On-line bestseller. Now in its 2nd Edition.

Latest facts, new images, maps and analysis.

Peace talks between the Thai government and Patani nationalists led by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN) drags on with no breakthrough in sight. The fundamental disconnect impacting the peace process is the Dichotomy of Context between the two sides. The Thai government views the dialogue process as a way to rein in and disarm wayward “Thai Muslim Separatists” and to persuade the Patani Malay populace to accept Thai rule albeit with some administrative and cultural concessions. On the other hand, Patani nationalists regard the process as a step towards self-determination in their own land with the ultimate objective of regaining independence and the re-establishment of a Malay Muslim nation state.

After the initial rounds of dialogue coordinated and hosted by Malaysia, the Patani nationalists have hardened their stance, with a series of demands set as preconditions for further talks. These include Thailand’s recognition of the distinct identity, race and language of the Patani Malays; withdrawal of Thai troops from the restive region; peacekeeping duties to be conducted by local security forces; and amnesty for insurgents.

Additional conditions announced in early September 2013 include explicit Thai recognition of the BRN as liberators and not separatists; Malaysia's role to be upgraded from facilitator to mediator; presence of observers from ASEAN, the OIC and relevant NGOs during the dialogue process; a special administrative platform be set up under the Thai constitution; and the unconditional release of all detained suspects or imprisoned insurgents. BRN also sought guarantees for the Patani Malays’ freedom to practice Islam, seek education, conduct business, as well as to remain free from harassment.

Would the Thai state accede to these demands? Would even a partial concession be possible? Is there sufficient political will in Bangkok? What about the influential Thai military? Would Thailand gain from a softer negotiating posture? Could it afford further violence and bloodshed in its soft underbelly? Would these concessions bring peace and a semblance of normalcy to the Patani Region? Could the civilian government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra push the dialogue process to the next level? Who actually decides for Thailand? What more must be done? What is the end game?

Get the book to find out.


Patani: Behind The Accidental Border
2nd Edition. The Search for Elusive Peace


The insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla, collectively defined as the Patani Region, is the most misunderstood conflict in the world today. In relative terms, the toll on human lives over the past half decade is surpassed only by the Iraqi and Afghan conflicts. But unlike those well-reported hotspots, very little is known about the Patani insurgency – its root causes; the identity and objectives of the main players; the historical context; the role and legitimacy of the Thai state; the sentiment of the populace – and this multifaceted ignorance sustains the ongoing socio-political tragedy. The insurgency has been vividly painted by many as a religious conflict perpetrated by misguided “Thai Muslims,” effectively calibrating all discourses towards a Pan-Islamist terrorism agenda.

This is further embellished by tales of economic backwardness due to lack of educational and vocational opportunities. The combination of religious zealotry and abject poverty are supposed to be the main catalysts of the insurgency and this narrative has largely shaped world perception, with policy initiatives geared towards economic development, scholastic reforms and inculcation of “moderate” Islamic teachings among the Patani people. These programmes come and go but the insurgency rages on with heightened intensity and brutality in a region also known cryptically as the Thai Deep South. Why is this the case? Who are the real stakeholders? What would be the end game? And could we resolve this conflict without a firm understanding of its root causes?

Together we shall seek the answers. This book will provide a definitive analysis of the insurgency in a region that was a prominent Malay Sultanate for a half-millennium but now tethered precariously to the southern underbelly of the Thai nation. Necessary attention will be given to its historical dimension and current regional geopolitical context and realities. This may dilute the conventional narrative meticulously crafted by others, and the revelations may be unpalatable to some. But without the historical truth and a firm grasp of the real issues, a just, meaningful and permanent solution could never be conceived. The detailed processes and methodologies of the Pattani Peace Initiative presented in this book would hopefully form the building blocks for sustainable peace, justice and reconciliation for the Patani Region.

Read it online now in full colour PDF e-Book format

Price: USD 34.95

Hardcover coffee table edition (250 pages, with 100 full colour maps and pictures) available by special request.


RM 189.00 Malaysia

THB 1,900 Thailand

SGD 89.00 Singapore

USD 69.00 Worldwide

To pre-order and/or discuss other payment options in your currency, send e-mail to patanibook@gmail.com

Date and Time in Patani Darussalam



Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Malaysia's The Star Newspaper Won't Publish

Malaysia's The Star newspaper published a particularly fallacious view of Patani sent by a Jinmei Morinae on September 30, 2012.

A rebuttal was promptly e-mailed to the publication the next day, on October 1, 2012.

The rebuttal was never published and an e-mail inquiry did not receive a reply.

A subsequent tweet to the editor, Wong Chun Wai on November 2, 2012 did not generate a response as well.

So much for "freedom of thought" and the "right to rebut" in this partisan ethnic-Chinese controlled tabloid. 

Below is the rebuttal that was not published by The Star:- 

I don’t quite understand the issue raised by Jinmae Morinae (Patani not a ‘Malay’ state; Sept 30, 2012).

In her letter, she admitted that “[i]t is true that Patani was once a separate kingdom before being annexed by Thailand” and “[i]t is also true that the state’s population is primarily Malay-Muslim.” Yet, she deemed it improper for the Patani Region (modern-day Thai provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and four districts in Songkhla) to be referred as “a Malay part of southern Thailand.”

Why is this so?

The Malay race is not restricted to the borders of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. Ethnic Malays make up 85% of the three million population of Thailand’s Patani Region plus the majority in neighbouring Setul (Satun) province bordering Kedah/Perlis on the west coast. The Patani Region traces its rich history to the ancient Malay kingdom of Langkasuka (2nd-14th century AD) centered near present-day Binjai Lima (Yarang) in Pattani province, Thailand.    

Worldwide, ethnic groups tend to overlap international boundaries. Of course, historically, national borders realign endlessly over time but socio-cultural groups remain in their respective geographies irrespective of ruling polity. Unless, of course, there happens to be ethnic-cleansing, in which case, a predominant population is crowded out by another group. Today, you will still find a large ethnic-Russian population in eastern Ukraine; an ethnic-German majority in Italy’s South Tyrol/Alto Adige; ethnic-Hungarians in north-central Romania; ethnic-Kurds dominate where Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran meet; and ethnic-Koreans are prominent in parts of northeastern China.

