to this View, he believed that all kamnan should be rich business leaders who have the means to donate money to development efforts in their own tambon. According to Kamnan W., he often spent his own money to help, not only the people of Hua Dong, but of the entire district. Specific types of assistance included money for schools and schoolchildren and donations for road construction. While the amount of money he gained through the influence he could wield from his position may have dwarfed the amount he contributed to these causes, only the money he bestowed was evident to villagers. The money gained through influence came from business or the government; only when it was reported in the national press did it become visible, and then more visible to Bangkokians than to those in Hua Dong. For the villagers, the nearly 400,000 baht t15,000 U.S. dollars) Kamnan W. donated in the year he pushed for the outstand— mg kamnan award was a result of his largesse, and was more than they could otherwise have expected for development. It is important to keep in mind that Kamnan W. did not donate this money to ensure reelection: at that time, once elected, kamnan served until retirement at age sixty. Nor did he live among his constituents. His willingness to spend money for their benefit, then, should be Viewed in the tradition of sia, of building up prestige, and of helping his own. On the other hand, reinforcing patron—client ties helped to ensure his influence in soliciting votes for his candidates in parliamentary elections. And many of the demonstrators who helped to expel Kamnan W.’s rival, the governor, must have benefited from his past generosity. The case of Kamnan W. shows that the traditional sia have not disappeared entirely. Interestingly, Kamnan W.’s business interests included rice mills and a finance company, two arenas where rural patrons have always dominated.24 Yet, even this relatively traditional sia showed signs of the modern jaopho. The finance company is a modern institution and the move to expand to Bangkok was certainly aimed at capital accumulation. These changes in legitimate business were accom- panied by increased reliance on government contracts. In the sawmill, the whisky concession, and the reported fixing of construction bids, Kamnan W. had begun to look to the state for income and away from agriculture. And by taking control of politics in the tambon, and expanding influence in the district and the parliament, Kamnan W. had managed to carve out some autonomy. However, Phichit is not located on a route for smuggling narcotics or weapons, and so internationaliza- tion was not likely to take place. Finally, although Kamnan W. was always present when one of the projects be sponsored was completed, he distanced himself from hls clients. The house in Phichit complete with gate and high walls, the intimidat- ing finance company office, and especially the second home in Bangkok were all aspects of this distancing, which correlated with the new source of income—the state rather than agriculture—and the need to buy votes rather than just request them. As for social welfare, the new focus seemed to be on Visible donations—not surprising as Kamnan W. him self was not in the community. The patron-client ties he employed had been developed by other members of his family; his own ties were not very personalized. This hastened the process of patron—client—style personal ties being replaced by economic transactions. Many of these trends are even more marked in the other cases presented here. Mr. C.K., “Business Leader” Mr. C.K. is one of the few ethnic Thai jaopho in Bangkok.25 He was born and raised near a market in the northern part of the city and still lives there. From the time he was very young, Mr. C.K., though poor, had at least two important patrons: Ngiap, the local nakleng, and Khukrit Pramot, an important politic1an thao krong, 21 June 1990, 15)?" C.K. grew up as a nakleng, faCing his first trial while still a juvenile for knifing a schoolmate while fighting on behalf of a. friend. He has admitted his guilt, explaining that the schoolmate refused to testify against him, and since that time they have been friends (Khao krong, 21 June 1990, 16; Matu- phum raisapda, 24 June 1991, 8). This fight gave him a reputation as anakleng, and by age eighteen or nineteen he had become leader of his group of friends (Bang— kok Post, 14 April 1991, 9). He began his career as a nakleng by taking control over a minibus queue near his home (Kotfathoe. . . 1989, 13). During this period, he also tried his luck as a professional singer, a controller for some of the City s garbage trucks, and a clerk at a pawnshop (Matuphum raisapda, 24 Iune 1991, 8). However, he liked gambling and was drawn to gambling dens. At age twenty-one he was asked to provide protection for a small gambling den, and from this beginning he expanded his influence in gambling circles until he had enough capital to estab- lish his own den not far from the market where he grew up; he later moved it into the market during floods that affected the original den (Bangkok Post, 14 April 1991, 9; Matuphum raisapda, 24 June 1991, 45). Eventually that gambling house grew to be one of the largest in Bangkok, and Mr. C.K. became one of the top 100— pho in the capital.27 ‘ C.K. became