Friday, June 15, 2007

The Old Malay Peninsula

The Reality.

By Husaini Salleh

Since the second century the Malay Peninsula were made up of a number of independent city states and kingdoms. It was comprised such as Tambralinga or Ligor [present-day Nakhon Si Thammarat], Khorahi [Chaiya], Hrarak Kola [Takua Pa], and Panpala [in Myanmar], Gangga Negara, Langkasuka-Patani, Pan-Pan [Pahang], Kataha [Kedah], Kelantan and Terangganu.

Malay Peninsula ,called by the Malays Tanah Malayu, the Malay Land, a pastille-shaped strip of land projecting into the China Sea, and forming the most southerly portion of the continent of Asia. Historically and indeed geographically, the Malay Peninsula begins at the Isthmus of Kra, 10° N., at which point it is only between 60 and 70 m. in width, and the distance from sea to sea is further diminished by a large irregular salt-water inlet. From the Isthmus of Kra the peninsula extends south with a general inclination towards the east, the most southerly point being Tanjong Bulus in 1° 162' N. A line drawn diagonally down the centre from the Isthmus of Kra to Cape Romania gives the extreme length at about 750 miles. The breadth at the widest point, from Tanjong Penunjut in Trengganu to Tanjong Hantu in the Dindings territory, is about 200 m. The area is estimated at about 70,000 sq. m.

From the 11th-13th centuries, the city-states on the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, had consolidated into a single mighty military, maritime confederation and commercial power known as Srivijaya, the Hindu-Buddhist Empire centred in Palembang, on Sumatra. Between the third and thirteenth centuries Srivijaya dominated the trade on the South China Sea and exacted tolls from all traffic through the Straits of Malacca.

But Srivijayan authority moved from Chaiya and established Patani as the new capital of Langkasuka on the Malay Peninsula. Patani had flourished into trading and later as an Islamic learning centre on the east coast of Malay Peninsula.

Srivijaya, Sriwijaya, Shri Bhoja, Sri Boja or Sri Vijaya [200s-1400] was an ancient Malay kingdom which influenced much of the Malay Archipelago. Records of its beginning are scarce while estimations range from the 3rd to 5th centuries. The kingdom ceased to exist around 1400.

In Sanskrit, Sri means 'shining' or 'radiant' and Vijaya means victory or excellence.

After the fall and disintegration of the Srivijayan Empire in the 13th century to the Majapahit, Tambaralinga or Ligor [Nakhon Si Thammarat] became an independent kingdom and make attempts to extend its power over other cities bordering it in the peninsula before it was brought under the dominion of Ayutthaya in the 14th century.

The Malacca Malay Sultanate was founded by Parameswara in 1400. He was a Hindu Srivijaya prince. Centered in the modern town of Malacca, the sultanate stretched from southern Thailand in the north to Sumatra in the southwest. The Sultanate adopted Islam in 1414. The Portuguese invaded its capital in 1511 and in 1528; the Sultanate of Johor [Johor-Riau or Johor-Riau-Lingga] was established by a Malaccan prince to succeed Malacca.

Ayutthaya conquered the states of the isthmus in the thirteenth century and continued to control them in the modern period, the Malay of the peninsula were never culturally absorbed into the mainstream of Thai society. The Thai kingdom was not a single, unified state but rather a patchwork of self-governing principalities and tributary provinces owing allegiance to the king of Ayutthaya.

These states were ruled by members of the royal family of Ayutthaya who had their own armies and warred among themselves. The king had to blatantly prevent royal princes from combining against him or allying with Ayutthaya's enemies. Whenever the succession was in dispute, princely governors gathered their forces and moved on the capital interfeared to press their illegal claims.

When the Sultanate of Malacca expanded northward, Pattani recognized the overlordship of Malacca. But with the fall of Malacca in 1511, Pattani fought for the supremacy of the Malay Peninsula with Acheh, Johor and the Portuguese in Melaka.

During much of the fifteenth century Ayutthaya's energies were directed toward the Malay Peninsula, where the great trading port of Malacca contested Thai claims to sovereignty. Malacca and other Malay states south of Tambralinga had become Muslim early in the century, and thereafter Islam served as a symbol of Malay solidarity against the Thai. Although the Thai failed to make a vassal state of Malacca, Ayutthaya continued to control the lucrative trade on the isthmus, which attracted Chinese traders of specialty goods for the luxury markets of China.

During the early 19th century, the southern provinces remained largely autonomous under the control of principal governors. However, due to the threat posed by Western colonial expansionism in South Asia, King Rama IV sought to enlarge the border in the south and made two personal visits to the area to strengthen the relationship between the southern provinces and Bangkok.

King Rama V annexed and arbitrarily consolidated and absorbed the Malay southern provinces into several regions with administrative centres at Phuket, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat [Ligor] and Patani each under the direct control of Bangkok. Patani were fragmented into Songkla, Narathiwat, Yala and smaller Patani

In 1826 the British and Siam, without the representation of The Malay States rulers signed The Burney Treaty. It acknowledged Siamese claim over the four northern Malay states of Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu.

The treaty further guaranteed British ownership of Penang and their rights to trade in Kelantan and Terengganu without the Siamese interference.

In 1902 The Kingdom Pattani was illegally annexed and the independent Malay Sultanate of Pattani and the rulers of the kingdom were removed and imprisoned by the Bangkok authorities.

In 1909, the Thai and the British signed a new treaty that superseded the blatant 1826 treaty, without any consultation with Malay Sultanates. The 1909 treaty, known as Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909, also as Bangkok Treaty of 1909, illegally transferred the four Malay states from Siamese to British dominion. Satun was ceded to the Siam. Siam and Britain came to an agreement fixing the border.

The line remains as the border in between Thailand and Malaysia to this day. But due to their attrocities and suppressions policies against the Malays the Thai are still facing insurrections from Southern Malay Muslims. It is believed that it will to persist until and unless their rights are respected and installed by Bangkok.

See: Langkasuka.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting topic. I wonder if 1909 Anglo-Siamese Treaty were recognised by both existing Thatland and Malaysia government? If yes, is the treaty stated how long these Malay states (Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu) remain with Anglo (later Malaya/Malaysia)? 100 years? 150 years? or forever? If 100 years treaty, then Thailand can ask Malaysia to return those four states as what happen to Hong Kong and Macau in 1997 and 1999.

From A very concern citizen