‘It’s okay if Hang Tuah did not exist’

The National Writers Association says the character Hang Tan embodied the spirit of the Malay warrior of that era.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Academics and historians are taking it in their stride a claim that Malay warrior Hang Tuah did not exist. They said this clam is not going to affect Malay literature.

National Writers Association (Pena) president Mohamad Saleeh Rahamad said that the story of Hang Tuah mirrors the social conditions of Malacca in that era.

“That era needed a hero to celebrate the Malay warrior spirit against the colonial masters (the Portuguese) and the story fits the bill,” said Saleeh, who is also a lecturer at the Media Studies Department in Universiti Malaya.

“The Malay warrior spirit as exemplified by Hang Tuah character is vital, not the character himself,” he said.

Saleeh said this in reaction to FMT’s report yesterday that quoted Professor Khoo Kay Kim as saying that Malay warriors Hang Tuah and four others along with princess Hang Li Po did not exist as there are no mention of them in the Ming Dynasty records.

He added: “The mindset of the author (Tun Sri Lanang) is great as he is able to create a heroic world of that era.”

Gapena chairman Professor Abdul Latiff Bakar, meanwhile, disagreed over the notion that Hang Tuah did not exist

“It does not mean that Hang Tuah did not exist.”

“He existed in the Malay historical source, not the Arab or Chinese historical source,” Latiff said, adding that Hang Tuah’s village existed in Duyung.