As for the Patani Region, yes it is politically within Thailand, but it is Malay in ethnicity, history, heritage, language and culture. You can still be a Malay in Thailand just as one can be a “Thai” of Isaan, Lanna, Khmer, Shan or Chinese extraction. Note that “Thai” in this context is more of a nationality than a distinct race or ethno-religious group. It is equivalent to the term “Malaysian” to denote Malaysia's citizens. The inhabitants of the Patani Region are hence ethnic-Malays holding Thai nationality. No contradiction there.

“Thai Muslim” is a misnomer since it encompasses all Muslim citizens of Thailand, from Chiengmai’s Haw minority to Bangkok’s Pathans to the Malays of the Deep South. These disparate groups have nothing in common apart from a shared faith.  

Jinmei’s point that “[b]y emphasising the ethnicity of Patani’s dominant population, you are trivialising Thailand’s diversity” is oxymoronic at best. How can you celebrate diversity if you suppress the distinctiveness (in this case ethnicity) that forms the basis of that diversity in the first place?  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Patani Peace Talks ...... Cause for Hope?

Will there be a substantive political breakthrough in the on-off-on again peace talks between the Thai state and Patani Malay nationalists?

Would Patani nationalists accept anything less than total political separation from Thailand after 109 years of socio-political turmoil under the Thai yoke? Would Thai hardliners tolerate even a mild semblance of self-governance, not even autonomy, and let alone independence for the Patani Region? Where will be the practical point of compromise, or are the two sides irreconcilable in their narrative of and approach to the conflict?

Or perhaps a point of convergence would be forged by the two sides as their respective societies find the conflict's current trajectory socially, economically and politically untenable. 


Excellent piece below by Anthony Davis, security analyst for IHS-Jane’s:-

An Asia Times Online Exclusive
April 6, 2011 
Thai peace talks come to light
By Anthony Davis

BANGKOK - After six years of secret contacts disrupted by political turmoil and mutual distrust, high-level peace talks aimed at addressing the roots of Thailand's bitter Malay-Muslim insurgency are moving into a more open and substantive phase.

Senior negotiators from both the Thai government and separatist sides of the conflict expressed optimism in recent interviews that key issues should now be tabled, while conceding that the secrecy and denial that have shrouded the talks to date have outlived their usefulness.

For the rest of the story, go here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Patani Stance

The Patani United Liberation Organization do not command most of the battlefield combatants. It is today more of a political advocacy group than a guerrilla movement. 

PULO is the most eloquent among the many liberation groups in articulating the struggle of the Patani people to rid the 30,000 sq km Malay region from over a century of Thai occupation. 


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Last Malay Raja of Patani


The last Raja of Patani, HRH Sultan Abdul Kadir Kamaruddin ibni al-Marhum Sultan Sulaiman Sharifuddin (r. 1899-1902).

His lonely and courageous stand against incessant Siamese aggression, which led to the ultimate annexation of his kingdom, is one of the great untold stories of Malay history. The Sultan vigorously resisted Siamese designs on his land and actively rallied international political support to preserve Patani sovereignty.

Advised by a wary Britain to avoid warfare, he was deceived and abducted at gunpoint by Siamese forces in a sham meeting. The Sultan was inexplicably charged with “treason” against the invading Siamese state and jailed in the draconian Phitsanulok prison. He was finally released after over two years of incarceration when he purportedly “renounced politics,” although Siamese coercion failed to extract “confessions” of wrongdoings.

Sultan Abdul Kadir personally led the Patani Malay liberation struggle against Siamese rule and fought to regain his old kingdom until his death in Kelantan in 1933.

Patani may have been subsumed under the Thai yoke, but the bloodlines of Patani royalty thrive in the royal families of several Malaysian states and nobilities of the Nusantara, with many descendants playing prominent roles in government and industry throughout the region.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brutality of Thai Occupation Army


Mild sampling of Thai brutality on unarmed young Patani Malay civilian ........ minus the gory ending.

Who is the terrorist again now?

See also the Gersik mosque and Sebayu massacres of April 28, 2004.

Meanwhile, Malaysian PM Najib Razak has called for some form of Autonomy for the three million plus Malays of the Patani Region, a huge chunk of resource-rich real estate encompassing the Thai-held provinces of Patani (Pattani), Menara (Narathiwat), Jala (Yala) and parts of Singgora (Songkhla). Kedah's old Setul district, now Thailand's Satun province, may also be in this Autonomy equation.

The Nation gave this well-balanced opinion.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

FAQ on the Patani Issue: Part 2


Why are the Patani people resisting Thai rule?

- The Thais invaded Patani in 1786 and initiated colonisation measures that culminated in annexation in 1902 and full political incorporation in the aftermath of the 1909 Anglo-Siamese Treaty.

- The Thai concept of nationhood is via complete assimilation in identity, culture, language, lifestyle and mindset into a single “Thai” identity as created by the Phibun Songkhram regime of the 1930s-40s and perpetuated by present-day Thai policies.

- Hence, the “Patani people” do not exist in the socio-political essence of official Thai nationhood. The Patani populace are forced to forego their identity, language, ethnicity, culture and history and are expected by the occupying Thai state to be “Thais” modelled on the ethnic-T’ais of the Central Chao Phraya basin.

- Just like any other repressed ethno-cultural group in this world, the Patani people are resisting this attempt to subsume their identity and heritage.

- The Patani Region is the last unliberated colonised territory in Southeast Asia. The populace is resisting Thai rule in their struggle to free their captive land from colonisation and from ethnic, cultural and linguistic annihilation.

Why do the people of the region want to secede from Thailand?

- The Patani Region has nothing in common with the Thai colonising state.

- The populace are Malay Muslims, undifferentiated in language, culture, religion and mindset from their Malay Muslim brothers in Malaysia.

