Thai Malays

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Thai Malays
ملايو تاي
Orang Melayu Thai
Oré Jawi[1]

Bangso Yawi
Malay Muslims in Songkhla.jpg
Thai Malay boys in Songkhla.
Total population
1.9 million[2] (2006, est.)
Regions with significant populations
Thailand Thailand (mostly in Southern Thailand)
Malaysia Malaysia (Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu and Perlis)
Thai, Southern Thai, Pattani Malay, Satun Malay and Bangkok Malay
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Malaysian Malay (especially Kedahan Malays and Malays in Kelantan and Terengganu), Burmese Malays, other Malays

Thai Malays (Malay: Orang Melayu Thai, Thai: ไทยเชื้อสายมลายู, Jawi: ملايو تاي, Pattani Malay: Oré Nayu, Jawi or Bangso Yawi) is a term used to refer to ethnic Malays in Thailand. Thailand hosts the third largest ethnic Malay population after Malaysia and Indonesia, and most Malays are concentrated in the Southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla, and Satun. Phuket[3][4] and Ranong,[5] home to a sizeable Muslim population, also has many people who are of Malay descent.[6] A sizeable community also exists in Thailand's capital Bangkok, having descended from migrants or deportees who were relocated from the South from the 13th century onwards.[7]

Separatist inclinations among ethnic Malays in Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, and Songkhla are due in part to cultural differences from the Thai people as well as past experiences of forced attempts to assimilate them into Thai mainstream culture after the annexation of the Pattani Kingdom by the Sukhothai Kingdom.[8] On the other hand, the Malay Muslims of Satun are less inclined towards separatism, this heavily a result of the historical affinity of the Malay King of Setul towards Siam, compared to the violent demise of the Pattani Kingdom. A parallel of pro-Thai inclination can also be observed by Malay community in Phuket, Ranong and Bangkok.[9][10]


The majority of Malays in Thailand speak a distinct variety of Malay known as Pattani Malay (Yawi: Baso Yawi/Pattani). However, not all Thai Malays speak Pattani Malay, some people who that in Satun and neighbouring provinces use another distinct variety of Malay known as Satun Malay, while the Malays up north in Bangkok have developed their distinct variant of Malay that incorporated elements of localism with visible Pattani-Kedahan Malay dialect influences known as Bangkok Malay (Bangkok Malay: Bangkok Melayu/Nayu). The Bangkok, Kedahan and Pattani are closely related and shared many similar vocabularies but still mutually partly unintelligible.

Majority of Malays ethnics in Satun (but also a significant minority in Phatthalung[11][12][13] Trang, Krabi, Phang Nga and Songkhla as well as in the Malaysian states of Kedah, Perak and Perlis) are a distinct ethnic group who generally adhere to Islam, but are Thai identity (although with some Malay influences) and speak a Southern Thai interspersed with some Malay loanwords.[14]

Writing system[edit]

With the introduction of Islam to Southeast Asia, the Malays use a modified version of the Arabic script known as Jawi. Unlike other parts of the Malay world, like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, where the usage of Jawi is declining rapidly from the increasing usage of the Latin alphabet, Jawi is still widely used and understood among Malays in Thailand.


Thai Malays in 2011

A vast majority of Thai Malays are Muslims of Shafi'i sect, with Islam as the defining element of the Thai Malay identity. A conversion out of the faith, particularly to Theravada Buddhism resulting a person to be perceived as ethnically Thai in spite of their Malay origin.

Notable Thai-Malays[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Pierre Le Roux (1998). "To Be or Not to Be…: The Cultural Identity of the Jawi (Thailand)". Asian Folklore Studies. 57: 223–255.
  • Michael John Montesano; Patrick Jory, eds. (2008). Thai South and Malay North: Ethnic Interactions on the Plural Peninsula. National University of Singapore Press. ISBN 978-9971-69-411-1.
  • Moshe Yegar (2002). Between Integration and Secession: The Muslim Communities of the Southern Philippines, Southern Thailand and Western Burma/Myanmar. Lexington Books. Part Two: The Patani Muslims, pp. 73–181. ISBN 0739103563.


  1. ^ Pierre Le Roux (1998). "To Be or Not to Be…: The Cultural Identity of the Jawi (Thailand)". Asian Folklore Studies. 57: 245.
  2. ^
  3. ^ phuket1.xls
  4. ^ Descendants of the White-Blooded Lady
  5. ^ ranong1.xls
  6. ^ Institute of South East Asian Studies. The South East Asian Review, 1976. The Institute of South East Asian Studies. p. 167.
  7. ^ Mohamed Taher. Encyclopaedic Survey of Islamic Culture. Anmol Publications. pp. 228–9. ISBN 81-261-0403-1.
  8. ^ William M. Carpenter; James R. Lilley; David G. Wiencek; Henry Stephen Albinski. Asian Security Handbook: An Assessment of Political-Security Issues in the Asia-Pacific Region. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 240–6. ISBN 1-56324-813-1.
  9. ^ Thomas M. Fraser. Rusembilan: A Malay Fishing Village in Southern Thailand. Cornell University Press. p. 88.
  10. ^ Moshe Yegar. Between Integration and Secession: The Muslim Communities of the Southern Philippines, Southern Thailand and Western Burma/Myanmar. Lexington Books. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-7391-0356-3.
  11. ^ Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1834). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland. Cambridge University Press for the Royal Asiatic Society. p. 167.
  12. ^ Institute of South East Asian Studies (1976). The South East Asian Review. The Institute of South East Asian Studies. p. 15.
  13. ^ Nelson Annandale; Herbert C. Robinson (1903). Fasciculi Malayenses: Anthropological and Zoological Results. Longmans, Green & Co. p. 30.
  14. ^ Kobkua Suwannathat-Pian. The Historical Development of Thai-Speaking Muslim Communities in Southern Thailand and Northern Malaysia. Civility and Savagery: Social Identity in Tai States. Routledge. pp. 162–175. ISBN 0-7007-1173-2.