It has been quiet in 64 this afternoon but yesterday and this morning some helpful chaps were around to help dismantle some of the protective kit being used to protect Khun Supoj’s house from possible flood – he himself has hit back today to claim that he is collecting evidence, which he does not wish to reveal at the current time, which will clear his name.
Interestingly, he has begun to resign from high profile public sector board membership which I noted the other day was characteristic of Thai society. The board membership of a public sector body offers an opportunity for different members to combine their different networks and thereby increase their strength overall (of course, they may not always wish to join up with certain other people).
There are several different types of network which are active in Thailand. The first type to consider is the regional network (since this is essentially what the Bhumjaithai faction is) – in this, at various geographical levels (e.g. village, tambon, provincial) an important person (chao por) distributes resources and develops relationships of asymmetric power but mutual dependency as the leading person strengthens a network that, like Maoist strategy, replaces the existing state structures.
The second form of network is organizational and ranges from the weak (e.g. at schools and universities) to rather stronger ones (e.g. at the military level). This kind of network can become sufficiently strong that, in some organizations (or across different organizations) it subverts the official lines of communication and orders and replaces it, at least on some occasions, with those that represent the interest of the network. This has been seen in various of the military coups that the Thai people have suffered.
The third form of network is class-based: specifically, it is the upper class (other classes are not permitted to obtain power and hence are not relevatn here) – members of it come into contact with each other regularly in educational, social and civil societal institutions. In addition to name, reputation and deportment, issues of ‘taste’ and ‘refinement’ have been invented and reproduced in different forms so that it can be determined immediately who is a member, who might be admitted with suitable guarantees and who is forever destined to be an outsider.
So, all of these three types of network are united in the characteristic Thai system of public sector cross-board membership (private sector networks are quite separate). This provides the benefit that different types of network can be combined, when those representing them are amenable.
In the current case, then (based on the anecdotal evidence that has been provided in the public domain), a regional network (Bhumjaithai) is united with an organizational network (Ministry of Transportation) and any other networks represented by the other members of the boards – this is just the hypothesis with which I am working at the moment.
Since – it is alleged – that bribes have been involved in various governmental contracts, it is evident that private sector networks are excluded from the ruling network system. This would help explain the 2006 events, of course.