Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Thursday December 22, 2011
Malacca Christmas fairyland comes alive

MALACCA: Come Christmas, the Portuguese Settlement here turns into a large fairyland. Having hosted the national Christmas open house celebrations twice, no expense is spared to make this time of year special.

Many homeowners have outdone each other in their Christmas decorations, especially lighting.

According to the settlement's regedor Peter Gomez, some have spent up to RM10,000 to decorate their homes.

“We maintain the true spirit of Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ brings light to the world, and want to ensure that visitors who come here are truly captivated,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Malacca Government's Portuguese community advisor Joseph Sta Maria said the community was hoping that a Minister for Minority Affairs would be appointed.

Monday, December 19, 2011


December 18, 2011 17:05 PM

Melaka Bird Park To Emulate Singapore's Success - Mohd Ali

From Nasarudin Omar

SINGAPORE, Dec 18 (Bernama) -- The Melaka Government wants the Melaka Bird Park, currently under construction, to emulate the success achieved by the management of the Jurong Bird Park here.

Singing praises of the republic's bird park which has the largest number and species of birds in the world, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said.

"I am fascinated by its natural background, as well as the upgrades made on the bird park over the years.

"This will be a good example for the Melaka Government (to follow).

Speaking to reporters on Saturday after a three-hour visit to the bird park which was opened to the public on Jan 3, 1971, Mohd Ali was given a briefing by Wildlife Reserves Singapore Chief Executive Officer Isabella Loh and Jurong Bird Park General Manager R. Raja Segran.

The Melaka Bird Park will house 300 species on a 1.8 hectare of land in Taman Botanikal, Ayer Keroh, when it is set up by early 2013.

This new tourism product of Melaka is part of the second phase of a landscape and tourism facilities development project spanning 92.5 hectares in Melaka's Botanical Park.

Mohd Ali said Melaka would work with the management of the Jurong Bird Park which had maintained its popularity among tourists since it began operating about 40 years ago.

"I am amused by the performance of a parrot here which can speak in several languages, as well as a scarlet macaw (another parrot species) which is able to fly to deliever a written message," he added.

The chief minister said Melaka was also interested in buying the bird park's monorail, which runs 1.72km, for installation at the botanical park.

"We will see if the monorail is suitable for use," said Mohd Ali, who was informed by Isabella that the Jurong Bird Park monorail would be replaced with a tram.


Friday, December 16, 2011


In two weeks' time, we will be celebrating Merry Christmas and the end of 2011. We will usher in the New Year 2011 as well. At the same time, by the 3rd. Week of January 2012, billions of Chinese around the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Golden Dragon. All these festivities will be celebrated within 1 month.

As we celebrate X'mas, New Year and Chinese New Year, may we take this opportunity to wish everyone well. May Peace prevail around the World so that everyone can enjoy happiness, wealth and health. Let us usher in these celebrations by sharing with the unfortunate and provide them with warmth and joy as we are One of the Kind in this Earth of ours.

Happy Holidays and Happy Celebrations to Everyone.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Melaka newest tourist attraction, Melaka Wildlife Theatre, has opened on 26th. November 2011. Located at Pulau Melaka, visitors can come to view their shows at 3.00pm and 6.00pm daily.

Entrance fees are RM 20.00 for Adults and RM 15.00 per person for Senior Citizens and Children.

Drive to Melaka Raya and turn right at the junction in front of Malacca Club. Drive towards Pulau Melaka and turn the first right at the roundabout.

Let us come and join in the fun with the Star Sea Lions and their friends at Wildlife Theatre, Melaka.



December 09, 2011 16:06 PM

Melaka-Sumatera Power Line Project Creates Strategic Partnership - Chief Minister

By Noor Azmi Hamdan

MEDAN, Dec 9 (Bernama) -- Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the RM1.2 billion electrical cable project near Telok Gong, Alor Gajah, would create a strategic partnership in energy usage between his state and Sumatera.

He said the project that involves a collaboration between Malaysia's Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) and Indonesia's PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), had been agreed upon by the two parties last year.

It would be implemeted in two phases with the first scheduled to commence in 2014 and completed three years later, he told reporters after the 8th Governor and Chief Minister Forum in conjunction with the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Conference here.

Under phase one, the project would generate up to 300MW of power while phase two 600MW, he said.

"It's one of the master plan programmes between Melaka and Sumatera, and through this collaboration, we don't need to build many electric generating stations because the two regions can share electrical power," he said.

Friday, December 9, 2011


On Sunday 11th.December 2011, the Melaka Chief Minister YAB Datuk Seri Mohd.Ali Rustam has been invited to officially launch the official website of the Wangkang 2012 festival in Melaka.

The members of the public are also invited to witness this event.

The event will be held from 1st. February to 6th.February 2012 which the climax of this festival will be the procession of the Wangkang over 20km through the streets of Melaka City. The Wangkang will be burnt off Pulau Melaka at the end of the Festival.

For details, log into :


10th.December 2011

After an absence of 10 years, the Wangkang Festival will be held again in the historic city of Melaka from 6th. February 2012.

This Wangkang Festival was held in 1933, 2001 and now in 2012.

The Wangkang Festival is of Hokkien origin, and it is held in China, only in Chiang Chew Hoo and Chuan Chew Hoo ( 2 very large districts of the Hokkien province ) and in Malacca.

In the early days, it was also held in Manila, but I don’t know whether it is still being held there or not. I have heard of it also being held in Sarawak.

During the persecution of the Chinese by the Manchus in the Ching Dynasty about 3 centuries ago, a great many Hokkien people emigrated from China and some of them sailed towards Malaya, and the first country they reached was Malacca, where they settled down and worshipped the Ong Yahs as they had been used to in their own country.

As customary, their descendants – the Straits-Born Chinese – followed their footsteps in worshipping five Ong Yahs and this is why Malacca is the only place in Malaya, where the Wangkang procession is held.

This festival was last held in Melaka in 2001 and 1933. Now, a procession ofthe Wangkang through the streets of Melaka City which covers over 20km, will be held on 6th. February 2012 before the Wangkang will be burnt in the Straits of Melaka off Pulau Melaka.

This is a festival for all and all are invited to witness this once a lifetime event. Tourists will be able to witness this unforgettable event and to take part in festival which will be held from 1st. Februaryto6th. February 2012.

For more details and read aboutthis festival, please log into:

Monday, November 28, 2011


Sunday November 27, 2011

500 years on

Yes, we all know the Portuguese came and conquered Malacca in 1511 — but did you know that they tried to take the Sultan’s magnificent bed back to Portugal?

IN the port town of Belem, near Lisbon, a map of the ancient world etched on the ground near the PadrĂ£o dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) has Malacca carefully noted on it. Or “Malaca”, as it’s spelt there. It’s only fitting that this European town on the other side of the world marks our little city/state because it was from Belem that seafaring Portuguese in the 15th and 16th century set off to explore and trade with India and the Orient during the Age Of Discovery – and Malacca’s role during that age was very much more than just a footnote in both Portugal and Malaysia’s history

This year marks the quincentenary of the capture of the famously-rich and thriving port back in 1511 by the second Viceroy of India, Admiral Alfonso de Albuquerque. Of course, anyone who has ever gone through the Malaysian school system will know that date, and the events and consequences of the time the “white man” came to these shores. But behind the sweeping events on history’s stage are intriguing nuggets known mostly to historians or students of history alone. For instance, according to the Portuguese, Sultan Mahmud Shah, the then ruling Sultan of Malacca, was an opium addict! Though the The Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu) does state that he was also fond of literature and studied religion....

Malacca in the world: In the Mappa Mundi (World Map) etched into the ground in Belem, ‘Malaca’ is about the only location noted for this part of the world (close up, below, right), a sign of the city-state’s influence in the 16th century.
Rocking the status quo

Two years before the landmark events of 1511, though, Portugal and Malacca were already in conflict when Admiral Diego Lopez de Sequeira arrived at the trade-rich entrepot at the behest of Portugal’s king, Emmanuel I, to establish trading ties.

The Portuguese themselves had only then recently rid themselves of Moorish domination within the Iberian Peninsula, a liberation after 800 years. Almost as a backlash, the need to spread their Christian faith grew exponentially, and coupled with the desire to extend its trade dominance, the Portuguese eventually became the first global empire and the longest lasting of the European colonial empires, spanning nearly 600 years.

“Before the Portuguese found their way to India and further to the Far East, the Muslim Moors controlled the spice trade to Europe. Wresting this control was seen as a commercial gain as well as a religious duty – an extension of the crusades the Christians had long waged against the Muslims,” reveals historian Dr Khasnor Johan, who taught history at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia from 1974-1992 and has the book The Emergence Of The Modern Malay Administrative Elite to her name.

Christianity and the Europeans’ trade request were entertained with little courtesy and the reigning Sultan of the time, Sultan Mahmud Shah, egged on by Gujerati Muslim traders who were hard-done-by the Portuguese previously, chose to attack the very first Portuguese fleet to arrive in Malacca.

“The presence of the Portuguese would have been seen as additional competition and a threat to the status quo, so it is not unexpected that they (the Gujerati Muslim traders) would have been unhappy.

“The Muslims would have used religion as an additional factor in making the argument that the Portuguese should not be welcomed, thus persuading the Sultan not to conclude a treaty of peace with the Portuguese,” Khasnor explains.

