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Cuisine in Melaka

BUKIT CHINA : A HILL STEEPED IN LEGEND AND HISTORY

Published: Friday August 16, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday August 16, 2013 MYT 11:00:18 AM

Bukit China: A hill steeped in legend and history

BY M. VEERA PANDIYAN

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The Bukit China Chinese cemetery in Malacca is the oldest in the country.

Its name can be traced to a legendary Ming Dynasty princess who supposedly arrived from China to marry Mansur Shah, the sixth Sultan of Malacca who ruled Malacca from 1459 to 1477.

Bukit China (Chinese Hill) was originally an undulating jungle of three mounds — Bukit Tinggi, Bukit Gedong and Bukit Tempurong.

It apparently took on the name after the Sultan allowed the entourage of princess Hang Li Poh to settle around the foot of the main hill.

These days, there are doubts over the purported royal lineage of Hang Li Po, as there is no written evidence to show that she was indeed a princess.

The guesswork is that she might have been a daughter of one of the emperor’s concubines or even a royal handmaiden.

But there are no doubts about the special relationship between Malacca and China then.

According to the Ming Shi-lu (Veritable Records Of The Ming Dynasty), an envoy of Balimisura (Parameswara) went to China in 1405 to offer tribute and another arrived two years later, complaining about Siam’s aggression and seizure of his kingdom’s royal seal.

An example of past architecture at Bukit China.
The following year, Ming’s renowned admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) was sent to Malacca.

Parameswara gave another tribute to the emperor the following year after Siam stopped intimidating his kingdom.

The records also note that Parameswara arrived at the emperor’s court on Aug 4, 1411 with his family of 540 followers and that he was treated with respect and showered with banquets and impressive presents during his stay.

As for Sultan Mansur Shah, the palace where he supposedly lived with all his wives, including Hang Li Po, was said to be at the foot of Bukit Melaka (today’s St Paul’s Hill).

There is now a replica of the palace, which houses the Malacca Cultural Museum. It was built using three types of hardwood — cengal, rasak and belian (for the roof) — based on what was written in Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals).

It was written that the sultan ordered a well to be dug at Bukit China for the new immigrants. The well, Perigi Raja remains to this day and never dries up even during droughts.

Bukit China remained largely forested until the Portuguese built a chapel called Madre De Deus (Mother of God) and monastery at the top of the hill in 1581.

It was destroyed in an Achehnese attack in 1629. The Achehnese actually held Malacca for about eight months before the Portuguese won it back.

The monastery was rebuilt when the Achehnese were finally defeated with the deaths of prominent warriors, including Panglima Pidi whose grave, known as keramat panjang (long sacred grave) remains on Bukit China.

There are about 20 other Muslim graves nearby and the area used to be a favourite haunt of those seeking “spiritual help” for four-digit numbers during the 60s and early 70s.

In addition to the beach at Tanjung Kling, it was also an alternative site for the then popular Mandi Safar festival which was banned as “unIslamic” activities during the 80’s.

Bukit China became a Chinese cemetery in 1685 when Lee Wei King, the then “Kapitan China” of Malacca, bought the three hills from the Dutch and renamed them as “San Pao Shan” (Three Gems Hill or Three Protections Hill). He placed it under the trust of the Cheng Hoon Teng temple.

Reputedly the oldest remaining traditional Chinese burial ground in the world with 12,500 graves, Bukit China remained largely unknown and mostly overgrown until about this time of the year, 29 years ago.

All hell literally broke loose during the Hungry Ghosts Festival in 1984, when the Malacca Government announced its plans to develop the 42ha hill into a housing and commercial centre in July 1984.

The then Chief Minister, (now Tan Sri) Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik, gave three options — development of the hill solely by the Chinese community, joint development by the state and community or development by the state.

The plan sparked anger and outrage throughout the country, moving the diverse community to come together to preserve a heritage symbolising their earliest ancestors links to the country.

When the trustees of the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple conducted a survey to gauge public response on the development proposal, 553 associations and close to 300,000 people replied with a resounding no, against a mere 73 who agreed.

The country’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was among those against the plan, lending more weight to calls for its preservation.

Representatives of political parties urged the then PM (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad to intervene and resolve the politically explosive and racially divisive issue.

As Carolyn Cartier, professor of geography and urban studies at the University of Technology, Sydney noted in her book, Globalising South China, the Save Bukit China campaign achieved ethnic and class representation and became a national movement, the first to grow to such proportions in the history of the country.

The State government eventually relented and has since been promoting Bukit China as part of its rich cultural heritage.

Today, the hill has become a recreational ground where joggers have carved out a track between graves. It has also become a valuable green lung for the city, offering great views from the peak.

The Chinese living around the area, covering Jalan Bukit China, Lorong Bukit China, Jalan Temenggong, Kampung Bukit China and nearby Banda Kaba, are referred to as the “San Pao Ching” community, in reference to several old wells in the area, seven of which were said to be dug during the time of Zheng He.

