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

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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

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Date and Time in Patani Darussalam



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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) :-

(Click to Enlarge)

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

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

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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