Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Replica for Maritime Museum in Malacca

Artist impression of the royal ship - courtesy of NST
Flor de la Mar – the main draw at the popular Malacca Maritime Museum will have a new rival from a 15th century royal ship purportedly used by Malacca Sultans. (NST, Second ‘ship’ museum for Malacca, May 12, 2009)

The replica costing about RM5 million will be built a stone throw away from Flor de la Mar on the newly reclaimed square across the historical river. However, here is where the similarity ends.

The earlier Portuguese Galleon replica was built in the 1980s involved a great effort and the builders relied heavily on historical facts, but folks behind this royal sail project may face greater obstacle in their quest.

Records about Flor de la Mar (photo courtesy of baldrick2dogs) - the flagship of Albuquerque’s armada are well documented and there are plenty of research about its voyages in the archive. However on our local front, the royal ship design team may well be staring at blank walls.

Malacca was known as the formidable sea faring state but getting information on its naval fleets and types of vessels used is akin to looking for needle in the ocean.

When the city state was under siege by the Portuguese, we were told that the battles were fought by soldiers on elephants while the invader’s men-of-war had a free hand pounding our shores with no Malacca Navy in sight.

If there was a royal ship in medieval Malacca surely the sultan would have put it into good use to defend Malacca?

Hence for many historical bluffs, the venture by the maritime museum is shrouded in a worrisome trend by the state authority to legitimate history according to their narrow interpretation.

Besides the royal ship project, many are also puzzle over the giant water wheel further down the river. But if you ask the local history experts, they will insist that it was prominently used in 15th. century Malacca.

Naturally, one can’t help but wonder if there is a deliberate attempt to localize the many attractions currently being developed on the banks of the historical Sungai Melaka.

Second 'ship' museum for Malacca (NST, May 12, 2009)

MALACCA: After the 19- year-old Flor De La Mar Ship Museum, the state government will soon build another ship at Sungai Melaka.

This time, it will be a replica of a 15th century royal ship, costing an estimated RM4.9 million.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the ship, which would be developed by the Malacca Museum Corporation, would be able to accommodate up to 150 visitors at any one time.

He said the ship would take tourists back in time to the era of the Malacca sultanate during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah (1459-1477).

"Apart from depicting Malacca as a trading port then, the ship will also exhibit the maritime activity in this part of the world," Ali said.

Two historians, Tan Sri Aziz Tapa and Datuk Djohan Hanapiah, were also consulted to ensure the success of the project, expected to be completed in 18 months. Ali said the RM20 million Malacca Planetarium, the fourth in the country, will be fully operational by next month.

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