involved in politics when his patron, Khukrit Pramot, ran for office in 1975. Together with his other patron, Ngiap, he helped manage Khukrit 5 campaign in his own and nearby neighborhoods. Khukrit won the election and went on to become prime minister. Mr. C.K. was rewarded With a house (Matzckon sutsapda, 21 August 1988, S; Khao krong, 21 June 1990, 15). The next year, in a new election, the military, which has a number of bases in the area, voted as a block against Khukrit; he lost in a close election. After that time, looked to Khukrit for advice on whom to support in every election, up until Khukrit quit politics. He later transferred his allegiance to Samak Suntharawet of the Thai Citi- zen party, and then he began to consider standing for election himself (Khao krong, 21 June 1990, 14—15). C.K. believed, like Kamnan W., that in order to serve the nation one had to be rich, and planned to build up his business interests before entering politics (Khao krong, 21 June 1990, 14—16). In 2000, C.K. won election to the senate in Bangkok. In the first round he was disqualified by the Election Com- mission for suspected vote buying. He ran in the subsequent election to replace those disqualified and won by an even greater margin, whereupon he was allowed to take his seat. Mr. C.K.’s record of charity is even more impressive than that of Kamnan W. His success at gambling has been shared with friends and neighbors. In return, they warn him of police raids and vote as he asks. He said that if the people of his neighborhood need something—for example, dredging of water culverts—they do not go to the M.P. or the government but come to him (Khao phiset, 13 July 1988, 20). He claimed to have built over a hundred rooms for those who live in the slums around his gambling den (Khao phiset, 13 July 1988, 21). He also said he had supported the education of many young people, had provided money for medicines and loans to start businesses, and had served as a mediator in disputes. C.K. told of a time when a large group of women who sold goods at a nearby mar— ket, located on land owned by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), arrived at his door early one morning. An ambitious entrepreneur had gone to the SRT and offered to rent the land to build a market. He then charged high rents on all the stalls. Naturally, the peddlers had simply moved across the tracks. The entrepre— neur then went to the SRT and asked for help in forcing the peddlers to move back into the marketplace. The SRT called in the police, and the peddlers came to C.K. He called in the entrepreneur and worked out an agreement (Khao phiset, 13 July 1988, 20).28 As his reputation spread, people from nearby communities, and even- tually people from as far away as Prachinburi province on the Cambodian border came to ask him for help (Khao krong, 21 June 1990, 16). Although these appeals expanded the amount of assistance C.K. offered and his scope of influence, it also shifted his help from welfare based on personal ties to money given to those in need. By making him a benefactor on a larger scale, it may have reduced the spe- cial relationship he had once had with his own community. “If I can do anything for the poor, I will do it immediately, because I was born into poverty,” he said (Matuphum raisapda, 24 June 1991, 45; see also Bangkok Post (Perspective), 17 December 2000, 6). Although Mr. C.K. has stated over and over again that he is a lukphuchai, a “man,” and claimed to exemplify the traits of the traditional nakleng,29 his rela- tionship with his people has also been changing. As part of an attempt to rehabil~ itate his jaopho image, and to increase his wealth, Mr. C.K. became a business leader. He is a major shareholder in several companies, including a construction company and a real—estate development company. Significantly, the real-estate company built a condominium on the site of some of the slums C.K. had long pro- tected (see also Chapter 7). When asked about this, he replied, “If we are to help others, we must have [money] first” (Khao krong, 21 June 1990, 12). The condo— miniums were aimed at people with middle~class~level incomes rather than the poor. Where C.K. the rzakleng looked after his own, and they looked after him, C.K. the business leader had to look after his business. While C.K’S involvement in the narcotics trade, if any, is not clear, he is cer- tainly not a major player internationally.30 However, like Kamnan W., he has turned increasingly to capital accumulation, especially in his new role as legitimate business leader. The new companies are positioned to take advantage of both gov- ernment contracts and distribution of products from abroad.31 Among them is a publishing company, founded by C.K.’s mentor, the late Khukrit Pramot. It pro— duces a major daily newspaper (Siamrat) and a political weekly magazine (Siamrat sapda wijan), so that C.K. has a forum to shape public opinion, especially regard- ing himself. In addition, the companies are a mechanism for employing many of his followers—over two hundred and growing (Khao krong, 21 June 1990, 14). Again, though, the new relationship is employer to employee, a formal economic relationship characterized by contracts and interchangeable workers. Like Kamnan W., Mr. CK. is gradually becoming more