Friday, September 02, 2005

Border Crossing

So more people were killed in South Thailand, nearer to us now in Sungai Golok, two minutes cross from Rantau Panjang, Kelantan, 15 mins from my house in Pasir Mas actually. 131 people ran to Malaysia yesterday and Taksin wanted them back. Of course Thai government has declared South under "Emergency" status and they could arrest anyone, which is very unfair!!!!!!

For us, we only watch telivision and we could just switch off the telly!

I got a phone call from an america-french friend in Bangkok saying that nothing much of modern dance making in Bangkok. He is just taking and giving dance classes. And he though we have better luck in Kuala Lumpur. Are we?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Queens of Pattani

The Queens of Pattani

If stories give life to a place, those of the four queens of Pattani recall laughter and tears, love and revenge that shaped a chatpter of the little known history of this Islamic maritime kingdom about sex centuries ago. Subhatra Bhumiprabhas and Natiya Tangwisutijit trace the facinating story of the queens

Nobody knows what Princess Ijau might have thought when she ascended the throne as the first queen of Pattani in 1584.

After the death of her father, Sultan Manzur Syah, in 1572, Ijau and her two younger sisters had to endure 12 traumatic years witnessing brothers and cousins killing one another in their battle for the throne. The conflict was resolved when all of the male heirs were assassinated, paving the way for Ijau's ascension.

Today's historians - and, indeed, ancient European traders and travellers who arrived in the Islamic kingdom - had different views about Pattani's century-long rule by women. Some opinions appear more favourable than others. But the predominant conclusion was that Queen Ijau and her sisters who succeeded to the throne were no more than puppet monarchs. Behind them must have been capable male ministers who governed in her name without the queens' actual participation.

French traveller Nicholas Gervaise, for example, wrote in the 1680s that Raja Ijau was not allowed to enter at all into the secrets of state affairs.

"[The queen] had to content herself with the respect and homage which everyone formally rendered her as their sovereign," Gervaise was quoted in "Hikayat Pattani", a classic Malay account of the history of this Islamic kingdom.

"They [the ministers] did not allow her the freedom to choose her own high officials, but they never refused her anything which could contribute to her pleasure," he wrote.

Such a view, however, could not properly explain why under the rule of the queens, especially the first two, Pattani reached its greatest prosperity from maritime trade with Europe, Japan and around Southeast Asia. Prices for commodities, particularly foodstuffs, were at an all time low, pleasing the rich and poor under their reigns alike. Farmers were also recorded to have enjoyed irrigation projects initiated and supervised by the queens.

If they were just puppets, how did the three sisters succeed one another in a row? The youngest sister even managed to have her daughter become queen as well. They all survived several coup attempts amid a fluctuating political situation in the region. All the men who challenged their power were "dealt with" in different ways. Nobody knows what actually happened to them, but they were never seen again.

Reading between the lines, scattered historical accounts suggest the queens were capable rulers who knew how to play both internal and regional politics. In other words, the ancient kingdom of Pattani prospered "because of", and not "in spite of", the queens.

The three sisters - Ijau, Biru and Ungu - succeeded one another from 1584 to 1635. Their father named them after the colours of the rainbow - Ijau means green, Biru is blue and Ungu is violet. Whether the rainbow connotation was intended as a good omen, the princesses did have a shining future - they all made their way to the prestigious throne without much struggle.

Raja Ijau ruled for 31 years before she died, and passed the throne to her second sister Biru, who led the kingdom for seven years. The throne then passed to the third sister, Ungu, who reigned for 12 years.

Among them, Ungu was the only one married. Her sister Ijau made her the bride of Sultan Abdul-Ghafur Mohaidin Syah of Pahang, another influential kingdom on the Malay Peninsula. Princess Ungu gave birth to a charming daughter, Kuning, who succeeded her mother as the monarch. She reigned for about 50 years in what was one of the wealthiest and longest reigns for the region.

Perhaps Raja Ijau's understanding of regional politics was deeper than her ministers might have realised. She had Princess Ungu marry the sultan of Pahang, given the close connections between Pahang and Johore at the time, and also tightened relations with Johore, another strong political centre on the peninsula.

In retrospect, Raja Ijau turned to concentrate on strengthening relations with neighbouring kingdoms because Pattani became relatively independent from the influence of Ayutthaya, the powerful inland kingdom. Ayutthaya, from 1564 to the 1590s, was struggling for its own survival against Burma and Cambodia.

