Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Welcome to Hang Tuah's kampung of RM132 million!

************************ In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ************************ Reflection ************************** "Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80) ************************** While visiting the almost completed 'Perkampungan Hang Tuah' (The Village of Hang Tuah) in Kampung Duyong, Melaka recently, I could not help but compare it with the majestic Taj Mahal Complex in Agra, India which I had paid a visit to it in 2011. **************************** Well, 'Perkampungan Hang Tuah' was not ready to receive visitors yet, but I guess there might be some simillarities in its operations as the Taj Mahal Complex. *********************** Visitors to the Taj Mahal have to leave their vehicles including buses a distance away from the complex, then ride on special vehicles to its entrace. Looking at a newly completed large parking lot at the entrance of 'Perkampungan Hang Tuah', I guess visitors have to embark here and take a trip up a hill to the 'perkampungan' (village). ************************* Realizing there are stables built in the village, I guess that ride might use horse carts or bullock carts (kereta lembu) but I could be wrong; they might used motorized vehicles; and the presense of horses were for riding in the huge complex with an area of 40-hectares. ************************ The ground breaking ceremony and construction of giant heritage tourism project costing some RM132 million began in late 2011 and was expected to be completed in this month (March 2013).The building of the complex that is centred around the old 'Perigi Hang Tuah' (Hang Tuah Well) is to follow the cultural, architectural and traditional values of ancient Melaka. ************************ I was amazed with a very huge traditional building which I assumed was an 'istana'. Other structures are Rumah Hang Tuah, Rumah Hang Jebat, Rumah Hang Kasturi, Rumah Hang Lekir, Rumah Hang Lekiu, a traditional Malay house, Hang Tuah museum, auditorium, customary hall and cultural stage. *********************** Well, dear readers; as my families from my mother side also hail from Kampung Duyong, I am proud with the ambitious project to promote and upgrade the name of the famous warrior Hang Tuah; but I am afraid that it would not turn up as expected instead become another white elephant in the state at the expense of massive public funds of RM132 milion. ************************** There were residents complaining, a young man saying that RM132 million was a lot of money; and could that project generate a steady income to sustain its existence and operations because previous projects revolving the development of areas around 'Perigi Hang Tuah' proved futile. *************************** For example a 'gelanggang silat' (silat court) that was built near 'Perigi Hang Tuah' was left to rot and recently hundreds of Roman pillars that were erected on both sides of the road of about a kilometer leading to the well were uprooted and demolished. If each pillar cost RM500, imagine the money spent on this 'failed project'. ************************ Dear readers, Kampung Duyong and the story of Hang Tuah are close to me. Since I started working as a journalist in 1985 with my first posting in Melaka, I had written several articles about Hang Tuah and the village he was said to be brought up in – Kampung Duyong or Sungai Duyong which is situated some six kilometers from Melaka city. ************************** One of my earliest writing on Hang Tuah and artifacts claimed to have connection to him was an article entitled ‘Hang Tuah’s well or is it really?’ which was published in the New Sunday Times dated 23 November 1986. In that article; I questioned the belief that the well had any connection with the Malay legendary hero ************************* In the article, I wrote: “The Hang Tuah Well in Kampung Duyong Melaka is believed to have been originated from the print of Hang Tuah’s foot sole left on a stone but many elders in the kampung have a different version of the story. ****************************** The elders said the Hang Tuah Well did not exist before the 20th century. According to them, even though Hang Tuah was said to be raised in Kampung Sungai Duyong according to the Hikayat Hang Tuah, he did not leave any mark in the kampung. *********************** The elders said about 100 years ago, a child named Mat Segel went with a friend to fetch firewood near the site which is now known as the Hang Tuah Well Complex. *********************** At that time, the Hang Tuah Well was not in existence. The area was swampy and was covered with sago plants. At the site he saw an unused well and a few puddles of water. *********************** When Mat Segel returned home, he told his father Mat Koyan, what he had seen. Later, his father stated boasting that his son had found the Hang Tuah Well which was actually the unused well. ************************* The villagers believed him and soon the news spread far and wide that Hang Tuah’s well was discovered. *********************** They were even further convinced when a sick boy was cured of his illness after drinking some water from the well. ************************ The Hang Tuah Well looked like an ordinary well until early in the 70s when a Chinese woman known by the kampung folk as Nyonya Lilin of Melaka (she was a sinseh), built a shelter for the well. *************************** The State Government then recognized the well as the Hang Tuah Well and a modern complex with stalls, toilets and a ‘gelanggang silat’ was built to attract tourists to the kampung where Hang Tuah was believed to have been brought up.” ************************ In my opinion, Hang Tuah did exist. True he was a ‘laksamana’ (admiral) in the Melaka court, but his ability and achievement was too exaggerated; he was made the Malay folk hero. I had read old books such as ‘Sejarah Melayu’ (Malay Annals) and Hikayat Hang Tuah (unfortunately I have lost the copy), and I was in the opinion that Hang Tuah (if he really existed) was not a good example of a good Muslim. *********************** For example, he was said to have kidnapped Tun Teja of Pahang who was already engaged to be married; charmed her by using magic portion and brought her to Melaka to be the Sultan’s consort. And almost everyone knows the story of his duel and how he ‘finished off’ his best friend, Hang Kasturi (according to Sejarah Melayu) or Hang Jebat (according to Hikayat Hang Tuah). *********************** Based on Hang Tuah's ‘bad image’, I was surprised why the authority renamed Masjid Jamek Kampung Duyong to ‘Masjid Laksamana Hang Tuah recently. Perhaps today’s ‘history’ glorifies Hang Tuah but tomorrow who knows; don’t forget a historian, Prof Khoo Kay Kim had mentioned Hang Tuah did not exist! *********************** Before independence, the Malays did not bothered to have or restore heritage items and sites such as the Hang Tuah Well, but in modern Malaysia, their leaders made great efforts in doing such work and today we witnessed this gigantic project of 'Perkampungan Hang Tuah'. *********************** Well, to readers and visitors welcome to 'Perkampungan Hang Tuah' of RM132 million. ********************* That' s a lot of money but don't worry because perhaps at the village you may encounter 'Hang Tuah' and his four famous friends (Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi,Hang Lekiu and Hang Lekir); that experience 'would be more 'meaningful' than the money! Don't forget to ask 'Hang Tuah' how much he was paid!

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