distant from many of his clients. CK. has been transformed, albeit never completely, from local nakleng, to powerful jaopho, to business leader. Each step, while providing him with more resources to help, distanced him further from members of his own community and brought him into loose contact with needy members of a wider one. Here too, we see economics breaking down the old patron—based personalistic welfare practices, replacing them, in many cases, with more direct economic transactions, the dis- pensing of cash to any able to convince the godfather of sufficient need. And since he has become a politician himself, C.K. will continue to build his ties with as many clients as possible, especially in Bangkok, which comprises a single election district for the senate. In the senate, he may have further resources available from the state in developing ties, albeit mostly financially generated rather than personal ones. Mayor 8., Saensuk Municipality Mayor 8., like OK. and Kamnan W., has denied being a jaopho}2 He has claimed, however, that he can give orders to the nakleng along the eastern seaboard (Pracha— chat Thurakit, 20 April 1988, 31), and while he does not control the entire network of nakleng/jaopho in the area, he is certainly the most powerful. Mayor S. rose to power upon the death of the old jaopho of Chonburi, Sia Iiew, in 1981. Prior to that time, he had been preeminent in his own tambon but chose to cooperate with and defer to the power of Sia liew. He reportedly had interests in construction and helped out in Sia Iiew’s gambling den (Lak thai, 24 April 1989, 17).35 The killing of Sia Iiew led to a power struggle in which his son and a key assistant also died. The mayor, then a kamnan, emerged on top, taking over from Sia Iiew the distri- bution of whisky, smuggling activities, and the underground lottery, among other operations.34 He has been accused of involvement in everything from smuggling drugs, to smuggling refugees out of Cambodia for a price, to running guns to the Burmese insurgencies, to murdering his rivals?5 Mayor 5., along with the jaopho from Phetburi and perhaps a few other provinces, is most like the new mafia described by Arlacchi. And yet he has also retained many of the characteristics of the traditional nakleng. Mayor S. also took over the political role of Sia Iiew. The mayor, while still a kamnan, had been the head of the local association of kamnan and phuyaiban, and after the death of Sia Jiew, he took over the distribution of whisky in much of the region. These two groups formed the basis for his hua khanaen network to solicit votes for his favored candidates for the parliament. He has supported numerous members of parliament, including some who became cabinet minis- ters. When he threw a party to celebrate his election as mayor (he ran unopposed), an estimated (and probably somewhat exaggerated) fifty thousand people came, including the minister of foreign affairs, the deputy minister of the interior, the deputy minister of education, and the provincial governor (Matichon sutsapda, 30 April 1989, 10). In the 1992 election, two of his sons won election to the parliament in Chonburi; one later became a cabinet minister. A third son, Itthiphon (literally “influence”) was elected in 2001. While Mayor S. has been ruthless in his business and criminal activities, like C.K. and Kamnan W. he has been popular in his home tambon. Following the large victory celebration when he was elected mayor, he organized a group of vil- lagers to voluntarily clean up the beach. Some five hundred Villagers showed up. [Mayor 8.] worked shoulder-to-shoulder with his Villagers, with only a wide— rimmed straw hat to shield him from the scorching heat. It seemed like he knew just about everybody there, chatting amicably and calling people by their names. “Except for the young people, I know most of the villagers. They often come to my house to seek help or advice about just anything,” he explained. (Bangkok Post, 4 May 1989, 31) While his efforts on the beach were certainly aimed at improving his image, the attendance at the party and at the beach reveals Mayor S.’s popularity with many local Villagers. Like C.K., he has spent considerable sums on those who have come to ask his help. In the two years after he was elected mayor, he claimed to have spent 20 million baht (then US. $800,000) of his own money on the municipality and to have donated another 10 million baht to monasteries (Ma tuphum raisapda, 18 August 1991, 7). He claimed that individuals and groups come about twenty— five days each month, seeking assistance ranging up into the hundreds of thou- sands ofbaht, with most asking for 2—5,000 baht (then U.S. $100—200). Although he knew most of these supplicants, like C.K., he received Visitors from distant prov- inces as well (Prachachat thurakit, 20 April 1988, 30). “This house is like a place where the villagers come to make complaints about officials . . . some days as many as 100 people, and when there is a festival there have been as many as a thousand. Ordinarily there are at least 20 people” (Suriyan 1993:44). The mayor not only provided money for those in need, but also acted as a mediator between those who came to him and government officials. Mayor 8. admitted that one of the key reasons for his acts of charity is to maintain his influence over elections.