Old Sangkhlaburi

Quote: Report on a Socio-economic Study of the Villages in the Proposed Reservoir Area of Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand's Project
Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute, 1979

Introduction - p. 5
The construction of a 155 metre-high hydro-electric dam by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, at Khao Laem, Tambon Tha Khanun, Amphoe Thong Pha Phum in Kanchanaburi province, will greatly affect 35 villages in Amphoe Thong Pha Phum and Amphoe Sangkhlaburi. These villages will be completely inundated, and 1700 households will have to be evacuated.

Communications - p. 11
Communications of the two amphoes are the most difficult in Kanchanaburi province, since no road is passable all year round. The existing ones are only temporary and usable only during the dry season. During the rainy season when the water is high, travel by boat is possible along the Khwae Noi. Travelling from the town at present takes 3-4 hours to Amphoe Thong Pha Phum and 6-7 hours to Amphoe Sangkhlaburi. In the amphoes themselves villagers usually make their trips on foot.

Population - p. 11
The two amphoes have inhabitants of many races and languages. The natives are Karen, Thaungthu and Khamu. But at present, there are migrants from outside and within the country. Aliens from Burma include Mon, Laotian, Burmese and Karen. Some are from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Migrants from Burma earn their living in agriculture or as agricultural workers and miners. Those from Pakistan and Bangladesh are all miners. These aliens clandestinely entered the country some ten years ago. They are estimated to number about 16,000, with 12,000 in Amphoe Thong Pha Phum and 4,000 in Amphoe Sangkhlaburi.

Places of Origin - p. 17

The above table shows that the great number of the inhabitants in these two districts are alien. In the villages of our study, all these aliens come from Burma, they are Mon, Laotian, Burmese, Karen. Domestic migrants are mostly from the Northern provinces, such as Tak, Prae, Chiengrai, Lampang and Petchabun. Many came from Amphoe Nam Pat of Uttaradit province... The Thai migrants from the North are mostly itinerant traders who on finding a suitable place for their living settled down. Some traders later sent news to their relatives to come down and live with them, some married local women... They still speak Northern Thai dialect.

Legal status - p. 19
Since there are many aliens in this area, some consideration about their entry into the country, whether legal or not is quite necessary for the arrangement of their evacuation to a new area. The most convenient way is to look at their identity card and the officially registered number of their domicile.

Villagers holding officially registered numbers of their domiciles slightly outnumber those without legal household numbers.

Considering their identity card, only 54.7 per cent of the 842 sample household members hold an I.D. card. 45.3 per cent are of other nationalities. Usually these aliens must have an immigrant card but our study reveals that some do not possess any official card legalizing their entry into the country.

This project area therefore has only a small number of Thai nationals. The factors that induced those aliens into this region of Thailand may be both geographical and political : The region is close to the border with Burma, and the political situation in Burma has been unfavorable for minority groups. They therefore had to look for new land and the most convenient way was to come to Thailand, whereas the Thai themselves have had little possibility to reach this region because of the poor communications inside the country itself. This explains the small number of the Thai. Besides, some of the native Karen do not possess any I.D. card, probable due to some difficulty in contacting the District Office, because the Karen do not speak Thai.

The Mon - p. 33
Thirty years in Thailand have but only slightly changed the Mon. They still keep their own culture, especially the language. Very few can speak Thai. Their many customs remain unchanged. But the Thai do not feel any difference, since the Mon customs often resemble those of Thai, such as Feeding the Rice-Goddess Ceremony. But practical details may vary. The most obvious is the strictness of their observance. For instance, they pay a very high respect to the Buddhist institution : nobody wears shoes in the monastery, they kneel down when the monks pass by; all the time when speaking to the monks they clasp their hands on the chest in a respectful manner; women must especially be very careful in association with the monks, never staying closer than two meters, and a male company being needed.

Since the Mon are industrious people, so after 30 years in Thailand, they are much better-off than the Karen. Besides, they can live among other races without losing their own tradition. This is due to the fact that the Mon beliefs are more personal than those of the Karen. They are more individualistic. The Mon can retain their identity by strictly observing their custom, in the midst of other peoples.

Habitation and household property - p. 73
Comparing the two Amphoes, the percentage of bamboo houses in Thong Pha Phum is higher, due to the fact that Karen households are numerous in Thong Pha Phum, and other aliens--Mon, Burmese and Laotian, in this Amphoe are not as wealthy as the Mon in Sangkhlaburi; therefore their houses are chiefly built in bamboo, since it is the most available material of this locality, and so are leaves for thatching. A house built with these materials costs only about 2,000 baht.

Household appliances that may be used to assess the owner economic status can be divided in the following categories according to their utilization.
1. For entertainment : the most commonly found locally is radio.
2. For agricultural work : modern items include tractors, mechanical hand ploughs and water pumps. The most common item here is the water pump.
3. For modern communication and transportation : long-tailed boats, and motorcars.
4. For traditional communication and transportation : carts.
5. Household facilities in daily life : what appears in most sample households is the sewing machine.

