1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Malay States (Siamese)

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MALAY STATES (Siamese). The authority of Siam, which at one time covered the whole of the Malay peninsula, now extends southward to an irregular line drawn across the Peninsula at about 6° 30′ N. Between that line and the Isthmus of Kra, usually accepted as the northernmost point of the Malay Peninsula, there lie some 20,000 sq. m. of territory inhabited by a mixed population of Siamese and Malays with here and there a few remnants of the aboriginal inhabitants clinging to the wilder districts, and with a few Chinese settlers engaged in commerce. Formerly this tract was divided into a number of states, each of which was ruled by a chief (Siamese, Chao Muang; Malay, raja), who held his title from the king of Siam, but, subject to a few restrictions, conducted the affairs of his state in accordance with his own desires; the office of chief, moreover, was hereditary, subject always to the approval of the suzerain. The states formed two groups: a northern, including Langsuan, Chaya, Nakhon Sri Tammarat, Songkla, Renawng, Takoapa, Pang Nga, Tongka and Trang, in which the Siamese element predominated and of which the chiefs were usually Siamese or Chinese; and a southern, including Palean, Satun (Setul), Patani, Raman, Jering, Sai (Teloban), Re Nge (Legeh), Yala (Jalor) and Nong Chik, in which the population was principally Malay and the ruler also Malay. Four other states of the southern group, Kelantan, Trengganu, Kedah and Perlis, of which the population is entirely Malay, passed from Siamese to British protection in 1909.

With the gradual consolidation of the Siamese kingdom all the states of the northern group have been incorporated as ordinary provinces of Siam (q.v.), the hereditary Chao Muang having died or been pensioned and replaced by officials of the Siamese Civil Service, while the states themselves now constitute provinces of the administrative divisions of Chumpon, Nakhon Sri Tammarat and Puket. The states of the southern group, however, retain their hereditary rulers, each of whom presides over a council and governs with the aid of a Siamese assistant commissioner and with a staff of Siamese district officials, subject to the general control of high commissioners under whom the states are grouped. This southern group, with a total area of about 7000 sq. m. and a population of 375,000, constitutes the Siamese Malay States. A British consul with headquarters at Puket, and a vice-consul who resides at Songkla, watch over the interests of British subjects in the states of the west and east sides of the peninsula respectively. Other foreign powers are unrepresented.

Palean.—This small state on the west coast, bounded N. by the province of Trang, E. by the Songkla division, S. by the state of Setul, and W. by the sea, is about 900 sq. m. in area, and has a population of about 20,000. It is attached for administrative purposes to the province of Trang, and its people are chiefly engaged in the cultivation of pepper, of which about 150 tons are annually exported. A few tin mines are also worked.

Satun (Setul).—This small state, bounded N. by Palean, E. by Songkla, S. by Perlis, and W. by the sea, contains about 1000 sq. m. area with a population of about 25,000, Malays, Siamese and a few Chinese. The principal production is pepper, which is exported in junks and in the small Penang steamers which ply on the west coast of the peninsula. In 1897 Setul was placed under the control of Kedah, then a Siamese dependency, but the arrangement was not a success, and in 1907 the Siamese government was forced, owing to prevailing corruption and misrule, to restrict the powers of the chief and, cancelling the authority of Kedah, to place him to some extent under the orders of the high commissioner of Songkla. By the terms of the Anglo-Siamese treaty of 1909 about half of the state of Perlis was added to Satun, an arrangement by which the importance of the latter was considerably increased.

Patani.—The seven Malay states of Nawng Chik, Patani, Jering, Yala (Jalor), Sai (Teloban), Raman and Ra-ngé (Legeh) were constituted from the old state of Patani at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1906 they were reunited to form the Patani administrative division of Siam, but each state retains its Malay ruler, who governs jointly with a Siamese officer under the direction of the Siamese high commissioner, and many of the ancient privileges and customs of Malay government are preserved. The group of States is situated between 5° 34′ and 6° 52′ N. and 100° 54′ and 101° 58′ E. It is bounded N. by the China Sea, E. by the China Sea and Kelantan, S. by Perak, and W. by Kedah. The total area is about 5000 sq. m. The country is mountainous except close to the coast. The principal rivers are the Patani and the Teloban, long, winding and shallow, and navigable for small boats only. The population is about 335,000, of whom the great majority are Malays. Each state has its capital, but Patani (the headquarters of the high commissioner) is the only town of importance. Communications are poor and are chiefly by river, but roads are under construction. Patani and Sai are in telegraphic communication with Bangkok and Singapore, and regular weekly mails are despatched to those places. The area under cultivation is small except round about Patani and in Nawng Chik, where much rice is grown. Tin mining is a growing industry; many Chinese own mines and several European syndicates are at work in Raman, Ra-ngé and Patani, prospecting for, or mining, this metal. Fishing and salt-evaporation occupy a large proportion of the population. The annual export of tin is about 400 tons, and dried fish, salt, cattle and elephants are other exports. Steamers up to 300 tons maintain frequent communication with Bangkok and Singapore, and the Patani roads afford good anchorage at all seasons.

Mahommedan law is followed in the settlement of inherited property disputes and of matrimonial affairs; otherwise the laws of Siam obtain. Efficient law courts have been established in each state, and there is a serviceable force of gendarmerie recruited from amongst Malays and Siamese alike. The revenue amounts to about 600,000 ticals, or £45,000 a year, one-third being payable to the rulers as private income for themselves and their relatives, one-third expended on the administration, and one-third reserved for special purposes, but it is usually found necessary to devote the last-mentioned third to the expenses of administration. Patani has been subject to Siam from the remotest times. It is said that the old state adopted Islamism in the 16th century, the chief, a relative of the kings of Siam, embracing that religion and at the same time revolting to Malacca. It has several times been necessary to send punitive expeditions to recall the state to its allegiance. The present rulers are mostly descended from the ruling families of the neighbouring state of Kelantan, but the chief of Patani itself is a member of the family which ruled there in the days of its greatness. Throughout the 17th century Patani was resorted to by Portuguese, Dutch and English merchants, who had factories ashore and used the place as an emporium for trade with Siam. In 1621 an engagement took place in the Patani roads between three Dutch and two British ships, the latter being taken after the president of the British merchants, John Jourdain, had been killed. In 1899 the border between the state of Perak and Raman was fixed by an agreement between England and Siam, a dispute of old standing being thereby settled, but the question was reopened in the negotiations which preceded the Anglo-Siamese treaty of 1909, when a new border line was fixed between British and Siamese possessions in the Peninsula.  (W. A. G.)