Monday, November 2, 2015

History of a Great Malay Warrior : Hang Tuah

Who is Hang Tuah? A name that cannot be separated from the Malacca’s victorious history since a long time ago. His historical name not only well known in Malacca but also in Malaysia and South East Asia region.  Hang Tuah was a legendary Malay warrior who lived in Malacca during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah in the 15th century.

Considered by many as a legend and a man with supernatural powers, Hang Tuah made a name for himself as a great warrior during the Melaka Sultanate era. Together with his four companions? Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu. The five of them had been together all the times since their childhood.

It was said that Hang Tuah’s parents, Dang Mahmud and Dang Merdu Wati, migrated from Bentan to Malacca in their search of a better life where they finally settled down at Kampung Duyung, Malacca. As a young boy, Hang Tuah worked as a woodcutter in his parents’ shop. His grasp of spiritual concepts and potential as a fighter were apparent from a young age.

During the early days, Hang Tuah and his four friends embodied comradeship and stood by each other by thick and thin. They even dug a well at their village which came to be known as the Hang Tuah Well until today.
As they grew older, Hang Tuah and his buddies learnt the Malay art of self-defence (locally called as ‘Silat’) from a respected Tok Guru named Adiputra who lived a hermetic life in a cave somewhere in a remote part at Gunung Ledang in Melaka. They had been taught the arts of self-defense and meditation. With the skills, all the five comrades helped in keeping the peace in Malacca.

The turning point in Hang Tuah’s life came when he save the Dato’ Bendahara (chief minister) from some men ran ‘amok’ in town. Dato Bendahara was amazed by the courage of Hang Tuah and his companions. He rewarded them for their gallant and presented them to Sultan of Malacca. When Sultan Mansor Shah (1456-1477) heard about Hang Tuah’s bravery, Sultan had proudly awarded Hang Tuah the rank of Malacca Admiral ‘Laksamana Melaka’ cum Syahbandar. His friends were also appointed to be the Knights of Malacca.

Throughout the years, attending invitations from foreign countries as far as China was the norm for the Sultan of Malacca and Hang Tuah shall be constant aide to the Sultan on such visits. During the sojourn to Majapahit, Taming Sari, a famous Majapahit warrior, had challenged Hang Tuah for a duel. After a fiery fight, Hang Tuah finally emerged as the winner and the Sultan of Majapahit bestowed Taming Sari’s Kris to Hang Tuah. The Keris Taming Sari was named after its original owner and was purported to be magical, empowering its owner with physical invulnerability.

Other responsibilities apart as ‘Laksamana’ and ‘Syahbandar’ of Malacca, Hang Tuah was always assigned to the task of being the Sultan’s ambassador in fostering closer ties with allied governments including China, India, Siam and Turkey.

According to Hikayat Hang Tuah, due to his loyalty to the Sultan, Hang Tuah sailed to Inderaputra ( now is called ‘Pahang’) to persuade Tun Teja, the princess of Inderapura to be the Queen of Sultan of Malacca. Thinking that Hang Tuah himself would be marrying her, Tun Teja had followed Hang Tuah on the way to Malacca. However, it was only during the voyage, Hang Tuah had revealed the truth.

Hang Tuah’s popularity soon became the envy of a few Malacca’s noblemen and this led to one of them, Pateh Karma Wijaya, to create a story that Hang Tuah was having an affair with one of the palace’s maid lady. Without further investigation, the Sultan had ordered Dato Bendahara to carry out the death sentenced to Hang Tuah for the alleged offence. However, Dato ‘Bendahara who know the truth, went against the Sultan’s orders and had hiddenly located Hang Tuah somewhere in Ulu Melaka.

Believing that Hang Tuah was innocent and had been sentenced to death, Hang Jebat decided to take a revenge on the death of his beloved comrade, by first killing Dato Pateh Karma Wijaya. The Sultan was unable to do anything as none of his warriors dared to challenge the ferocious Hang Jebat. Only then Dato Bendahara finally revealed the secret to the Sultan and told him that Hang Tuah was still alive. After hearing good news of that, Sultan later instructed Hang Tuah to kill Hang Jebat, which he did after a long grueling fight.

Another popular stories which was widely written about Hang Tuah  was his journey to Gunung Ledang (Mount Ledang) at the Malacca-Johor border to ask for the hand of the beautiful Princess of Mount Ledang for the Sultan’s wishes to be his Queen. Having met the princess, Hang Tuah returned back to Malacca when she stated the dowry or wedding gift which were include a Golden bridge linking Malacca and the top of Mount Ledang, seven trays each of mosquitoes and germs liver, seven jars of virgins’s tears and a bowl of Raja Ahmad’s blood(the Sultan’s son).

Hang Tuah was deeply disheartened when he heard this, as he knew that the Sultan will not be able to fulfill the conditions. Legend had stated  that Hang Tuah, who was overwhelmed by his disappointments, flung his kris into the Malacca river and vowed only to return to Melaka if it resurfaced, which he never did. He was finally vanished somewhere unknown.

However, it was not known how Hang Tuah died but his body was said to be buried in Tanjung Kling, where his tomb can still be seen until today.

The Tomb of Hang Tuah at Tanjung Kling, Malacca

Sunday, November 1, 2015

History of Kerapu Bank at Kota Bahru, Kelantan, Malaysia

Kerapu Bank is a historic building located on the downstream of the Padang Merdeka, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. In 1912, the building was completed and first used as a bank by ' The Mercatile Bank of India Ltd '. This building was the first bank opened in Kelantan.

Kerapu Bank perched on top of a piece of land owned by a local leader named Nik Yusoff bin Nik Abdul Majid. This building was also a first building in Kelantan using brickstones. The building was known by the locals in Kelantan as the Kerapu Bank building since s part of building’s surface was cemented by using small bricks which had caused its surface rough and sputter. During World War II, the Japanese secret police force had used the building as their headquarters. The building was also being used as a prison, interrogation centre, torture center and other violent activities. When the Japanese surrendered and the British ruled the State, the building was used again as a bank.

Building of Kerapu Bank nowadays
(Memorial World War II of Kelantan)

In 1977, the bank's name changed to 'The Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation', and in 1981 the building was converted as Kelantan Art and Handicrafts Gallery Hall. Later, since 1992 the building was used as a Memorial World War II in Kelantan.

Starting in 1992, the building was used as a memorial of World War II in which the Japanese military began landing in Malaya during World War II. The building currently owns and displays more than 1000 exhibits related to warfare consist of photographs, articles and artifacts. Other exhibits include photos of Sultan Ismail Petra as the Honorary Colonel of the Royal Artillery Regiment, history of Kelantan-Thai relationship before independence era, the British people's life in Kelantan before and after the war. The bicycle that was used by the Imperial Japanese army during the invasions into Malaya during World War II is also displayed here.

Some of the displays which related to Japanese invasion into Malaya through Kota Bahru, Kelantan during World War II