Friday, September 26, 2008

Administrative history of Pattani

The three southernmost provinces of Thailand - Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala - have always been a trouble area, not just with the onset of the current sprawl of terroristic attacks since 2004 and the sometimes brutal reactions of the Thai military or police, like the Tak Bai incident. One of the keys to understand these problems is the history of the area, and as I focus on the administrative subdivisions in this blog I will just list the main changes within these provinces in the past.

Woodcut titled Triumphal procession near the city of Patani
The sultanate of Patani - even during its heyday in the 17th century under the consecutive rule of four queens - was required to pay tribute to the Siamese king in Ayutthaya, but also tried to liberate itself by rebellion which were always fought back, so it only had short intervals of independence. The woodcut to the right titled "Triumphal procession near the city of Patani" dates from this most glorious period of Pattanis history. After the fall of Ayutthaya Patani enjoyed its last period of independence, until it was returned into submission by the vice-king of Rama I. During this campaign the important cannon named Phraya Tani (or Seri Patani in Malay) was taken as booty to Bangkok, where it is still on display in front of the Ministry of Defense.

Phaya Tani cannonFurther attempts of rebellion then made King Rama II divide the sultanate into 7 Mueang to reduce the power base of the ruler of Patani and introduce competitions and power struggle between the new city states.

The seven Mueang created in 1817 were Pattani, Nong Chik, Sai Buri (Teluban), Yala (Jala), Yaring (Jambu), Ra-ngae (Legeh) and Raman. They all were made subordinate of the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat (Ligor) and later of Songkhla.

The incorporation of these seven states into a centrally governed country began 1874-1892, when the area became known as Khaek Chet Huamueang (แขกเจ็ดหัวเมือง, Seven Malay States). With the thesaphiban reforms under the first minister of Interior, Prince Damrong, this integration was put further. In 1901 the name for the are was changed to Boriwen Chet Huamueang (บริเวณเจ็ดหัวเมือง), and in 1906 the area power of the Malay province governors was reduced considerably with the creation of the Monthon Pattani (see Gazette announcement). The monthon governor was a government official sent from Bangkok, while the province governors till then was a mostly hereditary post of a local aristocracy. After the hereditary provincial governor died they were replaced with government official sent from the central government.

The 1909 treaty with Britain on the southern boundary of Siam finalized the inclusion of Pattani into Siam, and is thus often quoted as the annexation of Pattani. In fact it was just the last step of the integration into the modern nation state, which already begun with the defeat in 1785.

Sometime between around the set up of the Monthon and 1917 three of the seven Mueang were abolished, but I haven't yet found the details on this, especially the year and the Royal Gazette announcement - sadly the announcement on the monthon creation does not list the constituent provinces. I could however find the last mention of Mueang Raman in the Gazette in 1909, yet that wasn't on its abolishment. The center of Ra-ngae was also changed towards the coast in this time, and in 1915 it was renamed from Bang Nara (บางนรา) to its modern name Narathiwat (Gazette announcement).

Finally in 1932, the Monthon Pattani was incorporated into the Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat (Gazette announcement), and just a year later the Monthon system was abolished altogether.

Together with the abolishment of Monthon Pattani, the province Sai Buri was abolished, reducing the former 7 Mueang finally into the modern day 3 province. The northern part of Sai Buri was attached to Pattani, the southern part went to Narathiwat.

There is one piece I could not confirm yet - in the Wikipedia article on Songkhla someone claimed that the tree districts at the border to Pattani - Chana, Thepa and Saba Yoi - were reassigned from Pattani to Songkhla, but instead of a year it was only quoted as "recently". When I found the list of all districts in 1917 I could at least rule out that recently means in the last decades but if correct it happened at the beginning of the 20th century. But so far I could not find the relevant Royal Gazette announcement on this.

Southern provinces of Thailand and neighboring Malay states
To go down one administrative level, that 1917 list gives the names of all the districts within the Monthon Pattani, a total number of 19 district and 2 minor districts - today there are 33. Of the districts existing in 1917 just one has been abolished - the minor district Kalapho (กะลาพอ) in Sai Buri was abolished in 1938 (Gazette announcement) and incorporated into Taluban (now named Sai Buri) district. All the other listed in 1917 have only experienced name changes, area changes and new districts splitting off. There was one more district which only existed temporarily - in 1935 the minor district Pa Cho (ปาโจ) was created covering the western part of the district Tomo (โต๊ะโมะ, Gazette). 1939 Tomo was renamed to Waeng, and Pa Cho to Tomo (Gazette), and in 1953 Tomo was abolished (Gazette). Most of its former area now forms the district Sukhirin.

The two-volumed book Hikayat Patani is on the chronicle of the sultanate, however this source end in the first half of the 19th century. The second book on the history of Pattani was written under a pseudonym, nothing is know about the author. For the early history it relies on the Hikayat Patani, but it continues till the middle of the 20th century.


Abdul Kareem said...

1 question and 1 comment:

You mentioned that the khaek jet huamunag were brought into the central government 1874 - 1892, and that this was changed to boriwen jet huamuang in 1901. Considering this, may I enquire as to the Patani's (referring to the historical Patani region) status from 1892 to 1901?

