The Importance of Culture in Emic Interpretations of the History of Thailand’s Southern Separatist Movement: The 'Gentlemen’s Agreement' of 1943 and the Relationship of Malaysia with the Separatists
Ritsumeikan Center for Asia Pacific Studies Working Paper No. 09-7
11 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 9, 2009
This paper explores the role of culture in two important events in the history of the separatist struggle in the Muslim South of Thailand. The first event was the “gentlemen’s agreement” of 1943, promising Britain’s support for independence or annexation to British Malaya in exchange of military and intelligence support against the Japanese, between the traditional Melayu leadership and the British Colonial Office represented by the commander of the British forces in Malaya during World War II. Emic and etic explanations are provided from the point of view of the Melayu leadership and of the British. The second event that is discussed is more complex and involves Malaysia’s support for the separatist movement and subsequent negotiations during the 1980s between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur leading to an agreement stipulating that Malaysia would cease aiding the separatist movement in exchange for Thailand’s support against the Communist Party of Malaya along the porous Thai-Malay border. Finally, a brief conclusion summarizes the importance of culture in the history of the separatist movement of Southern Thailand.
Keywords: Patani, Thailand, Ethnic Conflict, World War II, Separatism
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