Colourful history: (From left) Rosenun, Dr Mala, Namrong, his wife Chantana Sasitorn and former Thai ambassador to Malaysia Chaisiri Anamarn at the launch of ‘Siamese in Malaysia’ at the ambassador’s residence.

KUALA LUMPUR: The long history of the Thai community in Malaysia is now chronicled in a book.
The book, written by Dr Mala Rajo Sathian and Rosenun Chesof from Universiti Malaya, goes into detail on the community and their families in Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Perak, replete with photographs of ceremonies, wats (Thai Buddhist temples) and daily life of the Malaysian-Thai community.

“It is a very special link between Thailand and Malaysia. We always believe in promoting people-to-people contact, and this is the most classic form,” Thai Ambassador to Ma[at][at]laysia Namrong Sasitorn said at the launch of the book Siamese in Ma[at][at]lay[at][at]sia: Beyond Sixty Years of Heritage at his residence here yesterday.
The envoy said the fact that the Malaysian-Thai community thrived in Malaysia spoke volumes about Malaysia’s receptiveness and tolerance.
Dr Mala said the book, a four-year effort, began as an attempt to map out the Malaysian Siamese community or “orang Siam” as they are colloquially known.
“The project was also supported by former ambassador Damrong Kraikruan when the embassy funded the Thai Studies Programme in UM.
“By visiting the communities, we realised that the Malaysian-Thai community has so many stories undiscovered, for a ethnic group that has been here longer than the Chinese and Indians. We found new places which were even more colourful than what had already been documented,” she added.
From a photographic exhibition on the daily routines of the community, the project grew into a full-fledged book, and is one of the final events celebrating the over 60 years of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Thailand.
The Malaysian-Siamese community numbered over 50,000 in the last census conducted in 2010.