Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Are Thailand's Chinese the Jewish of the east?

Obviously, with a wife and son with Chinese blood, the post is meant to be provocative rather than offensive. I use the term "Jewish" rather than "Jew" because the latter can be considered anti-Semitic.

It cannot escape notice that nearly all the key business and political offices in Thailand belong to those of recent (as opposed to the theory that all Thais are Chinese descendents). Chinese descent. As far as I can see, at least four of the last six PM's have been Chinese, along with most of their cabinet. Whenever read the business pages, the CEIO profiles nearly always feature a smiling Chinese person.

This trend continues downwards. My last school was a government school. A disproportionate number of my best students were Chinese. My current employer is an expensive private school. The majority of students are ethnic Chinese.

There was a time when ethnic Chinese were looked upo with disdain by the upper class. Those days are gone. It seems the Chinese are the upper class.

Why is this? And what do ethnic Thais think or feel about it? I asked my wife why this is so and she told me simply: "Chinese people work hard." short answer, but quite possibly the whole truth?

In the west, the Jewish community are considered to hold a number of key business and political posts which increase the lobbying power of the Jewish community. There are some conspiracy theories concerning the Jewish groups but most people acknowledge those theories as abhorrent, which they are. (Some sections of the Jewish lobby are also unpleasant and often undemocratic but that's a different blog). After all, every ethnic group seeks to wield as much power as possible. That's just natural. I know a few Jewish people and they are friendly, everyday people like the rest of us.

Further reading:


Anonymous said...

Hi! Good question, I had wondered that too and in my infinite wisdom (haha) spread that opinion of my own to friends too in conversations. Untill I bought "Asian Godfathers". Go read the first 10 pages in nearest bookstore. I think the author gives good idea about this in the very first pages of his piece. It explains at the same time why you would even compared Chinese to Jewish...similar reason there why it is the Jewish descent holding the bank world in Middle East etc.



ps. Yea, the answer lies in misportionate image, one tends to notice only the "big shots" and not the millions of poor or middle class people and in the way which lead to the Chinese immigration movents in the last hundreds of years. Those groups were already in sense "preselected"...Anyhow, Asian Godfathers is excellent book about South-East Asian wealth so grab yourself a copy if you had not done so already. :)

Anonymous said...

Just want to add that the chinese also get discriminated and even attacked in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia and seems that reason is due to their business success. I think in Malaysia, there are state measures to ensure that the Chinese would not be able to rise in social status above the ethnic Malays like what has happened in Thailand.


Anonymous said...

Please note that the Chinese have been persecuted, including violently, in Indonesia and in Malaysia, there are discriminatory laws to ensure that the Ethnic Malays remain dominant in politics and the bureaucracy. It seems the successful Chinese are having a much harder time in other SE Asian countries.


Anonymous said...

The word "Jew" is not anti-Semitic. It's just a noun. "Jewish" is the adjective, that's all. It's not the word "Jew" itself, but how people say it, that may make it anti-Semitic.

Jews are often compared to Overseas Chinese, as well as overseas Indians. I remember hearing that scholars refer to these groups as "pariah" groups. It's not that they're untouchables. It's simply that they tend to be more studious and entrepreneurial than the people around them, and thus gain more economic power (and sometimes political power) than the surrounding population feels they should legitimately have.

FIKE2308 said...

i would keep quiet about chinese having money, leadership positions, and being good students, unless you want those south east asians not of chinese blood to start a riot and kick your ass.