Monday, October 4, 2010

The Lost City of Kota Gelanggi Archeological Find - (The First Immigrants to Malaysia)

I was reading an article just now in Facebook that claims how the Malaysian government downplayed a recent finding of Kota Gelanggi in Johor, Malaysia, that was touted to be the first civilization in Malaysia, 1000 years earlier than the Malacca empire. The reason given by the article was because Kota Gelanggi was Buddhist in nature and the discovery of it would very much undermine the position of the Malays as bumiputra. And to give the article a more authentic "feel", it was claimed that a Dr Lee Kam Hing, a former history "professor" from Singapore, wrote and did the research regarding Kota Gelanggi.

Being a Malaysian Chinese myself, i find myself very tempted to believe in what the article claims, that Malays were in fact not the first settlers in Malaysia but Chinese and Indians are. After all, the article did give a lot of credible looking proofs and we all love conspiracy theories, especially when it involves the Malaysian government and the bumiputera status.

However, as much as i am tempted to believe that those UMNO suckers are wrong all these time, something about the article did not look right.

One, if the article is indeed written by a Professor, it should have been published in some sort of journals, a requirement that every university professors should meet whenever they want o publish their work to the world. Although the article sounds and looks authentic, it is clearly lacking on the characteristics of a journal. The article did not mention what it was trying to prove and what was the purpose of the paper. It is lacking in citations, a definite research method, references to past work and the things that would make it look like a scholarly paper. The ending sentence, "The truth will never hurt anyone. Lies, always will", clearly serves a more political purpose rather than a scientific one.

Two, putting a National Institute of Education ( Singapore ) home page link,at the end of the article clearly does not mean that the NIE endorses it. For all i know, i could write myself an article claiming how handsome am i and put Oxford's link at the end of the article to back my handsome claim. If the paper was published by the NIE, surely there will be a specific link to that article? To confirm my belief, i click on the NIE website attempting to search the original article from there but there was zero results. All i got was the NIE directors were planning to run together on the 15th of October, which has no connection with who came first to Malaysia. Another attempt to fool the readers.

Three, a Google search on Dr Lee Kam Hing indeed proves that he is a real person. However, using a real authoritative to back your claims is often a tactic used by many to make you believe that what they are saying is true. The question here would be, "Did Dr Lee really made the claim on Kota Gelanggi or did someone else misuse his name?"
Like i said earlier, in the scientific and scholarly world, it is very important for you to publish scholarly papers when you want to show the world your findings. It serves as a way of claiming ownership over your research. Much like the idea of copyright. A dig into his career found that among the papers that he published include The Sultanate of Aceh: Relations with the British 1760-1824 (Oxford University Press) and Education and Politics in Indonesia (University of Malaya Press); and jointly edited The Chinese in Malaysia (Oxford University Press), Christianity in Malaysia (Pelanduk Publications), The 1978 General Elections and Malaysian Politics (Oxford University Press) and The Biographical Dictionary of the Chinese in Malaysia (Pelanduk Publications). Nothing about Kota Gelanggi.
 So did Dr Lee said it? It is disputable. There's no proof showing that he said it but there's no proof disputing it either. But to give you a feel of what it would have looked like if Dr Lee indeed published a paper on this matter, you can check out this link of an article he's written: Completely different from the original article on Kota Gelanggi.

Four, the question remains on who wrote the original article. Some claim it was another Dr Lee Ong Kim, as evident from the second link i gave you above other than the Facebook one, but it is still debatable. A more detailed Google search returns an email in which this Dr Lee Ong Kim denies that he was responsible for this article. An excerpt: "Dear Prof. Dato Dr. Aminah Ayob and Prof. Datuk Dr. Zainal,
I received a message from Prof. Mansor yesterday and I found it necessary to inform him that I am NOT the person who wrote the article. I notice that I missed you in the c.c. list and so I am forwarding you my reply to him. I am saddened by the fact that there are people who can do “cut and paste” to make it appear that I am the author, whatever his or her reason is. I also notice that additional comments are made above the article, also to make it appear like the comments were mine. I find this truly unethical.
Nonetheless, the lesson for me is to stop forwarding such articles I receive, even to a few friends. I was too casual about it at that time."

Five, what actually did the mainstream media said? In 2006, an expedition lead by a group of Malaysian researchers have failed to uncover any evidence that Kota Gelanggi indeed exists at the time of press. However, orang asli villagers have reported on seeing the ruins quite a few times during their trips in the forest. In 2008, the Malaysian Press reported the discovery of an ancient bronze vessel or Kendi near a river close to Mentakab, Pahang Darul Makmur that may be connected to the ancient city of Kota Gelanggi in Johor Darul Takzim.

Conclusion? Kota Gelanggi may or may not exist and even if it does, it may or may not disprove the claim that Malays indeed came to Malaysia first. I know it is very easy to buy into all these conspiracy theories when you want to believe that the government and UMNO is wrong, but it is often advisable to take all these "news" with a pinch of salt. There are many irresponsible parties out there that will do anything to forward their agenda, including falsifying and over-exaggerating some elements of the news. Read into the behind story and do a conclusive research when faced with articles like this next time, the internet is your friend. 

And actually, there's really not much need in proving who actually came first, the Chinese, the Indians or the Malays. We all own this land. We all are Malaysians. It doesn't really matter who was first as long as we can live happily together. And speaking of who's first, i think the Chinese, the Malays and the Indians would all lose to the orang asli. They are the original settlers of this land. There's no need to dig up any kota-kota to prove that. Period.


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