Secure politics entailed economic prosperity. Pattani itself was among the best natural harbours along the lengthy east coast of the Malay peninsula. The mid-sized kingdom enjoyed long-distance trade with China and India, as well as localised trade with Siam, Malaya and Indonesia. It served as an entrepot to which pepper could be brought from the neighbouring lands for Chinese merchants in return for luxury textiles and porcelain. At the same time Indian textiles were brought to Pattani in exchange for gold, spices and foodstuffs.

Raja Ungu knew her marriage to the sultan of Pahang was to secure political and economic prosperity for Pattani. Love was not a part of it. To her, the marriage was for the "love for her land". Her situation was not much different from other women of other kingdoms in the region in the same period. Their parents sent them as "gifts" for rulers of kingdoms they wanted to make friends with for their protection or other security purposes.

However, what was different for Ungu was that she returned to Pattani and became queen after Raja Biru passed away. Her daughter, Kuning, followed in her footstep decades later by marrying into politics and for the love of her motherland.

Raja Ijau died in 1616 and was succeeded by Raja Biru. It was Raja Biru who sent her ministers to Pahang to request the return of Queen Ungu after she became a widow when Sultan Abdul-Ghafur Mohaidin Syah died. Ungu also brought with her Princess Kuning, who was then four years old.

Princess Kuning was only 12-years-old when her monarch aunt Raja Biru arranged her marriage to a nobleman from Siam, Okya Decho, a son of the ruler of Ligor, or Nakhon Si Thammarat, who served the king of Ayutthaya. By the end of the 16th century, Ayutthaya's power was on the rise again during the reign of King Naresuan.

At the time, no one could read the heart of Princess Ungu, who watched her daughter's wedding in silence.

Soon after Raja Biru died, however, Raja Ungu, who succeeded her sister in 1624, arranged for her daughter to be remarried to the Sultan of Johore. Indeed, Pattani under the reign of Ungu adopted an anti-Siam policy. Unlike her two predecessors, Ungu refused to allow herself to be called by the Siamese royal title Phra Chao.

Perhaps, Okya Decho would not have asked to return to Nakhon Si Thammarat had he known he would not be allowed to take his young wife with him.

When informed of the new wedding of his wife, a furious Okya Decho asked for permission from the king of Siam to lead Siamese troops to attack Pattani. To aid her defence, Ungu received support from her late husband's state, Pahang, and the Sultan of Johore also led his troops to help his mother-in-law. The Siamese troops weren't familiar with sea warfare. The week-long war ended with the heart-broken Okya Decho returning home empty handed.

The love story of Princess Kuning didn't end there, but continued dramatically until her last breath. Raja Ungu died in 1635 and Kuning succeeded her mother to the Pattani throne. After the funeral ceremony, Kuning's husband left Pattani for his homeland. The sultan asked his younger brother and his mother to stay in Pattani to guard Kuning from her ex-husband Okya Decho.

But the sultan had left the fish with the cat. The prince of Johore went too far from the role of protector. The Malay historical account of Hikayat Pattani stated that the prince "violated" Kuning. However, the prince did not seem to have Kuning's heart for long. Raja Kuning found her lover had committed adultery with a court singer. The prince of Johore appeared to be madly in love with the singer whom he planned to give a royal title.

However, many ministers and the people took the queen's side. They volunteered to "deal" with the problem for her. Raja Kuning only asked her men to spare the prince's life. The prince was never seen in Pattani again. He safely returned to Johore while the prince's mother and their people were later escorted by the queen's men to their homeland as well.

No matter how chaotic her personal life, Raja Kuning never forgot her duty as the ruler of Pattani. During her reign, Pattani returned to the glorious era of international trade. The queen ordered her men to expand the mouth of the Pattani River and to dredge the river's tideway to welcome an increasing number of cargo barges. The bay of Pattani shone with lights from trader junks day and night. The Hikayat Pattani noted that the last queen didn't live on royal revenues, she made her income from the crops in her own gardens, feeding and clothing herself from the profits on the flowers and vegetables. Moreover, she turned her personal possessions into royal property.

Unlike her mother, who was hostile to Ayutthaya, Raja Kuning decided to make friends with the larger kingdom by paying a visit in 1641. The queen of Pattani was welcomed by King Prasat Thong of Siam. They re-established relations and Siam promised to end its interference in Pattani, at least during the reign of Raja Kuning.