- Thailand, as a unitary state based on T’ai identity and Theravada Buddhism, is an alien socio-political paradigm that has no logical rationale to “own” and occupy the Patani Region beyond some sort of war booty, a vestige of the era of colonisation in Southeast Asian history.

Has the Patani people launched a Jihad against the Thai state?

- This is not an Islamic Jihad.

- This is not a religious conflict.

- This is about a captive people (the Patani Malays) with their own ethnic identity, language and culture resisting their comprehensive domination by another ethno-cultural group (the T’ais).

- The Patani Malays are Muslims, but Islam is not the catalysts of this conflict in the same vein that the Buddhist faith of the T’ai colonisers does not define their agenda or mindset.

Why can’t the Patani people live in peace with the rest of their fellow Thais?

- How could a people live in peace when its language, its culture, its very identity are erased by the colonising state?

- How could a people live in peace when every single place name in its homeland is erased and replaced with alien renditions in the Thai script?

- How could a people live in peace when they are tagged as a wayward offshoot of the alien colonising race, being called “Thai Muslims” on their own land? Would Americans agree to being called “Southern Canadians”? Would the British be happy with the tag “Western Germans”? Would the Japanese be amenable to being called “Archipelagic Chinese”? Would the Thais themselves accept their race as either “Eastern Burmese” or “Western Khmer”? Why must the Patani Malays be the exception, be the only ones to foresake their identity to a colonising force?

Isn’t this struggle too late, a misfit in the modern world?

Nationalist struggles are fought over hundreds of years over many generations.

- A century is not “too late”.

- Spain was colonised and settled by Arabs (the "Moors") for over 700 years from the 8th to the early 15th centuries. But the Spanish regained their land literally inch by painful inch in hundreds of battles and ancient guerilla warfare and resistance not unlike today’s Patani Insurgency.

- Vietnam was ruled by Imperial China on four occasions – 207BC-39AD, 43-544AD, 602-905AD and 1407-27AD – for a total of 1,070 years. Inspite of relentless Chinese assimilation policies, the Vietnamese did not become “Chinese” after a millennium of colonization.

- China itself was ruled by the Mongols for a century in the 13th-14th centuries, and by the Manchus for 300 years until the early 20th century. The Chinese did not become “Mongols” or “Manchus” and ultimately expelled these colonisers.

- India was ruled by the British Empire for almost two centuries until independence in 1947.

- Indonesia was under crippling Dutch rule for 350 years but reemerged after the Second World War to expel the Dutch from Aceh all the way to Papua.

- Hong Kong reverted to China after 156 years as a British Crown Colony. Macau was a Portuguese colony for four hundred years before also reverting to Chinese sovereignty.

- Hence, Patani’s century of direct Thai rule does not in any way negate the legitimate right of the Patani people for self-determination.

- Indeed, the Patani Malays will never be Thais. Many are tortured; others "disappeared"; placed in concentration camps; had their names changed; had the names of their towns and cities altered; had their ethnicity and language erased, but they will never be made into “Thais.”

- There are better odds of the Thais becoming a "Burmese" than the Patani Malays becoming Thais.

Why must Muslims kill innocent Thais of all faiths, no matter how legitimate and noble your intentions may be?

- The killings started more than three centuries ago when successive Siamese polities (Ayutthaya, Thonburi, Krung Thep, Siam, and modern Thailand) invaded the Patani Kingdom and subjected the Malay populace to great hardships amidst atrocities and represssion.

- The Patani Malays were at the receiving end of the violence for over three centuries.

- Organised resistance to Thai colonisation began in the past 50 years as this is the only avenue for the Malays to stave off Thai aggression on their homeland.

- Most of the killings in the Patani Region today are perpetrated by the Thai authorities and their hired hands, hence the predominance of Malay victims in the conflict.

Why have the Patani people not peacefully stated their grievances to the Thai government?

- All attempts at peaceful resolution by the Patani populace were met with violent, punitive measures by the Thai state.

- Thousands of Patani Malays have died in their peaceful approach to self-determination. These include Haji Sulong Abdul Kadir and hundreds of other community leaders in the captive region.

- Successive Thai regimes throughout this colonization period, including the present government, have maintained a non-negotiation, zero tolerance, zero compromise stance with various Patani nationalist groups and civil society movements.

- Indeed, Patani Malays suspected of association with these movements would be dealt with severely by the Thai regime via various instruments of state and the security apparatus, including 40,000 troops and 30,000 police personnel and a myriad of other phalanges of the occupation forces.

Why didn’t the Patani Region separate peacefully?

- How could the Region “separate peacefully” when the Patani people are not allowed to even discuss their grievances or present various political options?

- The term “separation” itself is a trigger point for Thai overreaction and punitive measures against any Patani advocate of such a concept.

What do the Patani People actually want?

- Freedom

- Self-determination

- The freedom to practise their own culture, speak their own language, take pride in their identity, understand their heritage and history, and to chart their own destiny.

How to achieve peaceful resolution?

- Referendum on the preference of the Patani people.

- Either continue being a part of Thailand.

- Or independence under specific mechanisms promulgated and enforced by the United Nations and ASEAN under the auspices of the Nations of Interest, namely Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

FAQ on the Patani Issue: Part 1

Ø What exactly is Pattani or Patani?

o “Pattani” is a modern-day province of Thailand. It is one of four provinces in southernmost Thailand with Malay majority populations. The others are Narathiwat (Menara), Yala (Jala), Satun (Setul) plus four districts in Songkhla (Singgora).

o “Patani” (with one “t”) was a Malay Muslim Sultanate that was annexed by Siam in 1902. Patani encompassed the present-day provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and four districts in Songkhla.

o The present-day Thai-held provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and parts of Songkhla are referred as the Patani Region. With Satun they constitute the Malay Muslim belt currently administered by Thailand.

o This Malay Muslim belt encompasses 16,500 sq km and a resident population of almost three million, of which ethnic-Malays make up about 80%.

