The Little Prince's visit to Melayu Living, the hub of creative minds in the three southern border provinces, and the lessons in sustainable development.

November 7, 2023


     One afternoon, on Asteroid B612, the Little Prince received a large gift with a small card.

     On the card wrote, “You are cordially invited to the 80th anniversary of the Little Prince.”

     Inside was a short message, “We have sent ‘Kolae boat’ as a gesture of our friendship. Please come aboard to visit Melayu Living, the living room in our little ancient town of Pattani.”

     The Little Prince unwrapped the gift and discovered a wooden boat adorned with an unusual yet strikingly vibrant and beautiful design. He reminisced the lesson on the importance of friendship as imparted by the fox, “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so it is on you to craft your own friendship.” Therefore, those who genuinely appreciate the significance of friendship is deserving of one,

      Early in the morning, the Little Prince began his voyage aboard the 'Kolae Boat,' the same wooden vessel mentioned in the card. It didn't take long for him to reach Melayu Living, a living room located in an ancient house amidst the historic Chinese town adjacent to the Chao Mae Lim Ko Niao Shrine in Pattani.


     There he met two friendly men.

     The first man introduced himself. “Greetings. I’m Rachit Radenahmad, the founder of Melayu Living. I work as a design director.”

     “I’m Hadee Hamidong, a member of Melayu Living. I’ve been working in NGOs for some time,” Followed the second individual. 

      The two men gave a brief introduction to Melayu Living: a living room akin to a laboratory, open to creators seeking freedom from restrictive conventions and creating innovations that improve their communities.

      After some small talk, Rashid extended his warm welcome to the Little Prince to partake in Pattani’s ritual morning tea, “Teh o” — customary black tea to welcome all guests who visit Pattani, explained Rashid.

      “[Ritual] is what makes one day different from the other days.” The Little Prince recalled the words of the Fox.


      Rashid shared the stories of his early days when he first founded Melayu Living and organized the 1st Pattani Decoded. The event aimed to unravel the spaces of Pattani, a collaboration involving numerous creators in Pattani.

      The 1st Pattani Decoded was the amalgamation of creative energy from the local creative minds. Its goal is to drive Pattani forward artistically by developing a creative economy and encouraging engagement from a wide range of local sectors.

      “The collective creative force of the local community is vital in propelling the growth of their communities. Only then can these communities naturally and independently thrive, without relying solely on the central government's structural policies. Our goal is for people to discover the cultural wealth of the authentic Pattani. Pattani Decoded became a reality thanks to the friendship and dedication of numerous young volunteers who actively engaged in the planning, brainstorming, and proposing processes. We create positive energy in the community —a modest yet impactful driving force,” Rashid delightfully emphasized the importance of the 1st Pattani Decoded.

       The activities of creative minds at Melayu Living are small but monumental force in constructing a secure city, all the while aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the global initiatives aimed at fostering comprehensive and inclusive sustainable development for everyone.

       Melayu Living's activities in the historic town of Pattani have actively contributed to the global pursuit of sustainable development. The activities of Melayu Living are aligned with Goal 11, which strives to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”


     Then, the two men led The Little Prince on a tour of Pattani's historic district, taking him through the streets of Anoru, Pattani Phirom, and Ruedee.

     “After receiving fantastic feedback from the 1st Pattani Decoded, this time around, we're extending our reach beyond Pattani and the three southern border provinces,” Rashid mentioned as they walked, “We've invited writers, designers, and artists from Bangkok to collaborate on the event. By uniting the local movement with the contributions of our friends from outside Pattani, our efforts have become more multifaceted. Most importantly, the essence of the 2nd Pattani Decoded goes beyond crafting creative works or focusing on the economy, it's about bringing social issues to the forefront, comprehending them, and crafting solutions to address these challenges."

     Hadie, the main organizer of the 2nd Pattani Decoded, explained the key concept behind the event. Pattani is well known for its “sweet salt.” In fact, Pattani is the exclusive sweet salt producer in the Malay Peninsula with a rich history spanning over 400 years of history.

      Sweet salt has been Pattani’s main export for centuries. However, the growing city over time has imposed spatial constraints on salt pans. This, along with changing climate conditions, has led to the reduction in the overall production of sweet salt. For this reason, they aim to promote sweet salt, a pivotal element in local history, culture, trade, and food security, as champion of the 2nd Pattani Decoded. We invite everyone to learn and develop the sweet salt of Pattani together.


      “The initial task of the 2nd Pattani Decoded is assessing the conditions of waterways.” Continued Hadie. “Salt does not come only from the sea but from the city canal as well. ‘Trash Hero Pattani,’ a group that picks up litter around the city, took on the task of evaluating the cleanliness of the canals flowing through the city’s wet markets into the sea before the water turns into saline. Upon the completion of their survey, water sampling, and examination of animal biodiversity along the canals, they concluded that, despite its dark color caused by sediment deposits, the canal was clean.”

      “Our event has become more complex and comprehensive. It is not exclusively just about designing anymore. We are now discussing the ecosystem, including the way to use water and the sea.  We are talking about our expanding city, our pride.”