“It has to be remembered that under the Malacca Sultanate, a system of trade and community relations had already evolved and worked well. The arrival of the Portuguese injected a new element into that system, upsetting the balance in the process,” Khasnor says.

That altercation would condemn Malacca to impending doom and the day arrived when Albuquerque – along with a thousand-odd men, comprising 800 Portuguese soldiers and 300-600 Malabarian mercenaries – sailed into the port town in July, 1511.

The pretext of the visit was to retrieve the Portuguese men held captive from two years before, but Albuquerque was also determined to wrest control of the renowned spice and China trade, in which Malacca played a crucial role.

Following a fierce battle that raged for three weeks, the Portuguese gained control of Malacca and would reap the benefits of the land and the city’s strategic location, controlling access to the Malacca Strait, a vital part of the trade route between East and West until the Dutch arrived to do the same in 1641. The superiority of the Portuguese proved too much for the men of Malacca to defend their port.

The Sultan’s men and mercenaries were reported to have used arrows, blow pipes with poisoned darts, the kris, lances and even guns. Allegedly, cannon were even discovered, some of which were dislodged from the ships of the Gujeratis and used on land.

Following the aftermath of the battle, the Portuguese retrieved 3,000 pieces of artillery and among them were 2,000 in bronze and one very large gun that the Samorin of Calicut (the ruler of a kingdom in South-West India) had sent to the Sultan of Malacca.

The small calibre guns are said to have been made locally, which is truly illuminating of the weapons technology available to Malacca then.

According to Peter Borschberg, an associate professor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore, it was the Portuguese fire power that allowed them to defeat the defenders of Malacca easily. “Armour, tactics, military training, discipline of the troops would have all contributed,” he says.

Khasnor concurs: “The small arms of the Malays were no match for the Portuguese cannon, whose range was much further. The Portuguese strategy of attacking the bridge, thereby splitting the Malay forces into two, also played a big role in their victory.”

Albuquerque and his men chose to attack the bridge crossing the river that runs through Malacca town, knowing full well that would effectively divide the administrative part of the town from its commercial centre.

Alfonso de Albuquerque’s stature and impressively long beard reportedly had the Malaccan delegation bowing in awe and reverence when they caught their first glimpse of him on board his ship. — Image from Lendas da India, courtesy of Peter Borschberg
Carving up the region

The story of the fall of Malacca is one that is perhaps not necessarily the most unique. Also, it isn’t in the least bit aided by the history books in school painting a vague account of the events of 1511.

While the prescribed school syllabus for secondary schools by the Ministry Of Education mentions the likes of Albuquerque and of course, Sultan Mahmud, it leaves out colourful characters such as Utimutiraja (the rich and powerful Javanese trader living in Malacca who double-crossed both Sultan Mahmud and the Portuguese!), Nina Chatu (the influential Malaccan Hindu trader who aligned himself with the Portuguese) and Rui de Araujo (one of the captives in Malacca who – in a tale that could have come straight out of a modern thriller – relayed intelligence to Albuquerque with help from Nina Chatu between 1509 and 1511).

Whatever weight the school books give to the events of 1511, they were without a doubt among some of the most significant in Malaysia and Malacca’s history, arguably on par with America’s war of independence with the British in 18th century.

But unlike that conflict, which had a positive impact, giving Americans nationhood and setting them on course to world domination, the arrival of the Portuguese in Malacca, on the other hand, put a halt to the potential expansion of the Malay archipelago’s nascent power.

Things took a turn for the worse when rivalry among European powers further led to the carving up of many Asian regions into different spheres of influence.

Malacca’s fame during the 15th and 16th century as a lucrative entrepot in the region was actually unfortunate, as it made the port a target that the Western powers desired to control.

Malacca’s occupation isn’t merely about statistics or interesting stories confined to the history books because we continue to live with some of the consequences today.

“In view of the emergence of the nation states in Europe and the expansion of naval power and shipping, which allowed expeditionary voyages and long distance trade, it seems almost inevitable that Asia would have eventually been exposed to Western domination,” theorises Khasnor.

The control of the Malay archipelago might have begun at the periphery with the Portuguese and the Dutch, but by the time the British arrived, the Western world was taking much more of a hand in events in this part of the world.

“We are therefore still living with the consequences of that domination. For a very long time, our right to determine our own destiny and direction was taken away from us. But on the other hand, it is hard to see how we might have evolved or developed had we not been under Western domination,” adds Khasnor.

Thailand is a prime example. It was never colonised, yet it has developed, economically and politically, in much the same way Malaysia has, even if details differ.

The Portuguese believed Malacca’s position was so strategic that they constructed A Famosa in the port town to protect the trade route between Asia and their homeland. — File photo
Legacies left behind

The colonisation of Malacca may have very well kicked off the start of globalisation in this part of the world, a point observed by Borschberg, too.

“I was recently (in June) at a conference in Frankfurt (Germany) where issues of globalisation were discussed in connection with the Middle Ages. It was fascinating because the discussion traced the transmission of foodstuffs from Asia to Europe in the 6th to 14th centuries.

“But I suppose what made the case of the Portuguese different was the direct contact (not just gradual transmission, as in the Middle Ages) and the shift from overland to seaborne or maritime trade.

“Seaborne trade in the so-called Age Of Discovery enabled more goods to be exchanged and a greater number of people to interact. The real discoveries are not so much the lands of Asia or the Americas, but rather, the sailing techniques and the navigational routes to get to these places.”

The Portuguese capture of Malacca can be viewed as the case of an Asian port that was plundered by all-conquering colonists who exerted their might in the name of commerce and religion. However, the state today isn’t bitter about its past, claims Khasnor.

“The Malays are still proud of the fact that Malacca was once well known as a sultanate and one of the most important centres of trade and commerce in the East. Today, Malays might feel a sense of regret that Malacca was captured by the Portuguese and was never restored to the Malays until the end of British colonial rule, yet, when Malacca, as a state, celebrates its past history and heritage, it includes among the highlights of its existence the Portuguese influence, the unique blending of the races in the Portuguese Eurasian groups, the Baba-Nyonya and Indian Muslim communities and their cultural contributions,” Khasnor shares.

Historians speak of language and linguistic legacies left behind, and with the language came new ideas and concepts, Roman Catholicism, the introduction of foodstuffs and cooking styles, clothing items, architecture and building styles (the A Famosa Fort, among others).

“But influences are rarely a one-way process. More often than not, in the long run, you give and adopt into your own culture. And then there is the fusion of cultural practices – hybridity,” Borschberg adds.

Although the Dutch were also in Malacca, they stayed clear of making changes when they realised how well-assimilated Portuguese culture was, which is why the presence of the Portuguese remains strong in Malacca to this day, even half a millennium later.

In 1641, when the Dutch took hold of Malacca, the Portuguese were allowed to leave – as amnesty in the name of Christianity – but they weren’t allowed to take their slaves with them. So the backbone of the Portuguese community in Malacca was formed by Portuguese-speaking slaves and the few Portuguese who stayed behind, those who married locals and adapted to the way of life here.

“The Portuguese were in control of Malacca for more than a century and in that period, there would have been a small number of Portuguese who stayed long enough to form a community of their own. There would have been no women among them and for that reason, some would have married local women,” Khasnor explains.

Borschberg reckons that the number of Portuguese who stayed back would have been very small. “According to period documents of the time, 52 casados (a married settler) and their families ... all in all, fewer than 300 souls,” he says.

(According to census figures provided by Malaysia’s Department of Statistics, as of 2000, Eurasians in Malaysia – citizens and non-citizens – number 14,108. In Malacca alone, there are 2,176. The latest figures, from the 2010 census, are not available, as they are still being compiled.)

The Portuguese only had around 600 men in Malacca at any given time during their 130-year reign, and because their strength was in naval activity, they never sought landlocked regions, which is why they stuck with only Malacca and didn’t venture beyond to the rest of the Malay Peninsula.

“The Portuguese in Asia generally didn’t want large chunks of land to look after. It’s also a question of having sufficient manpower to control their possessions, and manpower was always short,” says Borschberg.

Of course, one of the greatest gifts of the Portuguese coming to Malacca are the stories left behind, especially the legends, and perhaps the greatest legends among them all is that of the Flor de la Mar (Flower Of The Sea) and her cargo.

The Flor was the largest carrack (three- or four-masted merchant ships) in its time and was used extensively in the Portuguese conquests of Asia. Close to a year after being in Malacca, when Albuquerque finally decided to sail back to Goa, India, he and his men loaded the Flor with the rich spoils of the Malacca sultanate, including jewellery, ornaments, statues and even the sultan’s bed.

Sailing north to the northern tip of Sumatra, the Flor encountered bad weather and was wrecked on some shoals. The ship split in half and lost all of its treasures, which according to treasure hunters, is the most valued shipwreck in the world. Albuquerque himself nearly perished in the disaster but was rescued.

Portuguese domination of Malacca lasted from 1511 to 1641, but though those events go back hundreds of years today, they have been woven into the very fabric of Malaysian society. In general, many of us treat those events as history book material, but think about it, in a strange way, the Portuguese put Malaysia on the world map all those years ago – they brought the Western world to us and made our presence known to the Western world.

