Ties of Brotherhood: Cultural Roots of Southern Thailand and Northern Malaysia
By Suthiwong Phongphaibun, Institute of Southern Thai Studies
Published in Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, March 2004
The identity of a person ⁄ community tends to be a mixture of both physical and mental elements, including form, element, role, function and strength.
A community's true identity, therefore, is constituted by various elements deriving from ethnicity or race; this is one root. Another is that of "personality" expressed through behaviour and ways of thinking according to the ideals of a cultural or ethnic group, which has certain "intentions" (or dhammaphayop) that drive it. A person ⁄ community's identity, therefore, is continually changing and dynamic, rather than fixed.
Thai identity in the lower southern region and Malaysian identity in the upper part of the peninsula therefore must be viewed based on these two characteristics, with an awareness of the past, that which is currently being formed, and what we might predict for the future.