Malaysian Siamese

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Malaysians of Thai origin
CO 1069-494-22 (7888239192).jpg
A group of Siamese theater performers in Kuala Lebir (present day, Kuala Krai District), Kelantan, July 1909.
Total population
70,000[1] (2014, est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Malaysia (principally the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia):
 Kedah: 30,000 (2007)[2]
 Kelantan: 13,000 (2008)[3]
 Perlis: 6,000 (2008)[4]
 Perak: 2,000 (2008)[5]
Southern Thai dialects (native); most also speak standard Thai, as well as local Malay dialects (Kelantanese or Kedah) in addition to standard Malaysian[6]
Predominantly Theravada Buddhism with a small minority professing Sunni Islam.
Related ethnic groups

The Malaysian Siamese, Siamese Malaysians or Thai Malaysians are people of full or partial Thai descent who were born in or immigrated to Malaysia.[7] In 2014, there were nearly 70,000 people self-identifying as "Siamese" or "Thai" who hold Malaysian nationality. This number excludes those Thais living in Malaysia who do not hold Malaysian citizenship.

Politically, Malaysian Siamese are recognised as Bumiputeras (indigenous) and are given similar status to the Malays.[8][9][10]


Malaysian Siamese people adhere to either Buddhism or Islam. The predominant form of Buddhism is Theravada which is centred on their place of worship called Wat. There also exists a significant Muslim community. However, many Muslim Siamese have become assimilated into the Malay populace and no longer identify as Siamese.


Most Malaysian Siamese people lead a way of life similar to the Malays. This is evident especially among the Kelantanese Siamese. One could not differentiate a Malay or a Siamese if they are not heard speaking their own language. The only distinctive mark among them is their religion and language. Otherwise Malaysian Siamese are like Malays as they also speak fluent local Malay dialects.

The Malaysian Siamese often get patronage from the state governments for their community well being. Often, temples are given generous fundings by the governments.[11]


  • In 2000, the national statistics cited 50,211 individuals of Thai ethnicity in Malaysia. Among these, 38,353 (or 76.4% of them) hold Malaysian citizenship.[12]

Notable Malaysian Siamese people[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Johnson, Irving Chan (2013). The Buddha on Mecca's Verandah: Encounters, mobilities, and histories along the Malaysian-Thai border. University of Washington Press.


External links[edit]