“ He also dispensed his largesse on govern- ment officials to win their support, thereby convincing them to ignore his illegal activities. According to a former Chonburi chief of police: it was only at the front of my office that I was the chief in Chonburi. . . . Under the commander, all were the people of [Mayor 3.]. Whenever they had a prob- lem, they would go to the jaopho. When their children would enter a new term at school and they had no money, they would go see [Mayor 8.] . . . and would get the money. If their wives were pregnant, about to enter the hospital to give birth and they didn’t have any money, they would go to see him. He would give them money. . . . And it wasn’t just the police who were under his control. Other government officials who could benefit his interests all came under his protec— tion. (Seri Temeyawet in Phasuk and Sangsit 19922147) By providing these welfare services to government officials, the mayor enhanced his ability to serve as a mediator between the officials and the people, and ensured that his own illegal activities would be protected. Mayor S. has also used his political position to great advantage in obtaining funds from the central government to benefit his community—and his own inter— ests. “I spoke with Phi [elder] Banhan [Silapa—acha, then a cabinet minister] for 10 minutes and obtained 20 million baht [then US. $800,000], I went another time and got 35 million baht [then US. $1,400,000]. We can get money from the center to develop our village” (Matichon sutsapda, 30 April 1989, 10). He said that he had obtained over 70 million baht while working through Banhan, and that at one point, he got 6 million baht from the Tourist Authority of Thailand that he could not spend and had to return (Matichon sutsapda, 30 April 1989, 1042). In addi- tion, the city budget is under the control of the mayor and can be dispensed as patronage—through jobs, construction contracts, and similar means. This allowed the mayor to continue to provide social welfare without spending his own money. In fact, he became the distributor of patronage for the state, usurping the credit and the power that the state might otherwise have had itself. He both received and dispensed state patronage, convincing the state, and particularly the politicians who depended on him for reelection, to cooperate with him for mutual benefit. In addition to his alleged smuggling, gambling, and other illicit activities, Mayor S. became heavily involved in legitimate businesses. These businesses included hotels, the whisky distribution already mentioned, construction, a fleet of ten-wheel trucks, adviser to a number of Japanese companies where he helped solve problemswthat is, acted as a mediator—and real-estate development (Pra— chachat thumkit, 20 April 1988, 30). A former chief of police in the province described his real-estate transactions: “If he wants to buy land, he sends someone to buy it cheaply; those who are afraid sell, those who aren’t afraid die. . . . There- fore, he takes that business, takes this business, all of which he shares with his fol- lowers. His followers have it easy with him because they get a share.” 37 Certainly the followers of the mayor benefited, as did the villagers who lived near him. How— ever, his relations with the wider community tended to be based on economic transactions, such as people coming from afar to ask for money or vote buying, or on physical violence, such as those who were forced to sell him land cheaply. Again we see the personalistic-style patron—client ties of the past increasingly replaced by other methods. For close followers, shared work, shared influence, and shared economic benefits; for others, threats, dependency, or occasional gifts. Conclusions We have seen that the nakleng and the sia have long been used by rulers in Thai— land in administration: the naklen g as village heads and informal police; the sia as tax collectors and leaders of the Sino—Thai community. After the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932, the new government naturally moved to take control over the nakleng and sia to consolidate its control. The real change for naklerzg and sia, and even for straight criminals, came in the mid—19505, when police chief Phao Siyanon brought them directly into politics and the election system. No longer were they mere administrators, but suddenly they were deeply involved in deter- mining who gained power. He also effected a dramatic increase in the use of nakleng, sia, and criminals to accumulate capital for individual government lead— ers rather than for the government as a whole. In this sense, Phao privatized the use of these individuals and paved the way for later competition. This competition came about in the 19705 with the demise of the government political party, as all political parties turned to the former nakleng and sia, then becoming jaopho, to secure election. This enhanced the power and autonomy of individual jaopho; though, arguably, by making them available to all sides, it also made them, and the system, more democratic (see Anderson 1990). Meanwhile, beginning primarily during the Sarit era, processes similar to those which had transformed the Sicilian mafia also occurred in Thailand, turn— ing the traditional