Did Hang Tuah ever lived? Was there a historical Jesus?


The season inside the hollow of history remained. In another reversal of Malayan history Professor Tan Sri Khoo Kay Khim, an emeritus of the subject, reportedly want removed from the textbooks the spirit (semangat) of the Malay warrior (satria) the indomitable Hang Tuah, saying he is nothing but a myth. The folk hero, however, long grown into a geist, though he was not mentioned in the Ming records, is appearing like he refuses to go.

Hang Li Po was a Chinese princess Sultan Mansur of Melaka (Malacca) was said to have taken as a fifth wife. Nothing else about her was significant and hence, fact or fiction could not and cannot matter more than a dime. Prof Kay Khim wanted her out too.

But Hang Tuah is a folk spirit, a zeitgeist of the Malay, him declaring ‘Never shall the Malay disappear from the face of the earth,’ making the Melayu an eternal substance, i.e. if they can find themselves apart from the Arabic religion that has damned, in their own society, most things Malay as khurafat, superstition.

It’s a lasting confusion Malays face. The Malay Muslim has an obvious religious problem about accepting the pentacle in the Hindu epic, the Pandavas, which Hang Tuah and his four compatriots, Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir, Hang Lekiu and Hang Kasturi obviously reflect.

The same five is to be found in Prophet Mohammad with the four Khalifah Rashidun (Rightly Guided Caliphs), Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali mentioned every Friday in the mosques of Malaysia.

“Rightly Guided Caliphs”? Where’s the line between the fact and the fiction?

To be Malay or to be essentially Muslim had been and still is an existential choice the Malays must make to find self and therefore the “I AM”.

When they finally made it they insisted constitutionally the Malay must be a Muslim and compressing that into power they refused themselves the freedom of religion. It’s sad.

Sadder still, Hang Tuah and his friends enjoyed their drinks (hic!), and thus become inadmissable to the hardening sinews of Islam in Malaysia. Islam damns alcoholic drinks as haram (forbidden). How do we appreciate Hang Tuah and his comrades who have been described occassionally drunk?

Yesus Kristos!

Yes. Yesus Kristos would pose a larger problem to Khoo Kay Khim. The wondrous Son of Man has hardly any documentary evidence to support the belief that he was indeed a person that had walked the earth, preached, taught, healed, is The Way to more than a billion Christians in the world and miraculously turned water into wine on one occassion before the heart warming stuff was forbidden centuries later by Muhammad. But it is evidently not a historical fact, making for a twain between history and religious belief and so Jesus may stand a chance in a Shariah Court.

Here in Malaysia you can go to jail drinking miraculously made wine, beer or stout if you are a Muslim. Therefore, choose!

Hang Tuah

Hang Tuah was a myth when this writer was in school. Growing up he found the mix of facts and fiction a common grace in the Malay Hikayat. It’s folk history but devised for good purposes, like the Hikayat Muhammad Amir Hamzah, which was about Amir Hamzah who was a son of Ali and as real as you or me.

But the said Hikayat was mostly fictitious, used as a means to keep up the struggle of the Prophet’s family for Islam following the demise of Ali and his sons, Hasan and Husayn from Fatimah Zahrah al-Batul.

It became a description of heroism, of glorious fights and fighters, a little bit on the art of war and the excellence of Jihad the Malays themselves had required for a time.

Later they devised their own in the romances of Hang Tuah, Jebat the alternate Ego. But the Malays were never able to decorate their own group of five as well as the Javanese had done with the Pandavas in the Kakawin.

No Vote

The good professor’s view isn’t going to affect a single vote in the awaited general elections and is therefore free of political perversion. It is unlikely the Ministry of Defence will rewrite the names of our frigates from KD Hang Tuah, KD Jebat and so on to Michelle Ma Belle or something like that.

As for the Ministry of Education wanting to remove the name of Hang Tuah from our history text books, this writer suggests we take a deep breath, count to ten and stay as we are. Hang Tuah was and is real.

Hang Tuah was Laksamana Bentan, once the capital of Johor-Riau-Lingga. Megat Seri Rama who krissed Sultan Mahmud of Johor was also Laksamana Bentan, himself from the island of the Orang Laut, once before written as Sea Gypsies but who must be billed as a great people who led the other Malays through the thousands of islands and intervened decisively in history time after time.

One of them, having had enough of the extravagance and the debauchery of the court in Jambi, stormed the palace and raped the queen before the eyes of her consort, the king, a fitting justice indeed for a ruler who had no control of his wives spendings and himself kept raising taxes till they surpassed 30 per cent of trade items on top of port charges he levied at will.

And you would have read about Lapu Lapu, of course.