Melaka is well-known for its interesting and unique history. It begins when Parameswara, a prince from Palembang, got involved in a war for the succession of the Majapahit Empire during the late 14th century. After his defeat in the war, he sought refuge in Temasik which was under the influence of the Siamese. After being expelled from Temasik by the Siamese invaders, Parameswara and his comrades made their way to Muar and then to Sungai Ujong before taking a stop in Bertam, which is located nearby the outfall of the Malacca River. This happened around 1396.
Shortly after they arrived in Bertam, Parameswara saw his hunting dogs kicked by a white deer. He was extremely impressed with the bravery and strength shown by the white deer. He felt like he just witnessed a miracle and he believed that it is a good sign, so he was inspired to start his new empire there. He asked his comrades about the name of the tree that sheltered him when he saw the incident, and he was told that the name of the tree is Melaka. Thus, he made the decision of naming the land after the beautiful and shady Melaka tree.
Apparently, Parameswara’s choice of location is a perfect one. Melaka’s location is very strategic. It is located around the riverbanks of the Straits of Melaka which connects China to India and the east, making it a convenient site for a trading hub. It attracted many Arab merchants as well as those from the east and the west, turning Melaka into a bustling entreport with hundreds of ships docking in every year. Parameswara embraced Islam with the guidance of an Islamic scholar from Jeddah in the year 1414 and it laid a foundation for the advancement of Melaka as a major trading hub as well as the center of Islamic studies.
Melaka continued to become a famous Malay trading hub in the east. Some of the goods available in Melaka were Chinese silk and china, camphor from Borneo, sandalwood from Timor, nutmeg and clove from Molucas, gold and pepper from Sumatra as well as tin from Tanah Melayu. The Gujarat traders from western India came in to trade textiles and Melaka became known worldwide as a center for silk and porcelain trading. To keep its tradition at foe, the Sultan of Melaka enlisted the help of the Chinese mainly the voyages of Admiral Cheng Ho between 1440 – 1433. Melaka prospered and not long later, The Ming Emperor bequeathed a Chinese princess – Hang Li Poh, to Sultan Muzaffar Shah. This is the first multiracial union ever recorded in history.
Unfortunately, Melaka’s fame started to decline as Europe began extending its power to the East as they had seen the potential in Melaka. The arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque was to conquer the city, and they succeeded. A’Famosa or Porta de Santiago was so strong; the Portuguese invasion was a triumphant victory. Sultan Mahmud then fled to Johor.
A’Famosa ensured the Portuguese ruling for the next 150 years until Melaka fell to the Dutch after a battle of eight months, leaving the state almost completely ruined. The Dutch rebuilt the city over the next century and a half, building extravagant structures and churches that stands tall up till today. These are the solid reminder of the European invasion back in the 14th century. Not long after, in 1795, the Netherlands was captured by the French Revolutionary armies. Then, Melaka was handed over to the British by the Dutch to prevent it from falling under the French ruling.
In 1942, Melaka experienced the grueling Japanese occupation. The British declared a state of Emergency in Malaya which lasted for 12 years against the Communist Terrorist.
Malaysia gained its independence on the 31st of August 1957. After independence, a colonial building was built by British in Melaka; which was known as Malacca Club, opened to public after being used by the British officials as a clubhouse. Exactly 38 years later, the same building was turned into The Proclamation of Independence Memorial; a place that commemorates The Independence Day of Malaysia.
“Melaka was proclaimed as a Historical City on 15 April 1989. Today, they are celebrating their 750 years in history”.