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Thursday, June 30, 2011

OF TWO MALAYS, FRIEND (circumnavigated) AND FOE (circumvented) OF MAGELLAN

In 1506 Ferdinand Magellan, an impoverished nobleman-soldier came to be in the Orient when he joined Francisco de Almeida, the first Viceroy of India,  leading a powerful sea expedition with 1,500 soldiers to Calicut.

Magellan in the Malay Archipelago

Magellan saved de Sequeira’s flotilla in Malacca in 1509 when he gave an early warning of an attack by the Malays. In 1511 he was a already promoted to captain and took part in the Malacca campaign under Albuquerque. After seven years in the Orient he returned to Lisbon bringing with him among others a Malay slave by the name of Traprobana (non-Malay sounding, a corruption; named Enrique by the Portuguese), and a woman slave both from Sumatra.

In Lisbon, Magellan grew in disfavour of King Manuel of Portugal. He left for Spain and denounced his Portuguese citizenship and became a naturalized Spaniard. In March 1518, King Charles of Spain agreed to sponsor him to find a new route to the Moluccas and hence fame to the Crown - five ships, crews, victuals, artillery, and supplies for two years of voyage were provided.

Epoch voyage

On September 20, 1519 Magellan in his flagship ‘Trinidad’ set from San Lucar, Spain for the epoch voyage with four sister ships - ‘San Antonio’, ‘Concepcion’, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Santiago’. The crew numbered 267 men consisting of many nationalities including Malays, Moors, and other natives. Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian knight was the historian of the expedition. Enrique the Malay became the interpreter-slave and foster-son of Magellan.

The five ships sailed westwards and reached the coast of Brazil. When the captains of three of Magellan’s ships mutinied they were quelled and the leaders executed. One of the ships later deserted and returned to Spain. Just to the year after setting sail Magellan crossed the straits around Patagonia which now bear his name. With four ships left in the flotilla they sailed across the Pacific and after much deprivations landed at Guam on March 6, 1521.

It was a very historic event when on March 17, 1521 Magellan made landfall in the Philippines at an uninhabited islet of Homonhon, south of Samar. They exchanged gifts with food brought by several natives who came in a boat from a neighbouring island.

When they sailed to Limasawa, another island south of Leyte, Enrique was made to good use to communicate in Malay with Rajah Kolambu, king of the island-kingdom. A Malay-Spaniard, and hence east-west friendship was sealed through a blood compact (kasikasi).


Magellan was over-zealous in trying to convert the natives to Christianity. Under the guise of friendship and a show of force that bedazzled the natives. Rajah Kolambu , along with his brother Rajah Siagu and subjects of the former, they kissed the cross of the Spaniards. That was on 31 March, 1521.
On April 7, 1521 Magellan reached the port of Cebu. Rajah Humabon ruled Cebu with eight chieftains and 2,000 lancers. By the week’s end about 800 Cebuans had converted including the Rajah who was given a new name, Carlos. Their pagan idols were burnt.

Lapu-Lapu, the chieftain of Mactan, an islet near Cebu refused to obey Magellan’s order to recognize Rajah Humabon as the king of all the chieftains in the region. On April 27, Magellan invaded Mactan with 60 Spaniards in three vessels and 1,000 Cebuan allies in praus. Magellan dispatched an ultimatum to Lapu-Lapu to which came the reply “I submit to no king and pay no tribute to any power. If our enemy have lances, we have also lances of bamboo and stakes hardened in fire”.

Death of Magellan
The reefs and shallow water prevented the boats to land. Magellan boasted and wanted to show the natives how Europeans fight. He picked 49 of his men, leaving 11 to guard the boats and waded to the shore. Magellan’s men fired the first shots from their arquebuses. The Mactans having waiting patiently for the attack now threw their weapons consisting of spears, arrows, flaming stakes, and arrows upon the invaders.
Magellan ordered his men to burn the Mactans’ houses. This enraged the natives further and attacked the enemies with full fury. Hard-pressed on all sides, Magellan ordered a retreat to the boats. They were in heavy armour and could not move fast in the shallow water. To cover his men, Magellan bravely stood ground and fought the Mactans.

‘A poisoned arrow wounded him in the right leg; twice his helmet was knocked off his head; and a bamboo spear struck him in the face. He tried to draw his sword from its scabbard; but he could not do it, for another spear had wounded his right arm. One of the Mactans slashed him on the leg, causing him to fall with face downward. And immediately other Mactan warriors pounced upon him and killed him with their spears and bolos.’

