This time around the bomb attacks in southern Thailand are suspected to be politically motivated. The Muslim separatist movements may not be involved at all. Too late - the beach resorts in Haadyai, Phuket, Krabi etc will be empty for a few months.
After Slumberjack became PM, both my newspaper columns in The Sun and the Berita Minggu were terminated. I recall my very last piece in The Sun (where I wrote the column 'Human Rites') spoke about the border peoples in Sabah and the Malaysia - Thai border. At that time the present violence had not yet exploded in Pattani in South Thailand. I recall saying that if these people are not helped there will be trouble. Well it is gaining momentum now.
The Moros in Mindanao and the Malays in Pattani share something in common. They are both far removed (by about a 1000 miles) from the centers of power (in Manila and Bangkok respectively) in a country with which they have a shrinking cultural affinity.
The Pattani Malays speak Malay as their mother tongue while the rest of Thailand speaks Thai. They have been Muslims for over 500 years (before that they were most likely Hindu) while the Thais are Buddhist. And the Pattani Malays were a Malay Empire in their own right - being conquered by the Thais quite late in history. Please see the timeline below.
Likewise the Moros too have been Muslim for a long time, from before the time the rest of the Phillipines became Catholic. The Moros say that Manila (the capital of the Phillipines) was originally a Muslim area known as 'Fi A-manilla' which means 'In Allah's peace'. The Moros also had their own seafaring empires ruling over the Palawans, the Raja of the Sulus, the Rajas of Brunei (Borneo) and other maritime kingdoms of that area.
They were great seafarers. Their huge ocean going perahus would sail across the China Sea to the Peninsula, up the Straits of Malacca to Aceh, around Sumatera (Samudera), back down along the west coast of Sumatera, past Java, past Sulawesi and back to the Sulu Sea - a trading and raiding trip that could take two years.
What I am trying to say is that the Moros of Mindanao and the Pattani Malays have a long history. They were here first OK.
No one is going to solve the problem of the Moros in Mindanao or the Pattani Malays unless you study their history and understand that they have a very old stake in these parts of the world. I have also written about the Moros of Mindanao and the Pattani Malays in my books. More of this later.
Here is a truncated history of the Pattani Malays.
- 2nd century AD Langkasuka was a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom (in Southern Thailand).
- 6th - 7th century Langkasuka reached its greatest economic success
- 8th century Pattani became part of Hindu-Buddhist Empire of Srivijaya from Palembang. Some think it was the same country known to the Chinese as Pan Pan.
- 13th century AD Islamic kingdom of Patani is thought to have been established.
- 14th century AD, King Ram Khamhaeng the Great of Sukhothai occupied Pattani. The Thai Ayutthaya kingdom conquered the isthmus bringing it into a single unified state with Ayutthaya as a capital.
- 16th Century : The Pattani kingdom's golden age was during the reign of its four successive queens from 1584, known as Ratu Hijau, Ratu Biru, Ratu Ungu and Ratu Kuning. It was able to fight off four major Siamese invasions, with the help of the eastern Malay kingdom of Pahang and the southern Malay Sultanate of Johore.
Recently I met an 'unusual' Thai Muslim scholar (bachelor's degree from Korea* and France*) and now working on his PhD. He says that as a first step, the Malays of Pattani want autonomy from Thailand. Eventually their goal is independence from Thailand.
However, there are now huge amounts of Islamist fundamentalist money sloshing around the neighbourhood in Southern Thailand. The word is Salafi and Wahabi - with the money coming from the World's No 1 funders of religious terrorism - Saudi Arabia. The song is now daulah Islamiyah 'Pattani Darussalam.' It is no more Melayu Pattani or Kerajaan Melayu Pattani. It is 'Islam, Islam, Islam - Saudi Wahabi version of course'.
What about merging with Malaysia? Do the Pattani Malays want to merge with Malaysia? The answer was that for the time being they are greatly inspired by Malaysia's economic advancements (thanks to Tun Dr Mahathir). They are not shy of an eventual merger with Malaysia.