nakleng and sia into jaopho. The economic growth of the last thirty years and the integration of the rural economy into the international econ- omy have borne higher stakes, more corruption, and more violence in their wake. Just as development and internationalization have been uneven, so has the transi- tion from traditional nakleng and sia to modern forms of jaopho, with some areas and some jaopho being transformed more rapidly and more completely than oth- ers. This unevenness is clear in the contrast between Kamnan W., who strongly resembles the traditional sia, and Mayor 8., who is the most prominent example of the jaopho. But even in areas where the transformation has been less complete, significant changes have taken place in the character of the nakleng and the sia that are reminiscent of the Sicilian mafia. Nevertheless, the nakleng and the sia are not like the mafia. Iaopho and their phakphuak are not as formalized, institutionalized, or acculturated as the Sicilian mafia, and have little structure above the local level. Consequently, the results have been different. Two distinct tensions have been created: one that involves percep— tions of power in Thai society, and a second that involves the decline of traditional patron—client ties and the rise of market ties. Niels Mulder (1992azchap. 2) contended that power in Thailand is amoral.38 This amoral power, according to Mulder, is in everything that has mysterious qualities. This power is both potentially beneficent and harmful. . . . People have to come to an accommodation with this sphere of power and must approach it on its own terms, in accordance with the laws that guide it. . . . [It] can be tapped for personal purposes, its protection may be sought, and its vengeful manifestations can be neutralized. (Mulder 1992a212) Iaopho exemplify many of these characteristics. Their activities are often hidden and mysterious; consequently they become an object of fascination. They are capa- ble of bestowing both benefits and punishments, and if treated respectfully can be a great advantage to the community or the individual in dealings with other pow- ers. And they must be treated carefully, respectfully, and according to established customs. As power is essentially amoral, the illegal activities of the jaopho are not a seri- ous handicap to their legitimacy—as long as this legitimacy is based on traditional notions of power. However, alternative notions of power are incorporated into the legal code, according to which wealth and power are obtained either legally or ille— gally. Thus where the activities of a jaopho may be acceptable according to tradi— tional notions of power, according to the law they are not. The legitimacy afforded by traditional notions of power may, along with the economic and political power, explain how jaopho are able to flaunt the law, seemingly at will. However, the fact that they are acting illegally—and this is repeated frequently in the media—partly erodes legitimacy based on the traditional notion of power. Iaopho have resisted this erosion of legitimacy in two closely related ways, one aimed at shoring up their standing within traditional norms, the other aimed at increasing their standing with respect to the law. 3" Mulder pointed out that a leader is also expected to exhibit virtue (khunna). To the extent that the jaopho wishes to become a community leader, he must convince his constituents that he is benevo— lent. In return, “benevolence engenders a moral debt that should be acknowledged; it is the fountain~head from which moral obligation arises” (Mulder 1992a: 19). By exhibiting virtue, or to be more accurate, by substituting generosity for it, at least within their own constituencies, jaopho reinforce their legitimacy through appeals to traditional norms.40 At the same time, the moral obligation is repaid in votes that provide the jaopho with political influence. As a politician, or the ally of a politi- cian, the jaopho enhances his legitimacy in the eyes of the law. A mayor or mem- ber of parliament makes laws, has greater status than a police officer, and is there‘ fore difficult to arrest. By exhibiting generosity, the jaopho is also appealing to the same patron— client ties that long sustained the legitimacy of the 5ia and the nakleng. However, the steady encroachment of the market has subverted those ties and forced the jaopho to rely on a less dependable combination of primarily economic ties.“ Where in the past, the nakleng may have been the only source of protection for a village and the 5ia the only connection to the market, today the jaopho has numer- ous competitors: the state, private enterprise, and other jaopho. For the traditional patron, such as Kamnan W., the old ties to community weakened as he turned to capital accumulation in order to compete with other ‘jaopho and with legitimate businessmen in a wider worldf‘2 For the newly emergent jaopho, such as Mayor 8., the old ties never existed and had to be formed within a new context: many of the aspects of personalistic ties were replaced by direct financial transactions; votes were bought rather than earned through loyalty. Where the transformation from 5ia /nakleng to jaopho has been most complete—as for example, with Mayor S.