Thai Malay boys in Songkhla.
|1.9 million (2006, est.)|
|Regions with significant populations|
| Thailand (mostly in Southern Thailand) |
Malaysia (Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu and Perlis)
|Thai, Southern Thai, Pattani Malay, Satun Malay and Bangkok Malay|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Malaysian Malay (especially Kedahan Malays and Malays in Kelantan and Terengganu), Burmese Malays, other Malays|
Thai Malays (Malay: Orang Melayu Thai, Thai: ?, Jawi? , Pattani Malay: Oré Nayu, Jawi or Bangso Yawi) is a term used to refer to ethnic Malays in Thailand. Thailand hosts the third largest ethnic Malay population after Malaysia and Indonesia, and most Malays are concentrated in the Southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla, and Satun. Phuket and Ranong, home to a sizeable Muslim population, also has many people who are of Malay descent. A sizeable community also exists in Thailand's capital Bangkok, having descended from migrants or deportees who were relocated from the South from the 13th century onwards.
Separatist inclinations among ethnic Malays in Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, and Songkhla are due in part to cultural differences from the Thai people as well as past experiences of forced attempts to assimilate them into Thai mainstream culture after the annexation of the Pattani Kingdom by the Sukhothai Kingdom. On the other hand, the Malay Muslims of Satun are less inclined towards separatism, this heavily a result of the historical affinity of the Malay King of Setul towards Siam, compared to the violent demise of the Pattani Kingdom. A parallel of pro-Thai inclination can also be observed by Malay community in Phuket, Ranong and Bangkok.
The majority of Malays in Thailand speak a distinct variety of Malay known as Pattani Malay (Yawi: Baso Yawi/Pattani). However, not all Thai Malays speak Pattani Malay, some people who that in Satun and neighbouring provinces use another distinct variety of Malay known as Satun Malay, while the Malays up north in Bangkok have developed their distinct variant of Malay that incorporated elements of localism with visible Pattani-Kedahan Malay dialect influences known as Bangkok Malay (Bangkok Malay: Bangkok Melayu/Nayu). The Bangkok, Kedahan and Pattani are closely related and shared many similar vocabularies but still mutually partly unintelligible.
Majority of Malays ethnics in Satun (but also a significant minority in PhatthalungTrang, Krabi, Phang Nga and Songkhla as well as in the Malaysian states of Kedah, Perak and Perlis) are a distinct ethnic group who generally adhere to Islam, but are Thai identity (although with some Malay influences) and speak a Southern Thai interspersed with some Malay loanwords.
With the introduction of Islam to Southeast Asia, the Malays use a modified version of the Arabic script known as Jawi. Unlike other parts of the Malay world, like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, where the usage of Jawi is declining rapidly from the increasing usage of the Latin alphabet, Jawi is still widely used and understood among Malays in Thailand.
A vast majority of Thai Malays are Muslims of Shafi'i sect, with Islam as the defining element of the Thai Malay identity. A conversion out of the faith, particularly to Theravada Buddhism resulting a person to be perceived as ethnically Thai in spite of their Malay origin.