Malaysians of Thai origin
A group of Siamese theatre performers in Kuala Lebir (present day, Kuala Krai District), Kelantan, July 1909.
Total population
70,000[1][2] (2014, est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Malaysia (principally the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia,[3] including undetermined numbers in Negeri Sembilan and Sabah)[4]:
 Kedah: 42,000 (2015)[5]
 Kelantan: 28,000 (2015)[5]
 Perlis: 8,000 (2015)[5]
 Perak: 3,200 (2015)[5]
 Penang: 400 (2015)[5]
 Kuala Lumpur: 300 (2015)[5]
Southern Thai dialects (native); most also speak standard Thai, as well as local Malay dialects (Kelantanese or Kedah) in addition to standard Malaysian[6]
Predominantly Theravāda Buddhism with a small minority professing Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups

The Malaysian Siamese or Thai Malaysians are an ethnicity or community principally exists in Northern Peninsular Malaysia which is a relatively homogeneous cultural region to Southern Burma and Southern Thailand but was separated by the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam. The treaty established the modern Malaysia-Thailand Border which starts from Golok River in Kelantan and ends at Padang Besar in Perlis. In 2014, there were nearly 70,000 people self-identifying as "Siamese" or "Thai" who held Malaysian nationality.[1][2] This number excludes the senior citizen Siamese who live in Malaysia but do not hold Malaysian citizenship[7] because of political constraint.


In 2000, the national statistics cited 50,211 individuals of Siamese ethnicity in Malaysia. Among these, 38,353 (or 76.4% of them) hold Malaysian citizenship.[8]


The Malaysian Siamese community has the similarity of cultural region along Malay Peninsular. Which is community activity, ethnolinguistic identity and languages spoken by Malaysian Siamese are similar to community in fourteen Provinces of Southern Thailand as well as southernmost of Burma community. The Malaysian-Siamese lead a way of life similar to other Malaysian-Malays. Malaysian Siamese still have the strong belief and practices of Buddhism while the Malaysian-Malays has the adoption of Islam in 14th century, established in Sultanate of Malacca. The Malaysian Siamese well known in northernmost of Malaysia are Perlis, Kedah, Perak, Penang, Terengganu and Kelantan.[9] One could not differentiate a Malay or a Siamese if they are not spoken their mother tongue. The only distinctive mark among them is their religion and language.[9] Otherwise Malaysian Siamese are like Malays as they also speak fluent local Malay dialects. Majority of Malaysian Siamese can read and write in Thai because there is Thai language learning and teaching in the schools which were established inside the village temples since 1943. They also often follow news in Thailand, watch Thai dramas and listen to Thai music.[10]

The Malaysian Siamese often get patronage from the state governments for their community's well-being. Often, temples are given generous fundings by Thailand's government.[11] Their community are also known for the making of traditional medicine.[3]


The Malaysian Siamese predominantly profess to Buddhism and the predominant form of Buddhism is Theravāda Buddhism which is centred in their place of worship called Wat. The Malaysian Siamese's lives are closely tied to their temples (Wat) and they also have strong faith in Buddhism. Monks have a significant role in strengthening communities and encouraging villagers to participate in traditional ceremonies and Buddhist rituals on important religious days like (Uposatha Days, Magha Puja, Visakha Puja, Buddhist Lent (Vassa), and End of Buddhist Lent (Kathina)) to preserve the Siamese-Buddhist cultural identity. Most of them settled around temples and consider them as centers for holding religious ceremonies, cultural and social activities.[12]

There also exists a small Thai-speaking Muslim minority called Samsam. However, the government has identified them under the Bumiputera (specifically Malay) category and most of them have already assimilated into the Malay populace, no longer identifying as Siamese. [13] [14] [9]

Notable Malaysian Siamese people

See also



  1. ^ a b Nop Nai Samrong (8 January 2014). "SIAMESE MALAYSIANS: They are part of our society". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014. There are an estimated 70,000 Malaysians of Siamese origin in the country.
  2. ^ a b "Zooming in on Malaysia's Thai community". The Star. 17 November 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2019. The Thai community in Malaysia is a significant part of the nation's multiracial society. At present, an estimated 70,000 Thai-speaking Buddhists live in the west coast and east coast in the north of peninsular Malaysia.
  3. ^ a b Salmah Omar; Rafidah Mohamad Cusairi; Shariffah Suraya Syed Jamaludin; Philip Lepun (2017). "Pengunaan tumbuh-tumbuhan dalam Perubatan Tradisional Masyarakat Siam di Negeri Kedah" [The use of plants in Traditional Medicine of the Siamese Community in the State of Kedah] (PDF) (in Malay). Kolej Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Selangor. p. 2/14. Retrieved 21 March 2019. Masyarakat Siam di Malaysia kebanyakannya menetap di kawasan Utara Semenanjung Malaysia iaitu di Kedah, Perlis, Perak, Kelantan dan sebahagian kecil di negeri Terengganu. Sebahagian besar masyarakat Siam menetap di Kedah iaitu berjumlah 30,000 orang, 13,000 orang di Kelantan, 6,000 di Perlis dan 2,000 di Perak.
  4. ^ "Thai community in Ipoh pays last respects to King Bhumibol". Bernama. The Malay Mail. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2019. As a mark of their last respect, thousands of Thai community in Malaysia including in Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur held religious ceremonies in their local temples today.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Thatsanawadi Kaeosanit (2016). "Dynamic Construction of the Siamese-Malaysians' Ethnic Identity, Malaysia" (PDF). A Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Communication Arts and Innovation). p. 143 [153/384]. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2019 – via Graduate School of Communication Arts and Management Innovation, National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand. In Kedah, there were about forty-two thousand Siamese-Malaysians people (42,000 people), twenty-eight thousand people in Kelantan (28,000 people), eight thousand people in Perlis (8,000 people) and the remaining three thousand and two hundred people in Perak (3,200 people) and in Penang there was about 400 people, in Kuala Lumpur about 300 people and in Terengganu about 24 households". (Boonsom Suwanmanee, member of the Senate, Malaysia, In-depth Interview, May 27, 2015)
  6. ^ Irving Johnson. "Movement and Identity Construction Amongst Kelantan's Thai Community" (PDF). Harvard University. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019 – via University of Münster.
  7. ^ Jeerawat Na Thalang (13 September 2015). "Thai by blood, not by birth". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 21 March 2019. The Siamese here are considered part of the Bumiputra ethnic group, because we settled in Malaysia before British colonisation changed the border between Thailand and Malaysia. However, Siamese Malaysians are not entitled to all the same rights as indigenous Malaysians. For instance, they cannot buy land plots reserved for indigenous Malaysians, but they can maintain ownership. Despite this, Siamese Malaysians enjoy more privileges than other ethnic groups, such as Indians and Chinese, when it comes to government regulations and support. He noted Siamese Malaysians are ethnically different from Thais who migrated to Malaysia later on.
  8. ^ "Jawapan-jawapan Lisan Bagi Pertanyaan-pertanyaan" [Oral Answers For Questions] (PDF) (in Malay). Parliament of Malaysia. 3 December 2001. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 January 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Mohamed Yusoff Ismail (1987). "Buddhism and Ethnicity: The Case of the Siamese of Kelantan". Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia. ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute. 2 (2): 231–254. doi:10.1355/SJ2-2D. JSTOR 41056730.
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  11. ^ "Malaysian temple to get Thai royal award". New Straits Times. The Buddhist Channel. 10 November 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
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