Thai Parliament witnesses historic moment as 7 MPs don traditional baju Melayu

Thai Parliament witnesses historic moment as 7 MPs don traditional baju Melayu

IN a groundbreaking display of cultural pride and unity, seven members of the Thai Parliament, who are of Malay descent, stunned their colleagues by adorning the traditional Baju Melayu during a national parliamentary session on April 4.

This unprecedented gesture aimed to spotlight and celebrate Malay culture and traditions in Thailand while advocating for their preservation.

Representing the Prachachart Party, from the Malay-majority regions in the southernmost part of Thailand, these parliamentarians made a bold statement by choosing to wear the Baju Melayu, a garment typically reserved for Eid festivities and other significant cultural and religious occasions.

Their attire choice challenged existing stigmas surrounding such cultural expressions.

Kamolsak Liwamo, the Member of Parliament representing the Narathiwat region and serving as the Chairman of the Law, Justice, and Human Rights Committee for the Thai Parliament, spearheaded this initiative alongside his colleagues from the Prachachart Party.

Their decision to wear the Baju Melayu was not only a symbolic nod to Eid celebrations but also a deliberate effort to normalise the attire, particularly in the context of the southern regions where its association with separatist activities has created misconceptions.

This action was prompted, in part, by the government’s previous negative stance toward a local Malay NGO event held in Pattani during the Eid last year, which was linked to separatist movements.

Despite drawing a crowd of 40,000 attendees, many of whom were adorned in Baju Melayu, the event faced unwarranted scrutiny and criticism. Kamolsak emphasized that their attire choice aimed to convey a clear message to the authorities, particularly the military and police forces operating in the southern provinces, that wearing Baju Melayu is a cultural norm and should not be misconstrued as support for separatism.

The positive reception from fellow parliamentarians, including expressions of admiration for their attire, underscored the significance of this gesture. Kamolsak shared that several members from diverse regions were impressed by their attire, signaling a potential shift in perceptions and attitudes toward cultural diversity within the parliament.

“We want to tell the authorities, especially the military and police, that wearing Baju Melayu is normal and it has nothing to do with separatist groups,” Kamolsak reiterated.

In addition to their parliamentary display, members of the Prachachart Party expressed their intention to participate in large gatherings scheduled for Eid celebrations later in the week, hoping for a more inclusive and respectful approach from security forces toward such cultural events.

There are now 13 MPs from the Malay descent representing the Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani regions, of which seven are from Prachachart Party. Prachachart Party is in support of Srettha Thavisin government, and the party president currently sits in the cabinet as the Minister of Justice.


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