— the buying of loyalty and of entrance into politics have become most salient. Another factor in the transformation of patron~client ties between the jaopho and the villagers is the expansion of the territory under the control of jaopho. As some jaopho have expanded their reputations and their operations to cover entire provinces, and even entire regions, it has become impossible to maintain personal ties with this enlarged community. Thus cash contributions to the needy connect Mr. GK. and Mayor S. to people from distant provinces. Although the traditional personalistic ties were far from benign, the new economic ties are often equally exploitative, and much more fragile. A hierarchy of relationships may develop, with personal relations being maintained with nearby villagers, and economic transactions and violence employed for those at a greater distance. In other cases, as with Kamnan W., the jaopho may not live in the community, creating distance even from his core constituents. And business interests may come into conflict with personal ties, as happened when C.K. decided to build a condominium in the middle of his slum community, or when Mayor S. used threats and violence to buy land. This more distant, sometimes conflictual relationship has meant a greater need for visible donations and public relations. Interviews in the newspapers with known jaopho have become quite common, as they seek to influence public opinion.43 Significant changes have also taken place in the relationships between the state, the jaopho, and the villager. In the past, the sia/nakleng often looked to the villagers as the source of wealth; now the jaopho often looks to the state—with its construction contracts, concessions, and assistance—and to the wider economy, centered at Bangkok and connected to the outside world. In other areas, the jao— pho, like Mayor S. in his capacity as adviser to Japanese firms, as well as in his smuggling activities, has direct access to the international market. The commu- nity is then a source of legitimacy and protection, but not necessarily an economic base.44 Further complicating the transition from the traditional sia or nakleng to the jaopho is the advent of democracy and the participation of the jaopho in the dem— ocratic system. This has allowed him to gain a measure of autonomy in his own area. Participation in politics allows the jaopho to widen the scope of his opera- tions, particularly through contracts and concessions from the state. It also offers protection in the forms of a patron at the center and an official position, and the associated respectability. Kamnan and mayors are partly responsible for police work in their communities and are much more difficult to arrest than typical crim— inals. And since jaopho are in competition with each other and with legitimate business leaders for contracts and concessions, the participation of one in politics requires others to follow suit.45 Participation in politics and business gives the jaopho a dual nature. Where the jaopho as business leader might be inclined toward capital accumulation, the jew— pho as politician is inclined toward generosity; where the jaopho as business leader might be inclined toward violence, the jaopho as politician is inclined toward medi— ation. Sometimes even in elections violence reigns, as supporters of the political opposition are murdered or citizens are coerced to vote for a candidate. More often, we find a combination of violence and generosity: voters are paid for their votes and threatened if they fail to deliver. The need to retain electoral support mediates the violence and guarantees at least some generosity. Thus while the rela— tionship has become less personal and more of an economic exchange, the need to participate in politics and, to a lesser extent, to gain protection through the sup« port of the community, ensures that at least some degree of social welfare activity on the part of most jaopho will continue. Participation in politics has also preserved another aspect of the traditional sia/nakleng: cooperation between the state and the jaopho for the mutual eco- nomic benefit of both. Politicians support jaopho in conflicts with the police or other government officials and in their attempts to win government contracts and concessions; in return, the jaopho supplies finances and organization for the elec- tion campaigns of the politicians. The jaopho shares profits with government offi— cials, in effect buying protection. And the jaopho may even help suppress crime in his region—at least the crime not under his protection.46 Although the importance of the jaopho in the current electoral system is likely to prevent decisive state action against them, other factors might weaken the sup- port base of the jaopho without direct action by the state. First, the economy and the social security net may develop to the point where whole communities are no longer in need; if only individuals are in need, the jaopho may lose the protection of the community. Second, many of the lucrative activities of the jaopho are dis— appearing. For example, narcotics routes now frequently go through China and Indochina. Import duties on many commodities, including alcohol and cigarettes, have been lowered, making smuggling less profitable. The war, and along with it the black market, in Cambodia is