About Us  

About our Society

About Zheng He (Cheng Ho)

Brief history of our Society
Mission and Aims
Organisation of the Society
Contacting us


About Our Society

To many Southeast Asians, particularly those residing in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, Zheng He, or Cheng Ho as he is better known in this part of the region, is held with great reverence. Temples have been built to enable people to worship him as a deity by not only the Chinese but also other ethnic groups. One reason is that he was a Muslim and he distinguished himself by not imposing his own religious persuasion on people of other faiths.Zheng He built many temples especially Mazu ( 妈祖 Goddess of the Sea) temples. He made generous donations to many temples in China and in Sri Lanka. He also inscribed texts of Buddhist scriptures and donated them to Buddhist temples. He gave assistance to people in other regions irrespective of whether they are Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist or Hindu. He was instrumental in building mosques in many places he visited and he appears to favour countries that are Islamic. There was no record to state that he visited Mecca, but his father and grandfather did. Also he sent some of his crew to visit the Mecca. His footprints have been left not only in Southeast Asia, but also in countries around the Indian Ocean to as far as Somalia and Kenya.

 Zheng He has become a legend and worshipped as a deity for many people in Southeast Asia. However, it has also become apparent that Zheng He’s exploits as a master navigator have become obscured in spite of being commander of the World’s largest fleet of wooden ships ever assembled and the most powerful fleet of his era. His acts of diplomacy through practical help given to local rulers including installing some as rulers in their own land had receded into the background.

Our society’s mission is to unveil the historical facts relating to his seven great voyages in order to bring to light the truth of his contributions not only to Imperial Ming to whom he owes his allegiance but also his deeds and acts of support for local people and rulers in the lands that he visited during his voyages. The Society also hopes to uncover the technological developments that his ships and manner of navigation that his fleet employed.

It is hoped that, the fact that he was Chinese, though of Persian descent and a devout Muslim could become instrumental to bring about greater mutual understanding and appreciation among people of all ethnic groups in the Asian-African region. He honoured and held in respect people of other faiths. He paid respect to the Goddess of the Sea or Mazu or Tien Fei (heavenly queen) whom he asked for succour and blessings before the start of his voyages. He was warmly received by most states that he visited. His voyages promoted trade and helped to develop the Maritime Silk Route to complement the better known overland Silk Routes.

As to how the Society got started. A small number of scholars, led by our President, Drs Tan Ta Sen, including founding members, Leo Suryadinata, and Ong Chu Meng, were in the town of Malacca (Melaka) on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia to find out and to verify what Zheng He did in that town that he visited five times out of the seven voyages that he undertook. Historical accounts by Ma Huan and others mentioned that Zheng He erected a stockade to be his guanchang ( 官厂official depot) in Malacca and that it was on the northern side of the river.

It was, therefore, not by coincidence that Drs Tan and his friends discovered the location of guanchang among the shophouses in the old part of Malacca town. Drs Tan used his own resources to purchase eight units of the shophouses that he believed where the residence of Zheng He’s senior officers. He proceeded to clear the rubble of the houses that have become dilapidated and to renovate it using skilled craftsmen from China to recreated their former splendour. Drs Tan found among the ruins, several wells, wooden carvings, and numerous broken ceramics dating back to the Ming and earlier dynasties.

Today, the eight shophouses have been completed rebuilt and modeled after historical accounts of what the guanchang looked like. The Cheng Ho Cultural Museum now occupies the premises and a soft opening took place on 28 Sept 2005. Drs Tan’s inspiration has become reality in the shape of a first-rate museum (details can be viewed in the pdf files in this website). The Museum has sections that traces the life of Zheng He, the historical background from which he emerged as a high ranking official in the Ming Court; the ships in his mighty fleet; navigational and communications tools and techniques; the cargo carried including ceramics, urns for storing food, traded products and items carried as gifts and tributes; a collection of highly-valuable ceramic pieces; voyages of well-known western pioneering maritime explorers including Vasco Da Gama, Christopher Columbus, Capt James Cook, and other exhibits.

From the above, it is clear that there is a close link between the Society and the Museum. The latter became the inspiration for the establishment of the Society which was first set up under a pro-tem Committee on 22 September 2002 and subsequently formally constituted as a Society in its inaugural Annual General Meeting on 29 March 2003, while the Society was registered on 20 January 2003.

The Society today owes much to the financial and efforts of our President, Drs Tan and his financial contributions as well as time and effort of the past and present committee members. The future success of the Society will depend on continued support in kind and personal sacrifices of many more. It is hoped that more younger people will join the society and eventually take over the running of the organization.

