In a telling revelation, recently compiled data by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) has pointed towards an unsettling perception held by a significant segment of Thai residents – a suspicion of potential collusion between state officials, including the police department, and influential figures reputed for mafia-like activities.
This comprehensive survey was orchestrated and implemented between September 12 to 14, encompassing over 1,310 participants exceededing 18 years of age. Education, occupation, and income levels varied significantly in this participant pool, ensuring a myriad of perspectives representative of the diverse Thai population. The survey essentially aimed to map out the prevailing perception of any unholy nexus that may exist between state officials and entities dabbling in the obscure.
When probed about the existence of mafia-like influential individuals within their province boundaries, nearly half of the participants, marking a precise 49.54%, denied any such presence. However, a considerable 26.34% pointed fingers at local politicians as the main bearers of these questionable influences. Tambon chiefs, village chiefs, and their assistants were implicated by 15.95% of the participants. A remarkable 15.80% respondents implicated the police forces whereas 13.21% held other state officials accountable. Likewise, various groups were identified as holding questionable influences over the state, including but not limited to, operators of underground businesses, regular business operators, national-level politicians, professional gunmen and gangsters, military personnel, community committee leaders, and mass media and entertainment industry members. A bare minimum of 0.38% of the participants expressed ignorance or disinterest in the issue.
Showcasing a general reluctance to confront these overwhelming power structures, a majority of 60.30% conveyed an unconditional refusal to engage in altercations. Another 16.34% also wished to evade such encounters, while a risky 12.75% were potentially willing to go head to head with such figures. A small section of 9.08% maintained that they might indulge depending on circumstances, and an unchanged 1.53% were uncertain. When the participants were probed about their degree of confidence in obtaining protection and justice from state officials or police in case of a disagreement with such influential figures, statistics were rather bleak. A worrying 38.39% held no faith in such protection. An additional 37.10% were unsure, only 13.51% held some faith, and a mere 9.92% claimed high confidence levels. The remaining fraction of 0.54% were either uncertain or disinterested.
The survey concluded with the most revealing question, asking the respondents if they were of the belief that some police and state officials were actually safeguarding the interests of these mafia-style figures. A massive 59.77% of respondents affirmed this belief strongly, with additional 26.49% confirming it moderate conviction. Though 8.32% were uncertain, they still leaned towards negative, whereas a mere 4.35% denied such claims outright. The remaining 1.07% maintained indifference or uncertainty.
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