Hang Tuah was synonymous with bravery and heroism. He was a Malay legend and a symbol of obedience without question to the Sultan. Hang Tuah had served the Sultan as Laksamana and had led many expeditions outside Malacca as ambassador to the Sultan of Malacca. He was very loyal to the Sultan and was willing to take the order of the Sultan even to the extent of killing his most trusted and loving companion Hang Jebat. Hang Tuah was the symbol of loyalty. Loyalty is a much needed quality in any establishment. The stories of Hang Tuah have been narrated over and over again throughout the ages and the stories have sometimes become a myth rather than a true historical fact. Although some stories about Hang Tuah do not seem to be logical but they are continually being narrated over the generations until today. These stories were written in our history books and are being read to our children. Stories about Hang Tuah have also been made into a movie and a theater and were watched by all of us from time to time. Are all the stories about Hang Tuah plain truth or mixed with lies? Are our historians making any research on the many stories about Hang Tuah? We should not write any lies and spreading lies about Hang Tuah. Our many generations to come will read whatever written in our history books. We should only write the truth and not lies. In case we are not certain about the truthiness of certain stories , then we should not write that particular stories in our history books. Whatever written in our history books should be authentic and proven by research and plain logic.
I have been many times to Malacca but during my recent visit to Malacca I was somehow became interested with the history of Malacca. I wanted to know about a great Malay warrior, known as Laksamana Hang Tuah. I was told that Hang Tuah had a well in Kampong Duyung, the village that Hang Tuah was supposed to be born. I went to the village and visited the well. Upon entering the village I saw a mosques by the name of Hang Tuah Mosques and then I saw a Chinese grave yard but there was no Chinese living in the village. Where have all the Chinese gone? There are two possibilities, either all the Chinese have converted to Islam and became Muslims or the Chinese have migrated somewhere else. It was possible that Hang Tuah was a Chinese who can no longer speak Chinese like the Chinese baba and nyoya and has adopted Malay cultures. Hang Tuah was employed by the Sultan to be a Laksamana and the title Hang was given to him because he was a warrior. The word Tuah could have come from the two Chinese words, Tou and Ah and was pronounced by the Malays as Tuah. Hang Tuah was the greatest Laksamana of the Sultan of Malacca and he had served all the five renowned Sultans of Malacca before Malacca was taken over by the Portuguese. In my opinion the stories about the well of Hang Tuah is only a legend. There is no scientific study to prove that the well was built and used by Hang Tuah. The legends associated with the well are not supposed to be told or written anywhere, as by doing so, we are only spreading lies about Hang Tuah to the people. As a great warrior, having a well was not an object of pride, whereas Hang Tuah should be better associated with a Kris or any other weapons of his time.
Where is the grave of Hang Tuah? Some said that Hang Tuah just disappeared and thus has no grave. Some said that Hang Tuah’s grave is in Tanjong Kling. I went to Tanjong Kling to see the grave. I was curious to know whether the grave that has been labeled as Hang Tuah’s grave was truly belong to Hang Tuah or actually belong to someone else. Why Hang Tuah, who was a noble and a warrior should be buried in Kampong Kling, a place far from the administrative centre of Malacca. When Malacca was taken over by the Portuguese, where Hang Tuah was living? Could Hang Tuah being living in an Indian village? Tanjong Kling was the village of the Indians and Indians during those times were known as Kling. When I saw the grave, I knew it has no characteristic of either a Malay or a Chinese grave. The grave has the characteristics of an Indian grave. The grave is long and it looks similar to the grave in Pulau Besar, Malacca. In my opinion the grave belongs to an Indian Muslim who had come to Malacca to preach Islam and is not Hang Tuah’s grave. Hang Tuah must had been buried in an area very closed to the administrative centre of Malacca and a possible site could be in Kampong Hulu. To prove whether Hang Tuah was a Muslim or not, requires other studies to verify. Hang Tuah could had been a non-Muslim but later on converted to Islam and this is another area that Malaysian historians can research.
The Chinese had come and live in Malaysia since the time of the Sultanates of Malacca. Are those generations of the Chinese that had lived since those ancient times Bumiputra or non-Bumiputra? Are the descendants of Hang Tuah Bumiputra? Malays are Bumiputra and Malays are defined as those who can speak Malay, is a Muslim and has adopted Malay cultures. Kadazans and Ibans are also Bumiputra but a Chinese like the descendent of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat is not a Bumiputra. A Kadazan or an Iban is not a Muslim and does not adopt a Malay culture but he or she is still regarded as a Bumiputra because their ancestors had come to live in Sabah or Sarawak hundreds of years ago. In my opinion we have to redefine what Bumiputra and non-Bumiputra are and our definitions must be fair and logical. There are many who are not truly Malay but are being regarded as Malays. They are considered as Malays because they speak Malay language, they are Muslims by birth and they adopt Malay cultures. As I wrote in my previous article about the origin of the Malay people, the Javanese, Achiness and Bugis people are not Malay people but are being regarded as Malays because they speak Malay language and they practice Islam. The real Malay people as I have hypothesized is one of the tribes of Bani Israel who had migrated from the Mediterranean region to this part of the world thousands of years ago.
Dr. Nasoha Saabin
Dean of Faculty of Optometry
International University College of Technology Twintech
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia