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Investigating the Grey Areas of the Chinese Communities in Southeast Asia

Arnaud Leveau


Notes on the foreign mafias in Thailand

Jean Baffie

Texte intégral

1I will be very brief. I found yesterday night newspaper clippings in a Thai-language economic weekly magazine … and it illustrates very well that Thai people and some newspapers try to minimise, lessen the importance of the Chinese mafia. The title in Thai is “mafia tang prathet tem mueang” and you can translate as “Foreign mafias fill the city or the country” because mueang is both the city and the country. And this is an official report from, I think, the Security Unit. And it lists 22 mafias or gangs, the Thai term kaeng is taken from the English term “gang”. And the first one is not the Chinese, it’s the German mafia, the German, well it’s written gang mafia … so it’s German mafia. The second one is the Russian one, the third is Korean, the fourth is Philippino, the fifth is, well, this is strange – Austrian, the sixth is Pakistani, the seventh is Burmese, the eighth is the English mafia, the ninth is Holland – Dutch, the tenth is Danish, Denmark, the eleventh is South African, the twelfth is Nigerian, the thirteenth is Chinese. It’s written mafia… Then you find Indian, Nepali, Malaysian, Senegalese, Kuwaitian, Libyan, Uzbek, Liberian, and the 22nd Sri-Lankan. Well, you can see that, there is another sentence following, I cannot find it, but well, dangerous gangs or mafias are said to be mafias from South Asia, that is to say, Pakistani, Indian, then Russian and Chinese. But I found many newspaper clippings, the other one is in English and is from The Bangkok Post published in 1996 and it’s about Indian or South Asian gangs, but the title is foreign gangs, and you guess you will find an article on all the foreign gangs in Thailand, but it’s only about South Asian gangs. And those who have been in Thailand for some time know that from time to time the press, TV and people talk about the most dangerous foreign gangs of the moment and it’s very rarely about Chinese gangs. A few years ago we could think that the most dangerous gang leader in Pattaya was a German one and almost at the same time in Bangkok we could realise that it was an Indian one. So it’s just to show you that it’s a very important meeting because we certainly know that Chinese Triads and mafias are very powerful and serious ones but maybe others think differently.


CNRS, Director of the Research Institute on Southeast Asia (IRSEA), University of Provence, Marseille, France.
Sociologist and an historian. He published several papers on the Chinese communities in Thailand and South-East Asia. He is a member of the CNRS and teaches at the Institute of Research on South-East Asia (IRSEA) and at the House of Asia and Pacific. His paper explains very clearly the roots and the origins of the Ang-Yi (the Chinese secret societies in Thailand). He also offers a note on the foreign mafias operating in Thailand.

© Institut de recherche sur l’Asie du Sud-Est contemporaine, 2007

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