By Invitation

The hero we need: Hang Tuah the 'model' South-east Asian

The epic tales of a 16th-century Malay warrior serve as a model of openness to change and different cultures

The story of Hang Tuah, the legendary 16th-century Malay warrior, is well known in many parts of South-east Asia, notably in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Streets have been named after him (in Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Jakarta) and the Malaysian and Indonesian navies have also named their ships after the legendary hero who is said to have served his sultan loyally, including as laksamana or admiral. In many ways, the story of Hang Tuah is not only a tale of Melaka, but also one that spans the region and tells us how pre-colonial South-east Asians once viewed the world around them.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2018, with the headline 'The hero we need: Hang Tuah the 'model' South-east Asian'. Print Edition | Subscribe