Bicentennial Chronicles

Bicentennial Chronicles

1820 The Hikayat Abdullah (Self-determination)
2 Min

By Toggle Video Published: 27 Sep 2019 Audio: English

One fascinating account of Raffles’ arrival in Singapore in 1819 was recorded by a man who was not present. Munshi Abdullah – born in 1797 in Melaka, and appointed Raffles’ secretary and interpreter in Singapore in 1820 – was an accomplished Malay scholar, who collected reports from those present at important events in the region such as this, and pieced them together. He was the author of the Hikayat Abdullah, which was published in 1849, and remains a leading resource for understanding life in Singapore, Melaka and the southern Malay kingdoms of Johor and Riau-Lingga in the 1800s. Amongst other things, the Hikayat Abdullah chronicles the establishment of the British settlement in Singapore, Sultan Hussein Shah’s brief rule during the early days of the settlement, and the eventual ceding of the island by the sultan and temenggong of Johor to the East India Company. It is said that Munshi Abdullah also tutored Raffles in the Malay language.

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