Patani History

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Title: Pattani in Modern History
Word Count: approximately 2500

Pattani in Modern History

Pattani is the most well-known province in the southernmost Thailand in which its majority population is Malay Muslim. The history of Greater Patani (Malay spelling) dated back to the 9th century when the dominant cultures were Hinduism and Buddhism before converting to Islam around the fourteenth century and became a vassal state under Ayutthaya Kingdom. The Sunni-Malay Muslims of the South never assimilated into the Siamese/Thai world. Unlike the Shiite-Muslims who came from Arab and Persia in the seventeenth century, they engaged mainly in trade and commerce in urban settlements and were successfully assimilated into the noble class of Siamese by marriage and by serving the Siamese monarchs from the Ayutthaya in the 17th century down to the Bangkok kingdoms in the 18th century. Siamese Kings usually appointed the leader of the Muslim community in central Siam to be Chularajmontri (Sheikhul Islam) overseeing the activities of the Thai-Muslims in the kingdom.

Formerly, the Malay Muslim territories in the Northern part of the Malay Peninsula were ruled under Islamic Malay Sultanates; Narathiwat and Yala under the Sultanate of Patani and Satun under the Kedah Sultanate. Patani kingdom (c1350-1909) was the largest and most populous among the Malay principalities. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Patani was an important port-city conducting trade between European and Arab traders as well as Indian and Japanese merchants. Reputed with many Islamic scholars, Patani was also known as the “cradle of Islam in Southeast Asia.” Even though, Patani throughout its history was a vassal of the Siamese court from Ayutthaya (1350-1676) to Bangkok (1783-1909), its rajas or kings were able to maintain an autonomous role in the government and financial administration of its kingdom and people. Because of the long distance and indirect rule by Siamese court, Patani which had rich resources and manpower revolted against the Siamese dominion many times. Patani thus became the leader and symbol of Malay Muslim resistance to Siamese rule.

In the nineteenth century, the Bangkok court decidedly subdued Patani and divided the kingdom into seven principalities. The final reorganization of the Patani kingdom was in 1902 when King Chulalongkorn (r.1868-1910) imposed its direct rule over the vassal states through the new provincial administration. The drastic integration of its peripheral territories came as an attempt to protect the territorial integrity of Siam in the face of the British and French encroachments. Patani then became a region or province under the Siamese Superintendent Commissioner sent from Bangkok. The authority and sovereignty of the Patani raja, including rights and revenues in the kingdom, were abolished. He was given a fixed pension from the Siamese court. Symbolically, the Malay rajas were no longer required to send tribute of the bunga mas [golden tree] to Bangkok any more. Obviously, such attempted changes met with fierce resistance from all Malay rajas, particularly the Patani raja who was subsequently arrested and jailed in a Northern province of Phitsanulok for fear of local disruption. The last raja Tengku Abdul Kadir Kamaruddin of Patani was released from prison after spending more than two years there. His return to Patani was on one condition that he would refrain from involving in politics. Eventually in 1915 he left Patani to take up residence in Kelantan, which was under British rule, because he was suspicious by Siam as plotting rebellions against the country.

In 1906, Patani was again reorganized. The seven provinces were reduced to four: Pattani, Bangnara (the old name for Narathiwat), Saiburi, and Yala. More importantly, Siamese laws were applied while sharia and adat customary law were abolished, except those cases involved personal matters of...
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