Thai citizens suspect state officials’ collusion with mafia-style figures, survey shows

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A significant proportion of Thai citizens suspect some state officials, including the police, of colluding with mafia-style influential figures, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA).

The survey, carried out from September 12 to 14, involved telephone interviews with 1,310 participants over the age of 18, representing a diverse range of educational backgrounds, occupations, and income levels from across the country. The aim was to gather their views on the relationship between those wielding ‘dark influence’ and state officials within Thai society.

When questioned about the presence of mafia-style influential figures within their provinces, nearly half, 49.54%, claimed there were no such individuals in their areas. However, 26.34% identified local politicians as these figures, with 15.95% pointing to tambon chiefs, village chiefs, and their assistants. A notable 15.80% implicated the police and 13.21% other state officials.

Other figures included operators of ‘shady’ businesses (12.14%), general business operators (6.03%), national-level politicians (5.95%), hired gunmen and gangsters (5.04%), military figures (4.81%), community committee chairs and members (2.44%), and those in the mass media and entertainment industry (0.76%). A tiny 0.38% were either indifferent or uninformed on the matter.

When asked if they would dare to engage in conflicts with these influential figures, the majority, 60.30%, responded with a resounding ‘absolutely not’. A further 16.34% preferred to avoid such confrontations, while 12.75% claimed they would. A minority of 9.08% said they might, and 1.53% were undecided or disinterested.

In terms of confidence in protection and justice from state officials or police in the event of a problem or conflict with powerful individuals, a significant 38.39% said “No, not at all.” An additional 37.10% were unsure, 13.51% were somewhat confident, and only 9.92% claimed to be highly confident. A mere 0.54% did not know or were not interested.

The survey culminated with a question asking whether participants believed some police and state officials were serving and protecting mafia-style influential figures.

A staggering 59.77% responded ‘yes, for sure’, 26.49% said ‘yes’, moderately, 8.32% were uncertain but didn’t think so, 4.35% said ‘no, definitely not’, and 1.07% were uncertain or indifferent, reported Bangkok Post.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.