All the countries around Malaysia were colonies of Western powers, except Thailand, so becoming a vassal might have been the only way for us to eventually become a modern civilisation. The accuracy of that opinion is open to debate, but we’ll just never know, will we? If you have an opinion – or an alternate history for Malaysia even! – share it with us at

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Sunday November 27, 2011

Malacca monorail up and running again

MALACCA: The Malacca river monorail service is back on track.

The service, which was suspended after a breakdown on Sept 30, was given the go-ahead by Land Public Transport Com mission (SPAD) to resume operations starting Thursday.

The monorail service, which has suffered numerous technical glitches since last year, now has better safety measures.

A ‘rail’ relief: People boarding the monorail after SPAD gave the green light to the operator to resume its service in Malacca.
SPAD chief operating officer Azhar Ahmad said the commission was satisfied that monorail operator Menara Taming Sari Sdn Bhd had fulfilled all safety and security requirements.

“During our engineers’ inspection on Nov 23, all safety and security measures were in place,” he said.

Azhar added that the China-made monorail line was now equipped with a cherry picker – a hydraulic crane to rescue stranded passengers, should the coach stall.

“Passengers need not come down using a ladder any more,” Azhar said.

The monorail’s operation and service manual, previously in Chinese, had also been translated into Malay and English, he added.

On the monorail’s tyre traction which was said to be weak when it rains, he said a thermal paint was required to provide better traction during slippery conditions.

Azhar said the operator had set a date for this to be done.

Menara Taming Sari chief executive officer Nazary Ahmad said work to apply the thermal paint would be carried out in early January.

“Until then, we will follow SPAD’s instruction to only operate the monorail when there is no rain,” he said.

Nazary said the lifting of the suspension was good news for Malacca’s tourism industry, especially as the year-end school holidays had started.

The RM15.9mil monorail line had experienced 21 service disruptions since starting operations on Oct 20 last year until the suspension on Sept 30. The company suffered losses of more than RM74,180.

The monorail line spans 1.6km from Taman Rempah in Pengkalan Rama to Kampung Bunga Raya Pantai, along the scenic Malacca river.


Kuching-Melaka direct flight early next year
by Simon Ingka Crown, Posted on November 26, 2011, Saturday

KUCHING: A direct flight connecting Kuching and Melaka may commence as early as next month or early next year.

Melaka Chief Minister Dato Sri Mohd Ali Rustam when announcing this yesterday said he was keen to see the flight become a reality, possibly three times a week.

“I am looking forward to see the Sarawak and Melaka state governments collaborate on the direct flight to Melaka in the best interest of both states,” he told a press conference.

Mohd Ali is in the state with the Melaka Foundation (YM) delegation and its board of directors to witness a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Sarawak Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA/Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd) and YM yesterday.

LCDA was represented by Senior Minister and Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing and two Assistant Ministers, Datuk Gramong Juna and Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz.

Also present was Senior Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh who is also mnister of local government and community development, and second finance minister.

Mohd Ali said the route could boost tourism in both states.

“Melaka so far receives a total of 10.4 million tourists in 2010 with 20 per cent of them from overseas: Taiwan, Japan,China, Hong Kong, German, Switzerland and New Zealand.”

He said as of September this year, a total of 8.4 million tourists had visited the historical city, and the number is expected to reach 11 million by yearend. He said the proposed Kuching-Melaka flight could be shortened to one hour, compared to the one-and-a-half hour Kuching-Kuala Lumpur route.

“The flight is shorter than that to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Hence this could be an alternative route.”

At the moment, Melaka is chartering Firefly and Melaka Air flights to Pekan Baru and Medan City on the island of Sumatera in Indonesia. The flight connection had lured many tourists from the neighbouring country to the city.

“Sumatera is a big island and at least 10 per cent of the population are from high income families who choose Melaka as a holiday destination every year,” he said.

Mohd Ali said the Melaka state government was planning to construct a larger theme park to lure tourists.

“We are launching a wildlife park this afternoon (yesterday) and Hang Tuah Village theme park which portrays the era of the Melaka Sultanate.”

The state government would build the largest silat arena next to Hang Tuah theme park. Mohd Ali said the Melaka government would continue to cooperate with the Sarawak government to promote their tourism to the world, especially eco-tourism.

“Sarawak has a lot to offer the world – fantastic natural scenery and many others including the famous Rainforest World Music Festival. Mohd Ali said this was the first time the two governments were working together. I hope this will not be the last but open the way to many more joint ventures between the two states.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


24 November 2011 | Last updated at 01:17AM

100,000 expected at Tanjung Bidara's beach festival
By Jason Gerald John | 0 comments
MALACCA: Some 100,000 people, both locals and tourists, are expected at the Melaka Beach Festival 2011, which would be held at the Tanjung Bidara beach from Dec 9 to 11.
tanjung bidara

The scenic Tanjung Bidara beach will host modern water-sport activities and also traditional games next month.

The festival's organising committee chairman, Datuk Abdul Karim Sulaiman, who is also the Tanjung Bidara assemblyman, said the event would involve both modern water-sport activities and also traditional games.

Among the activities which would be held during the three-day beach festival are sailing competitions, pillow fights, climbing the slippery pole, tug-of-war, beach volleyball and soccer, duck catching competition and mountain bike racing.

"Besides these activities, we would also be organising a beach run, fishing competition, kite flying competition, karaoke competition and also the Big Bike Charity Wash," he said recently.

Karim said the event, which is organised by the State Tourism Promotion Board and the Alor Gajah Municipal Council, would also see a career opportunity and exhibition by the Armed Forces.

"Pos Malaysia Bhd will host a photography exhibition and a sepak takraw competition at the event.

"This event would be a huge hit among visitors to the state as it is one of the year-end programmes which had been included in the 2011 Melaka Tourism Calendar.

"I hope people from all walks of life from in and out of the country would join us for the three days of fun, games and family outing, especially during the school holidays.

"I am sure there would be something for all family members and visitors to participate in and it would surely be a memorable experience," he said.

Read more: 100,000 expected at Tanjung Bidara's beach festival - Central - New Straits Times

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Email    Print 17 November 2011 | last updated at 01:06am
Tram project on track


MALACCA The proposed RM272 million Melaka Tram project linking Ayer Keroh and Banda Hilir is the most effective mode of transportation to overcome the traffic woes here, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said yesterday.
  "We have already obtained the green light from the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for the project.

  "In October, the state had written to the Federal Government, through Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, for approval," he said.

  "We are now awaiting the approval from the prime minister.

  "Once it is obtained, we will exhibit the letter together with  complete details of the project.

  "This is  to show the public that the project would bring great benefit to them."

  The Melaka Tram project is  a joint venture between Mrails International Sdn Bhd and Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI).

  The service would have 23 stops along a 40km-route from Ayer Keroh to Banda Hilir, the heart of the historical city.

  It is estimated that 250,000 passengers would use the trams monthly.

  Annual revenue would be in the region of RM20 million.

  The tram would  go through Bukit Baru, Peringgit, Jalan Munsyi Abdullah, Bandar Hilir and Taman Melaka Raya.

  Ali Rustam was speaking to reporters when he was asked to comment on the unsuccessful bid by Betty Chew Gek Cheng (DAP-Kota Laksamana) to have the Melaka Tram project shelved through a motion she had tabled at the Malacca State Legislative Assembly.

  The motion was rejected by the house.

  Ali Rustam said the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)  on the Melaka Tram had also been completed and the necessary approvals had been given.

  "Studies have also shown that the Melaka Tram would be used by  109,559 people from Monday to Friday.

  "The figure is expected to soar to 210,160 during the weekends," he said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


17 November 2011 | Last updated at 09:08AM

Marking the date the Portuguese came a-calling

Portuguese culture was splendidly displayed over four days of pomp and gaiety to commemorate the 500th year of the arrival of the former European naval power in Malacca.

The Trez Amigos comprising Emile Mossinac (left), Horace Santa Maria (with walking stick) and brother Arthurs Santa Maria(right) after receiving their merit award from MPEA president Michael Singho (in suit).

The Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir in the former Straits Settlement saw a hive of activity with cultural activities, music, dances, and dining during the celebrations last month.

Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Ali Rustam launched the event on Oct 28, with the official dinner and dance held the following day.

The latter event was attended by state police chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Datuk Chua Ghee Lye and Malacca Portuguese Eurasian Association president Michael Singho, who was the event organising chairman.

Performances were given by local groups, as well as those from Portugal, Timor-Leste, Selangor and Federal Territory Eurasian Association, Penang Eurasian Association, Australia Eurasian Association of Western Australia, Sarawak Eurasian Association, Kedah Eurasian Association, Perak Eurasian Association and the Eurasian Association of Singapore.

People of Portuguese descent from Lisbon, Australia, India, East Timor, Indonesia and Singapore joined their Malaysian counterparts to mark the anniversary of Alfonso d'Albuquerque's arrival to Malacca on Aug 24, 1511. The Portuguese navigator came from Goa, India, with 18 ships and 1,200 men.

The celebration, themed Our Roots... Our Heritage... Our Home, attracted tourists and foreign media. They tasted traditional dishes such as belacan (shrimp paste), cincalok (fermented shrimps), acar (pickles) and debel curry. They also got acquainted with cultural activities such as dances and songs.

The event also saw an exhibition of contemporary items.

