Was Hang Li Po really a Ming princess?
She was reputed to have been sent here from China to become a wife of Sultan Mansur Shah who ruled Malacca from 1459 to 1477.
Is ‘Hang’ an honorific (title) and similarly conferred on the other famous Hang’s, i.e. Tuah, Jebat, Kasturi, Lekir, Lekiu?
Or was Hang Tuah maybe Hang Too Ah and his companions Lekir and Lekiu really Lee Kiei and Lee Kiew?
The late historian Khoo Kay Kim said Hang Tuah did not exist.
Apart from the princess and the Gang of Five silat masters above, are there any other well-known Hang’s in authentic Malay history?
Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) – a Chinese Muslim – was indeed a real person though. His sea voyages are historical record.
He had sailed the Ming emperor’s armada to many countries and docked in Malacca port on his first expedition in 1405 – 1407.
BELOW: Display replicas of Zheng He’s fleet
Six million Cina DAP are not Baba-Nyonya
It is not the upcoming state election, however, that brings Malacca to my mind. It’s rather my favourite hobby horse — the Rohingya.
Let me explain.
Malacca has a tiny and vanishing Chinese community called the Baba-and-Nyonya. It is possible that they (can claim to) have lived in Malaysia some five-and-a-half to six centuries.
Some might even be able to claim themselves the descendants of Hang Li Po’s retinue.
Large-scale Chinese immigration to Malaya, nonetheless, only peaked in the 1920s.
Lim Kit Siang for example is a second generation Malaysian.
There are close to seven million Chinese in Malaysia today. The vast majority of them cannot trace their ancestry in Tanah Melayu back to 600 years ago.
Now imagine if this seven million Chinese collective decided to call themselves Baba-Nyonya instead of Cina.
Then Chinese here will claim Bumiputera status, insisting that their community has resided in Malaysia for over half a millennium.
Such a hypothetical Cina-masquerading-as-Baba narrative is an exact parallel of the Rohingya situation.
Bengali in Rakhine called ‘new’ people by Burmese
The ‘real’ Rohingya have genuinely lived in Arakan for centuries.
An explainer in the National Geographic states: “Muslim settlers came to Arakan State, an independent coastal kingdom in what is now Myanmar, starting in the 1430s, and a small Muslim population lived in Arakan State when it was conquered by the Burmese Empire in 1784.”
Fact: Pockets of Muslims had settled in Arakan (today called Rakhine) beginning the 1430s. This parallels the Baba-Nyonya settling in Malacca during the 1400s.
National Geographic and other reliable sources say that before 1784, the Muslim population in Arakan was “small”.
BELOW: 1784 in the Arakan timeline, chart sourced from the Transnational Institute
By the 19th and 20th centuries, the Muslim population in Arakan had vastly ballooned because of mass migration. The Burmese say that these newer Muslims are actually Bengali.
Note: People from Bengal are Bengali, people from Punjab are Punjabi, people from Gujarat are Gujarati, etc, etc.
The Bengalis had been brought into Arakan by the British from Chittagong, which is across the natural border demarcated by the Naf River, to work the colonial economy.
Chittagong is a district in the territory of Bengal. Today one part of Bengal remains in India (the state of West Bengal) while the other part is present-day Bangladesh.
The word ‘desh’ – similar to the suffix ‘stan’ – denotes ‘country’, e.g. Uzbekistan is the land of the Uzbeks; Kazakhstan is the land of the Kazakhs … and likewise Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan.
Trivia: West Punjab (Muslim) is in Pakistan; East Punjab (Hindu, Sikh) is in India. Like Bengal, Punjab is cleaved in two.
Bengal is Bangladesh (Bangla + desh) is ‘the Land of the Bangla.
For example, India has states which are variously named Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.
Pradesh means ‘province’ or ‘territory’.
The Bengali in Arakan started popularly calling themselves Rohingya in the 1950s.
What they did is – as if, for example – Cina were to have started calling themselves Baba from 2008 onwards. (Some like Guan Eng deny they’re Chinese but claim to be Bangsa Malaysia.)
The Bengali claiming to be Rohingya demanded indigenous status based on the fact that there is a very small number of real Rohingya who had forefathers living in Arakan since the 15th century.
The Burmese authorities, however, would have none of it and drew their citizenship red line in the sand at year 1823 (i.e. 19th century) — marking the British invasion of Burma.
Only Muslims whose ancestors had lived in Burma before 1824 could become naturalized citizens of Myanmar.
Some Burmese Muslims – like the Kaman people – pass this test and are officially recognized as native or belonging to one of the “national races”.
The Bengali of Rakhine are nonetheless considered ‘foreigners’ in Myanmar.
BELOW: Rohingya prefer Langkawi to the island of Bhasan Char where the Bangladesh govt has relocated them
Rohingya might pass themselves off as mamak too
Burmese generally view the Bengali of Rakhine as having committed identity theft by trying to pass themselves off as Rohingya.
The majority Burmese are increasingly strengthened in their belief of the deceitful nature of these so-called ‘Rohingya’. Why?
Because Rohingya who use forged Bangladesh passport in order to work in Saudi Arabia (this was before the pandemic) successfully passed themselves off as Bangla!
There are 217,600 Chinese Malaysians currently living in Malacca.
There are 200,000 Rohingya – more if you count the undocumented – in Malaysia. Why do the virtue signalers still pretend like the Rohingya presence has no impact on us and our nation-building process?