Klong yao and the Performance of Minority Identity in the Siamese Community of Perlis, Malaysia

  • Chayuti Tassanawongwara University of Malaya
  • Hanafi Hussin University of Malaya
Keywords: identity, klong yao, performativity, representation, Siamese


The klong yao performance in the Siamese communities of Perlis was adopted from the Thai community in Central Thailand. Before this adoption, the ethnic consciousness of the Siamese communities was oriented towards a local variation of Thai-ness with similarities to southern Thai people in terms of linguistic and geopolitical references. After the klong yao was actively included in their cultural practices, the Siamese communities began to develop a representative identity that reinforced Central Thai cultural expressions. In this respect, the performance of klong yao reconstructs the identity of the Siamese communities in Perlis, Malaysia toward a Central Thai identity. The shift from a local and marginalised type of Siamese identity to a hegemonic and centralised Thai identity is observed with the choice to use klong yao as a representation of their identity during Malaysia’s various occasions for showcasing cultural performances.


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Author Biographies

Chayuti Tassanawongwara, University of Malaya

Chayuti Tassanawongwara is a master student in the Southeast Asian Studies programme at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya. He is interested in the music of the Siamese community of northern Malaysia and has completed his thesis entitled “Performing Identity through the klong yao Tradition among the Siamese Community of Perlis, Malaysia. Chayuti obtained his Bachelor of Education in Music Education focusing on traditional Thai music at the Department of Thai music, Faculty of Fine Arts, Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok Thailand. Currently, his focus of research is in the ethnomusicology of Southeast Asia encompasses identity, rituals and performing traditions mainly with Siamese in northern Malaysia and Southern Thai people. He also pays attention at traditional Thai music as his previous background. He was a traditional Thai music teacher, teaching music in countries such as Germany, Philippines, etc.

Hanafi Hussin, University of Malaya

Hanafi Hussin, Ph.D is an Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya. He received B.A and M.A in Southeast Asian Studies with a thesis topic “Philippine Political Theatre during Marcos Regime” and a Ph.D. in Ritual and Performing Arts Studies focusing on ritual and identity of the Kadazan of Sabah, Borneo. He is also researching ritual and performing arts of the maritime communities of Southeast Asia mainly Sama-Bajau and Sama Dilaut of the east coast of Borneo and Southern Philippines. Currently his research and documentation is on tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Indigenous People of Malaysia. Most of his research work published in academic journals relate to regional studies and cultural studies of Southeast Asia. Currently, he serves as Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya.


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How to Cite
Tassanawongwara, C., & Hussin, H. (2019). Klong yao and the Performance of Minority Identity in the Siamese Community of Perlis, Malaysia. Malaysian Journal of Music, 8, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.37134/mjm.vol8.1.2019