Pigafetta survived the fight with a swollen wound in the face. Eight other Spaniards were killed but many were wounded. Enrique was wounded slightly. Of the Mactans fifteen were killed. Lapu-Lapu became a Filipino hero as the Malay chieftan who repulsed Magellan’s invasion.
The Cebuans on seeing that the Spaniards were not invincible killed many of them. The survivors managed to sail away in three of the ships but one was later burned because of lack of men. The two remaining ships, Victoria and Trinidad used captured natives to guide them to Borneo. They landed at Brunei and was welcomed by Sultan Siripada.

Returning to Spain

The ships, Victoria and Trinidad  managed to reach Moluccas. Sultan Almanzor, ruler of Tidore welcomed the Spaniards and gave them food. The ships were repaired and replenished. It was decided that Victoria  laden with a cargo of spices and a crew of 60 men – 47 Europeans and 13 Malays to return to Spain via the Cape of Good Hope. While the Trinidad set sail through the Pacific to Panama.
On September 6, 1522, the Victoria, with tattered riggings and 18 haggard survivors, entered the port of San Lucar de Barrameda of Spain from where it started two weeks less than three years ago.
Notwithstanding his great navigational achievement, Magellan was disgraced in Spain for his alleged cruelty and disloyalty, and in Portugal he was announced as a traitor.

As stipulated in case of Magellan's untimely death Traprobana or Enrique would become a free man with an inheritance of 10,000 maravedis. Thus, he became the first Nusantaran to sail round the world in 1522.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


(Reposting because pictures didn't show fully in the previous one. Apologies)

Nusantara or the Malay Archipelago is also known as the East Indies during the colonial times. It encompasses of more than 25,000 islands spread out in the maritime Southeast Asia - Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor. And to a lesser extent the Nusantara includes Madagascar, the Pattani region of south Thailand,  and the Chamic areas of Vietnam.

Adam and Eve as depicted in an early Persian painting. We all began from them.

Prehistoric time as depicted in Perak museum exhibit.

Beginning 400AD is considered recorded history for Malaysia.


Early Hindu empires in the Nusantara. Sri Vijaya (Sumatra) was the most famous and later on Majapahit of Java.

Wars as depicted in a stone carving of a temple wall during the Hindu empires.

Spread of Islam to the various areas in the Nusantara.

Court scene in the Spice Islands. English traders negotiating with the sultan.

Indonesian women are known for their industriousness.

Spinning yarn.

Sewang dance of Orang Asli during feasts at night.

Orang Asli girl weaving a basket.

Sarawak Iban couple with their heritage jars kept in their house.

Head-hunting was quite widespread in the Nusantara - Borneo, Philippines, Flores ...

1. Hedda Morrison. 1988. Life in a Longhouse. Summer Times, Singapore
2. Koos van Brakel. 2004. Charles Sayers 1901-1943: Pioneer Painter in the Dutch East Indies. KIT Publishers, Amsterdam
3. Stewart Wavell. 1958. The Lost World of the East: An Adventurous Quest in the Malayan Hinterland. Souvenir Press, London


Adam and Eve as depicted by an early Persian painting. We all began from them.

Prehistoric time as depicted in Perak museum exhibit.

Beginning 400 AD is considered recorded history for Malaysia.

Early Hindu empires in the Nusantara.

Wars as depicted in a stone carving of a temple during the Hindu empires.

Spread of Islam to the various regions in the Nusantara.

Court scene in the Spice Islands. English traders negotiating with the sultan.

Industriouness of Indonesian women.

Sewang dance of Orang Asli (L), weaving a basket (R)

Sarawak Iban couple with their heritage jars kept in their house.

Head-hunting was widespread in the Nusantara - Borneo, Philippines, Flores ...

1.Hedda Morrison. 1988. Life in a Longhouse. Summer Times, Singapore
2. Koos van Brakel. 2004. Charles Sayers 1901-1943: Pioneer Painter in the Dutch East Indies. KIT Publishers, Amsterdam
3. Stewart Wavell. 1958. The Lost World of the East: An Adventurous Quest in the Malayan Hinterland. Souvenir Press, London


Friday, June 24, 2011


When undisturbed, the virgin jungle ecosystem is in a state of equilibrium. The multi-tiered trees are self-supporting due to nutrient recycling. Climbing these trees and sometimes choking them are vines and lianas. Myriad of creatures big and small depend on the jungle for their habitat and survival. Monkeys, squirrels, bats, birds, bees live on the trees.