A decade later, nonetheless, Kuning was forced to leave the throne by Raja Sakti of Kalantan who staged a coup in 1651 after she failed to handle the internal conflict between the sultan and another prince. On her way to seek refuge in Johore, the last queen of Pattani died near the shore of Kalantan. Her body was buried in a small village called Kampung Pancor.

The queen's laughter and tears and her "love for the land" was also buried there.


Ayutthaya versus Pattani in the 'era of rebellion'

While many historians believe that Pattani had been a tributary state of Siam since time immemorial, and gradually incorporated to become an integral part of Siam, more-recently discovered journals of travellers and merchants of the era suggest otherwise.

The struggle to control Pattani was more than merely starting a few minor rebellions, as simplified in Thai chronicles. The resistance Pattani put up was determined, with residents of Pattani impassioned to defend the local Malay culture and determined to keep alive the historical ideal of an independent state of Pattani.

Jaramias van Vliet, the Dutch official of the Verenigde Oost-Indische Campagnie (VOC), or Dutch East Indies Company, who assumed a post at Ayutthaya in 1633, wrote about the Pattani rebellion during the earlier reign of King Maha Chakkrabat. He stated that Pattani had often sent tribute to Ayutthaya.

Later on, when King Prasartthong staged a coup and crowned himself in 1630, Raja Ungu, the ruler of Pattani, objected to paying tribute to the newly self-installed king. Apart from this affront to Ayutthaya, Pattani even sent troops to attack Phatthalung and Nakhon Si Thammarat, seized two vessels departing from Ayutthaya, and transported Chinese goods to Batavia.

In late 1633, Ayutthaya recruited troops to subjugate Pattani again, but had to delay the campaign for a year. In the middle of this intense atmosphere of war, the Raja of Kedah intervened and assisted in a reconciliation between the parties. King Prasartthong changed his mind and Ayutthaya sent a diplomatic mission to negotiate with Pattani again.

In March, 1636, during the reign of Raja Kuning, a Pattani diplomat came up to Ayutthaya. A preliminary agreement resulted in a "very important person" of Pattani coming up to the Ayutthaya court in August of the same year to pay a tribute of golden flowers to King Prasartthong. Pattani continued to pay tribute to Ayutthaya for several years. It is recorded as doing so in June 1639, while Kedah did her part in August of the same year. The situation, however, changed when Pattani joined Kedah and Songkhla to resist Ayutthaya during 1646-9. They even sent troops to attack and occupy Nakhon Si Thammarat for some time in 1649.

In late 1649, Ayutthaya sent troops to suppress the rebellion again. There is no detailed evidence about the battle, but it turned out that in September 1650, two ships of Songkhla brought a peace message with the usual golden flowers to pay homage to King Prasartthong.

Excerpt from a paper entitled "Ayutthaya in Pattani's Grasp: Historical Writings and Local History" presented by Davisakd Puaksom, Institute of Liberal Arts, Walailak University Nakhon Si Thammarat, at The First Inter-Dialogue Conference on Southern Thailand held in Pattani


Related: Thailand Geography

(both: pät´tänē´) or Patani , city (1990 pop. 41,605), capital of Pattani prov., S Thailand, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, near the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand. It is a port and the center of a region producing most of the spices grown in Thailand, as well as rubber and coconuts. Tin is mined and smelted, salt is extracted, and nests for bird's-nest soup are harvested. The people are for the most part Malay Muslims. Pattani was a seat of the Sailendra power during the Sailendra domination of the Malay Peninsula and later was the center of a Malay state, which was drawn into the Thai orbit. With Ayutthaya , it was one of the first places in Siam opened to the Portuguese in the 16th cent. At first bound only by tenuous links of suzerainty to the courts of Ayutthaya and Bangkok, against which it was several times in revolt, Pattani was reduced to provincial status in the 19th cent.


Pattani Malay
A minority majority

Although the Pattani Malay make up only four percent of Thailand's population, they are the majority population within the five southernmost provinces of the country.

In addition to their location, the Pattani Malay are separate from the rest of Thailand in a number of ways. They are Malay in their race, heritage, language and culture. While Thailand is 94 percent Buddhist, almost all of the Pattani Malay are Muslim.