Wish you the best in your search to find out when Chana and Thepa (chenok and tiba in malay) were transferred to songkhla!

Also of interest to you might be the history of Na Tawi and Saba Yoi (Nawi and Sebayu in malay) which Wiki says was split from Chana and Thepa respectively.

Andy said...

The change from khaek to boriwen was only a change in name, so it was also referred to as khaek jet huamuang in the beginning of the thesaphiban reforms. The exchange of the word khaek (Malay) from the name simply should stress more that it is Siamese territory, not Malay territory under Siamese overlordship.

One thing I did not mention in the article was the fact that in 1896 a first permanent commissioner was sent from Bangkok to supervise the seven local leaders, ten years before this was formalized with the creation of the monthon. The whole thesaphiban reforms were a gradual thing with different paces at different parts of the country.

Chana and Thepa were split off from other districts after 1917, the year of oldest complete district list I have. For Saba Yoi I haven't yet found the official reference for the dates in Wikipedia, which originate from

Abdul Kareem said...

Thank you Andy,

With regards to Chana and Thepa, I hae read in the book, Patani; Behind the Accidental Border by K. Perkasa, that these were split off after/during Siam's conquest of Patani in 1785. What do you think of this?

Also, could you confirm the information on Wikipedia, which could've come from here, that Sadao was split off from Kedah in 1909?

Andy said...

As for Sadao, says "อำเภอสะเดาเดิมเป็นตำบล ชื่อตำบลสะเดา ขึ้นอยู่กับอำเภอจังโหลน จังหวัดไทรบุรี ต่อมาปี 2452" - until 1909 Amphoe Sadao was a Tambon under Amphoe Wang Lom, Sai Buri province. Sai Buri was the Thai name for Kedah. So it's right, Sadao was originally part of Kedah and only came to Songkhla when Kedah was ceased to the British.

All I know for Chana and Thepa is that they were under Songkhla in 1917, and that the anonymous Wikipedia editor stated that the transfer was "recently". Recently can of course meant to be relative to the whole history of Pattani, so it's possible that it already happened in 1785. But even if it happened in 1900 I wouldn't call that recently :-)

I haven't read that book, I am always a bit skeptical with self-published books, especially on such controversial topics like this, and was also a bit annoyed that the author repeatably added his blog to Wikipedia despite being asked not to spam.

Abdul Kareem said...

Thanks for the reply :)

1)I guess for now Chana and Thepa's official gazettement as part of songkhla remains a grey area.

2)Another area which might be of interest to you is Northern Perak which I had heard was part of Raman, a district of old Patani. Any comments?

3)I don't read any Thai - any chance the PDFs of the gazettement documents could be translated?

4)just a word of appreciation on your wonderful blog. Amazing work!

Abdul Kareem said...

Dear Andy,

I found a map in this article (see citation)that shows a few interesting observations regarding the situation of the siamese administration of the Malay south at the moment of the AngloSiamese treaty 1909:

1) Perlis divided in two
2) the existence of an administrative entity (not labeled in the map) that closely matches the borders of the current district of sadao
3) chana and tepa labelled as if of the same administrative level as that of the other administrative entities (that is, not subsumed under songkhla)
4) Raman and Rangae's extent into current Perak and Kelantan respectively
5) Narathiwat's amphoe Taba being under Kelantan (known by people in Kelantan as Daerah Tabal (Tabal District))

I would be very grateful if you could provide me with copies of the legal instruments that set in place/sanctioned the existence of the administrative entities 1-5 if possible, also of Satun too if possible.

I would also be grateful for further comments.


Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers, The New British-Protected Malay States: Kelantan, Trengganu, and Keda, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 33, No. 4, Apr., pp. 478-485. 1909

Andy said...

Thanks a lot, you're digging out interesting things as well. I have only looked into the case of Thepa so far, and states that Thepha at that time was a third-class Mueang and subordinate of Songkhla. So drawing it as a separate entity must have been a misunderstanding by the map-maker. also says nothing about a transfer from Pattani, already in the reign of Rama II it was transferred from Phatthalung to Songkhla.

Chana district has their own website, and the history page is quite long - I still have to try to read it to see if it is similar there.

Finding corresponding announcements in the Royal Gazette is quite difficult - my Thai isn't good enough, and unlike the more recent announcements those from that time seem to be not as well-standardized in their form. So in these I have to actually read them, while nowadays the text is nearly the same, only the names of the entities involved gets exchanged. As by far not as many administrative acts were actually written down in the Gazette as are today, so it's also possible that some of the changes you see have no written proof in there and one has to search into the archive of records of the Ministry of Interior for it instead.

Anyway, I will continue to look for more information for you. It'd be great if you could send me a scan of that map by email.

Abdul-Kareem Abdul-Rahman said...

Hi Andreas,

Came across this conversation again after some time now. Apologies, but I'm not sure I've sent the map mentioned above via email. I'm not sure I can see your email provided in this blog or your google profile. How best do I contact you?