But here is the catch : they recall the glory days of the Malay Pattani Kingdom where Kelantan, Kedah and Perlis were all part of the Kerajaan Melayu Pattani. They would like to have it all back. They want Kelantan, Kedah and Perlis back as part of the Kerajaan Melayu Pattani - minus Malaysia.
Well folks seven years ago in 2005, I wrote about this possibility in my book 'To Digress A Little'. On page 135 of Chapter 7 (The Arabisation of the Malays..) I wrote in the very last paragraph,
"The suggestion by Tun Dr Mahathir that the three Thai regions of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani be given autonomy is dangerous and may backfire on everyone. If an autonomous Muslim region is desirable in Southern Thailand then it may also be desirable among some of them to see this autonomous region become a greater "daulah islamiyah" encompassing Kelantan with Kota Bharu as its capital. Lets just think about that for a moment."
So they do not see Malaysia as part of the long term future of the Pattani Malays.
"The Malays of Pattani see themselves as being the center of the Malay Civilisation" the young Thai Muslim scholar said. "What is the historical basis for saying that?" I asked. His reply - 'The Pattani Malays were a great civilisation. The Chinese used to come to Pattani to buy cannons'.
Does selling cannons to Chinese say 700 years ago in history make Pattani the center of Malay civilisation? I ask this because I have been to Riau where the folks say that Riau is the center of Malay civilisation. Riau is known as Bumi Melayu Lancang Kuning. Here is a picture.
(Err...this picture is outdated folks. Now the Islamists have also infected Riau. Sudah tukar nama. It is now called Riau Al Munawarrah - Bumi Melayu Lancang Kuning).
It may also be too late for Southern Thailand. Here is the "Pattani Darussalam" song. It is a national anthem of sorts. There is an obvious Islamist influence. It is a very powerful song, very sad and 100% patriotic. The song ends with 'Fathoni Merdeka Insya Allah'. "Fathoni" being the arabised version of 'Pattani. Melayu pi mana?
Whether Pattani, Riau, Melaka or Brunei - the Malay civilisation has its claimants which can translate into unnecessary territorial tension. My suggestion is this. These people were here first. They have lived here long before the colonialist orang putih created Malaysia, Sabah, Phillipines, Thailand or whatever. They have more claim to their historical rights.
There is no choice. We have to educate and modernise them as quickly as possible. The Islamists are hijacking the agenda by sending them to study in madrassahs, sending them to study in the Middle East and by teaching them Arabic (the preferred language of communication among the fundo terrorists around the world). Their minds are being hijacked.
We need to rehijack their minds. They must be educated and trained in useful skills like engineering, marketing, technical skills, accounting, business management, construction, tourist management and the English language. They have to be modernised and become part of the modern world. In large numbers and in double quick time.
We need to train all these millions of people especially those who live just inside or close to our borders (in Sabah and along the Thai border) so that they can become productive and modern human beings. Then it will not matter if your grandfather was the King of Siam, whether he was the King of Pattani or if your grandmother was the squeeze of the Sultan of Sulu. People tend to put their past behind them when they see a better future in front of them.
I have met "middle class" Pattani Malays who now speak Arabic at home - they honestly believe they are already halfway to heaven. The reality is they dont have skills. And they are not very modernised human beings. Give them both (skills and modernisation) and in no time they will get busy getting on in life just like everyone else. And they will see Malaysia as a base to create new wealth in their countries. If they prosper, we will prosper along with them. So we have to prosper them.
There is a precedent to this (which is why we must read books and travel around the world, or watch Travel Channel). The Mexicans do not care too much if the Yankees stole Texas from Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna or they lost California as well. Today the Mexican-American border is a huge industrial zone (besides running drugs) that manufactures huge quantities of products that are exported not just to the US but throughout the world.
The United States of America has become a beacon for the Mexicans to improve themselves and move up in life. Here is a picture of the US Mexican border. Mexico is on the right.
I think Malaysia can play a similar role for the Moros of Mindanao and the Malays of Pattani.
Jangan pula kita jadi dua kali bodoh and start funding madrassahs to help them "solve their problems" or worse give them scholarships to go and study in the Middle East. We might as well just give them a rope to hang themselves.
We cannot close one eye either. These are our neighbours. If the neighbour's house catches fire, we can get burned too. Dont say I did not tell you.