Chinese Clan and Dialect Associations

For the last hundred years, Thai governments have consistently stressed the homogeneity of the people of Thailand. The predominant government policy towards cultural diversity has been one of assimilation and yet, Thailand has always been an ethnically diverse place.

Though Chinese in Thailand has been assimilated very well in the host society, some of them still try to maintain their own culture and identity. One of the ways is through the setting up of clan and dialect or district associations. One of the main purposes of setting up the association is to pass on the legacy of the traditions and culture to the future generations. The association also serves as a meeting place and to create unity for members.

Each association has a certain committee to organize and manage the association activities which includes performing of ceremonies and rituals, celebrating of festivals, conducting of community services and so on. However, as the young Chinese generation has been assimilated very well and many of them are not conversant in their own dialect anymore, one of the biggest problem being the lack of successors.

In Betong, the scene is unique where many clan and dialect associations in such a small town, have their own building, which normally has a big meeting hall. Among the various Chinese associations are Teo Chew, Hakka, Kwang Xi, Fujian, Lee Clan, Leong Clan etc. Nowadays, the association has become a very popular place for karaoke practice, wedding dinner, and …gossip too :)!

The various association buildings

Fujian and Lee Clan Association

A wedding dinner in “Ba Gui Tang”

Teo Chew and Kwang Xiu Association

Hakka and Kwang Si Association

9 responses to “Chinese Clan and Dialect Associations

  1. hey I’m trying to educate my friends about the chinese in Thailand but I don’t know which chinese ethnic group (I know there are no real chinese people) is the largest in Thailand. any idea? Teo Chew? Fukian? Thanks

  2. Chinese in Thailand: over 55% are Teo Chew, followed by Hakka ( 15%+) , Hainan(10%+), Hokien (5%+) and Kwangtung(5%+). Cheers!

  3. Nice to see readers trying to promote cultural diversity.

    Not all goverments have stressed the importance of ‘assimilation’ over the past century. During the long reign of FM Plaek Phibulsongran the Chinese were heavily discriminated against. Then, beginning in the sixties until the demise of the CPT in 1980 the Chinese were constantly blamed for promoting Communism.

    But as you say, for sure, Thailand is a terrific place for ethnic understanding and tolerance of foreign ways. This is one of the reasons that i love the country.

  4. Thank you very much for that. As a Thai I’m a little ashamed not to know so much about my country. I’m also assuming that many Chinese-derived Thai words come from the Hakka dialect …because when I try to use Chinese words I learned in Thailand with my Cantonese or Singaporean Chinese friends, they simply give me a blank, confused look!

  5. oh my english555

    i’m Thai with full of chinese blood but don’t know chinese. My father and uncle were once sent to study in Beijing when they are 10++

  6. GlobalNomad & oh my Englisg555,
    I believe TeowChew has more influence on Thai Language simply because of their sheer numbers. Gao-Yee (chair), Tok (table), O-riang (coffee-cold), O-juak (coffee-hot), SawngTiaw (double-row taxi), etc. But I am also puzzled to find some words that sounds like Cantonese like Gao (old) in Thai. TeowChew and Hokkien (spoken in Phuket, Ranong, Triang) are of the same Min family. Cantonese and Hakka are difference Dialect family. In fact , Hakka, Cantonese and Min (Teow Chew & Hokkian), and Beijing Mandarin are strictly speaking different Languages based on definition of INTELLIGIBILITY of less than a certain percentage. When Cantonese speaks, TeowChew and Hakka can’t understand more than 10-20% of the words spoken.
    The blessing is that Chinese has a standard writing system which helps different groups to understand each other in writing. The flip-side is that Standard Chinese is slowly influencing other dialects in loosing their unique grammer and expressions. Cantonese in HongKong are slowly speaking Cantonese based on Standard Chinese expressions.

  7. You know what I think of the Chinese….

    Re: ‘Condensed China’ on The Dean Noble Show.

    Yours, Dean Noble

  8. koh Chong Hwa

    Is it possible for the writer Stilee to e-mail me because I have some question to ask this person.

  9. I’m born in Chinese Teochew family origin. My dad origin from Guandong. My mum is Hakka whose adopted then raised by Dayaks Natives family. Most of the time, she either speaks Hokkien or Malay or Bidayuh to me as I understood all of them. I speak Hokkien with my father as during younger time we stays together with some Hokkien residents in the village. But I usually speaks Teochew with my younger sister.
    I understood Cantonese but seldom use it to communicate. I speaks Mainland Mandarin and little bit of Chengdu local Mandarin too. Really learn a lot throughout the years. Sawasdee Krap!