Ø What is going on in the Thai Deep South?

o An ongoing struggle for emancipation by the people of a nation invaded and held captive by a colonising adjacent state.

o The actions of the colonising state to steadfastly cling to a colonised land no matter at what cost to the captive populace or to world opinion.

Ø When did Patani became part of Thailand?

o The Malay Sultanate of Patani was annexed by Siam in 1902 when its last Sultan, Tengku Abdul Kadir Kamaruddin, was abducted by Siamese forces, forcibly shipped to Bangkok at gunpoint and held captive in Phitsanulok prison.

o Siam’s occupation of Patani was sanctioned by the British government upon the signing of the Anglo-Siamese Treaty in 1909, although this captive state was not specifically mentioned in the Treaty. Addendums to the Treaty reaffirmed Britain’s special interest in the occupied Malay lands up to Bang Tapan near the Isthmus of Kra.

o The Patani populace were neither consulted nor participated in the Treaty deliberations.

Ø Why didn’t the seven principalities of the Sultanate of Patani as well as adjacent Malay-populated states occupied by Siam (Setul, Singgora, Ligor, Trang and Bedalung) be systematically detached from Siam and amalgamated with the Malay states of British Malaya?

o Britain’s plans to incorporate these northern Malay states within British Malaya were scuttled by the advent of the First World War, which diverted British attention to other theatres of conflict. The Second World War and subsequent American-induced decolonisation of Southeast Asia effectively pre-empted any British solution to the plight of the captive Malay states.

Ø Are the Thai Muslims of the south different from other Thais?

o They are not “Thai Muslims.” The Patani populace are ethnic Malays, with close linguistic and cultural affinities with the ethnic Malays of Malaysia’s Kelantan state. They profess the Islamic religion.

o The Patani Malays have their own language, culture, history and identity and are not part of the “Thai” social milieu centered on the ethnic-T’ais of the Central Chao Phraya basin.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Negara Melayu Patani Darussalam

(Click to Enlarge)

Copyright © 2009 Behind the Accidental Border. All Rights Reserved.

Territory of the Patani nation as envisioned by most of the Patani liberation groups. With a population of almost three million, of which 80% are Malay Muslims, Patani Darussalam encompasses the Malay provinces of Patani, Jala, Menara, Setul and the Malay districts of Tiba, Chenak, Sebayu and Nawi in Singgora province. Singgora (or Songkhla) city itself, where Malay Muslims form a third of the population, is often left out. Hat Yai, the Thai South’s biggest city, entertainment centre and relatively recent Thai-centric phenomenon, would remain in Thailand as well and would plausibly become that country’s new southern gateway.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thai Ratthaniyom: Erasure of the Patani Malay Race

Book Excerpt
(Protected by Copyright. Quotations and reproductions subject to approval and written permission of the Author):-

Phibun Songkhram (birthname Plaek Khittasangkha), an Army Lieut. Colonel and key conspirator in the Siamese coup d'état of 1932 (who later promoted himself to Field Marshall) became Siam’s Prime Minister in late 1938. Holding on to the posts of Defense and Interior Ministers as well, Phibun consolidated power by sidelining all rivals (either killed, jailed or banished) and ruled Siam with an iron fist. A rabid fascist with a strong admiration of the Axis Powers of the 1930s, Phibun pursued the cause of Siamese nationalism to its traumatic extreme. Siam was renamed Prathet Thai (ประเทศไทย) or Thailand. Thai (ไทย), meaning “free” is a play of the homonym for the T’ai ( ไท ) ethnic group, which in its various incarnations made up the majority of Siam’s population. Hence, Thailand means Land of the Free, but metaphorically it is the Land of the T’ais.

Phibun was bent on creating a homogenized, socially cohesive populace in a unitary state guided by Central Chao Phraya T’ai culture and Theravada Buddhism. This quest for racial and cultural purity a la Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan was embodied in Phibun’s infamous Thai Ratthaniyom or Thai Custom Decree of 1939. This policy subsumed inhabitants of incorporated territories (Malays, Khmers, Lao, Shan, Mon) into the “Thai” ethno-cultural yolk and forcibly assimilated Thailand’s substantial immigrant Chinese population. Phibun’s Thai Ratthaniyom shook the foundation of the Patani Malay world. Apart from being forced to become “Thais,” the Malays were also compelled by law to shed their traditional clothing for Western attire. In a real-life theatre of the absurd, previously sarong-clad Malay peasants sported Dick Tracy hats and ill-fitting Fred Astaire suits and pants while the womenfolk stumbled in their gowns, skirts and hats while laden with other accouterments of Western civilization. Meals must be consumed with western utensils while seated on tables. Chewing of betel nut was a national crime.

Thai cultural police roamed the nation, striking errant citizens with 10-foot bamboo sticks with impunity. The Malay clergy (the tok guru, imam and ustadz) were particularly targeted. Their insistence on donning traditional garbs were met with violent chastisement by Thai authorities, including the public shedding and stomping of their garments by the culture police. The Malays wondered why this ruling was not applied to Buddhist monks as well; why tolerate the robes and slippers (if any) while compelling the Islamic clergy to forego their robes and sarongs and semutars? These cultural and social dichotomy afflict Thailand’s administration of the Malay provinces until today and cannot be reconciled by a state that refused to admit Thailand’s pluralistic reality, where large populations in different regions are distinct from the archetypal T’ai of the Central Chao Phraya.

State-Decreed Dress Code

A Thai Ratthaniyom era (1938-45) poster directs the Thai public on the “civilized” form of dressing. A laid-back Patani Malay man in traditional songkok and sarong (far right of left picture) is transformed into a dapper chap in crisp pantaloon, shirt and safari hat. Womenfolk attend to their daily chores in glitzy blouses and skirts while a boy (previously depicted buck naked now scurry along in Western garb straight out of a Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue.

Photo: Public Domain per Section 4 of the Thai Copyright Law, 1994.

