More hope to strike gold in Pulau Nangka
NST, May 2, 2014
By Jason Gerald
AT the stroke of midnight on April 30, Smart Partnership International (M) Sdn Bhd, which was hunting for a multi-billion ringgit treasure belonging to the Malacca Sultanate in Pulau Nangka, stumbled upon two bronze coins.
For Smart Partnership, finding the coins, although not gold, is like hitting the jackpot as their four-month contract from January would be terminated at midnight if they did not find anything on the island, located about 17km off the mainland.
According to one of the "treasure hunters", the coins had strange writing on them, believed to be from the Majapahit era.
A few hours before the discovery, Chief Minister Idris Haron had announced that if Smart Partnership failed to find evidence of the treasure, the task would be continued by another firm from May 1. However, he said the new company would search at another area and not continue looking at the same site as Smart Partnership.
Before midnight on April 30, the elusive treasure of Pulau Nangka remained a myth.
But the discovery of the coins brought a glimmer of hope although they were not glittering gold.
In fact, the search for treasure on the island had been carried out by numerous parties since 25 years ago, but to date, it has not been found.
The Malacca government is upbeat on finding the gold. The treasure is believed to be buried inside a cave on the island.
Among the items believed to be in the ancient treasure trove are 80 chests of gold, gold ingots, coins, gems, jewellery, gold plates, land deeds, religious relics, weapons, trophies, artefacts and royal regalia.
Idris was reported as saying that the company undertaking the treasure hunt had so far bored several 130mm holes in the cave using high-tech equipment.
Pulau Nangka is believed to have been used as a hideout by Sultan Mahmud when he fled the Portuguese invasion in 1511.
Elaborate drawings and symbols had also been discovered at the entrance of the cave that could be related to the Majapahit kingdom and the Malacca sultanate.
Regardless whether the treasure is found or not, Pulau Nangka, an island once frequented by a few treasure hunters, fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers, is now glittering in the world map and has become a must-visit site for tourists.
Malacca is attracting around 14 million tourists a year and the Historical City is definitely under the radar of major players in the hospitality industry.
Idris said various initiatives had been taken by the state government in promoting tourism in Malacca and these had made the state the preferred destination in Malaysia.
Malacca is a small state with a population of 858,000 people. However, on weekends, the number explodes to more than two million in the city centre alone, courtesy of domestic and foreign visitors.
The Malacca state government has planned 96 programmes, including 15 main events, to boost tourism activities this year. The programmes include the month-long Malacca River Invitational Festival 2014 (May 22 to June 22).
They are drawn up to bring in 15 millions tourists and the state administration is confident of meeting the target with the help of numerous quarters, especially the community and industry players.
According to Idris, the vision of making Malacca the premier tourism destination in Asia is not impossible based on numerous recognition received by the state government at all levels.