Thursday, 29 November 2012

Stamford Raffles and Warkah-Warkah Raja Melayu

Who was Raffles?

Warkah = letters of correspondence

Prof Ahmat Adam has researched and written about Raffles.
- correspondence (letters, warkah) between Raffles and the Malay rulers from Bali (written in Malay), Java (written in Javanese) and Bengkulu (Bencoolen)
- the Malay calendar system, the daur system used Arabic alphabets, separate from the Islamic calendar
- these letters are kept in the British Museum
- the spread of Islam via tasawwuf (sufism)
- the link of the Malays to their Indian ascendants
- Light was a thief (stole Penang and Province Wellesley from Kedah)
- Raffles liked the Malays and studied and mastered the Malay language
- Raffles sided with Sultan Abdul Rahman of Riau-Lingga-Johor (younger brother of Sultan Hussain of Singapore) and obtained Singapore for the British
- Sultan Hussain remained a puppet sultan in Singapore under the British. Broken hearted, he left for Malacca. He died in Malacca. His son did not manage to regain the throne in Riau-Lingga-Johor nor Singapore.
- aspects of British colonialism in Malaya: To separate the administration (secular State) from religion (Islam), taking the administration for themselves and limiting the Malay rulers to manage just the religion. For judiciary, the Roman court system overruled the Shariah/Syariah/Islamic Law. This was the British system of "divide and rule" which was how Tanah Melayu fell to the British colonials.
- today, we don't teach students to think but to copy
- Dunia Melayu
- When did Islam come to Tanah Melayu?
- Islah dan sejarah (transformation and history)
- the British laid the foundation for Malaysia
- Islah was the State religion (religion of the nation)
- a lot of Malay artifacts have been discovered at Bujang Valley and in Cambodia
- the headstone of Fatimah
- the headstone of Sultan Malikul Saleh
- the Chinese chronicle, Kublai Khan's time: mentioned Sumatra
- the old Chinese chronicle mentioned South East Asia (SEA)
- Islam spread gradually from 12C and was established by 14-15C
- Islam could have been brought by the sufis (ahli tasawwuf)
- Islam was established in Sumatra in 19C
- When did Islam come to Tanah Melayu?
- Batu Bersurat has Malay and Sanskrit
- Chinese chronicles mentioned Iskandar Shah visited China
- Iskandar Shah was the son of Parameswara
- Sultan Muhammad Shah practised Islam
- Sri Maharaja was Sultan Muhammad Shah 1423-1424/5
- Malacca was established in 15C; Malacca was an international trading port
- Malacca's rise to greatness was troubled by Siam
- Malacca was a strategic location in the Malacca Straits; a;; trade focused on Malacca
- the Ming Emperor provided protection to Malacca
- the Ming Emperor was a Muslim and his food was cooked only by his wife; the rest of the palace was non Muslim
- there was close ties between the Malacca rulers and Chinese Emperor: exchange of silk, etc
- the Malacca officials visited China many times
- Is Malacca really that great?
- Portuguese sources: Malacca was an Islamic centre (santri = alim ulama)
- the Malay ulama learned from maulana, they performed tarawih in Ramadan, they prayed on the 27 Ramadan
- the Malay rulers learned from the ulama
- Sultan Mansor Shah learned Islam but there was no pondok recorded in Malacca history
- Who was the great sufi in Malacca? Was there one?
- There were many sufi in this region; was Malacca a centre of lerning of Islam? There is no evidence
- These great sufi left a lot of books which they wrote and were widely distributed in SEA
- Portuguese arrived: The ulama took charge of Islam in Malacca; some of the rulers sided with the Portuguese
- Old Johor was attacked by the Portuguese
- later the rulers sided with the Dutch
- under Alauddin Riayat Shah, Aceh attacked Perak
- Perak prince was married to Aceh princess => ?
- the Malays were scared on the Aceh
- there were many attacks and royal marriages between the Malays and Aceh
- many of the Malay states were attacked by Aceh each time the Malays disobeyed the Aceh rulers
- creation of the Orang Besar 8, 12, 16 based on Aceh system
- Aceh destroyed a lot of Malay things but the Aceh books survived till today
- the Malay rulers were weak and could not defend themselves
 - Malacca fell to the Dutch; Kedah fell to Siam; Sultan Mahmud was a homosexual and died from a stab wound (Sultan Mahmud Mangkat Dijulang) which ended the Malacca Sultanate
- Bugis arrived in Tanah Melayu
- Sultan Mahmud was of Indian extraction (described as a wild character)
- Tun Fatimah was an Indian-Malay mix
- Hang Tuah's child, Tun Biajid (?)
- a lot of Malay practices are derived from Indian beliefs (Hinduism and Zoroastrianism) and practices
- Sanskrit words in Malay usage, past and present
- Hisbul Muslimin
- Malacca Malays aren't like the Malays in Kelantan and Terengganu
- the Indian influence was very strong in Malacca

