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Similan Islands : history of, and previous Malaysian ownership?

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by Harley1962, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. Harley1962

    Harley1962 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Shaviyani Atoll, Maldives
    211
    5
    18
    I have been trying to locate some on-line references (e.g. Wikipedia) to answer this question, but so far I've been unsuccessful. I'm hoping there are enough Andaman "experts" here on SB that can enlighten me, and perhaps provide a URL or link that has information on the Similans' history, and when exactly was it a Malaysian territory, and when did it become Thai? I also heard that the reason the Similans were "given over" to Thailand was because of a lost bet? Again, I cannot find any specifics or historical data on this, so if somebody can assist me I'd be most appreciative. HMB
     
  2. Quero

    Quero Will be missed Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Phuket, Thailand
    9,494
    2,243
    0
    Harley, as far as I know, the history of the region was such that parts of what is now Malaysia were once part of Siam (Thailand) rather than the other way around. Malaysia is made up of a group of sultanates which were united under British colonial rule to form Malaya. The 1826 Burney Treaty established the sultanates of Patani, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu as vassal states under Siamese rule until the 1869 Treaty of Bangkok ceded part of Kedah to the British, leaving the border near Penang. The border was moved further north in a new treaty in 1909 with the current Malaysian states of Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu becoming part of Malaya while Patani remained Siamese. The Similan Islands are much further north and were not part of the Kedah sultanate.
     
  3. Harley1962

    Harley1962 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Shaviyani Atoll, Maldives
    211
    5
    18
    Thanks Quero, for your informative explanation. So, as far as you are aware, the Similans NEVER belonged to Mayalsia at any point in time? It seems most (if not all) of my Instructor colleagues believe that the Similans once were Malaysian, and they were (supposedly) lost in a bet between leaders of the two nations?! It sure sounds like a "cool" story, but I haven't found ANY factual evidence to substantiate that....anywhere!
     
  4. Quero

    Quero Will be missed Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Phuket, Thailand
    9,494
    2,243
    0
    That's my understanding, yes. I think the confusion may come from the history of the name of the island chain. The word "Similan" is thought to be a corruption of the Yawi (Malay language variant used both historically and at present in southern Thailand) word "sembilan" meaning "nine" for the nine islands/rocks in the group.

    The bet story sounds like an urban legend to me.
     
  5. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    22,444
    5,312
    113
    Didn't Siam fight for its independence from Burma MANY (hundreds) years back. I thought I read that somewhere.
     
  6. Quero

    Quero Will be missed Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Phuket, Thailand
    9,494
    2,243
    0
    Bill, I don't think it was independence per se, but indeed Burma and Siam were repeatedly in conflict. In fact, the most significant historical event on my island, Phuket, occurred when two women, now known simply as The Heroines, repelled an invasion attempt by the Burmese when the island was without a male leader. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand:
    I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Similan Islands were at some point under Burmese control.
     
  7. Zippsy

    Zippsy Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: SIngapore
    1,817
    389
    83
    It's one of those things in life.... "never let facts get in the way of a good story".
     
    Quero likes this.
  8. Harley1962

    Harley1962 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Shaviyani Atoll, Maldives
    211
    5
    18
    Thank you ALL for your correction, and confirmation. I just wanted to be certain about the FACTS, as I have heard my Instructor colleagues give briefings which are obviously inaccurate. I agree with Zippsy that most divers do appreciate a good "story", but IMHO when you are talking about history it is important to give CORRECT information--even if it isn't as "exciting" as the urban legend!
     
    Zippsy likes this.
  9. paddydiver

    paddydiver Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Ireland
    16
    5
    3
    The first 'modern' people to settle the Andaman coast were the moken and Malay fishermen so in fact a lot of the larger islands have Malay derived names, including Phuket, Phi Phi and some of the surrounding islands. While Malay people were fishing here they never actually owned the territory and the modern state of Malaysia didn't exist at the time. As far as I know for as long as anyone has claimed ownership to them they have belonged to Thailand.
     
  10. scubabor

    scubabor Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Thailand
    1
    0
    0
    As a Thai, I can confirm Quero statement is true (as per my history class some years back) Similan never belong to Malaysia.

    Even though Burmese and Thai have conflict along western border since 600+ years ago, but haven't seen any major burmese culture/architecture in daily life in Phuket/Pang Nga areas. Ranong is exceptional due to closer border.
     

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