In addition to a hike up the hill, among the must-see sights for tourists are the Poh San Teng temple, built in 1795 by another Kapitan China, Chua Su Cheong and the Chinese War Memorial, located next to it.

The cenotaph to remember those who were brutally killed during the Japanese Occupation consists of an obelisk inscribed with Chinese calligraphy mounted on a raised platform with a Kuomintang flag at the top.

Thousands were killed after Malacca fell to the Japanese on Jan 15, 1942. The horror stories include burying victims alive and the killing of babies by throwing them up into the air and stabbing them with bayonets as they fell.

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All Malaysia Info

Rare discernment into Syed Mokhtar

Listed as a seventh richest Malaysian with a net value of US$3.3 billion, not many is famous from a media-shy Syed Mokhtar.

Syed Mokhtar Albukhary

Syed Mokhtar Albukhary : A Biography

Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, A Biography
Author: Premilla Mohanlall
Publisher: PVM Communications

MY initial assembly with aristocrat Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary went off in a rather surprising way. The year was 2004 and he had wanted to accommodate someone from The Star to make famous his views over his quarrel with another tycoon, a late Tan Sri Nasimuddin SM Amin, over DRB-Hicom.

Syed Mokhtar felt a media lucky a Naza Group trainer over him and he wanted to give his side of a story.

Both were battling over a vital 15.8% retard of shares in DRB-Hicom hold by 3 parties, including a estate of a late Tan Sri Yahaya Ahmad, and a adversary was billed as a “Fight of The Big Boys.”

The array of journal headlines had forced a reserved Syed Mokhtar to come out and pronounce to this author to put a record straight.

Our assembly during a business centre of a five-star hotel during Jalan Sultan Ismail was bound during 9pm though he usually incited adult nearby midnight. Although he was dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt, we beheld that he usually wore sandals. He was over dual hours late.

His aides had warned me that he would substantially be “waylaid” on a approach there by businessmen and politicians, many of whom would ask for business deals or favours.

To equivocate such disruptions, he shuttles between his residence during abundant Bukit Tunku – that he bought given he became a millionaire bachelor – and a hotel to accommodate his associates and contacts. The other assembly indicate is a Islamic Arts Museum nearby a National Mosque.

The other rather surprising assembly mark is an Indian grill during Jalan Pahang. To this day, he carries with him a tumbler of tea, finished by a sold waiter, from a eatery.

“If (the late Tan Sri) Loh Boon Siew can accommodate his friends during a coffeeshop any morning, we see no reason given we can't suffer my teh tarik during a shop, saya joke tong san mali, like him,” he told me, referring to Boon Siew’s ancestral roots from China. Syed Mokktar’s ancestral roots, on a other hand, can be traced to Central Asia.

By a time we finished a conversations, it was tighten to 2am. As we put down my coop and was about to tighten my note book, he unexpected told me that a discussions were wholly off a record and he was not to be quoted.

The publicity-shy businessman has never been during palliate with reporters though we wasn’t going to concede Syed Mokhtar to have his way. we told him, in no capricious terms, that if that were so, we would have squandered my whole dusk with him, and either he favourite it or not, we was going to put him on record.

I contingency have finished an sense on him given as we got to know any other better, he was prepared to share his private thoughts with me frequently – though still never on record.

But a media is still satirical on Syed Mokhtar and, in some ways, he is to be blamed as he has never finished himself accessible to journalists, preferring to let his aides do a talking. In fact, bankers also protest that he never meets them!

Interestingly enough, a whole section is clinging to his exchange with a media in his autobiography that has only strike a bookstores created by Premilla Mohanlall, a author and a open family practitioner.

“I consternation given we get bad press when others who have abused a complement for personal gains have not been subjected to such media scrutiny. Perhaps it is time to come out and urge myself,” he pronounced in a book.

The 180-page book is really readable, starting with his childhood days in a encampment attap residence with no piped H2O and electricity, where a toilet was a array latrine. It traces Syed Mokhtar’s initial knowledge of doing business underneath his cattle merchant father in Alor Star. His father migrated to Kedah from a Afghan segment of Central Asia around India and Thailand.

The book gives a singular look into his family life and how a family’s financial constraints forced Syed Mokhtar to stop drill after Form Five, while his siblings were means to continue. There was also his early growing-up years with a infantryman uncle in Johor Baru.

He takes honour job himself a businessman with no diplomas, and his ability to pronounce a layman’s denunciation is apparent in a book. Much space is dedicated to his early days as a travelling salesman, when he had to nap in a lorries and on bug-infested beds in inexpensive hotels.

The indicate that Syed Mokhtar seems to wish to tell his readers is that he did not get his resources on a china platter. While a certain movement of a New Economic Policy had helped him, he worked tough and fought hard. He was not a form who cashed out after removing a pinkish forms.

In short, he went by a good and bad times, like many well-tested businessmen. The 1997 financial predicament saw his resources shrank from RM3bil to RM600mil.

