Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 March 2010
The hit was typical in many ways. A gunman fired a nine-millimeter pistol into the car of Mass Communications Organization of Thailand chief Saengchai Sunthonwat, then fled with the driver on a waiting motorcycle. Two other members of the gang who had identified the victim also escaped. Due to the prominence of widely respected Saengchai, the police devoted a great deal of attention and resources to solving the crime. Ultimately, they traced the gunmen, who led them to the alleged mastermind. The assassination, according to police, was the result of a conflict of interest in the granting of concessions for provincial radio stations. When the accused mastermind had offered Saengchai a gift of an expensive gold chain and a valuable Buddha image to smooth relations, Saengchai refused the offer. He further insulted the mastermind by saying that the gift would only be good enough for his dog. This insult, as much as the loss of income, lay behind the killing. Although the hit was typical in many ways, two things, beyond the tragic death of a good man, make this killing academically interesting. First, the alleged mastermind was not a godfather but a godmother. Second, the press paid no attention to the fact that the culprit was a woman. In almost every reference, the word “godfather” could have been substituted for “godmother” with no change in meaning or inference.