Sultanate Vessels Found

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The state government of Melaka is attempting to salvage dozens of shipwrecks found off the coast near Tanjung Tuan here, which may yield artefacts worth billions of ringgit.

State Tourism, Culture and Heritage committee chairman Datuk Latiff Tamby Chik said the shipwrecks, some of which were 500 years old, were discovered during a survey conducted by the National Heritage Department and Royal Malaysian Navy.

“Some of these vessels could be from the time of the Malacca Sultanate and some from the period between 1600s and 1800s.

“It’s an important find with rich historical value for Malacca,” said Latiff after visiting Hang Li Poh Well here yesterday.

The shipwrecks were located on the seabed some 100m from the surface, he added.

Latiff said authorities believed the shipwrecks could include Raja Haji (died June 1784, Malacca,Buginese soldier and statesman under whose leadership Buginese adventurers spread throughout the Malay Peninsula. The power of the Buginese (a people originally from the southern Celebes) dated from the early 1700s, when Buginese adventurers, cut off from their homeland by the Dutch, established a dynasty in the Malay state of Selangor, became the power behind the throne of the state of Johore, and were powerful influences in the states of Kedah and PeraK.)and Bulan Linggi, two vessels used by the Malay rulers between 1600 and 1650.

Most, he added, were probably merchant ships on their way to Malacca before they sank.

“The cost of salvaging one of these ships could cost up to RM3mil but the artefacts recovered can reach up to billions of ringgit,” he said, adding that the state government was trying to salvage the wrecks with the help of foreign deep-sea recovery companies.

He said the area had been identified as a potential National Heritage site. He said more wrecks were expected to be discovered by the state’s Maritime Museum and other related agencies, including vessels which sunk during World War II.

“It is also learnt the Tanjung Tuan stretch is an ideal environment for conserving shipwrecks due to its temperature and oxygen levels, allowing these to remain virtually intact for hundreds of years,” he said.

On another matter, Latiff said the maintenance of 26 historical sites in the state had been assigned to Malacca Historical City Council and the Museum Corporation of Malacca, which took over from the National Heritage Department on May 1.

“We hope there will be scheduled maintenance to ensure these sites are not neglected,” he said.

The Star ,May 2011

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