       The 2nd Pattani Decoded is therefore aligning with SDG 14: “to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” and SDG 15: “to halt biodiversity loss.”

       We also organized the exhibition “The Old Man and the Sea Salt.”

       Melayu Living undertook field interviews with salt farmers and listened to the structural problems they are facing such as the extreme weather resulting from the changing climate. The exhibition encouraged cooperation and mutual understanding between the salt farmers, communities, the municipality, and the local organizations.

       This aligns with SDG 13: “to take action to combat climate change and its impacts,” and SDG 3: “To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” as well.

       The city tour, along with the stories of the 2nd Pattani Decoded, filled The Little Prince with enthusiasm, followed closely by hunger pangs. Almost as if it were perfectly timed, Hadie extended an invitation for him to step aboard the "Kolae boat" for a firsthand look at salt farming and the production of sweet salt, the pride of Pattani’s people.

       The Little Prince could hardly contain his anticipation as he looked forward to observing the actual farm. When the boat reached the salt pan, Hadie provided additional commentary, sharing that this sweet salt is an essential ingredient of Budu sauce. Hadie himself frequently uses this sweet salt to prepare Budu sauce for a rice salad, a local delicacy that the Little Prince would enjoy later in the day.

      “The initial period of Pattani Decoded faced some challenges. Back then the tension was running high in Pattani, and being Muslims working in Chinese communities, we had some worries. We felt it was crucial to prove our integrity and friendship” Recounted Rashid during lunch.

      “Pong Panrit, the former leader of the local Chinese communities, told us that the Chinese locals were against Muslims gathering in groups. They were suspicious of our motives and the source of our activity funding.”


     “He explained that during those times, such paranoia was rampant, and we were unaware of it. However, as we prepared to host the 1st Pattani Decoded, we started to open up to the local community, and gradually, they began to trust our genuine and sincere intentions."

      Friendship holds great significance for them. Besides the locals, numerous individuals come from distant places, just like the Little Prince himself, to visit Pattani.

      Lulu, the world-travelling Japanese mural painter, also painted in Pattani as well. He took the time to understand the local community, not judging Pattani based on the violence often highlighted in mainstream news. Instead, he exchanged his worldview with the locals through arts.

      About 5 years ago, Ryan Anderson, a traveling documentary filmmaker with a track record of directing documentaries across Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, also developed an interest in Melayu Living. In response, Melayu Living built an area resembling a small theater named Melayu Rama. We then invited Brain to screen his films, with the aim of sparking inspiration and dialogue between him and the locals. In return, he shared these images to various people in his future journey.

     Activities in small communities can promote international cooperation as well.

     Establishing international partnership and collaboration to nurture empathy among fellow humans is a commitment to strengthen boundless cooperation, in line with SDG 17: “to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.”

     Following a delightful lunch, the next adventure awaiting the Little Prince is a Yawi language lesson with Waemaji Paramal, who will assist in translating The Little Prince’s journey into Yawi.

     On the 80th anniversary of the Little Prince, Waemaji Paramal undertakes the task of translating the Little Prince's adventure across different planets into Yawi, a highly essential language, serving as a valuable means of communication for the brothers and sisters in the three southern border provinces.

     The Little Prince was overjoyed to be a part of this event. When it was the time to bid farewell, he embraced each person in a warm goodbye.

     Before his departure, he asked Rashid and Hadie about the world in their ideal images.

     “I don’t wish to impose my ideal image on the world. We don’t even have to be the driving force of the world. We simply try to accomplish what we consider good and possible,” Rashid stated, with Hadie chiming in, “I want everything to be normal, no special laws and regulations that oppress people’s lives, especially the people of the three southern border provinces.”

      At the end of the day, Rashid, Hadie, and the members of Melayu Living are regular locals who wish to see their hometown progress toward positive development, and they join hands together to bring about some changes.

      No matter who you are, you can contribute your skills and join forces with us and be our companions for progress, just as the people of the southern border provinces have been doing for many years, steadily and surely.

      Upon his return to Asteroid B612, the Little Prince found another letter waiting for him from Melayu Living.

      "We're grateful for your friendship. Your stories have breathed new life into the Yawi language, inspiring creative minds and fostering increased interest in local languages, especially among the youths," they expressed their gratitude.

       His visit to Melayu Living brought to mind the saying the Little Prince had shared with countless people over 80 years. “What makes the desert beautiful, is that somewhere it hides a well.” The exchange of friendship and creative energy between Pattani and Melayu Living in Pattani resembles the well, which he undoubtedly believes there are many more waiting to be built elsewhere as well.

       In the days ahead, Melayu Living, including Rashid, Hadie, and fellow members will continue to drive the three southern border provinces forward through creative endeavors. We hope Pattani Decoded and other events will bring out countless local charms for the public to enjoy. We aspire to see the partnership between each sector to bring about the transformative change in the region as well.

       As parting words, echoing what Hadie said, we hope to see the three southern border provinces one day become a regular world where everyone can live happily ever after.


The Little Prince written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, translated by Ampha Otrakul. Publication date 2023 Jind Publication House.