There used to be large populations of seladangs, elephants, tapirs, tigers, deer, seladangs, snakes, iguanas, pangolins that roam the ground. Frogs, tortises, crocodiles, fishes thrive in the streams and rivers.

Imagined or real there are spirits in the jungle, evil ones and kind-hearted ones. And among all these hive and jive, live the human jungle dwellers, the Orang Asli, the so-called Proto-Malays, the pioneer brother of the Deutro-Malays.

The plight of my people, the Orang Asli are living on the edge. Unscrupulous people have taken many parts of the jungle ie. my kampongs and my towns so to speak.

They simply come in with huge machines to get timber and make way for roads and farms. What are we supposed to do?

Our sources of plants for food and medicine are increasingly difficult to get. The rivers where we take our bath and catch fishes are no more prestine but coloured like teh-tarik. Our catch of birds, monkeys, squirrels and snakes are getting meager day by day because you have killed them directly or indirectly or driven them far into the jungle.

Drink it natural, raw from the vine in the care-free days!

Now, we cannot hold wildboar feasts often anymore. When the outsiders use guns to hunt them wildlife dear to us such as seladang and deer, these animals become a rarity . We use traps and sumpit to hunt for food. The blowpipe dart cannot go very far as your bullets. Our catch are thus limited.

Moreover, many of us are getting old and cannot blow our sumpit strong like before.

We are an ignorant and confused lot. We live by the land. Whatever extra money we have we buy salt, sugar, rice, Panadol, and titbits for the children from the van-seller. Please do not make it more difficult for us by proclaiming that out traditional shifting cultivation is bad for the environment. How could we move the mountains with our bare hands and primitive tools? It is the supposedly civilized people with machines who flatten the mountains and destroy the forests and everything in them including us.

The jungle is now filled with emptiness.

Sometimes ago, one of our people in Kampung Reka in Kelantan claimed that he saw a Pak Belang (part of jungle law to call them indirectly and show respect) dragging a victim into the jungle. This was not the first and last episode. Since time immemorial there had been very many of our people were brutally devoured. At night we even have to compete with the elephants to gather durian fruits before they swallow them away.
We are the protectors of the jungle. The jungle is not neutral. We were then in the diffused forefront where the communists were active.

It was not easy to fight against the terrorists knowing very well that they were lurking somewhere there. We were sharing the same jungle and footpaths. It was like sharing the bed with the enemy – sumpit versus gun.

We encourage our young to join the Senoi Praq as jungle trackers and scouts that helped saved lives of many government soldiers during the emergency. They get some monthly pension, meager though.

Some years ago, there was a case of a group of local Malays (Kelantan) who tried to seize our land and we had to rough them up in self defense. A few got hurt. Several of us were brought to court and appeared on TV handcuffed. How haggard looking and malnourished they were! Theirs was a minor offense compared to ones who traded in dadah and whatnot. They are rich and yet want more and more. Ours was a case of survival, theirs greed above all, above patriotism.

We need protection or ways to defend ourselves and our families. There are so many intruders nowadays, humanoid and non-humanoid that come into the so-called reservation that you have alienated for us.

Was it true that a far-distant blood-cousin of us who lives along the Yuat River in that far-flung Papua New Guinea had his blood sample taken? They said that he has immunity against malaria and wanted to study and patent his cell line. They say that there are provisions in the global agreement on the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) for intellectual property rights and equitable sharing of benefits.
Now, if somebody come to my people and try to do something like that, what shall we do? We cannot run to the nearest police station to report immediately because it is so many miles away! Our area is not accessible by mobile phone either. We are hapless people.

Our health

Although we have the jungle reservation to live in (and die) but the boundry is constantly being encroached. Before the past general election, the government proposed to establish a botanical park in Perak. We objected because part of our land may be taken. Thus, our area is getting smaller and we have no title to the land.

A couple of years ago a number of children died from unknown causes in Cameron Highlands. The wanton use of chemicals by farmers have contaminated the groundwater and rivers - where our daily lives centred. The health of our people and surroundings are in dire need of rehabilitation. Booze and AIDS have come to our reservation. What has our government caretakers got to say to our predicament? Dia orang tu memang macam tu!

For some of us, the government has built us houses fitted with zinc roof. But the roofs are too low and become unbearable during the heat of the day. We still prefer the traditional huts of palas roof even though we have to go deeper into the jungle and be free, at least for a little while more.