There were cooking demonstrations by famous local chefs, handicraft demos by cottage industries, and local fishermen pitting their offshore skills such as the sewing and repairing of nets. Fairs which sold souvenirs, costumes and handicrafts, and indoor and outdoor games were added attractions.

There were songs and music aplenty from a legion of musicians. Not to be missed were the branyo folk dance and cultural performances that made the celebrations a truly Portuguese affair. The event is a reflection of how the settlement has become the bastion of Portuguese-Eurasian heritage and culture.

Most of the hymns at the mass at the settlement's chapel were sung in Cristang, the local Portuguese dialect.

The celebrations ended with a float parade of replicas of the 16th-century Portuguese ship, Flor de la Mar (Flower of the Sea), the fort A' Famosa (The Famous), fishing boats, costume-clad revellers, musicians and cultural group performances.

It was in 1641 that the Dutch conquered the Portuguese to take control of Malacca.

Read more: Marking the date the Portuguese came a-calling - Central - New Straits Times


November 13, 2011 16:01 PM

Submarine Museum To Draw More Tourists To Melaka

MELAKA, Nov 13 (Bernama) -- A decommissioned Royal Malaysian Navy submarine converted into a museum submarine will be opened for public tours for 10 days from Nov 22 at the 1Malaysia Square, Klebang here.

Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the submarine berthed yesterday and would be raised from the dock on Wednesday and transported to the exhibition site through a makeshift jetty three days later.

He said the French made SMD Ouessant (Agosta 70 class) submarine, which was built in 1979, had been handed over to the state government.

The submarine museum project costing RM12.6 million is expected to draw more tourists to Melaka, he told reporters during a site visit here today.

Tickets for the exhibition are priced at RM3 for adults and RM1 for children while senior citizens will get a 50 per cent discount, he told reporters at the Submarine Museum here today.

The Agosta submarine was used for the training of the first Malaysian submarines crews from 2005 to 2009 following a contract signed by Malaysia for the acquisition of two French Scorpene submarines in 2002.

The submarine was transported on a floating dock back to Malaysia on the first week of October and handed over to the Melaka government.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


A milestone for humble airfield

After celebrating 500 years of Portuguese culture recently, Malacca is looking to create excitement on a new front tomorrow, at 11.11am, to be precise. JASON GERALD JOHN reports

11.11AM on 11-11 is the scheduled time and date of departure for Melaka Air’s maiden flight to Medan. The flight will depart for Medan via Penang from Melaka International Airport (MIA) where a RM131 million runway extension was completed last year.

Aligning numbers is just one component of a sound business strategy.

Around 70,000 foreigners seek medical treatment in Malacca annually, and the state economic planners are all for flying them into the state directly without having to go through Kuala Lumpur International Airport or the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang, Selangor.

And the number is just 0.1 per cent of the seven million middle-class population in Sumatra, Indonesia.

“With the new Melaka International Airport, we hope more patients from Sumatra will come here,” said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.

The airport was formerly known as Batu Berendam Airport.

Emphasising the Sumatra angle, four of the seven Melaka Air des - tinations are on the Indonesian island — Medan, Pekan Baru, Padang and Palembang.

The others are Penang and Kota Baru in Malaysia, and Hat Yai in Thailand.

Melaka Air is a joint-venture between Kuala Lumpur-based NN Flyers and the state-owned Melaka Foundation, with a paid-up capital of RM20 million.

The sole airline using the airport until now was Wings Air, which had been operating three weekly flights from Pekan Baru to Malacca since last year.

The airport handled 21,687 passengers last year. According to Wings Air representative Ridho Kosasih, around 80 per cent of the passengers travelling on his airline that year were Indonesians seeking medical treatment in the historical city.

Melaka Air will be using AT R - 7 2 turboprops, which are loaned from FireFly at a cost of US$190,000 (RM570,000).

Malacca, which is listed as a United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage City, saw the arrival of 10.4 million tourists last year. This figure is expected to jump to 11 million by year-end.

Tunku’s historic arrival THE airport in Malacca is wellknown for receiving histor ic flights.

Fifty-five years ago, on Feb 20, 1956, the Merdeka Mission led by Tunku Abdul Rahman landed at Batu Berendam Airport (now renamed Melaka International Airport).

They had just arrived from London via Singapore, and a teeming crowd had gathered at Banda Hilir to listen to Tunku’s historic announcement.

Tunku, travelling from the airport in a Morris Minor, later announced that the Merdeka Agreement had been signed on Feb 8, 1956, and that the country would achieve independence on Aug 31, 1957, to shouts of Merdeka from the crowd.

Read more: A milestone for humble airfield


Go: Cruising down Venice of the East

The history of Malacca is about 700 years, perhaps older. PHILIP LIM goes on a river cruise and enjoys vistas of the ancient and modern

IF you are new to Malacca, one of the most pleasant ways of getting acquainted with the Unesco World Heritage Site (since 2008) is to take a river cruise.

I have been an absentee local visitor for the past 11 years. So a revisit to the city was long overdue. A friend told me that one of the nicest attractions in Malacca at present is to board a boat from the Quayside Heritage Centre and take a 45-minute cruise of Malacca River.

Much has happened in the years between the time when the river was an eyesore and it’s in fairly pristine condition now.

It has been about six years since the Malacca River was given a makeover and its murky waters had been treated and rendered visually presentable. The river boat jetty took about two years to complete.

A la Venice

The time spent on the boat is equivalent to a cruise along any of the big rivers in Europe. It is not a coincidence that Malacca in its golden era was nicknamed the Venice of the East.

The only difference is the temperature. The Malaysian weather on the day of our river boat trip is almost perfect.

The sky is a clear blue with only traces of clouds drifting above. There’s a gentle wind which caresses our cheeks as the boat skims the surface of the calm waters.

At last count, there are 26 river boats cruising the Malacca River ferrying passengers across a distance of about nine kilometres. These fibreglass boats are capable of sailing beneath the numerous bridges even at high tides.

At its lowest, the tide is still 0.8 metres which is manageable by the river boats.

A visual count during the river cruise reveals the presence of eight bridges.

They are Tan Kim Seng, Chan Koon Cheng (Ghostbridge of Malacca), Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Kampung Jawa, Kampung Morten, Old Bus Station and Pasar.

The river route has been deliberately designed and engineered for visitors to catch glimpses of river bank flower gardens, a Malay kampung, a windmill, a fort and the Christ Church of Malacca.

Excited cruisers
With us on the boat tour is a family of 10 tourists. They are quite enthusiastic and animated vocally at the novelty of seeing so many unfamiliar scenes outside their country.

Their loud conversations in Cantonese only add to the merriment of the occasion. At one stage of the cruise, the boatman spots a 150cm long monitor lizard lazing on a mangrove branch near the water edge.

One woman loudly exclaims in Cantonese: “This is so big, not even a family of 10 can finish it on the dining table!”

Those of us who understand her can only smile nervously. There are two young Caucasian women on board the boat as well. It would have been interesting to watch their reaction if they had understood the comment.

As far as I am concerned, it is the monitor lizard’s lucky day. It could have been born in another country, lived on another river and might have suffered the unfortunate fate of being the main course on a distant family’s evening menu.

A therapy of sort
The last boat ride ends around 11.30pm. A night cruise along the river is an exhilarating experience altogether because passengers can soak in the sights and sounds of a nocturnal Malacca.

Many of the trees lining the river cruise route are decorated with lights and the old buildings and ancient structures exude an aura that tell of bygone days that once made the city one of the busiest trading ports for hundreds of years.

The human body is susceptible to the lull of lapping waves and the concrete attractions by the river side at every turn and corner give your entire being a sense of high.

The Malacca River cruise is scheduled at a 30-minute interval beginning from 9.30am. Adult fare is RM10 and for children below 12 years, it is RM5. If you are organising a group tour, the Malacca River Cruise office can make arrangements for RM100 per boat.

Call 06-281 7322.

Fast Facts
Before the 15th Century, Malacca was just an ordinary fishing village. It began to flourish under the reign of Iskandar Shah (Parameswara). Before long, Arab traders began to call on the port city.

In the mid-15th Century, Chinese Muslim Admiral Cheng Ho paid a courtesy call on Malacca. According to historical records, Malacca soon became a vassal State of Ming China.

In 1511, the Portuguese seized Malacca and brought it under their control. One hundred thirty years would pass before the Dutch mounted an attack on Malacca and ousted the Portuguese. The year 1641 marked the beginning of the Dutch rule.

For the next 150 years, the Dutch presence in Malacca was supreme. In 1795, Holland (Netherlands) was conquered by the French and consequently the Dutch lost control of Malacca.

The Dutch absence was soon replaced by the British who took over after the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.

Malacca was first governed by the British East India Company. It was only later that it became a British Crown Colony. Together with Singapore and Penang, Malacca became part of the British Straits Settlements.

Read more: Go: Cruising down Venice of the East

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Saturday November 5, 2011

What tree did Parameswara really see in Malacca?

IT is taken as a historical fact that Malacca was founded by Parameswara, who named it after the melaka tree. Parameswara, in the legendary account of the founding of Malacca, actually had no idea what the tree was.

He had seen a mouse deer kick one of his hunting dogs and, inspired by the fighting spirit of the mouse deer, he asked his followers “What is the name of the tree under which I am standing?” His followers replied “It is called melaka, your Highness”. Nobody said “Wait, let us check this out.”