over. However, perhaps inevitably, new lucrative opportunities, such as the domestic narcotics trade, have emerged. Third, many jaopho, having made their fortunes and seeing the opportunities available in busi- ness, are seeking to legitimize themselves and their children. And finally, the new constitution was designed, at least in part, in the belief that it would reduce cor— ruption. If it is ultimately successful, jaopho may find their influence weakened. The participation of the jaopho in politics presents one further crucial dilemma. Patronage from the state to the people passes through the hands of the jaopho who are kamnan, mayors, provincial councilors, or even MP. 5 and cabinet ministers. This allows a jaopho to skim from the development and welfare efforts of the state, while portraying himself as the source of the patronage and usurping the credit. The jaopho thus justifies his position in politics and enhances his abil— ity to win votes while reducing the total amount of state money that actually reaches the villagers. For any particular village, however, the jaopho will often obtain more development money—even after skimming—than villagers could otherwise expect. It is then perfectly reasonable for the community to elect that jaopho for the benefit of the community, allow him to skim, and net more devel- opment money than it would under a more scrupulous politician. Thus the gap between national politics and its Bangkok—oriented policies perpetuates the abil— ity of the jaopho to maintain control. Rather than weaning the villagers away from the patronage of the jaopho by providing for their welfare, the national budget actually increases the amount of patronage the jaopho can dispense. Consequently, as long as welfare efforts to the poor and the rural population continue to be fun— neled through the jaopho, the jaopho will likely remain powerful. Before popular support for the jaopho can be weakened, the role of patron must be disentangled from the role of criminal. Only when the welfare needs of villagers and slum dwellers are met directly can such support be expected to dis- appear. Of course the jaopho are fully aware of the need to maintain this depend— ency. The policy platform of the Thai Rak Thai party in the 2001 election was potentially a step in the right direction, but it also demonstrates the scope of the problem. Thai Rak Thai promised a three-year debt moratorium for farmers and a one million baht “revolving fund” for every tambon in Thailand. These policies were easily explained and very popular, and earned the party many votes, suggest- ing that the poor do vote for parties with policies that help them when given the chance. However, both policies are patronage-oriented, do nothing to change structural problems, and in some areas may increase dependency on powerful local figures who will likely control these “revolving funds.” Forging links between local and national politics and encouraging rural participation in national politics might prove more successful. CHAPTERS IIIIIIIIII God Mothers, Good Mothers, Good Lovers, Godmothers Changing Stereotypes and Leadership in Thailand he details of the hit were not unusual. A gunman fired a nine-millimeter pistol Tinto the car of Mass Communications Organization of Thailand chief Saeng- chai Sunthonwat, then fled with the driver on a waiting motorcycle. Two other members of the gang who had identified the victim also escaped. Due to the promi- nence of the widely respected Saengchai, the police devoted a great deal of time and resources to solving the crime. Ultimately, they traced the gunmen, who led them to the alleged mastermind. The assassination, according to police, was the result of a conflict of interests in the granting of concessions for provincial radio stations. When the accused mastermind had offered Saengchai a gift of an expensive gold chain and a valuable image of the Buddha to smooth relations, Saengchai had refused the offer. He further insulted the mastermind by saying that the gift was good enough only for his dog. This insult, as much as the loss of income, lay behind the killing. Although the hit was typical in many ways, two facts—beyond the tragic death of a good man—make this killing academically interesting: first, the alleged mastermind was not a godfather but a godmother; second, the press drew no par— ticular attention to the fact that the culprit was a woman. In almost every reference, the word “godfather” could have been substituted for “godmother” with no change in meaning or inference. Gendered Criminals In examining the status of women in a society, the focus is usually on their posi- tions of leadership in business or politics, or, alternatively, on the roles they play at the village level. However, interesting aspects of changing perceptions of gender and gender stereotypes may be found by looking at the most male—dominated sec- tors of society. These stereotypes, as we have seen, remain a barrier to women in the political arena. Considerable attention has been lavished on jaopho, or “god- fathers,” in Thailand (e.g., Anderson 1990; Pasuk and Sungsidh 1994; Pasuk and ...
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Ockey-Nakleng - reason women have not yet derived as much...

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