Traditional Pattani wear clothing which reflects their Muslim tradition. The majority speak Jawi, a Malay dialect.

The Pattani were a Malay people with a powerful kingdom that was overtaken by the Thai. They understand themselves to be a different people living under the Thai kingdom. Pattani often intermarry with the Malay across the Malaysian border rather than with the Thai.

The mosque and the community

The mosque and Muslim festivals and observance play an integral part in the life of the Pattani Malay people. The mosque is a place not only for religious practices, but also the place where cultural identity is expressed. It provides education and is at the center of community celebrations in these fishing and farming communities.

As a leader of the mosque, the Imam is often regarded as the leader of the village or community. Because there is a level of distrust of some Thai governmental authorities, who are Buddhist and speak only Thai, many of the Pattani turn to the mosque and Muslim religious and community leaders to provide a channel for voicing their concerns.

Another important figure in Pattani religious life is the "bomoh." The bomoh is a folk healer that acts as a mediator or median between the spirit world and the earthly world. He provides fortune telling as well.

Despite their resistance to the Thai language and culture, the Pattani have adopted the Thai belief in "phi's" or ghosts. So in reality, the Pattani practice a blend of Islam, folk and animist beliefs.

Population: +\- 2 to 3 million
Religion: Sunni Muslim
Language: Malay dialect; Thai
Geographical location/s: Five southern provinces of Thailand; substantive community in Bangkok, Thailand
Percentage evangelized (access to the gospel): 25 percent

Profile: Tradition: gone with the tide

One of the Pattani Malay's more colorful traditions, the "kolae" fishing boats are becoming more and more rare along the coast of southern Thailand. The kolae are striking because of the intricate paintings that grace the side of these long wooden boats. Beautifully carved and painted, most kolae display the image of the naga, a powerful mythical creature of the sea.

Built to last, these hand-crafted vessels are usually passed down from father to son. Many fishermen try to continue the tradition by refurbishing old kolae, because it is so expensive to buy a new one. There are only a few craftsmen left who make and paint the trawlers.

Bloody River - Tak Bai, Yala, Pattani

So they shot more people yesterday in Tak Bai. What do we do as Malaysians?

Blood Across the River - Tak Bai, Yala, Pattani

So we heard that 2 more people were killed yesterday in Tak Bai in Narathiwat Province, which is just across the river from Pengkalan Kubor, Tumpat, Kelantan. So what do we do as neighbour? As another Malay, another Muslim? as Malaysian? Are we going to boycott visiting Thailand? Bangkok? Phuket? How many of us would do that? What is ASEAN doing about it? UN?

I like to dedicate a piece called 19142004, connecting a piece of history from 1914 when the British slaughtered Tok Janggut in Kota Bharu Kelantan when the man tried to talk to people about what British did to them in Kelantan. He was slashed into 14 pieces and showed to the people in Kota Bharu. In 2004 600 people across the river - Tak Bai, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat Province I Thailand were killed, just before Tsunami in Phuket. 100 people were killed in the mosque in Pattani. What do we have to say about that? Are we going to be arrested by Thai Government when we express ourself, when we cross the border shopping in Sungai Golok?

Preparing for Kota Si Naga2 - Naga: The Serpent

The word Naga is rooted in Sanskrit and means "Serpent". In the East Indian pantheon it is connected with the Serpent Spirit and the Dragon Spirit. It has an quivalency to the Burmese Nats, or god-serpents. In the Esoteric Tradition it is synonymous for Adepts, or Initiates. In India and Egypt, and even in Central and South America, the Naga stands for one who is wise.

Nagarjuna of India, for example, is shown with an aura, or halo, of seven serpents which is an indication of a very high degree of Initiation. The symbolism of the seven serpents, usually cobras, are also on Masonic aprons of certain systems in the Buddhistic ruins of Cambodia (Ankhor) and Ceylon. The great temple-builders of the famous Ankhor Wat were considered to be the semi-divine Khmers. The avenue leading to the Temple is lined with the seven-headed Naga. And even in Mexico, we find the "Naga" which becomes "Nagal." In China, the Naga is given the form of the Dragon and has a direct association with the Emperor and is known as the "Son of Heaven"...while in Egypt the same association is termed "King-Initiate". The Chinese are even said to have originated with the Serpent demi-gods and even to speak their language, Naga-Krita. For a place that has no serpents, Tibet, they are still known in a symbolic sense and are called "Lu!" (Naga). Nagarjuna called in Tibetan, Lu-trub.