I would like to present evidence that Parameswara was wrongly advised. Before anybody questions whether I am qualified to change history, let me explain that my comments are based on botany, and I am, after all, a qualified taxonomic botanist, one who deals with the naming and classification of plants.

The melaka tree, known in Sanskrit as amalaka', has an ancient and venerable history in Sanskrit culture and medicine.

What’s in a name? Phyllanthus pectinatus is native to Malacca but is often mistaken for Phyllanthus emblica from which Malacca is believed to have gotten its name.
When the Swedish founder of modern plant classification, Carolus Linnaeus, gave this tree its scientific name in 1753, he Latinised amalaka' to emblica' and placed it within the genus Phyllanthus. Hence the melaka tree became known in science as Phyllanthus emblica. Phyllanthus emblica is now planted all over Malacca as the state's iconic foundation tree.

However, what Parameswara saw must have been another species, Phyllanthus pectinatus, which has a superficial resemblance to Phyllanthus emblica.

Phyllanthus pectinatus was first described and named by Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1890, based on specimens collected in Perak, Malacca and Singapore.

I first became aware of the possible mis-identification when I planted melaka' trees in FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia), some from seeds collected in a forest, and some from seeds collected from a garden.

When the trees grew and produced flowers and fruits I found that they represented two utterly different species. These differences are obvious when specimens of the two species are placed side by side for comparison.

In Phyllanthus emblica, the fruits are clustered at the base of rather robust leafy shoots whereas in Phyllanthus pectinatus they sway in the wind at the ends of the finely feathery leafy shoots.

Inside the fruit is a hard stony structure containing the seeds. This stony structure is sharply 3-angled in Phyllanthus pectinatus but rounded in Phyllanthus emblica. There are also differences in flower structure and in the appearance of the bark.

In trying to figure out the relationship between the two species, I checked the specimens of melaka' preserved at the herbarium of FRIM.

A herbarium is a place in which specimens collected by plant explorers are permanently preserved for scientific study and reference.

The FRIM herbarium serves as the national herbarium for Malaysia and it has specimens from all over the country, collected by botanists and foresters during the past 100 years of forest exploration. All the specimens of melaka' in FRIM were of Phyllanthus pectinatus.

When I had the opportunity to visit the world herbarium at Kew, I examined the collections from all over Asia, including the specimens seen by Joseph Dalton Hooker. I also went to the Botanic Gardens Singapore to check the specimens in its herbarium.

Putting all the information together, the picture that emerged was that Phyllanthus emblica has its natural range across India, Burma, Thailand, Indo-china and South China.

In contrast, Phyllanthus pectinatus has its natural range within the Malay Archipelago, especially in Sumatra, Malay Peninsula and Borneo. In their natural state, there is no geographical overlap between the two species.

In brief, Phyllanthus pectinatus is a true forest tree of the Malay Archipelago and it is particularly common in the forests of Malacca state.

In contrast, Phyllanthus emblica occurs only as a planted garden tree in the Malay Peninsula and the rest of the Malay Archipelago. It has never been able to escape and establish itself in our forests.

The best place to see Phyllanthus pectinatus is in the recreational forest of Ayer Keroh just outside the city. This area is now being redesignated as a botanical garden, but its core area is maintained as natural forest.

In this forest, there are many natural trees of Phyllanthus pectinatus, prominently mislabelled as Phyllanthus emblica. Just outside the forest, the true Phyllanthus emblica has been planted prominently in various locations for visitors to see.

Nobody has noticed that the native trees in the forest are a different species from the planted trees outside. What Malacca needs is a botanist, ideally a taxonomist cum horticulturist, to manage its botanical garden.

Malacca may have to accept that it has two iconic foundation trees: the tree that Parameswara saw and misidentified, and the tree it got mistaken for.

To me, the native tree is the more attractive of the two.

● Botanist and researcher Francis Ng is the former deputy director-general of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia. He is now the botanical consultant to Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre. (


Melaka launches MelakaKAD for tourist spots

Posted on November 8, 2011, Tuesday

MELAKA:  Melaka has launched the MelakaKAD, an electronic card that will enable residents and tourists to make payments at tourist spots in Ayer Keroh and Bandar Hilir.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said tourists, who use the facility, would enjoy a first class service.

He said the MelakaKAD could be obtained from a minimum deposit of RM10 up to RM2,000 by producing MyKad or passport at the Taming Sari Tower Tourist Information Centre, the Taming River Cruise office and the Melaka Planetarium.

“Cardholders could redeem the cash balance or top it up,” he told reporters after launching the MelakaKAD here recently.

The card, which used smart chip technology, would be accepted for payments of about 130 bills using the MEPCASH account through PosOnline at — Bernama

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Visitors take delight in Portuguese music, food

By Jason Gerald John and Adrian David

Musicians from the Portuguese Settlement in Malacca enchanting the crowd at the celebration of the 500-year anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese in Malacca recently. — NST picture by Rasul Azli Samad

MALACCA: Visitors to the celebration of the 500-year anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese in Malacca were captivated by the rich culture and tradition preserved by the community.
The four-day celebration, which ended last Saturday at the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir, was a huge success, said organising committee chairman Michael Singho.

Catia Barbara Dias Candeias, 29, one of the 15 visitors who flew in from Portugal, said Malacca did not feel like it was very far from home.

"The culture here in Malacca and back home is very much similar.

"We have the importance and the speciality of music in our blood. I'm very happy that this culture has not been forgotten here for the past 500 years."

Finnish student Hedvig Moetzfeldt, 22, said the rich cultural diversity in Malacca was unique as all the different races were living in a vibrant community.

"When I came to Malacca, I met a few other backpackers and I was told about this 500-year celebration in the Portuguese Settlement.

"I had a very good time here and I very much enjoyed the music, food and wonderful hospitality."

Besides foreign tourists, the celebration also attracted a number of locals outside Malacca.

Shamala Devi, 24, a student at Limkokwing University, also enjoyed the food while civil servant Azlina Mulup, 43, from Terengganu, spent most of her time shopping at various stalls in the settlement.

"The handicrafts are just awesome and I bought beads and other accessories to match a wide collection of my dresses," Azlina said.

Musician Jerry Singho, 51, said music was a big passion for the Portuguese community and it had always been a part of the community's culture not only in Malacca, but also around the world.

"I hope that the younger generation will carry on this passion in their hearts and keep it treasured. This celebration of 500 years is very special indeed.

"It took us just over a month to practice the songs that had been played.

"I'm glad that everyone enjoyed this event as there's a smile plastered on everyone's face here."

For senior settlement resident Augusta Pereira, 80, watching the community evolve in her lifetime had brought her great pride.

"I am very happy to have witnessed this celebration.

" The Portuguese culture is very unique and beautiful, and it is definitely felt by those who came for this wonderful event.

"I have 14 grandchildren and I hope that they, too, will carry on this tradition," she said.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Special Incentives Await Hotel Investors
In Melaka

MELAKA, Oct 15 (Bernama) -- About 70 per cent
of income tax exemption will be given to
entrepreneurs who invest in four and five-star
hotel development in Melaka.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said
60 per cent of investment tax allowance would
also be given within five years to encourage
investment in the hotel industry.
"The state government will continue to focus on
building more hotels, resorts, chalets, homestay
and hostels to meet the needs of tourists
coming to the state.
"We are also targeting about 11 million tourists
to Melaka, and up to July this year, we have
received a total of 6.6 million tourists... and I
believe it could be achieved by the end of this
year," he told reporters after launching The
Heritage Melaka in Bandar Hilir here Saturday.
Mohd Ali said, so far, Melaka had a total of
12,857 rooms, adding that 15 new hotels would
be built with an addition of 3,542 rooms.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


10th. October 2011

Most Malaccans may not know the fact that the Malaccan community contributed financial donations to the Chinese revolution in 1911 headed by Chinese leader, Sun Yat Seng.

When I first visited China in 1988 especially to Quongchou, in the Sun Yat Seng Park, there is a monument erected there that showed overseas Chinese contributions to the Chinese republic cause then against the Ching dynasty. The top contributor to the Chinese cause was the Community of Malacca. I was surprised to see the granite block on top of the monument! Malaccans did their part in contributing to the setting up of the Republic of China 100 years ago.

Without the financial support of overseas Chinese residing all over world, the political world map will be very different today.

During the quest for Malayan Independence in 1950s, at one of the Town Hall meeting at Malacca Meng Seng Charitable Hall, a spontaneous fund raising event was carried out to raise funds for Tunku and his delegation to travel to England for negotiation with the British for independence of Malaya. Malaccans responded at once with whatever they had then. As the saying goes, the rest was history.

Some points to ponder about the inter-related world we live in today.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


As Deepavali, the Festival of Light nears and to be celebrated by all Hindus on 26th. October 2011, Tourism Melaka likes to express our Happy Deepavali greetings to all our Hindu friends from all over the world.

May the Light shine through any Darkness and lead us to a brighter future.


Tourism Melaka


Wednesday October 12, 2011

Facelift works in Malacca’s Little India to be completed before Deepavali

MALACCA: The Festival of Lights is set to shine brighter on the business community in Malacca’s Little India following the resolution of a controversy over its facelift works.