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Zheng He symbolizes many things including the spirit of adventure in the face of uncertainty and enormous life threatening circumstances. His voyages employ skilled and knowledgeable men from many ethnic origins and deploying high technological capabilities for navigation and communications. He was sent on missions of friendship and good will to countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and eastern Africa – and some say much further away. He proved himself to be a strong leader and consummate diplomat winning many allegiances to the Ming Court that he served. Although a Muslim of a Middle Eastern ancestry himself, he respected and gave assistance to those of other religious persuasions and he built mosques in many places that he visited.

The aims of our Society are as follows:

  • To promote research on Zheng He’s expeditions, especially in Southeast Asia;
  • To study the socio-economic and cultural influence of Zheng He on Southeast Asia;
  • To exchange information and co-operate with other organizations -- local or international--that are concerned with the study and research on Zheng He; and
  • To raise awareness and understanding of Zheng He through the discussion and publication of findings on Zheng He.

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Professor Wang Gungwu (王赓武)
  • Chairman, East Asian Institute (EAI), National University of Singapore
  • Chairman, Board of Trustees, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)
  • Former Vice Chancellor, Hong Kong University, Hong
  • Research interests: Chinese history, The Chinese overseas, nationalism and migrations.
Ambassador Lee Khoon Choy (李炯才)
  • Former Senior Minister of State for Culture, Singapore Government
  • Served as Ambassador of Singapore to Japan, Egypt, Indonesia
  • Author of several books including Mysticism in Indonesia and Pioneers of Modern China

Dr Tan Ta Sen (陈达生), B.A. ( Nanyang Univ. ), B.A., PhD(Univ. of Indonesia )
  • Chairman, Utraco Group of companies
  • Director, Cheng Ho Cultural Museum, Malacca
  • Former Head Southeast Asian Studies, Nanyang University (1977-1978)

Professor Leo Suryadinata (廖建裕), B.A.(Nanyang U.), Drs. (Univ. of Indonesia), M.A. (Monash Univ. and Ohio Univ.) and Ph.D. (American Univ.)
  • Director, Chinese Heritage Centre, Nanyang Technological University
  • Former Professor, Dept of Political Science, NUS and Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)
  • Former President, Singapore Society of Asian Studies

Mr Chow Weng Weng Patrick (周永榮), LLB (Hons), MSIArb
  • Practising lawyer in civil and criminal litigation
  • Commissioner For Oaths
  • Managing Director, Chow Investment Pte Ltd
  • Managing Director, PINTAS Pte Ltd
  • Specialist in Intellectual Property services

Mr Niu Liming (牛黎明) , MBA(University of Strathclyde), M.S. (Graduate School of CAS), B.S. (Qingdao University)
  • CEO, Broway Consulting Pte Ltd
  • Researcher, Institute for Infocomm Research, A*Star
Mr Tay Kit Poh Freddie (郑吉波), Dip. Mech Engr.
  • Chairman,Membership & Publicity Subcommittee
  • Manager, Sojitz Asia Pte Ltd

Mr Wong Ah Long (王仟栋), BSc(Hons), MBA
  • Group CEO, Utraco Group of Companies
  • Chairman, Lucrum Capital
  • Former CEO of Suntec City Development Pte Ltd
  • Former Chairman of Pacific Star China Pte Ltd

Dr Chua Soo Pong (蔡曙鹏), BA(Hons)(Nanyang Univ.,972),MSc (London Univ.1976 ); PhD (Queen's Univ. 1979)
  • Visiting Professor, Osaka University
  • Founding Director, Chinese Opera Institute Council Member, The Singapore Arts Federation (新加坡艺术总会)
  • Advisor, Singapore Literature Society
  • Advisor, Singapore Chinese Dance Artistes Association
  • Advisor, Victoria Dance School

Prof Lee Cheuk Yin (李焯然), B.A., M.Phil.(Univ. of Hong Kong); Ph.D. Australian National Univ.)
  • Academic Convenor, China Studies Minor Program, FASS, NUS
  • Program Director, NUS/PKU Double MA Degree (CL) Program, Dept of Chinese Studies, NUS
  • Guest Professor, Nanjing University, Wuhan University & Hubei University, China
  • Deputy President, Genealogy Society Singapore
  • Director, International Confucian Association, Beijing
  • Director, Society for Cultural Interaction in East Asia, Japan
  • Director, International Society for Chinese Culture, Hong Kong

