I THINK it is time that our historians rewrite history and properly highlight the exploits of our great Malay ancestors, like Panglima Awang (re-named Henry the Black), who sailed the seven seas and was recruited to be the navigator of Ferdinand Magellan’s ship.
He had circumnavigated the world long before Magellan and is never properly mentioned in British books on maritime history.
I now wonder why the historians continued to ignore the exploits of this great Malay seafarer.
The British colonialists purposely ignored him to the extent that when we left school we didn’t know anything about him, and yet he was among the greatest seafarers who had navigated all of the world’s seas long before Magellan, whom unashamedly claimed to have been the first man to circumnavigate the globe.
Now we know that the person who did that was no other than the Malay seafarer, Panglima Awang.
It is a pity that all his exploits and achievements were ignored by the European colonialists, notably the British, Dutch, Portuguese, Spaniards and even the Germans.
It is time that our historians research his exploits and put them in its proper historical perspective.
The Malays of old were glorious in their exploits long before Parameswara laid the foundations of the Melaka Sultanate under the likes of Sultan Mansor Shah, among others.
By then the Malays were already known as great seafarers. They had sailed and traversed the world’s oceans long before western adventurers like Magellan even dreamed of it.
It was because of Panglima Awang’s maritime expertise that Magellan recruited him to help navigate his ship in his task of circumnavigating the globe.
Panglima Awang was the pilot that steered Magellan and his ship to fame while relegating the Malay maritime expert to the backburner of history.
Such disservice by the exploitative colonialists who had unabashedly used the natives, particularly the Malays who were masters of the Nusantara region for their own ends must be corrected.
Panglima Awang’s name was conveniently blotted out of the annals so that Magellan’s exploits could be woven in all its fabricated heroics.
Datuk AhmadRejal Arbee has been in journalism for over 40 years, starting as a cadet reporter in the Straits Times in 1963 and heading its Johor Bahru office in 1966. He then moved to Bernama and became its first overseas correspondent to Jakarta in 1972. He also served as the Berita Harian Group Editor and the Editor of The Sun. Currently, he is reminiscing some of his memorable experiences throughout his long career in journalism.