Malaysians Are Shocked At What Students Are Learning About Hang Tuah In Schools

Could this issue take the Hang Tuah controversy to new heights?

Cover image via Azhar Harun

For years, Malaysians studied and learned about the legendary Malay warrior, Hang Tuah

Image via Diskopi

The great warrior has been an integral part of the history of Malacca in particular and Malaysia in general. The Sejarah (History) textbooks documented his legendary fighting skills and commendable bravery.

Hang Tuah was one of the sultan's favourite laksamana (admiral) in the 15th-century Malaccan royal court and was said to work alongside his four other warrior friends namely Hang Jebat, Hang Lekiu, Hang Kasturi and Hang Lekir.

These are parts of history lessons that were handed down to us for generations.

However, in recent years, Hang Tuah has become a subject of controversy, as there have been claims that he may just be a fictional character after all

Universiti Malaya's Professor Dr Ahmat Adam

Image via Rohanis Sukri/NST

Certain historians have suggested that Hang Tuah's legacy is false and mythical, as scholars have been engaged in intense debates on his existence and lineage.

Such claim were made by historians such as Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Khoo Kay Khim which was highly publicised back in 2012, and Universiti Malaya's Professor Dr Ahmat Adam.

Last December, Ahmat was quoted as saying by Malay daily, Berita Harian, that Hang Tuah is "a fictional character that existed in the classic texts of Sejarah Melayu and Hikayat Hang Tuah only".

"Those who are historians must remember, Sejarah Melayu is fiction which can be termed literary history text but not a historical text," he reportedly said.

Many Malaysians have since subscribed to this increasingly popular belief.

So, when lawyer Azhar 'Art' Harun stumbled upon a page about Hang Tuah in a Year 4 Sejarah textbook, he was appalled

Image via Azhar Harun

He questioned if the Ministry of Education (MOE) was aware of the "difference between folklore and history", and was even more baffled at the content that was being introduced in the syllabus.

In one of the pages that was apparently found on Primary 4 students' Sejarah textbook, Hang Tuah was described as a "brave" person for "saving the bendahara from people who were running amok" and "wise" for "eating sayur kangkung (water spinach) without chopping them to have a good look at the Chinese emperor".

Image via Azhar Harun

Taking the matter to Facebook, Azhar posted two images with the accompanying caption, "This is from an actual Standard 4 Sejarah book. Our Education Ministry doesn't even know the difference between folklore and history by the look of it."

"Assuming Hang Tuah is a historical figure - which in itself is a subject of polemic - surely the parts about him defeating several amok-ing persons to save the Bendahara and him eating kangkung in China as a ploy to look at the Emperor's face do not qualify to be categorised as history."

"If those were history, I suppose the parts about him jumping into a pool of poo to save the Sultan's horse and going to Pahang to charm Tun Teja for the Sultan too can qualify as history," he added.

Netizens were also puzzled by the seemingly "twisted" content that is being taught to the younger generation

Image via Facebook

This discovery has come a time when Malaysians are divided over the "true identity" of Hang Tuah

Among the academic circles, the search for the ultimate truth continues as they continue to argue about the story of Hang Tuah. Meanwhile, at the same time, netizens are holding their own discussions on the cybersphere, with some even coming up with conspiracy theories.

The current Sejarah secondary school textbooks only mention Hang Tuah in passing, while there is no reference to any of his warrior friends.

It is noted that in previous Sejarah textbook editions, Hang Tuah was given a greater prominence.

Do you think the younger generations should learn about Hang Tuah in their Sejarah lessons? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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