This institutionalized assimilation also regulated personal names and systematically Thai-cised the age-old Malay geographic names of the Patani Region. Hence Jalor, Menara, Singgora, Tanjong Mas, Sebayu, Gersik, Tiba, Setul, Bendang Setar, Tabal and Penarek (all perfectly lucid Malay place names) were bizarrely transliterated as Yala, Narathiwat, Songkhla, Tanyongmat, Sabayoi, Krue Sae, Thepa, Satun, Bannang Sata, Tak Bai and Panare, rendering the names meaningless and hilariously absurd to the Malays and reflected the inherent elocution limitations of the Thai pali script. Thai names became a condition for public employment. During the height of the Ratthaniyom era, Malays were forced by Thai forces to prostrate before Buddhist sacred objects in national events. In all public schools, Buddha statues were prominently displayed, and Malay Muslim students were forced to bow to them as a patriotic act. Malay language and script were strictly banned in government affairs and public usage. Malay culture was suppressed. Shari’a law and its court system were abolished. Traditional Malay and Islamic legal traditions on marriage and inheritance were supplanted by Thai civil jurisdiction. Patani history was erased and replaced with Thai-centric revisions laced with mythical heroic conquests of the Patani region by ancient T’ai kings through the ages. The term “Malay” became politically incorrect and was officially suppressed. “Thai” and Thai-ness were the epitome of patriotism.

Metamorphosies of the “Thai” race

Phibun Songkhram’s Thai Ratthaniyom (Thai Customs Decree) of 1939 enforced punitive assimilationist measures to compel ethno-cultural conformity and to subsume Siam’s plurality of ethnic groups into a concocted “Thai” race modelled on the T’ai ethnic group of the Chao Phraya River basin. “Thai” means “Free” and is actually a cunning play of the homonym for the dominant T’ai ethnic group. The Patani Malays, as the most divergent ethno-cultural and religious group, were particularly affected and resisted till this day the erasure and supplanting of their ethnicity with a generic “Thai Muslim” tag.

Copyright © 2008 Behind the Accidental Border. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproductions of this diagram strictly prohibited and subject to legal proceedings.

The Patani Malay race, hence, morphed into the conceptual community of “Thai Muslims” -– effectively placing the indigenous Patani Malays into the pot of immigrant Pakistani, Indian, Hadramaut Arab, Cham and Haw Chinese muslims languishing on the fringes of the mainstream “Thai” social order. The Malays became “foreign” on their own soil. Since “Malay” must be erased from the public consciousness, the Patani Malay dialect was referred as Yawi, which is nothing more than an ill-informed street Thai corruption of “Jawi,” the Arabic-based Malay script used in the Patani Region and Malaya. This would be equivalent to denoting the Russian language as Cyrillic (the Slavic script) and signifying the Thai language as Pali.

The devastating fallout of the Thai Ratthaniyom policy on the Patani Malays has almost no parallel in the contemporary global order. Hence, the societal impacts may be difficult to fathom. In the Western sense, the equivalent trauma would be for George Bush to suddenly wake up in newly renamed Washingrad, Washingburg or perhaps Wah Shing Tung; forcibly detached from his family by an arbitrary international frontier straddling the Potomac River (where the American way-of-life prevailed on the other side); compelled by law to change his name to Georgi Bushev or Joerg Busch or Chee Ok Bok; forbidden to write or speak English; and gets beaten by a 10-foot bamboo stick for not swapping his suit and tie for a kilt or perhaps a robe. The surrounding towns and place names on his side of the Potomac frontier assumed weird sounding foreign names and the police and government officials would converse with him in a foreign tongue not even remotely resembling English while they smack him with bamboo sticks each time he uttered an English word. Instead of being a WASP American, he would be told that his race no longer exist and he would be assimilated into the stylized ethnicity of the invader (in this parable, lets call them “Zoltrons”). To differentiate him from the real Zoltrons (lets assume they worship other deities), he would be termed a Zoltron Christian. Would George Bush – or any human being on earth – take these gross violations quietly? Wouldn’t any society rise up to stop this outrage? Didn’t the world endured two World Wars to stem this sort of menace by rogue regimes? Why should the Patani Malays be any different?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thank you

I must say the response to this book's January 2008 soft-launch was overwhelming. Word of mouth was enough to generate literally hundreds of e-mail inquiries and pre-orders from readers worldwide.

To the purchasers, thank you. To the many re-order customers, a double thank you. This book was a labor of love (+ blood, sweat and some tears) since I began collecting obscure manuscripts and maps of the Patani Region over twenty years ago and finally got down to putting my thoughts and findings to paper a year ago.

Your stirring response proved that the world at large is interested to hear the "other side" of the story, to truly comprehend the logic and dynamics of the socio-political issues that have bedevilled the Patani people for so long. The Patani Issue must be discussed. Feel free to share your thoughts and lets have a healthy discourse on the fate of the Patani people and their captive nation.

Thanks again ...........

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 -- Partitioning of the Malay Heartland

Book Excerpt
(Protected by Copyright. Quotations and reproductions subject to approval and written permission of the Author):-

Extract of Anglo-Siamese Treaty, 1909 (bold added):-

Delineation of Boundary

Commencing from the most seaward point of the northern bank of the estuary of the Perlis River and thence north to the range of hills which is the watershed between the Perlis River on one side and the Pujok River on the other; then following the watershed formed by the said range of hills until it reaches the main watershed or dividing line between those rivers which flow into the Gulf of Siam on the one side and into the Indian Ocean on the other; following this main watershed so as to pass the sources of the Sungei Patani, Sungei Telubin, and Sungei Perak, to the point which is the source of the Sungei Pergau; then leaving the main watershed and going along the watershed separating the waters of the Sungei Pergau from the Sungei Telubin, to the hill called Bukit Jeli or the source of the main stream of the Sungei Golok to the sea at a place called Kuala Tabar. This line will leave the valleys of the Sungei Patani, Sungei Telubin, and Sungei Tanjung Mas and the valley on the left or west bank of the Golok to Siam and the whole valley of the Perak River and the valley on the right or east bank of the Golok to Great Britain.

The island known as Pule Langkawi, together with all the islets south of the midchannel between Terutau and Langkawi, and all the islands south of Langkawi shall become British. Terutau and the islets to the north of mid-channel ... to Siam.