State Suburban Development and Agriculture Committee chairman Datuk R. Perumal said work on the site would resume and be completed before Deepavali, which falls on Oct 26.

“We have settled all the hitches surrounding the contractor’s ap pointment. Work has commenced and will be completed as scheduled,” he said in an interview here yesterday.

Dissatisfaction over the appointment had brought the RM2mil project, which was supposed to emulate Jonker Walk’s success, to a standstill for over a week.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam had directed Perumal to sort out the dispute over the appointment, which was made in September.

Perumal said although the disgruntled group accused the state of cronyism when it awarded the job to a reputable contractor here, the tender had gone through normal procedure.

“The selection board granted the job to only the qualified bidder without any favouritism,” he said, adding that the state government wanted to ensure that the project was implemented smoothly.

“We managed to explain the rationale for the appointment of that particular contractor to the unsuccessful bidders. Finally, it was accepted,” said Perumal, who is also state MIC chairman.

He said the state was stringent in awarding the job and some of those who bid for the contract did not even meet the requirements set by the tender board.

Perumal said the job involved designing and building as well as installing ornaments for the stretch from Padang Nyiru, and along Jalan Laksamana and Jalan Bunga Raya that was within Little India.

He added that the contract for the project was managed by the State Development Board on behalf of the Tourism Ministry.


Malacca Strait Bridge Design Ready

The bridge will accommodate ship traffic by elevating its height to 76 meters.
Rabu, 12 Oktober 2011, 13:39 WIB
Hadi Suprapto
(Strait of Malacca Partners Sdn Bhd)

VIVAnews - The Riau Administration in Sumatra teams up with Malaysia to build a bridge over the Malacca Strait to Malaysia.

In the proposal submitted by a Malaysian investor, Strait Of Malacca Partners Sdn Bhd, the Malacca Strait Bridge is planned to span at 48.69 kilometers. However, due to the lack of infrastructures in Rupat Island, from which spot the bridge will be constructed, 71.2 km of new road and a new secondary bridge will be erected in Dumai, Sumatra land.

The Malacca Strait is known as the busiest commercial shipping lane in South-east Asia. Huge ships bearing thousands of tonnes of weight used to passing through the waters. For this case, the bridge will accommodate ship traffic by elevating its height to 76 meters.

As an alternative, the bridge will be combined with tunnels, which, unfortunately, can only be used by trains.

Given the bridge-tunnel combination, the construction would be started in Rupat Island

Although under-sea tunnel is possible, the briddge would allow two gateways installed at certain posts through which ships would able to move onward.
• VIVAnews

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Melaka to have one of the largest bird parks in Southeast Asia

2011-10-05 10:27

MELAKA, Oct 4 (Bernama) -- A bird park which will be among the largest in Southeast Asia with 6,000 birds from 300 species will be built on a 1.8 hectare site at the Botanical Garden in Ayer Keroh here.

Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said this latest tourism product in Melaka was part of the second phase of the landscape development and tourism facility project located within the 92.5 hectare Botanical Garden.

"Apart from the bird park, other projects include a watch tower, renovation of chalets and landscaping upgrade of the Botanical Garden. A fountain will also be built at the garden," he told reporters after performing the groundbreaking ceremony for RM30 million bird park here today.

He said the project was scheduled to be completed in 20 months and the bird park was expected to give the Jurung Bird Park of Singapore a stiff competition.


Wednesday October 5, 2011

66-year-old Baba Nyonya actor Chee Hood Siong dies

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has lost one of her most beloved television icons. Chee Hood Siong, of the popular 1990s comedy Baba Nyonya, passed away on Sunday of a heart attack.

He was 66, and left behind wife Gladys Ong Keng Wah and two children.

Chee was best known for his role in TV1's Baba Nyonya, in which he dressed in drag to play Ah Chim, a Peranakan woman together with his long-time partner Kenny Chan, who played “her” best friend Bibik Kim Neo.

The series is recognised by the Malaysian Book Of Records as the longest-running TV series in the country ever, lasting from the late 80s till 2000, with 509 episodes in total.

Chan, who now owns a restaurant called King's Caf in Malacca, said that Chee would be sorely missed.

The pair of close friends had worked together in show business for more than 30 years.

“He was a very versatile actor. He could take on whatever role you gave him,” Chan said.

“We've gone through thick and thin and travelled all over the world together.”

The pair was most recently seen in the local box-office hit Nasi Lemak 2.0, directed by Namewee, in which he and Chee played a Baba and Nyonya couple who taught Namewee's Chef Huang character how to make a good nasi lemak sambal paste.

Fred Chong, producer of Nasi Lemak 2.0, said it took him and Namewee two months to convince Chee and Chan to come out of retirement and appear in their movie.

“Uncle Chee had already retired, and did not want to do the show without Kenny. We finally convinced them to do it after they learnt about the message of social unity that we wanted to convey,” said Chong.

“When they finally came on the set, they were amazing! They had so much chemistry that only about 50% of their scenes and dialogue were scripted. The rest was done impromptu!”

According to Chan, Chee was initially reluctant to take the role because he did not want to act as a woman anymore.

“I had to convince him to take the role by becoming my husband instead!” he said.

“I was glad that we took part in that movie, but I am also sad that it was to be his last movie.”

Webmaster: Baba Chee and Baba Chan have promoted Peranakan culture and cuisine in Melaka and all over the world over the years. Sad that Baba Chee has passed on but his legacy lives in all of us, Malaccans. May he find Nirvana and our condolences to the family of Baba Chee.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Opening Homes for Heritage's Sake.
By Corinne Wan ~ Web in Travel
Sunday, 2nd October 2011
When I was approached to be a judge for this year’s Melaka Tourism Awards and to choose the 'Best Tourist Attraction - Traditional House', my first question was 'What’s a traditional house? Aren’t all the houses in Malay kampungs (villages) traditional?'.

(Pictured: Kampung Padang Sebang,Photos courtesy of the writer)

The answer: "Come and see for yourself as the traditional houses in Melaka are a class of their own".

With that ringing in my head I arrived in Melaka to be immediately whisked off by my three charming minders in a four wheel to start my tour of the five houses I had to judge.

And, in the process, I discovered Melaka "hidden gems", not much publicised and oft skipped by visitors as they are not on the itinerary of the usual "must visit" attractions, such as Jonker Walk,The Stadthuys or the Malacca River Cruise.

A pity really as they are buildings of unique architecture and beauty as I found during my journey of discovery.

A typical traditional Melaka house stands on 12 to 16 main pillars (about two metres high).

Its most striking feature is the decorative flower-motif tiled steps, which also serve as the house’s main entrance. (pictured above the steps of Kampung Duyong)

The houses are very colourful. Villa Sentosa (pictured below) has a pink driveway and red tiled steps, Kampung Bukit Palah is in brilliant yellow, while the others are in various hues.

There is no entrance fee. Visitors can just wander into the house and a member of the family, who stays in the house, happily shows them around. If they wish, the visitors can make a donation, with the contributions going to the upkeep of the house.

Full story:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Wednesday September 21, 2011

Ancient treasure found – and sold

MALACCA: Agents of scrap metal dealers have been selling old Portuguese coins, bullets and religious amulets that were unearthed during a recent landslip along the banks of the Malacca River to antique brokers from Singapore.

The artefacts, the most valuable of which found so far was a cannon ball that fetched RM500, were discovered after an ancient jetty at Stadhuys collapsed in May.

The artefacts are believed to be about 500 years old.

A scrap metal agent, Rafi, 38, said the find also comprised Chinese porcelain pieces and religious paraphernalia from the Malacca Sultanate as well as those from the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial periods.

National heritage: These priceless coins have been unearthed by agents of scrap metal dealers from the Malacca River and sold to brokers from Singapore.
“Also unearthed were bullets and cannons. For the past few days, I have joined six others in combing the river sediment for treasure.

“We have hit the jackpot! There are piles of these artefacts for our picking,” he said, adding that he made about RM1,000 a day by selling the items. Apparently, the brokers are from Singapore.

At the peak of the Malacca Sultanate and when the port was colonised by the Portuguese and Dutch, the river would have seen trading vessels from various countries, some of which could have capsized with their treasures.

Rafi said he was only armed with a ladle and hoe for his search, adding that although the relevant authorities “were aware of the find, nobody had stopped them from digging”.

“I know we should not sell these items but the offer is too tempting,” he said.

“We found mostly items from the Portuguese era. Despite being 500 years old, the coins are well-preserved with their carvings still visible. We have also discovered coins used by the Dutch East India Company.”

Expressing his regret that no effort was made to preserve these historical items, Portuguese-Eurasian Association president Michael Singho said it was ready to buy the artefacts and conserve them at their settlement in Ujong Pasir here.

“I will embark on a fund-raising drive to obtain the items back,” he said.

State Tourism, Culture and Heritage Committee deputy chairman Chua Kheng Hwa said he would bring up the discovery to Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam.

“The items are supposed to be handed over to the museum authority but these people are only interested in making a fast buck.”


Tuesday September 27, 2011

Rare crab re-appears in Malacca

MALACCA: The re-appearance of a rare species of crab along the shores here has caused a stir among the people, especially Christians, due to a cross-like mark on its shell.

The crustacean, with the scientific name Charybdisferiatus, is a species of Malacostraca and is mainly found in Malaysian and Indonesian waters.

