Friday, January 4, 2008

CL7: Where it all began...

Background:

This is speech no 7 in the Competent and Leadership manual. The speech requires an extensive amount of research to be carried out on a selected subject. The speaker has to collect information about his/her topic from numerous sources and carefully support his/her points and opinions with specific facts, examples and illustrations gathered through research


Actual Speech:

Good evening fellow toastmasters and honourable guests,

Once upon a time, there was a fleeing Sumatran prince, named Parameswara. After failing in his attempt to overthrow the King of Majapahit at that time, he was lucky to escape the kingdom and he still wanted to be a king. One day, he was out for hunting. While he was resting under a tree, he saw an unusual incident. One of his dogs cornered a mouse-deer and to his surprise, the mouse-deer in its defense attacked the dog and forced it into the river. He was impressed by the courage of the little animal. He immediately stood up and declared to his followers and guards, “I have found the place and I am going to found a city on the ground I am standing now.” He then continued, “What is the name of the tree that gives me the shade?” One of his followers replied, “Your highness, this is Pokok Melaka.” Thus, Melaka was born.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There were easily more than 3 versions on how the name Melaka came about. Most scholars and historians agreed that the name Melaka originated from the name of the tree. Their reason was that the local people at that time like to name a place after plants or trees. Some examples of places in Melaka that still bear the name of plants or trees until today are Kg. Alai, Kg Bertam, Pengkalan Kempas, Kg Merlimau and Kg Kundang.

As time went on, Melaka grew bigger and more prosperous. It attracted many Javanese, Chinese, Indian, and Arab sea-merchants and later became an international trading free port. According to historians, Melaka was one of the world greatest trading cities in the 13th and 14th century. Its fame and wealth has caught the attention of the Europeans. There was a saying that “Whoever is the Lord in Melaka, has his hand on the throat of Venice.” The Portuguese became the first European to arrived and conquered Melaka in 1511, led by Alfonso de Alburquerque. With that, the golden era of Malacca Sultanate only lasted less than a century. The Portuguese stayed for 130 years before the Dutch captured Melaka in 1641. The British also laid their feet on Melaka in 1824 when it was handed over by the Dutch during the French Revolution. It was also under the Japanese occupancy during the Second World War.

My fellow toastmasters and honourable guests,

From an unknown fishing village to one of the world greatest cities that many admired at one time, today, Melaka has only a land area of 1638 sq. km or 1.3% of the whole of Malaysia. In 2007, it has a population of 759000 people. Of that, 57% are Malays, 32% Chinese and the other minorities made up the 11%.

With a long history in trading and colonization by Oriental and Western powers, 2 unique cultures, Peranakans and Kristang, are born.

Peranakans are descended from Chinese migrants who first came to Melaka many centuries ago. Peranakans or Straits Chinese adopted Malays customs and cultures into their daily life. The male Peranakans are called Babas while the females are Nyonya.

Kristang or Portuguese-Eurasian is resulted from the intermarried of the Portuguese with the local population and they still maintain their traditional surnames such as Sequiera and Lopez. These 3000-odd groups of people are located at the Portuguese Settlemen.

On 15 April 1989, Melaka was declared as Historical City. Let us go to experience Melaka ourselves. Here is where it all began…

By, Marcus Loi