Source: Bangkok Treaty (“Anglo-Siamese Treaty”) signed on March 10, 1909, with ratifications exchanged in London on July 9, 1909. (Great Britain, Foreign Office, Treaty Series 1909, No. 19, Command 4703, London)

Malay lands affirmed as Siamese territory by Great Britain in the 1909 Anglo-Siamese Treaty:-

1) The four Monthon Pattani districts of Patani, Jala (Siamised as Yala), Teluban (Saiburi) and Menara (Narathiwat);

2) The old Patani districts of Tiba (Thepha) and Cenak (Chana) in Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat (old Ligor);

3) The Kelantan district of Tabal (Takbai) and slivers of Kelantan territory on the northwest and west banks of the Golok river;

4) The old Kedah principality of Setul (Satun), somehow detached from Kedah/Monthon Saiburi at the 11th hour of the Treaty reputedly in part-exchange for Kelantan’s Tumpat district;

5) The Terutau (Tarutao) and Butang island groups, including Pulau Terutau, Pulau Butang, Pulau Udang, Pulau Singa, Pulau Belitong, Pulau Besi, Pulau Tengah, Pulau Cabang, Pulau Nipis, Pulau Rawi, Pulau Petra and Pulau Bulan;

6) All historical Malay domains up to the 11th degree parallel.

Map: Partitioning of the Malay states per the 1909 Anglo-Siamese Treaty.
The Malay states were neither consulted nor participated and viewed the arbitrary division of their territories as a sharing of the loot by two foreign powers. Britain dropped extra-territorial rights on the Malay Peninsula up to the 11th Degree Parallel (Kra) per the old 1897 Anglo-Siamese Secret Convention. Historical Malay lands up to Kra thus recognised by Britain as Siamese territory.

(Click to Enlarge)

Copyright © 2007 Behind the Accidental Border. All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized reproductions of this map strictly prohibited and subject to legal proceedings.

A cursory reading of the Treaty would elucidate the inevitable conclusion that it was an incomplete project. The arbitrary nature of the demarcation gives the document a distinct work-in-process flavour, the interim stage of a bigger scheme. On both coasts, the international frontier cuts across the heart of Malay villages and communities, effectively dissecting families and kinfolk into two separate nationalities. In the east, the insignificant Golok River, more a glorified meandering stream, became the international frontier that, even today and for practical reasons, is not entirely accepted and viewed as an unnecessary irritant by the Kelantanese and their Patani kinfolk. The Treaty should, hence, be seen as a prelude to subsequent agreements to reflect further adjustments to the frontier per the blueprint of the 1897 Anglo-Siamese Secret Convention. Thus, Patani conspicuously was not mentioned by name in the Treaty; an unfinished matter to be fought on another day. But that day never arrived. The outbreak of the First World War and the tumultuous period leading to and during the Second World War preoccupied the Western World and effectively marked the end of their Southeast Asia land grab. Decolonisation in the decade following the end of the Second World War saw the withdrawal of European powers, with Southeast Asian states gaining independence within the borders carved by their old colonizers. Thailand, Siam’s new appellation, was consequently saddled with vast tracts of “alien” territories in its southern frontier, inhabited by a bitter, resentful and disenfranchised populace who could not comprehend nor accept the logic of their land being governed by an alien race with a distinctly divergent language, culture and religion. The old Patani Kingdom was stuck in Thailand; an unwitting pawn of an unfinished political chess game played by others, indeed, a cruel accident of history and a flailing socio-political appendage tethered painfully to the soft underbelly of the Thai nation to this day.

The 1909 Anglo-Siamese Treaty has been a catalyst for turmoil from the onset, and remains the worst travesty of justice in the history of the Malays of the peninsula. The Patani Malays, the very people affected by the terms of the treaty, were neither consulted nor participated in the negotiations. Likewise for their Malay brethrens under British rule. To expect the Malay race to simply accept this arbitrary partitioning of their World, without any political recourse, and indeed to compel the Patani people to languish in an undefined national existence devoid of their ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity, and to deny them the affirmation of their race and national heritage on their own soil, is to go against the most basic, the most primal of human instincts, and an insult to the Malay nation and the people of the Nusantara. The need of a human society to defend and perpetuate its heritage in its homeland is a force no empire in the history of mankind has been able to contain. Repressed societies are sustained and will eventually thrive from their inner strength, a need to survive, and will almost invariably exhaust and dissipate the fragile resolve of the colonising power.

Where was the Border anyway .....?

Book Excerpt

(Protected by Copyright. Quotations and reproductions subject to approval and written permission of the Author) :-

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Copyright © 2007 Behind the Accidental Border. All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized reproductions of this map strictly prohibited and subject to legal proceedings.
Base Map: “Birman Empire and Countries South East of the Ganges,” A New General Atlas of the World, Henry Teesdale (Ed.), 1835.

Throughout the final century of European colonialism, Siam’s sovereignty over territories beyond its core Chao Phraya basin was tenuous and subject to speculation. In this 1835 edition of A New General Atlas of the World, Siam’s southward extent stopped at the Ligor (Nakorn Si Thammarat) frontier about 200-300km north of the present-day border (depicted as a red line added above), with “Malaya” (in green) encompassing the rest of the peninsula. While many of the northern Malay states were, indeed, vassals of Siam in different degrees at various times, the concept of vassalage itself attested to the separateness of these polities to Siam. Logically, fully incorporated territories do not need to pay homage to the motherland, as it would be an unnecessary act of self-reverence.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Patani-Siam Struggle ..... 16-19th Centuries

