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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Ideal Malay State

Finding the root of little red dot, Singapore in Singapore Diary Forum:

"In truth, by 1330 “SINGAPURA” had become a name common across Asia, since the lion was a symbol closely associated with the Buddhism that sread across the region before the arrival of Islam. Various Singapuras had already existed, in Vietnam, southern Siam, western Java and in India too. Nonetheless, for the island of Temasek the name Singapura struck — as did Sri Tri Buana’s reign, which according to the Malay chronicles, lasted right through the first half of the 14th century. The problem with these chronicles is just how much of them we can treat as historical fact — a problem that goes well beyond Sri Tri Buana’s advisor mistaking something in the bushes for what he imaged to be a lion.

To the end, the Sejarah (Malay literatures) casts the blame for the ultimate fall of Singapura on the poor judgement of its last king, Sultan Iskandar Shah. After only 3 years on the throne, the Sultan listened to court gossip and humiliated one of his favourite concubines by publicly exposing her in the market. This act enraged her father, a royal minister, who exacted his revenge by inviting one of Singapura’s rivals, the neighbouring Majapahit Empire in Java, to seize and sack the Sultan’s kingdom (the father was even there at the gates f the fort to open them for the Javanese army when it landed). The Sejarah tells of a fierce battle where so many were killed … that blood flowed like a river in spate and flooded the fort of Singaura on the sea shore. Sultan Iskandar Shah fled north to the Malay Peninsula, where he founded a new settlement of Melaka under the shade of the eponymous malaka tree. From here, the Malay chronicles really hit their stride, describing Melaka’s rise and extolling it as an ideal Malay state where every woman was beautiful, every man was handsome and the government worked well."

--- Singapore: A Biography / Mark Ravinder Frost, Yu-Mei Balasingamchow
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