Monograph 43. Letters of Sincerity: The Raffles Collection of Malay Letters (1780-1824)
A Descriptive Account with Notes and Translation by Ahmat Adam

What's Up?

Nothing much. The second book is late (still being printed). I'm just waiting. There is however good news from another quite unexpected aspect of this research. My husband went to talk to his friend about staging some drama/sketches of biographies in my second book. I agreed but it will certainly need a lot of work.

He first went to see a friend who is skilled in writing scripts for staging Malay drama, only Malay drama, not English drama. This man is also a USM staff. He usually stages very good Malay dramas. I have no idea where he stages them but I believe for the university.

Now, this friend can get a professional playwrite or script writer to make professional dramas and stage them at USM. Since I am based in USM, we may try out and stage the dramas in Kelantan. Since it will be the first time we stage a medical Malay drama (of course with some English dialogues since the early Malay doctors probably dealt in English for a major part of their work). The stage, props, music, etc will reflect the time of British Malaya. The costumes are varied but should reflect that bygone era.

My husband also suggested that I piece together each early doctors' biography separately. He also mentioned it would be great if I could talk to Datuk Lat and get him to draw cartoons to accompany each biography & drama. I added I could do that - compile biography + Lat's cartoon + images of memorabilia of each doctor + scenes from drama. Among the biographies we can try to stage (just a suggestion from my husband) are Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail (Coco Majid, 2nd DG), Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin (3rd DG), Datuk Dr Ariffin Ngah Marzuki, Tun Dr Ismail. I added we can also try and do the same for the Singapore doctors in addition to Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Din (1st DG), Dr Abdul Wahab Mohd Ariff, the lady doctors - Dr Latifah Bee Ghows, Tan Sri Dr Salmah Ismail, and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali. My husband said Panggung Negara already staged Tun Dr Siti Hasmah so there is no need to duplicate that.

The big job is to go round and obtain rights to stage the drama. I will need to obtain agreements from the doctors' families, find a producer for the dramas, and get copyrighted music approved. I will also need to check with Arkib if they have filmed these early doctors and whether we can be allowed to make clips out of the existing ones. It is a lot of work and I wish someone can take this up since I still have another 6 years of lecturing before I can call it quits and help out. Otherwise I can only do this part time after office hours.

As for actors and actresses, that will certainly need a lot of auditions for the various roles of the early Malay doctors. I offered my youngest daughter and she shrieked! I must have scared her stiff. LOL

So that's what is on my mind right now.

I'm listening to Maple Leaf Rag (since 9 am, it's 3.37 pm now) because I'm also updating the story about my mum at another of my many blogs when the suggestion to do the drama above came at lunch time. I can't think straight if I don't listen to bkgr music or noise. I cannot work in a silent room. I can work in any noisy environment except traffic noise. K-pop is playing on ASTRO, ustaz is speaking on IKIM FM, they don't disturb me at all, I can still work good and fast. Of course I can't hear calls on my phone with all the bkgr noise. It has to be very noisy so the blood flows out from the heart and up to the brain and back down. Otherwise the brain has stale blood. No scientific theory can prove that music as bkgr noise makes a person happy, helps memory and keeps one young, healthy and alert. That's my unscientific theory.