Thai Malays

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For other uses, see Malay.
Thai Malays
ملايو تاي
Orang Melayu Thai
Oghe Nayu Thai
Sompong Soleb after THA-OMA.jpg
Denkaosan Kratingdanggym.jpg
Chairat Madsiri.jpg
Total population
1.9 million (2006 estimate)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Thailand Thailand
Pattani Malay, Thai, Kedahan Malay
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Malaysian Malay (especially in Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis and Kedah), Burmese Malays, Malays

Thai Malays (Malay: Melayu Thai, Thai: ไทยเชื้อสายมลายู, Yawi: ملايو تاي) 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.

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.[2] On the other hand, ethnic Malays in Satun are less inclined towards separatism.[3] Ethnic Malays in Satun are more proficient in Thai as compared to the Malays from the other provinces, and their dialect has strong affinities to that of the neighboring Malaysian state of Perlis.[4]

People of mixed Thai and Malay ancestry are known as Sam Sam,[5] which forms the bulk of Satun's population but also a significant minority in Phatthalung,[6][7][8] Trang, Krabi, Phang Nga and Songkhla as well as in the Malaysian states of Kedah, Perak and Perlis. Sam Sams are generally adherents of Islam but culturally Thai, although Malay influences are co-dominant.[9] Phuket[10][11] and Ranong,[12] home to a sizeable Muslim population, also has many people who are of Malay descent.[13] A sizeable community also exists in Bangkok itself, having descended from migrants or prisoners who were relocated from the South from the 13th century onwards.[14]


Majority of Malays in Thailand speak a distinct variety of Malay known as Yawi or Pattani Malay (Yawi: Baso Yawi/Pattani). Their language is very close to Kelantanese Malay, both sides often can't differentiate with each other except that Pattani Malay absorbed more Thai words while Kelantan Malay absorbed more Malaysian/Standard Malay words. However, not all Thai Malays speak Pattani Malay, those that live in Satun and neighbouring provinces use another distinct variety of Malay known as Kedah Malay. Both Kedahan and Pattani/Kelantanese are closely related and shared many similar vocabularies but still mutually or partly unintelligible with each other.

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, which the usage of Jawi is declining rapidly due to the increasing usage of Latin. Jawi is still widely use and understood among Malays in Thailand.

Notable Thai-Malays[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Thomas M. Fraser. Rusembilan: A Malay Fishing Village in Southern Thailand. Cornell University Press. p. 88. 
  5. ^ Krasūand Sētthakān (1930). Siam: Nature and Industry. Bangkok Times Press, Ltd. p. 100. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Institute of South East Asian Studies (1976). The South East Asian Review. The Institute of South East Asian Studies. p. 15. 
  8. ^ Nelson Annandale, Herbert C. Robinson (1903). Fasciculi Malayenses: Anthropological and Zoological Results. Longmans, Green & Co. p. 30. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ phuket1.xls
  11. ^ Descendants of the White-Blooded Lady
  12. ^ ranong1.xls
  13. ^ Institute of South East Asian Studies. The South East Asian Review, 1976. The Institute of South East Asian Studies. p. 167. 
  14. ^ Mohamed Taher. Encyclopaedic Survey of Islamic Culture. Anmol Publications. pp. 228–9. ISBN 81-261-0403-1.