It was reportedly last seen in the Straits of Malacca in the 1960s.

Sparking frenzy: A fisherman holding the rare crab (left) next to a normal crab. The rare crab was reportedly last seen in the Straits of Malacca in the 1960s.
The species is different from another commonly found species in the state and which also has a cross on its shell.

A fisherman from Tengkera here hauled a dozen of these crabs on Sunday, sparking a frenzy among locals who rushed to buy the crabs.

The fisherman, who only wanted to be known as Man, 65, said the crabs were considered scarce.

He claimed that the crab was last caught in small numbers in the late 1960s.

“Only minimal quantities of the crabs were caught. Many locals don't buy them to eat, but to preserve the shell as it's considered sacred,” Man said.

State Rural Development and Agriculture Committee chairman Datuk R. Perumal said the state would ask the Fisheries Department to record and monitor the landings of the rare crab.

“We may conserve the crab by breeding it,” he added.

A marine biologist, who declined to be named, said the crabs became rare after rapid development along the state coastline led to the deterioration of the mangrove swamps where the crabs thrived.

Legend has it that Saint Francis Xavier was sailing to Malacca from an Indonesian island sometime in the 16th Century when he was caught in a storm in the Straits of Malacca.

He then dipped his crucifix into the sea and prayed to God to calm the raging storm.

However, the crucifix slipped from his grip and fell into the sea. He prayed that he could get it back.

When he reached the shores of Malacca safely, St Francis saw a crab crawling on the beach and clutching the same crucifix between its claws.

Surprised, St Francis knelt down and recovered his crucifix.

He blessed the crab and the sign of a cross then appeared on its back.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Saturday September 24, 2011

Centuries of Portuguese heritage has impacted state greatly, says Mohd Ali

MALACCA: Five centuries of Portuguese heritage in Malacca has turned the state into a “melting pot of the world,” according to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.

He said the legacy left by the Portuguese had greatly impacted Malacca in terms of cultural diversity and also provided an impetus for the local tourism industry.

“I would like to compliment the Portuguese community for their relentless commitment to place Malacca in the world map as a unique state with cultural extravaganza.

“Malacca is the birthplace of a community with mixed European and Asian parentage, commonly known as Eurasian,” he said in an interview ahead of a four-day celebration to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese conquest of Malacca.

Celebrating 500 years: The Portuguese community celebrating the Feast of St Peter on a gaily decorated boat at the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir, Malacca. It has been 500 years since Alfonso d’ Albuquerque arrived here from Goa.
The event, themed “Our Roots, Our Heritage, Our Home”, will be organised by the Malacca Portuguese-Eurasian Associa-tion (MPEA) from Oct 26 to Oct 29 at the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir.

There will be traditional food fairs, live music and band performances, cultural and performing arts presentations, traditional games, beauty contest, a football tournament, cottage industries promotion and a handicraft exhibition.

Mohd Ali said the existence of the Portuguese community here was significant as it brought about a new kaleidoscope, turning Malaysia into a colourful multi-cultural paradise.

He said the state would continue to safeguard the community's status as a minority group.

He added that the state would also protect their welfare besides conserving the rich heritage and customs inherited from their ancestors.

Mohd Ali said Malacca had prospered as a nautical haven since Alfonso d' Albuquerque arrived from Goa with an entourage of 18 ships on Aug 24, 1511.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


New township plan for Malacca

By Jason Gerald John
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MALACCA: Plans are under way for an integrated township development to turn Malacca into a major destination for the Malaysia My Second Home programme.
The project, combining heritage, culture and nature, will be undertaken by Malaysia Land Properties Sdn Bhd (Mayland) and is expected to be carried out in either Ayer Keroh or the Bemban area.

Mayland founder Tan Sri David Chiu, a Hong Kong-based hotelier and property developer, said the project would kick off once the land was identified and approvals obtained from the authorities.

"We are looking at an investment of between RM500 million to RM1 billion for the new township development project which would be implemented in stages over a period of seven years.

"The integrated township will create its own environment and with Malacca's greenery, hills and coastline, the investment will be worth every single sen.

"Malacca has an exciting and vibrant environment and I feel the state will attract foreigners to make it their second home under the Malaysia My Second Home initiative.

"I was in Malacca about 10 years ago and I returned three months ago, only to be mesmerised with the soothing environment and its excellent lifestyle," said Chiu after having lunch with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam in Seri Bendahara here yesterday.

Also present was Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

Chiu said the new township would be a hit among the rich in China, Singapore and Australia.

Dr Ng said 12,000 people had participated in the Malaysia My Second Home programme.

"There is a huge potential for Malacca which is rich in culture, heritage and also its greenery. I feel that this development plan would be a hit among Europeans, especially those in Russia and countries such as Finland where the winter is quite long. Another reason for Malacca to be a preferred choice for those seeking to make Malaysia my second home is the healthcare facilities.

"Malacca currently has three medical specialist centres and with the new resort-like specialist centre, the Hang Tuah Jaya Resort Hospital, scheduled to be opened in 2013, foreigners will prefer to come to a state with a first class medical facility."

Ali said the investment would not only boost the state's economy, but also provide the people of Malacca with an opportunity to generate more income.

"I also proposed to Chiu the possibility of investing in an underwater world or aquarium in the state, especially in the reclaimed area in Klebang."

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Getting London bus back on the road

By Kelly Koh Ling Min
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One of the two London buses that used to take tourists on a tour of Malacca city that is being repaired at a cost of RM100,000. — Picture by Rasul Azli Samad
MALACCA: One of the two double-decker red tour buses which were brought here from London three years ago and temporarily placed in the State Transportation Museum would cost RM100,000 to be repaired.
However, it would not cost its owners, the Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council, a single sen as Mamee Double Decker (M) Bhd has come to the rescue.

The Malacca-based snacks maker is forking out the money needed to get the bus plying the roads of the historical city again as it takes tourists on tour.

Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council president Sapiah Haron said the repairs would take a month or two, depending on how soon the spare parts from London can be obtained.

The bus had been out of service and made a museum exhibit since last September.

The other bus, which is undergoing repairs at a workshop in Sungai Udang, is owned by the Malacca Historical City Council.

It is expected to resume operations soon.

The buses, which are also known as the Panorama Bus, were brought to Malacca from London in 2007 at a cost of RM200,000 each.

The London Bus, as they are known by locals here, started its services on Aug 14, 2007.

It makes 13 stops, including shopping and leisure areas. The buses are operated by Panorama Malacca Cultural & Tourism Sdn Bhd.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


September 13, 2011 22:32 PM
Proclamation Of Independence Memorial A Big Draw Among Visitors

MELAKA, Sept 13 (Bernama) -- A total of 633,608 people visited the Proclamation Of Independence Memorial at Bandar Hilir last year to get a clearer picture of the country's struggle for independence.

The memorial's manager Datu Royniehashim Datu Pindatun said 550,204 of them were domestic visitors, 70,621 foreigners, 12,542 students and 241 researchers.

"Meanwhile between January and August this year, domestic visitors numbered 204,375, foreigners 36,608, students 5,422 and 117 researchers," he told Bernama here.

Datu Royniehashim said the foreign visitors were from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Britain, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Switzerland, Portugal, Japan, Netherlands, Africa and the Middle East.

The memorial placed in a building built in 1911 was officialy opened in 1985 to commemorate Malaysia's struggle to achieve independence from British colonial rule.


Monday, September 12, 2011


Portuguese to put on show
By Adrian David

Malaca will commemorate the arrival of the Portuguese here in 1511 where they built the Fort A’Famosa (above).

Malacca Portuguese-Eurasian Association president Michael Singho says the event is expected to attract thousands of tourists

KUALA LUMPUR: Historical city Malacca will hold a cultural extravaganza next month as it relives the arrival of the Portuguese here in 1511.

The 500th anniversary of Portuguese history and heritage celebrations will be held at the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir from Oct 26.

Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Ali Rustam has been invited to launch the four-day event.

Malacca Portuguese-Eurasian Association president Michael Singho said the fiesta, themed "Our roots.. Our Heritage.. Our Home", would culminate in a commemorative dinner and awards night on Oct 29.

"There will be a fair, exhibitions, demonstrations, traditional events, sale of souvenirs, costumes and handicrafts from cottage industries here, culinary delights, a branyo demonstration, soccer matches involving the Eurasian community, indoor games including darts, chess and carroms, cultural dances and music.

"Day One will open with a mass in church in the evening.
On Day Two, there will be a heritage run, a beauty contest and a cristang song competition. The official opening ceremony by the chief minister will be on Day Three," said Singho.

The fiesta will recapture the moment Afonso d'Albuquerque arrived from Goa, India, with 18 ships and 1,200 men and set foot on Malacca shores on Aug 24, 1511.

The Fort A'Fomosa was built to defend Malacca as a strategic base for Portuguese expansion in the East Indies until 1641 when the Dutch took control.

Singho added that the fiesta was expected to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists, including Eurasians from the Asean region, Australia and Portugal.

"The pulsating beat will complement the ambience of the Portuguese Settlement to provide the ideal atmosphere for a grand get- together," said Singho, whose family of musicians included the famed Os Pombos.

Tourism Malaysia, the Malacca state government and the Portuguese embassy based in Bangkok, Thailand, are offering their support.

