Hang Tuah, a Malay ICON or Chinese IDIOT?
What a great day today, the Chinese New Year, the year of the dragon. To all Malaysian Chinese, and the Chinese world over, I wish all of you a very HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR.
It has been a few years since I came accross some postings, must be by Chinese bloggers, ‘touting’ TALES that the Malay WARRIOR ICON, Hang Tuah, and his four almost equally famous comrades-in-arm, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Lekiu, were Chinese.
At first I thought the TALES were not worth a second look. However, I kept on coming across such TALES being repeated by other bloggers, giving me the impression that such TALES may have been ‘swallowed’ as TRUTH by the younger Chinese generation. The paradox is, the Malaysian Chinese UM Professor of History, Prof. Khoo Kay Kim, through his recent statement, is of the belief that Hang Tuah was a mythical figure.
I’m not taking on Prof. Khoo Kay Kim here. On this ouspicious Chinese New Year day, its more relaxing to handle the proponents of the belief that Hang Tuah and his ‘comrade-in-arms’ were Chinese. Their TALES are based on the following: 1. The name of Ming Emperor’s princess ‘presented’ to the Sultan Iskandar Shah of Malacca was Hang Li Po. 2. Names of Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat and others had THREE consonents, typical of Chinese names. Hence their re-naming of Hang Tuah as ‘Hang Too Ah’ and Hang Jebat as ‘Hang Jee Fatt’. 3. According to them, initial name of ‘Hang’ was never used in Malay names. 4. To ‘add spice to the salt’, according to them, certain DNA tests were carried out in ‘America’ of remnants of ‘Hang Too Ah’ dug out from his grave in Malacca proved that he was Chinese.
Its interesting to note that the proponents of the TALES believe that ‘Hang Too Ah’ and his comrades were among the best Chinese Warriors, assigned by the Ming Emperor to safeguard the Princess Hang Li Po in distant land of Malacca. We can not help to believe that, had they been among the best Chinese warriors, they must have been very skillful Kung Fu fighters, most likely using the long Chinese swords as their main weapon for self-defense. In this aspect, the proponents of the TALES need to explain WHY ‘Hang Too Ah’ decided to put aside his Chinese sword in favour of the Malay KERIS, besides being invincibly-skillful in the Malay SILAT rather than the Chinese Kung Fu. Had he found out that SILAT, the Malay art of self-defense, is much superior than the Chinese Kung Fu?
However, by far the most mind-boggling question the proponents of the TALES must tell us is the willingness of the Chinese ‘Hang Too Ah’ to kill his fellow Chinese comrade-in-arm ‘Hang Jee Fatt’ for the sake of a Malay Sultan. Such ‘tragedy’ seemed to contradict their earlier claims that ‘Hang Too Ah’ and his comrade-in-arms were sent by the Chinese Ming Emperor to be the body-guards of the Princes Hang Li Po. Had ‘Hang Too Ah’ and comrade-in-arms changed their allegiance from the Ming Emperor to the Malay Sultan of Malacca?
And that has not taken into consideration a very important historical ‘trade mark’ attached to ‘Hang Too Ah’…to utter a LEGENDARY STATEMENT towards the end of his life, the statement that ‘ TAKKAN MELAYU HILANG DI DUNIA’, which have injected into the Malay bloods, arteries and veins, the spirit of SELF-RESPECT, BRAVERY and WILLINGNESS TO FIGHT in defense of their RIGHTS AND HONOUR.
Simply, there is no credible basis whatsoever for the proponents of the TALES to believe that the Malay LEGENDARY WARRIOR Hang Tuah was Chinese. In fact, there were more basis to believe that the Chinese Ming Emperor was Muslim. There is no dispute that Admiral Cheng Ho was a Muslim. The question is, how could a Chinese Ming Emperor trust a Muslim Admiral so much, if he himself was not a muslim. Whilst, there were articles written by certain historians, revealing that there were Ming Dynasty coins with the Arabic inscription ‘La ilaha illa Allah’, meaning ‘There is no god but Allah’, the phrase that a non-Muslim would have to utter to convert to Islam.
The proponents of the TALES also have not studied enough about Malay names, by making conclusion that Malay names do not normally carry a family name which is passed down from the father to the son. Obviously they overlooked the fact that there are many Malay names with the INITIALS being passed down from father to son. For example, we have names beginning with NIK, like in the name NIK Aziz, the Menteri Besar of Kelantan. His son’s name is NIK Abduh, and his daughter’s name NIK Amalina. Besides names beginning with NIK, there are hundreds of other INITIAL names including Daeng, Wan, Yeop, Sheikh, Syed, Dang, Dayang, Awang, Tengku, Teuku, Pangiran and many many others which are carried down from father to son/daughter, quite similar to the Chinese names.
HANG is one of such Malay names. In Sejarah Melayu, there was a character with the name of HANG Nadim, who was persecuted by the rulers of Tumasek(old name of Singapura). This episod of history happened well before the founding of Malacca by Parameswara, or Sultan Iskandar Shah, well before the giving away of Hang Li Po’s hand to the Malacca sultan. It could be just a co-incidence that the INITIAL sounds like a Chinese surname, just like the term TAN in the title TAN SERI, whilst TUAH is a Malay word, meaning ‘luck’. Hence the term ‘cabutan nombor berTUAH’.
Most Malays would wonder, what’s the real motive behind attempts by the Malaysian Chinese to ‘re-incarnate’ the ICONIC Malay warrior Hang Tuah as Chinese. Are they trying to tell the world that anything ICONIC and GREAT must necessarily be related to the Chinese?
My advice to proponents of ‘Chinese Hang Tuah’ is, do not try to hijack MALAY HEROES like Hang Tuah to be CHINESE, plus deregatory adjectives, like IDIOTS. Why I said that? For a Malay/Muslim Hang Tuah, to be absolutely loyal to a king is a RELIGIOUS DUTY, based on a ‘commandment’ in the Quran, meaning ‘Obey Allah, and obey the Messengger of Allah, and THOSE IN POWER from among you’. For a Malay/Muslim Hang Tuah, to kill Hang Jebat for the sake of Sultan Melayu was an HONOURABLE ACT, and infact a RELIGIOUS DUTY.
But, for Chinese ‘Hang Too Ah’ to kill his fellow Chinese ‘Hang Jee Fatt’ for the sake of the Malay Sultan of Malacca, he would have inflicted DISGRACE to the Chinese Ming Emperor, and would have earned him the ‘title’ CHINESE IDIOT.