Book Excerpt

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Patani reacted to Ayuthaya’s initial belligerence by launching a sea-borne attack on a Burmese-ravaged Ayutthaya in 1563-4. Patani’s Sultan Mudaffar Shah’s forces overran Ayutthayan defenses and sacked the palace, with King Maha Chakkraphat fleeing to safety. The Patani army withdrew when Sultan Mudaffar was mortally wounded in battle. Patani established trade and military ties with Portugal in 1516 and became the first Malay Kingdom to establish diplomatic/trade relations with the Japanese Ryukyu Kingdom (1515), the Japanese Tokugawa Shogunate (1592), the Dutch (1601), England (1612) and various kingdoms of Indochina and the Malay Archipelago. Ayutthaya followed suit and formed a military-commercial alliance with the Dutch in the 1620s to counter Patani's defense pact with Portugal. Supported by their European allies, Patani and the successive Siamese kingdoms of Ayutthaya, Thonburi and Krung Thep fought at least a dozen wars from 1603 to 1839. A huge Ayutthayan attack was famously repulsed in 1634 by a strong Patani army led by Raja Ungu, Paduka Sri Shah Alam, the greatest Queen in the history of the Malay World. The two adversaries ceased hostilities after the formalisation of a peace treaty between Ayutthaya’s King Prasat Thong (Sanpet V) and Patani’s Raja Kuning, Phraya Nang Chao Yang, in 1635.

(Click to Enlarge)

A 1602 Dutch engraving (entitled “Triumphal procession near the city of Patani”) of the entourage of Patani’s famed Raja Hijau (1584-1616). The Queen rides a decoratively harnessed elephant, accompanied by her maids-in-waiting (and plausibly her sisters, the future Rajas Biru and Ungu) on other elephants. Noblemen accompany the entourage, which has its full complement of Malay palace guards and soldiers in Portuguese-supplied helmets and battle gear. According to the original German and Latin text, two elephants in the vanguard carry armaments in honour of the late King and Raja Hijau’s father, Sultan Manzur Shah.
Image: Isaac Commelin, “Hoe de Koninginne van Patana haer gaet vermaecken” in Begin ende Voortgangh van de Vereenighde Nederlandsche Geoctroyeerde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Beginning and Ending of the Dutch East India Company), 1646, extracted from the Atlas of Mutual Heritage, Nationaal Archief, Nederland (National Archive of the Netherlands).

Ayutthaya was then immersed in bloody warfare with the Burmese until its fall to Burma’s King Hsinbyushin in 1767. Patani and other Malay kingdoms of the Kra Isthmus enjoyed a fleeting window of tranquility in the aftermath of the Ayutthayan collapse but the new Thonburi Kingdom of King Taksin succeeded in subjugating the old Malay Kingdoms of Ligor, Cahaya, Rundung, Terang, Ghraibi, Bukit/Ujung Salang, Bedalung and Singgora (later transliterated in Thai as Nakorn Si Thammarat, Chai'ya, Ranong, Trang, Krabi, Phuket, Phatthalung and Songkhla). Patani resisted these onslaughts but suffered a grave setback when the new Krung Thep Kingdom of King Rama I overran the kingdom in an epic war in 1786, which saw the death of Sultan Muhammad on the battlefield and the partitioning of a quarter of Patani’s territory (Tiba and Cenak) to Siam-held Singgora. Patani finally joined other isthmian Malay states as a Siamese vassal, although Siam’s actual control oscillated with the relative strengths of both kingdoms. Major wars were fought between Siam and a resistant Patani in 1789-91, 1808-10, 1831-32 and 1838-39. Siam engineered a further break-up of Patani into seven principalities after the particularly bloody war of 1810. The war of 1831-32, the mother of all the Siamese-Patani wars, required a Siamese force of 300,000 men and British military assistance (naval blockade off the Kedah-Trang coast) to contain a Patani-Kedah force bolstered by troops from Kelantan and Trengganu. An exhausted Siam co-opted a still-simmering Patani and a strengthening Kelantan in the 1840s and avoided the prospect of a formidable Patani-Kelantan alliance against Siamese hegemony by negotiating the ceding of the Patani throne to Tuan Besar, cousin and main political adversary of Kelantan’s Sultan Muhammad II. The Tuan Besar dynasty regained the luster of the Patani Kingdom as Siamese Kings, Rama III (Nang Klao) and Rama IV (Mongkut) gradually eased Siamese involvement in the contentious Malay region. The Patani throne regained its prestige and via intermarriage and astute diplomacy began to play a prominent role among the Malay states of the peninsula. Bedecked in the finest regalia of contemporary Malay sovereigns, subsequent Patani Sultans regard the Siamese Monarch as equals – a brother ruler – and the relevance of the Siamese state to the affairs of Patani was only historical, mostly symbolic. The reigns of Tengku Puteh (1856-81), Tengku Besar (1881-90) and Tengku Bongsu (Sultan Sulaiman Sharifuddin, 1890-98) were marked with relative peace in an era of political détente between Siam and the seven principalities of the Patani Region -- namely Patani, Nong Chik, Jering, Teluban, Jala, Reman and Legeh.

This state of relative regional stability would be shattered during the reign of Siam's Rama V, King Chulalongkorn .......

The Langkasukans ....... Patani's Ancestral Population

Book Excerpt
(Protected by Copyright. Quotations and reproductions subject to approval and written permission of the Author) :-
The early inhabitants of Langkasuka were probably an eclectic assemblage of early Malays, Mons and Khmers. The maritime nature of the polity alludes to Austronesian (the greater Malay group) dominance. Significant Sumatran Malay acculturation commenced with the Sri Vijayan conquest of the Kra Isthmus in the 8th century. The Langkasukans were certainly not T’ais. At that time, the ancestral T’ais were still in the hills and river valleys of Yunnan prior to being displaced to Indo-China by the Han Chinese. Linguistically, Sri Vijayan rule, which flourished in the 9th and 11-13th centuries, signified the gradual eradication of Austro Asiatic languages (including Mon-Khmer) and early Austronesian tongues by High Malay, Sri Vijaya’s language of administration. By the 13th century, Malay language, culture and identity had subsumed other populations of the peninsula’s northern half up to the Kra Isthmus. The last vestiges of the old Mon-Khmer language are today found in the native vernacular of the aborigines of Malaya and south Thailand, the so-called Aslian Group.