For enquiries, call the association's secretariat at 016-2505309; Singho at 017-2244653; association secretary Philomena Singho at 016-2505309; vice-presidents Regina Sta Maria at 012-3657263 and Lawrence Stephen at 016-3356617.

Read more: Portuguese to put on show

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


MALACCA: The two double-decker red tour buses which were brought here from London slightly more than three years ago are no longer plying the tourist belt in the historical city.

Both the buses are out of service for now and Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam had announced recently that one of them would be made a temporary exhibit at the Malacca Transportation Museum in Ayer Keroh while awaiting repairs.

The bus which would be placed temporarily at the museum belongs to the Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council (MPHTJ).

The other bus, which is undergoing repairs at a workshop in Sungai Udang, is owned by the Malacca Historical City Council (MBMB). It is expected to resume operations soon.

MPHTJ's bus had been out of service and left idle at the MBMB compound since last September as the replacement parts were costly and difficult to get as they had to be imported from England.

Ali said it was better to make the bus part of the museum's exhibits than to leave it idle while waiting for the spare parts to arrive.

"We have to think carefully about what to do with the bus due to the costs incurred and we have to ensure that we make a pragmatic decision when ordering the replacement parts," Ali said.

The buses, which are also known as the Panorama Bus, were brought to Malacca from London in 2007 at a cost of RM200,000 each to take tourists around historical sites in the city.

The London Bus, as they are known by the locals here, started its services on Aug 14, 2007.

It made 13 stops, including shopping and leisure areas.

The buses are operated by Panorama Malacca Cultural & Tourism Sdn Bhd (PMCT).

The bus owned by MBMB is undergoing repairs at a cost of RM140,000 while the other, owned by MPHTJ, is scheduled to be sent to the workshop soon.

MPHTJ is expected to cough up RM40,000 for the repair of its double-decker bus.

Mayor Zainal Abu confirmed the cost incurred to repair MBMB's bus was RM140,000 as the replacement parts had to be imported.

Meanwhile, MPHTJ president Sapiah Haron confirmed that RM40,000 would be allocated for the repairs on its bus.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Wednesday August 31, 2011
Walking down memory lane

Heritage enthusiasts Colin Goh and Josephine Chua are passionate about preserving the history of their beloved city.

HIDDEN away in the shadow of a massive shopping complex in Malacca is an almost forgotten part of Malaysia’s history. It is a small mosaic-covered pyramid with a large ‘M’ in the middle, and it marks the beginning of Malaysia as we know it.

Once the focal point of Malacca’s Padang Merdeka, the Merdeka Monument commemorates the day that Malaya declared its independence. That’s not all. Most people forget that it was in Malacca on Feb 20, 1956, Tunku Abdul Rahman announced the glorious news that the British Government had finally agreed to grant Malaya independence. So in a way, Malacca is inextricably linked to Merdeka.

“It is such a shame that an important monument to such an important event in our country’s history is so downplayed today,” laments Colin Goh, 65, a retired civil servant and one of my tour guides for the day.
Colin Goh and Josephine Chua at the Merdeka Monument.

Despite being the second smallest state in Malaysia, Malacca has always been at the centre of Malaysia’s history – ever since Parameswara founded the settlement in 1409. This once important and strategic port in the Straits of Malacca was where the Portuguese, Dutch and British once had their strongholds. Some old Portuguese maps even referred to the entire Malayan peninsula as Malacca. Therefore, it was fitting that Tunku chose Malacca, the place where it all began, to announce the birth of our nation.

Goh was 10 years old when Tunku came to town, and according to him, the atmosphere leading up to the days before his arrival in Malacca was electrifying.

“Everyone was fired up about independence at the time. Everyone in school and on the streets was shouting ‘Merdeka! Merdeka!’ even though they didn’t really know what it meant,” Goh recalls. “Back then, this was just a sleepy hollow. But when word got out that Tunku was coming here to make the announcement, people arrived on buses from everywhere just to hear what he had to say!”

Walking encyclopaedia

Today, Goh is a walking, talking, living history book, an encyclopaedia of Malaccan history. He and his long-time friend and fellow heritage enthusiast Josephine Chua are taking me on a whirlwind tour along the heritage trail of Malacca.

They will be showing another side of Malacca’s history, one that you would not read about in books.

Chua, 55, who is on the Malacca Historical Resource Society committee, is equally passionate about preserving the history and heritage of Malacca. Her roots go all the way back to the very early days of Malacca – her grandfather was one of the founders of the iconic 17th century Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, which is the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia.
The historical A Famosa fortress, a landmark of Malacca.

The walk around Malacca’s heritage zone is as much a walk down memory lane for Goh and Chua as it is a walk down Malacca’s chequered past.

Starting out from the St. Francis Xavier Church, we enter the designated Heritage Zone via the row of distinctly red pre-war shop houses along Jalan Laksamana to the central town square (with its iconic red clock tower), then up Jalan Kota towards the Merdeka monument. From there, part of our route includes the one that Tunku Abdul Rahman took in 1956 after making the Merdeka announcement, when he went across the Tan Kim Seng Bridge to MCA founder Tun Tan Cheng Lok’s home on Heeren Street (now Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lok) for tea.

Besides its obvious historical heritage (the ancestral homes of many influential Chinese and Peranakan families are still located here), Heeren Street also holds special significance for both Goh and Chua – they were born on the same street in adjoining buildings, at 54 and 56 Heeren Street respectively.
Ban Onn Silversmith on Jonker Street (now known as Jalan Hang Jebat), is one of the few remnants of a more idyllic, less commercial era.

As we walk along the street, Chua excitedly points out the various homes she’s lived in, and tells vivid stories about the denizens of the street.

“My aunt used to live across the street from us when I was little. During Merdeka Day, she would wave to me from across the road and I’d shout ‘Merdeka!’ from our window,” Chua recalls.

One of the most remarkable parts about being brought on a tour by Goh and Chua is that they can point out little details that you would normally have missed. For instance, at one end of the Tan Kim Seng Bridge, concealed behind a garish and completely out-of-place Dutch windmill (despite being colonised by the Dutch, Malacca never had windmills), is an engraved plaque commemorating the opening of the bridge by the British governor at the time. It also honours the contributions of prominent merchant Tan Kim Seng, who donated the funds for the construction of the bridge

Treasure trove of knowledge

You’ll also hear stories about things that happened in everyday life as well. Pointing out a prominent building on Heeren Street, Goh relates how it used to be the home of a good friend who was murdered in her own home. Passing by another building, he explains how it used to be called The Black House because it was occupied by a coal trader.

Stories like these are what make Goh and Chua so unique. They may not be historians or tour guides by profession, but they conduct private tours on a voluntary basis, usually for special occasions or selected guests, because they are driven by their passion for the city they grew up in, as well as the wealth of history and stories within its walls and along its streets.

Goh and Chua are treasure troves of knowledge on Malacca’s history, dispensing historical facts with stories from their childhood, as well as insights into how Malacca has changed.

“The first time I took somebody on a tour of Malacca was in 1965. I found myself getting more and more interested in Malacca’s history. So I started to pick up more books and articles and kept them for reference,” says Goh.

It’s not all warm and fuzzy memories though.

Goh and Chua are equally adept at pointing out the less savoury side of Malacca, which includes the over-commercialisation and over-development of the heritage area, inadequacies in the preservation of heritage buildings and even blatant disrespect of the city’s proud heritage and buildings.

As we walk along Jonker Street (now known as Jalan Hang Jebat) amid the cacophony of tour buses, trucks and motorcycles whizzing past, Goh points out, “This place used to be a thriving community. Everything you needed in everyday life was here – there were tailors, blacksmiths, laundry cleaners, electrical shops, silversmiths. But when it was turned into the Jonker Walk night market to attract more tourists, all the old residents packed up and left the area.”

“It’s become a commercial community now – everything being sold here now is catered for tourists,” Chua adds.

“Many of the things being sold here aren’t even Malaysian, let alone Malaccan!”

Yet, amidst all the tacky tourist traps and blatant commercialisation, some remnants of the old Jonker Street community remain.

For instance, Ban Onn Silversmith is one of the few traditional silversmiths left standing in Malacca. And directly opposite is The Royal Press, a 75-year-old printing press that is still going strong.

“They (The Royal Press) recently had to move from the store next door to the current one; and when they did, they arranged all the furniture and equipment in the exact same positions as they were in the previous store,” says Chua proudly.

Nevertheless, one gets the feeling that these are the dying embers of Malacca’s old history, and that they will soon be gone unless something drastic is done to preserve these heritage treasures.

In fact, oral historians and ordinary Malaccans like Goh and Chua should also be treasured, and commended for the work they have done.

For the pair, it is frustrating and sometimes painful to see the city they grew up in being exploited in the name of development and tourism.

According to Chua, acclaimed historian Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard once said that Malacca was the only place where you got a feeling of antiquity when you drive into town.

“This should have been the main motto in all our conservation projects for Malacca. How important is Malacca? Before anyone even dreamed of Malaysia or Malaya, there was Malacca,’’ she says.

From a certain angle at the Merdeka Monument, you can see the entire history of Malaysia - the iconic Porta de Santiago gate of the A Famosa fortress, the Malay sultanate palace, and the Bastion House. They represent the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Malay Sultanate eras of Malacca.

There can be no doubt Malacca is the cradle of Malaysia.