In some villages which have access to electricity such as Ban Wang Ka Mon some households also own electrical appliances, such as electric iron, fan and refrigerator. However, in a big village like Ban Want Pa Tho and Ban Pracham Mai, one or two households use kerosene fuelled refrigerators.

Inter-village relations - p. 79
Inter-village relations are quite rare, except between villages of the same race, for example, among neighboring Karen villages which stem from the same parent village, such as Ban Lai Pa and Ban Lai Kong The. In general, most villages have little to do with others. Even in the same village, if there are people of different races, their homesteads will be separated by the race; they seldom mingle. For example, at Ban Huai Khayeng, which has the Mon and the Laotian, the two peoples have their settlements on the opposite banks of the creek. They may know each other or speak to each other, but there is none of the familiarity seen among habitants of the same village.

Opinions and feelings about the evacuation - p. 90
Considering each village, in Amphoe Sangkhlaburi, the percentages of the household heads rejecting the construction idea are quite high; 83.3 in Ban Koeng Sada, 78.3 in Ban Thi Mong Tha, 76.3 in Ban Wang Pa Tho, and 70.3 in Ban Ni The... Most of these villages have large holdings, and the soil is fertile. Furthermore, every village mentioned is the permanent home of individuals born in Thailand, with only very few immigrants from outside the country. The dam construction will certainly create a lot of problems in these villages, especially in Ban Pak Lam Pilok and Ban Wang Pa Tho which express more opposition than elsewhere.

In Ban Wang Ka Mon there is a highly influential person who can direct ideas and opinions of the Mon living in this area: the abbot of Wat Wang Wiwegaram, or better known by the name of Luang Por Uttama. These Mon, when asked about their attitude on anything, would always offer such replies as: "Whatever Luang Por decides; whatever he wishes to do, wherever he leads us to, we shall follow him."

Comparing people of various races, those who are closely united are the Mon, especially those of Ban Wang Ka in Amphoe Sangkhlaburi. To evacuate them to the new settlement will certainly create more problems than to resettle other communities, since this large group has as many as 400 households. Much space will be needed for them. Moreover, speaking in terms of the country's security, a new settlement for the Mon should be in a zone where they could be readily controlled; in other words, it should be remote from the frontier. But living with others, especially the Karen, would also present a problem.

Among the household heads who believe that the villagers would refuse to be moved, most give the reasons for the expected refusal that the present land is fertile and can not be replaced. This reason is related to another: the belief that the new land to be allotted to them must be inferior, since their present fields are the only good land in this area. When this goes under water of the reservoir, no more suitable land can be found. Any other piece of land around here, which will be allocated to them, is stony soil and not suitable or cultivation. Furthermore, they do not suppose there will still be any land left for the new settlement, because every piece of cultivable land is already occupied.

It may be noted that in the alien case of the Mon and the Laotian, most do not really express opposition to the evacuation. Although they express, in their answers, regret and rejection of the dam proposal, when questioned about their consent to move, they promptly gave a positive reply. This is due to the fact that they are fully aware of their refugee status in the country. If they show any reaction, they might be refused all assistance.

Allocation of house site and fields in the new settlement - p. 132
Location of the settlement should be chosen for strategic reason also, since the reservoir will separate the area on one side near the Thailand-Burmese border from the other side near the townseat of Kanchanaburi. A settlement on the border side could be isolated from the mainstream of communication.

Summary Description of Sample Villages and Expected Problems - p. 139
No.PlanNameEthnicityDescriptionExpected problems
8Ban Ni The Thai,
A large village of 172 households strung along the road from Sangkhlaburi district office. Most own land, with some renting-in, average holding 39.7 rai. More wet-rice than dry-rice cultivation, with a higher average yield of 44.5 pip (534kg.) per rai in 1977 than in all other villages. Each homestead has fruit trees. More than half of the population are Thai, the rest being local-born Karen and some alien immigrants.From ordinary villagers, not from large landlords as in Ban Wang Pa Tho. Ten households (16.4 per cent) of the total 61 samples refuse to move at all, not believing that a comparably rich land could be found at the resettlement.
9Ban Wang Ka ThaiThaiA Thai village of 51 households, 29 of which are government officials' families that also farm.Unlikely
10Ban Wang Ka MonMonA very large Mon village of 368 households, only 5 of which identify themselves as Thai of Mon descent, the rest being Mon immigrants from Burma. A well organized community under strong leadership of a Buddhist monk (Luang Paw Uttama) who is respected and obeyed by all villages. Both wet rice and dry rice are cultivated on a large plain with own or rented holdings (from absentee landlords in Thong Pha Phum and Wang Pa Tho).None if the project is approved by Luang Paw Uttama, the Buddhist Monk leader of the Mon community.
11Ban Wang Ka LangKarenA Karen village of 15 households of a similar description as village no. 1 (Ban Lawa).None
12Ban Lai Nam Thai,
A mixed Thai and Karen village of 92 households, with average landholding of 1-30 rai, almost totally planted with wet-rice and orchards.None
13Ban Koeng SadaKarenA Karen village of 18 households, practising both wet-rice and dry-rice cultivation, and having the same description as village no. 1.None