Archive for the ‘Malay’ Category

Ethnicity, Religion and Politics

July 3, 2008

It’s not surprising I guess that ethnic history often gets mixed up with present day politics and religion. A great post about this and how Malays look upon their own history is at a blog called the__earthinc in an article about the ancient Malay kingdom of Srivijaya. Here the present day historical concentration on the Malaccan Empire and almost total ignoring of the earlier, large and longer lasting Srivijaya Empire is explained as the former being Moslem and the latter being Buddhist and Hindu.

The writer puts it this way. “I truly believe that Srivijaya was that brilliant light that stayed bright from nearly a millennium. Malacca was a just spark, though brilliant as it may be.”

Srivijaya was known to exist in the 7th. Century because of Chinese writing at the time. Although centered in Sumatra it covered peninsula Malaysia and probably parts of what is now southern Thailand.

There’s a great map of the Srivijaya Empire in the 10th. Century at Wikipedia here.

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South Thailand

March 27, 2008

Over the last few years we expect in our daily local news to hear something of the troubles in the south. There has been an insurrection of sorts going on in the southernmost three Thai provinces, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. The reasons for the escalation of the problem I do not know, but the last two Thai governments haven’t been able to get on top of it. Maybe the new one has the answer.

 What we do know is these three provinces have a Muslim Malay majority. Overall Thailand has about 3% of its population from the Malay ethnic group according to Wikipedia although many are assimilated into Thai culture and language.

 The Malays are the only major ethnic group in Thailand that entered into what is present day Thailand from the south. The thinking at the moment is that they were an Austronesian group out of Taiwan, via the Philippines and Borneo, and into Malay peninsula.

The ancient Kingdom of Pattani controlled the three southern provinces until conquered by the Thais in the 14th. Century. Up until the 11th. century it had either a Hindu or a Buddhist culture, but after that the king converted to Islam as did his Malay subjects. It can be seen that the Malays were a fairly early group into Thailand.