Dr Chia Lin Sien (谢麟先), BA (Sydney), MSc (McGill), PhD (Sing U), FCIT ( London )
  • Former Assoc. Professor, National University of Singapore
  • Advisor, Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) and Singapore National Shippers Council (SNSC)
  • Director, NanoYo Group Pte Ltd

Prof Hum Sin Hoon, Phd, University of California, B Eng Hons I, University of Newcastle, B Commerce, University Of Newcastle
  • Deputy Dean, National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School
  • Former Dean, NUS Business School
  • Author of Zheng He's Art of Collaboration: Understanding the Legendary Chinese Admiral from a Management Perspective

Mr Ng Foo Weng Kitson (伍福荣), BSc in Offshore Engineering, Meng in Petroleum Engineering (Heriot-Watt Univ.)
  • Chairman, Social And Welfare Subcommittee
  • Managing Director, Fluoresave (S) Pte Ltd

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About Zheng He (Cheng Ho)





4th yr Hongwu

Zheng He was born in Hedai Village, Kunyang Prefecture, Yunnan, with the name of Ma He. He was the son of Ma Haji, a prominent leader of the Muslim community in his birthplace.

14th yr Hongwu

Ming army entered Yunnan.

15th yr Hongwu

Ma He’s father, Ma Haji, passed away. Ming army occupied Yunnan and defeated the remnants of Yuan forces led by prince of Liang. Ma He aged 11 was captured and castrated.

20th yr Hongwu

Emperor Hongwu unified China.

24th year Hongwu

Ma He was a member of Prince of Yan, Zhudi’s troops and defeated the Yan’s forces. He was selected to serve the Prince of Yan.

31st yr Hongwu

Emperor Hongwu, Zhu Yuanzhang, passed away and was given posthumous title of Emperor Taizu of Ming (Ming Taizu).

1st yr Jianwen

Zhu Yunwen ascended the throne as Emperor Jianwen. prince of Yan, Zhudi, rebelled and attacked Nanjing, then the Ming capital. Ma He ably assisted Zhudi in war. Jianwen failed to put down the rebellion.

2nd yr Jianwen

Prince of Yan besieged Weizhou.

3rd yr Jianwen

Prince of Yan’s forces entered Nanjing.

4th yr Jianwen

Zhu Di proclaimed himself Emperor Yongle. Jianwen either died in battle or escaped without trace.

2nd yr Yongle

In recognition of Ma He’s military contribution, Zheng He aged 33 was rewarded by Emperor Yongle and conferred the surname Zheng. Henceforth he was known as Zheng He.

3rd yr Yongle

Began his naval expedition with Wang Jinghong and others in July. Visited Campa, Siam, Palembang, Samudra Pasai (Aceh), Malabar, Calicut, Ceylon, and elsewhere. Returned to China in October the following year.

5th yr Yongle

Began his 2nd expedition with Wang Jinghong, Hou Xian and others.

6th yr Yongle

Visited Campa, Siam, Java, Samudra Pasai, Lambri, Malacca, Malabar, Calicut, Cochin, and Ceylon.

7th yr Yongle

Returned to China around July-August. Begin his 3rd expedition with Wang Jinghong, Fei Xin and others.

8th yr Yongle

Visited Campa, Java, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Ceylon, Quilon, Cochin, Calicut, Siam, Malabar, Cail, Cambay and Ahmedabad.

9th yr Yongle

Returned to China in July

11th yr Yongle

Began his 4th expedition with Ma Huan, Fei Xin and others in October.

12th yr Yongle

Visited Campa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Maldives, Ormuz, Rasa, Aden, Mogedoxu, Jobo, Brawa, Malinde, Cail, Pahang, Kelantan, Aru, and Lambri.

13th yr Yongle

Returned to China in August.

15th yr Yongle

Begin his 5 th expedition. Visited Quanzhou to pay homage at the tomb of Muslim sages. Erected monument to commemorate his visit.

16th yr Yongle

Visited Campa, Calicut, Java, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Lambri, Pahang, Ceylon, Maldive, Malabar, Aden, Malinde, Ormuz, Cochin, Negapatan, Mogedoxu, Brawa and Rasa.

17th yr Yongle

Returned to China in August.

18th yr Yongle

Ming capital moved to Beijing.

19th yr Yongle

Begin his 6 th expedition with Wang Jinghong, Ma Huan and others in Spring. Visited Campa, Siam, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Bengal, Shi-la-si, Calicut, Cochin, Cail, Ceylon, Maldive, Chola, Jofar, Aden, Mogedoxu and Brawa.