For long term sustainability the government could help to improve our living standard by:

1. Demarcate suitable agricultural land and give advise, supplies, guidance and incentives how to grow food and economic crops.

2. Help market our agricultural produce and jungle products.

3. Train us in various trades, skills, and crafts so that we could be more self-reliant and provide us better job opportunities.

4. Improve our health by providing better sanitation, medical services, drinking water, electricity and other amneties.

5. Build playgrounds, courts for sepak takraw, volleyball and such, community halls that also serve to play indoor games.

6. We need land titles for our reservation to secure ourselves legally and assure us security in this “Tanah Tumpah Darah Ku”.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


At 18 years old, 1957 John Lennon was just a quarry man. He had some experience in singing in the church choir.

He teamed up with George Harrison and began to get bootleg recordings in Liverpool, 1960.

In 1960, John and his band made their wild stint at Club Indra, Hamburg, Germany.
In 1961 they were at Liverpool making local hits in cavern and clubs and a year later made their first recording. In 1963, Beatlemania was born with their top two songs. "I want to hold your hands" became the top five songs in USA. John married Yoko Ono in March 1969.

Perchance I have in possession a visitors' book of C. Highlands kept by the Tourist Promotion Association based in Tanah Rata dated between 5.7.1963 to 22.9.1965. (The visitors' book was available from Basrai Brothers, 173 Batu Rd, KL or 5 Chulia St, Singapore).

This means that the book was fully signed-in almost 10 years before my first assignment as a MARDI researcher at C. Highlands, April 1973-Dec 1973. A later sojourn spanned six years, 1990-1996.

Registration of earliest and latest entries in the Visitors' Book

On the empty fore page was written in blue ballpen ink as below. Most likely someone played a practical joke to sign-in as John Lennon when the Beatlemania just began. The idea is preposterous that John Lennon ever come to C.Highlands. In the last empty page of the visitors' book was signed J/S Chaplin, 111 Rochester Rd, Surrey, England and perhaps he was the one who was pulling the leg.
To verify my curiousity I wrote to John Lennon's website by no reply.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Tunku Abdul Rahman adalah Perdana Menteri Malaysia pertama dan merupakan Bapa Kemerdekaan yang diistiharkan pada 31 Ogos 1957 di Melaka.

Gambar2 dalam posting ini adalah petikan antara buku2 penulisan Tunku yang sebelumnya disiarkan dalam The Star:
i) Viewpoints. 1978. Heinemann Educational Books, K Lumpur
ii) Something to Remember. 1983. Eastern Universities Press, P. Jaya
iii) Lest We Forget. 1983. Eastern Universities Press, P. Jaya

Turut dirujuk: Katak Keluar dari bawah Tempurung. 1987. Abdul Aziz Ishak, Karya Bistari. Aziz Ishak adalah antara rakan seperjuangan Tunku dan dilantik sebagai Menteri Pertanian dan Peikanan oleh Tunku.

Baden Powell, pengasas pengakap berkata "Be Prepared" sebagai motonya. Tunku (K) bersama kawan di Bangkok.

Beliau aktif dalam bola sepak masa sekolah (Penang Free School; St. Catherines, UK), tinju (Huntington, UK) dll.

                   Tunku berkelulusan St. Catherines, Cambridge.

Datuk Onn Jaafar adalah pengasas UMNO. UMNO menentang hebat  penubuhan Malayan Union yang diajukan oleh Harold MacMichael bagi pihak British. Akhirnya MU dibubarkan dan Federation of Malaya ditubuhkan pada 1 Feb 1948.

Datuk Onn tidak bersetuju dengan perjuangan UMNO dan keluar dari parti dan menubuhkan Parti Negara pada tahun 1951. Tunku mengambil pucuk pimpinan UMNO.

Tunku berkempen untuk Perikatan (UMNO, MCA, MIC).
Pilihan raya dimenangi oleh Perikatan (Kapal Layar) dan Tunku memilih menteri2 kabinetnya. Berdiri tengah ialah Yang Dipertuan Agong ke 4.

                  Tunku memeriksa perbarisan Pemuda UMNO di P. Pinang.

Tunku dan isteri, Sharifah Rodziah bersama cucu2.

Bersama Raja Feisal, Saudi Arabia 1981.                                             Bersama Muhammad Ali

Tunku di Masjid Katanning, Australia, 1982. Imam sebelah kiri Tunku.

My salute to Bapa Kemerdekaan, a remarkable man, down to earth, his many strengths overweighed his weaknesses. He who has done much to the harmony and development of the nation.