The coming of Islam further cemented the affiliation of the Isthmian Malays to the people of the Nusantara. However, the arts and culture of the Patani-Kelantan region (historically, extending northwards up to present-day Phatthalung) till this day carry a distinct flavour of Khmer courts of old, exemplified by Wayang Kulit (traditional shadow play depicting adapted Ramayana epics), Mak Yong (a royal court theatre combining dance, opera, drama and wry humour), Menora (a complex rhythmic dance drama depicting ancient pre-Islamic folklore) and Petri (a cryptic musical-dance spiritual cleansing ritual), all often inaccurately attributed to a “Thai” or “Siamese” origin. The T’ai (or Thai) themselves adopted and emulated these high culture from the courts of Cambodia when they rebelled against their Khmer rulers in the 13th century and formed their ancestral polities in the central Chao Phraya basin. See Geoffrey Benjamin’s “Ethnohistorical Perspectives on Kelantan’s Prehistory” in Kelantan Zaman Awal, 1987, pp.108-46, for a fascinating discourse on the linguistic-cultural evolution of the northern peninsula Malays, particularly the Patani-Kelantanese group. His hypothesis somewhat reaffirmed the socio-cultural specificities of the Patani-Kelantan Malays and their intrinsic distinction from other Malays of the peninsula.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Patani and Thailand ...... How and When It All Began

Patani: Behind The Accidental Border
- Dynamics of the Patani Conflict and prescriptions for a sustainable peace

Book Excerpt
(Protected by Copyright. Quotations and reproductions subject to approval and written permission of the Author) :-
Patani's ancestral state of Langkasuka was already a growing regional power a thousand years before the progenitor T’ai state of Sukhothai emerged in the central Chao Phraya basin from the shadows of the Khmer Empire. Indeed, during the early Langkasukan period, the T’ais were still languishing in their southern China homeland on the verge of being displaced to Indochina (and incrementally to present-day Thailand by the 10th century) by the southward expanding Han Chinese. A millennium ago, present day Thailand north of the Kra Isthmus was dominated by the Hinduised Mon-speaking Dvaravati Kingdom and later the Khmer Empire while the Malay Peninsula from Kra southwards was under the suzerainty of Srivijaya.

Centred near today’s Yarang (Jerang or Binjai Lima in the original Malay) district 15km inland from Patani town, Langkasuka dates back to at least 200AD based on historical records and archaeological evidence. This state prevailed through recorded history for 1,200 years until the 1400s. At its zenith, Langkasuka stretched coast-to-coast from the Kra Isthmus in the north to present-day Kedah and Kelantan in the south. Contemporary Chinese accounts defined an empire 30 days march east to west and 20 days march north to south. The annals of China’s Liang Dynasty, the 7th century Liang-shu, recorded the establishment of relations when Langkasuka’s King P’o-ch’-ieh-ta-to (transliterated generally as Bhagadatta) sent an envoy, A-ch’e-to, to present a memorial to the Emperor in 515 AD. Langkasuka sent further diplomatic missions in the years 523, 531 and 568 and Langkasuka-China relations flourished during the tenure of Liang Dynasty Emperor Wu (Liang Wu Ti, 502-549AD).

Patani’s Langkasuka legacy is well-documented, with multiple references to the Langkasuka toponym and geographic inference to today’s Patani Region in contemporary Chinese, Indian, Javanese and Arab historiographies. Chinese archival records and ancient coastline navigation maps placed Langkasuka on the coast stretching from present-day Phatthalung to Kelantan (and centred near the estuary of the Patani river). The Chinese transliterations for Langkasuka in various dialectical spelling variants from the 7th to 14th centuries include Lang-ya-hsiu, Ling-ya-ssu-chia, Lang-hsi-chia and Long-sai-ka. The Rajarajesvara temple inscriptions of Tanjore, India memorialized an attack by the Chola King, Rajendra I in the year 1030 on key states of the Sri Vijayan empire, including Ilangasoka, extolled as “undaunted in fierce battles.” The Nagarakertagama, an epic poem composed in 1365 by Mpu Rakawi Prapañca mentioned Langkasuka (in a list of Malay Peninsula entities) as a tributary of the Javanese Majapahit empire, although this was more reflective of a poet obliged to eulogise his benefactor, the Majapahit King, Hayam Wuruk (Prabu Sri Rajasanagara), than political realities of that era.

Langkasuka was a member of the Sri Vijayan Thalassocracy from c.800-1300AD. During this period, the Kingdom was prominent in Chinese, Indian, Arab and Javanese historiographies, with territory extending from the frontier of Nagara Sri Dharmaraja (Ligor) in the north to incorporate present-day Kelantan in the southeast and Kedah in the southwest. The T’ais reached the central Chao Phraya basin by 1000 AD, having displaced the Mons and subsequently fought the domination of the Khmer Kambujadesa Empire. Sukhothai emerged from the last vestiges of Khmer rule and became the first T’ai kingdom in the late 13th century, adopting the finer elements of Khmer court culture and traditions. Patani-Thai relations, in their various incarnations, date back at least 800 years when Patani’s ancestral Langkasuka Empire and subsequent Sri Vijayan overlords took note of the fledgling T’ai polities in the Chao Phraya basin emerging from the last vestiges of Khmer rule. The collapse of Sri Vijaya saw Langkasuka’s fragmentation into several northern Malay kingdoms, of which Patani rose to prominence by the late 14th century. Sukhothai itself was overshadowed and finally absorbed by the Ayutthayan kingdom downriver also by the late 14th century.The two nascent kingdoms of Patani and Ayutthaya began to expand their spheres of influence and conflict was inevitable.
Hence began 600 years of conflict between the peoples of these two great civilizations -- the Malays of Patani and the T'ais of Ayutthaya/Thonburi/Krung Thep/Siam/Thailand. Indeed, conflict is not a new phenomenon in Patani. The current insurrection represents the latest manifestation of a long series of warfare and revolts over six centuries by the ethnic-Malay populace against Siamese/Thai political machinations that led to the incremental subjugation of the Patani Kingdom, culminating in final annexation in 1906.

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