20th yr Yongle

Returned to China in September.

22nd yr Yongle

Sailed to Palembang to deliver the decree of Ming Emperor to appoint Shi Jisun, son of Shi Jinqing as Xuan Wei Shi (ambassador) succeeding his father who passed away earlier. Returned to China in September. Zhu Di, Emperor Yongle, passed away.

1st yr Hongxi

Zhu Gaochi ascended the throne as Emperor Hongxi and disapproved of the expeditions to the Western Ocean by Zheng He. Zheng He appointed as commander of Nanjing garrison.

1st yr Xuande

Zhu Zhanji ascended throne as Emperor Xuande. Zheng He remained as commander of Nanjing garrison.

6th yr Xuande

Began his 7th expedition with Wang Jinghong, Ma Huan, Fei Xin, Gong Zheng and others in January. Reached Liujia in February and Changle in April. He erected monument of Tian Fei Ying Zhi Yi in Changle.

7th yr Xuande

Visited Campa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Aru, Lide, Lambri, Ceylon, Calicut, Bengal, Maldive, Quilan, Cochin, Combay, Cail, Mecca, Jofar, Rasa, Aden, Mogedoxu, Brawa and Ormuz. While Zheng He’s armada was in Calicut, Ma Huan and six other persons were sent by eunuch Hong Bao to Mecca. Their voyage lasted one year.

8th yr Xuande

Zheng He fell ill and passed away in Calicut at the age of 62.


Sources: Kong Yuanzhi (transl by H.M Hembing Wijayakusuma), Muslim Tionghoa Cheng Ho: Misteri Perjalanan Muhibah di Nusantara (Chinese Muslim Cheng Ho: Mystery of the Expedition to Nusantara, edited by H.M Hembing Wijayakusuma, Jakarta: Pustaka Populer Obor, 2000, p. 263, appendix A; Tan Ta Sen & Chia Lin Sien (eds. English vers.), The Zheng He Epic, Yunnan Peoples’ Publ., Yunnan Fine Arts Publ. and Aurora Publ., Kunming, 2006, p. 21-22.

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Tahun ke 4 Hongwu

Zheng He dilahirkan di desa Hedai, Prefektur Kunyang, Yunnan, dengan nama Ma He. Beliau adalah putera Ma Haji, seorang pemimpin komunitas Muslim yang terkemuka di tempat kelahirannya.

Tahun ke 14 Hongwu

Tentara Ming memasuki Yunnan.

Tahun ke 15 Hongwu

Ayah Ma He, Ma Haji, meninggal dunia. Tentara Ming menduduki Yunnan and mengalahkan sisa-sisa tentara Yuan yang dipimpin oleh Raja Muda Liang. Ma He yang berusia 11 tahun ditangkap dan dikebiri.

Tahun ke 20 Hongwu

Kaisar Hongwu mempersatukan Cina.

Tahun ke 24 Hongwu

Ma He sebagai anggota tentara Raja Muda Yan, Zhudi dan mengalahkan tentara-tentara Yan. Dia kemudian dipilih untuk mengabdi kepada Raja Muda Yan.

Tahun ke 31 Hongwu

Kaisar Hongwu, Zhu Yuanzhang, mangkat dan beliau dianugerahkan gelar Kaisar Taizu Dinasti Ming Ming Taizu.

Tahun pertama Jianwen

Zhu Yunwen naik tahta sebagai Kaisar Jianwen. Raja Muda Yan, Zhudi, memberontak dan menyerang Nanjing,ibukota Ming ketika itu. Ma He membantu Zhudi dalam peperangan dengan gagah dan berani. Jianwen gagal menumpas pemberontakan tersebut.

Tahun ke 2 Jianwen

Raja Muda Yan mengepung Weizhou.

Tahun ke 3 Jianwen

Tentara Raja Muda Yan memasuki Nanjing.

Tahun ke 4 Jianwen

Zhu Di mengangkat dirinya sebagai Kaisar Yongle. Jianwen kemungkinan tewas di dalam peperangan atau meloloskan diri tanpa meninggalkan jejak.

Tahun ke 2 Yongle

Demi megakui sumbangsih Ma He di bidang tentera, Zheng He yang berusia 33 tahun itu diberi penghargaan oleh Kaisar Yongle dan dianugerahikan gelaran Zheng. Sejak saat itu beliau dikenal dengan nama Zheng He.