“Eighty per cent of my marketplace capitalisation was wiped out. There was a lot of pain and hardship. Many people suspicion we would container adult and leave. we am a fighter, with a clever will to survive.

“I mislaid large nights of sleep, we mislaid hair, though we did not remove steer of one thing: my shortcoming to guarantee vital bumiputra resources and to strengthen a interests of my staff.”

Today, he has 110,000 staff underneath his payroll and indirectly about 250,000 other Malaysians, quite vendors, given he acquired Proton this year.

Syed Mokhtar’s tighten ties with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is good documented though in this book, Syed Mokhtar spoke vividly, if not humorously, of their initial encounter.

It was Thursday, Jan 16, 1997 and a time was 2.30pm – Syed Mokhtar entered a bureau of a former Prime Minister.

“I greeted him with a salam and he stood before me, with his hands folded opposite a chest. He did not call for me to take a chair when he sat down. we was sweating, and motionless to lay down to benefaction a papers we had prepared to explain all my businesses in Kedah, Kuala Lumpur and Johor.

“It enclosed building skeleton for a new plan in Alor Star, a sprawling growth with a mosque and a health and gratification comforts for a bad as good as an general university for disadvantaged communities around a world.

“The Prime Minister listened carefully, though observant a word. By a time we was done, it was an hour and 10 minutes. Still, not a word. we left a papers on his table and took leave.”

Not prolonged later, Syed Mokthar, who was still asleep, perceived a call from Dr Mahathir himself with a elementary message: “Your matter in Kedah is settled.” That is of march selected Dr Mahathir, a male who has no time for tiny pronounce and offering few words.

Apart from his countless business ventures, Syed Mokhtar also writes in fact of his countless free works.

Almost any year, his Albukhary Foundation hosts dual iftar or fast-breaking dinners for over 3,000 needy people. The substructure now has a few flagship projects, including a Islamic Arts Museum built in 1998.

In 2001, a substructure launched a Albukhry Tuition Programme to assistance a underachieving farming propagandize children pass their final high propagandize examination. At a finish of a programme, 9 years later, about 80,000 students from 500 schools had benefited from these calming classes.

His substructure has also extended assistance to survivors of earthquakes in China, Pakistan and Iran, and a tsunami in Indonesia. It has also built an AIDS sanatorium in Uganda and a girls’ propagandize in Nepal as good as helped support a Sarajevo Science and Technology centre.

An engaging section is on his purpose as a family man. Syed Mokhtar has never overwhelmed on his private life in any interview, that has been rare, in any case.

The father of 7 children, between a ages of dual and 18, suggested how his standard meetings start during 10pm and finish during 3am “and is hold 7 days a week and has been a slight for some-more than 20 years.”

“Fortunately, my mother comes from a business family and understands this. Initially, we had to explain a arrangement to her, and she supposed it. Except for family holidays, in a 20 years of marriage, we don’t consider we have spent many evenings during home after 10pm,” he wrote.

Syed Mokhtar married in 1992 during a age of 41 to afterwards 24-year-old Sharifah Zarah. There are also singular cinema of his family in a book.

Although a book is, no doubt, a open family exercise, a right questions have been acted by a writer, including a public’s notice of his many acquisitions and a common critique that he has some-more than he can chew.

He also answered a emanate of a shareholding structure of his companies that could not be traced to him, acknowledging “it is an aged robe that has to change.”

Syed Mokhtar hasn’t altered much. He is frequency seen in open functions. He is still some-more during palliate in short-sleeved shirts and sandals. The billionaire now travels on a private jet though in town, he still drives around in his aged Proton Perdana. By WONG CHUN WAI

Chinese Opera

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Dr Mahathir

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Categories
Cuisine in Melaka

MELAKA SULTANATE AROUND SINCE 1200s?

Published: Monday October 17, 2011 MYT 7:14:00 PM

Malacca Sultanate around since 1200s not 1400: Ali Rustam

MALACCA: The Malacca Sultanate began in 1262 and not 1400 as widely believed, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.

He said a group of historians, through the Malaysian Institute for History and Patriotism Research (IKSEP), managed to prove the earlier existence of the sultanate.

“The discovery of this fact is proven through the writings of Raja Bongsu in the book, ‘Salatus Salatin’.

“It is also proven by our historians that we have a high civilisaton,” he told reporters after opening a seminar in conjunction with the 749th anniversary of the founding of Malacca here.

Profesor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim, who presented a paper titled “Melaka, Mother of Malaya” at the seminar, said the present generation had little knowledge on the country and its society.

“This phenomenon is worrying. History does not just focus on the olden days but also on developments until the present day,” he said.

Mohd Ali said the lack of history knowledge and appreciation have made the people lose their true identity and become materialistic.

He said the country should continue producing historians or social scientists as they were important in helping to raise self awareness and in developing a true identity among Malaysians.

“The action by certain universities to reduce the intake of students for the arts and social science stream is not appropriate,” he said.

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