Wednesday, September 27, 2006


by Wong Phui Nam
Maya Press
(RM 19.90)

The conflict between subject and king is told in Malay history in Jebat's usurpation of the Melaka Sultan's palace. This is purportedly to be an act to right the injustice done to Tuah by the Sultan in ordering his execution on mere suspicion that he was dallying with the ladies-in-waiting in the palace. As is told in Hikayat Hang Tuah, the Sultan, on being told that Tuah has not been put to death as ordered, summons Tuah to the palace and orders him to kill Jebat on his behalf. This Tuah does out of unquestioning loyalty to his ruler. A parallel between this story and Antigone (by Sophocles in 5th century BCE Athens - a classic expression of conflict between established authority) may be drawn by having an invented sister of Jebat's defy the Sultan by retrieving for burial her dead brother's body left to rot hanging from a tree at the city's main gate on the Sultan's order. This is what Wong Phui Nam has done in Anike.