In the Western traditions we find the sae ubiquity for the Naga, or Serpent. One simple example is the Ancient Greek Goddess, Athena. She is known as a warrior Goddess as well as the Goddess of Wisdom; her symbol being the Serpent as displayed on her personal shield. Of course, in Genesis the Serpent is a Naga who instructs the new infant (humanity) in what is called the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Christian church has, unfortunately transformed the Initiate-Teacher into a tempting and negative demon-character. An apocryphal tradition says that Apollonius of Tyana, while on a visit to India, was taught by the "Nagas" of Kashmir. (See The Life of Apollonius, by Philostratos.) It is felt by many scholars of the Western Tradition that the life of Apollonius was taken from the New Testament, or that the narratives of the New Testament have been taken from the life of Apollonius. This is felt because of ! the undisputed and clear similarities of construction fo that particular narrative.

Naga is one of a handful of rare words surviving the loss of the first universal language. In Buddhism, Wisdom has always been ties, symbollically, to the figure of the Serpent. In the Western Tradition it can be found as used by the Christ in the Gospel of Saint Matthew (x.16), "Be ye therefore as serpents, and harmless as doves."

In all mythological language the snake is also an emblem of immortality. Its endless representation with its tail in its mouth (Ouroboros), and the constant renewal of its skin and vigor, enliven teh symbols of continued youth and eternity.

The Serpent's reputation for positive medicinal and/or life-preserving qualities have also contributed to the honors of the Serpent as STILL seen by the employment of the Caduceus. To this very day, the Hindus are taught that the end of every Universal Manifestation (Kalpa) all things are re-absorbed into Deity and the the interval between "creations." He reposes upon the Serpant Sesha (Duration) who is called Ananta, or, Endlessness. (See Ophiolatreiaby Hargrave Jennings)

by Soror Ourania
Reprinted from Thelemix and Therion Rising

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

My Japanese friend asked me to take him to Putra Jaya this morning to watch the Independence Parade. I said that he could watch on tv, all channels will be showing. Then he said I am not true Malaysian. hem.....interesting. I sticked that BP ball with little Malaysian flag on it and I have Malaysian flag sapu tangan in my car, ready for any event. And I am sure I cant beat other people. Last last after midnite I went to buy nasi lemak in Pantai Dalam stall and saw whole crowd just came back from the Merdeka Celebration and this one old man wearing Malaysian flag from head to toe, reminded me of Late Sudirman except this old man was really old. Made me thinking, I wish would not be like that when I am old. Yesterday I commented to a friend-guru-brother of mine that the celebration is more like product placement and event for many companies in Malaysia. Well, that's our Malaysian soil is coming to be. I told my Japanese friend that the event at Putra Jaya is for policians and their voters. However, I still felt about it and remember that I used to watch the parade on tv every year when I was small. Announcer Mahadhir Lokman was good, the kids were so honest about their performance and seeing the King and Queen doing the things made me realised that we are a peaceful country and we hace a lot more to do towards 2020 civil society, the level of arts performance etc. The whole nite of concerts made me sleeping in my living room and straight to Merdeka Parade. After I watch Hotel Rwanda and criend and cried. This is the the kind of film that they should show on tv on Merdeka day. We have too much of singing concerts, cooking programmes and make over even on Merdeka day. It made me think "What have we done to help our Muslim Brothers and Sister across the Thai border? They are still killing our own people, Malay, Muslim?"

Chini's gone, but we have not got paid!

Chini, the production ended on 14 August 2005 at Isttana Budaya. But until today, more than two weeks after the show, we still have not got paid. We wonder what happened to the production company, Mufira with Mohzam and Intan Shahnaz as the key persons. They told us before that many company sponsor us but the money went out from Yayasan Kebajikan Negara (Under Ministry of Welfare, Women and Family - Datok Shahrizat) esp.during Tsunami. Can we believe that? recently also the Star newspaper reported that many companies in Malaysia cheated many people and organisation with the charity status. The Chini production was supposed to be staged a year ago but been postponed many times. No we wonder whether the money was used by the person of Yayasan Kebajikan Negara or Mofira, without the Minsister knowing. What should we do now? Report to newspaper? police report? minister?