RAIS SAYS HE’S UNSURE IF HANG TUAH EXISTED

Posted on February 26, 2012

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The bronze sculpture of Hang Tuah in Muzium Ne...

"Hang Tuah" in Malacca, Image via Wikipedia

Excerpt from The Star 26 Feb 2012 Rais says  Govt unsure if Hang Tuah existed By WONG PEK MEI

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government cannot say for sure if Hang Tuah ever existed, said Information, Com-munications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. He said it would not be upset if people concluded that Hang Tuah and his friends were not mentioned by history writers as he (Hang Tuah) may not have been portrayed as a warrior “based on the dates and records that the public understand today”.

“However, we are unable to say conclusively that Hang Tuah did not exist or ever existed. This is because we do not have sufficient records and evidence.

“That is why he has been regarded as a legendary hero or a myth which can also be considered a cultural heritage similar to Robin Hood, Maid Marrianne, Hang Li Po and others,” he said in his speech before launching the History of Malaysia Colloquium at Universiti Malaya yesterday.

The debate over whether Hang Tuah actually existed came about after Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim said there was no written record of Hang Li Po, Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat, adding that the stories that had made it into the history books were just myths. Dr Rais said in history, there were legendary figures, like King Arthur and Hang Tuah, that should not be put aside just because there were no empirical facts about them.

“This group, although not supported by facts, remains part of culture which is classified as cultural heritage or intangible heritage,” he said.

Comment:

When Culture Minister Rais said this he was echoing the words of Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim said. Khoo said that there was no empirical evidence that Hang Tuah ever exixted. The Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu and Sulaltus Salatin) were supposedly written for certain purposes and historical evidence could not be verified. So say many historians and scholars. This is really a colossal challenge faced by historians and what takes it so long for them to prove once and for all that this legendary figure ever existed or just another imaginative figure of the Malay folklore.

Could someone then  figure out who Tun Sri Lanang, supposedly wrote “Sejarah Melayu” or “Sulalatus Salatin” was. I wonder whether Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia  has ever  done its homework well enough. Or as one put it, “The evidence is there. People who have been entrusted to find such evidence are yet to find the  historical traces. Perhaps these people  should do similar works like what has been done by historians in Egypt. Just look at the Pyramids  and the Great Pharaohs of the Egyptian desert! Or that Malaysians, notably historians are too absorbed in other forms of activities. History is not in the list of  their prioroty, compared to Science and Technology. What a pathetic lot!

 

 

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