Tahun ke 3 Yongle

Memulakan ekspedisi laut bersama dengan Wang Jinghong dan yang lain pada bulan Julai. Pernah mengunjungi Campa, Siam, Palembang, Samudera Pasai (Aceh), Malabar, Calicut, Ceylon, dan lain-lain tempat. Kembali ke Cina pada bulan Oktober tahun berikutnya.


Tahun ke 5 Yongle

Memulai ekspedisinya yang kedua bersama Wang Jinghong, Hou Xian dan yang lain.

Tahun ke 6 Yongle

Mengunjungi Campa, Siam, Jawa, Samudra Pasai, Lambri, Melaka, Malabar, Calicut, Cochin dan Ceylon .

Tahun ke 7 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina sekitar bulan Julai-Ogos. Memulai ekspedisinya yang ketiga bersama Wang Jinghong, Fei Xin dan yang lain.

Tahun ke 8 Yongle

Mengunjungi Campa, Jawa, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Ceylon, Quilon, Cochin, Calicut, Siam, Malabar, Cail, Cambay and Ahmedabad.

Tahun ke 9 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina pada bulan Julai.

Tahun ke 11 Yongle

Memulakan ekspedisinya yang keempat bersama Ma Huan, Fei Xin dan yang lain pada bulan Oktober.

Tahun ke 12 Yongle

Mengunjungi Campa, Jawa, Palembang, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Maldives, Ormuz, Rasa, Aden, Mogedoxu, Jobo, Brawa, Malinde, Cail, Pahang, Kelantan, Aru, dan Lambri.

Tahun ke 13 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina pada bulan Ogos.

Tahun ke 15 Yongle

Memulai ekspedisi yang kelima. Mengunjungi Quanzhou untuk berziarah ke makam tokoh-tokoh Muslim. Mendirikan monumen untuk menandakan kunjungannya.

Tahun ke 16 Yongle

Mengunjungi Campa, Calicut, Jawa, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Lambri, Pahang, Ceylon, Maldive, Malabar, Aden, Malinde, Ormuz, Cochin, Negapatan, Mogedoxu, Brawa dan Rasa.

Tahun ke 17 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina pada bulan Ogos

Tahun ke 18 Yongle

Ibukota Ming berpindah ke Beijing.


Tahun ke 19 Yongle

Memulakan ekspedisinya yang keenam bersama Wang Jinghong, Ma Huan dan yang lain di musim semai. Mengunjungi Campa, Siam, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Bengal, Shi-la-si, Calicut, Cochin, Cail, Ceylon, Maldive, Chola, Jofar, Aden, Mogedoxu dan Brawa.

Tahun ke 20 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina pada bulan September

Tahun ke 22 Yongle

Berlayar ke Palembang untuk mengantar titah Kaisar Ming yang isinya mengangkat Shi Jisun, putera Shi Jinqing sembagai Xuan Wei Shi (duta besar) menggantikan ayahandanya yang telah meninggal dunia sebelumnya. Kembali ke Cina pada bulan September. Zhu Di, Kaisar Yongle, mangkat.


Tahun pertama Hongxi

Zhu Gaochi naik tahta sebagai Kaisar Hongxi and menolak ekspedisi ke Samudera Barat oleh Zheng He. Zheng He diangkat sebagai komandan garnisun Nanjing.

Tahun pertama Xuande

Zhu Zhanji naik tahta sebagai Kaisar Xuande. Zheng He tetap sebagai komandan garnisun Nanjing.

Tahun ke 6 Xuande

Memulakan ekspedisinya yang ketujuh bersama Wang Jinghong, Ma Huan, Fei Xin, Gong Zheng dan yang lain pada bulan Januari. Tiba di Liujia pada bulan Februari dan Changle pada bulan April. Dia mendirikan monumen Tian Fei Ying Zhi Yi di Changle.

Tahun ke 7 Xuande

Mengunjungi Campa, Jawa, Palembang, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Aru, Lide, Lambri, Ceylon, Calicut, Bengal, Maldive, Quilan, Cochin, Combay, Cail, Mekah, Jofar, Rasa, Aden, Mogedoxu, Brawa dan Ormuz. Ketika armada Zheng He di Calicut, Ma Huan dan enam orang lainnya diarah oleh Hong Bao ke Mekah. Perjalanan mereka berlangsung setahun.

Tahun ke 8 Xuande

Zheng He jatuh sakit dan meninggal dunia di Calicut pada usia 62 tahun.

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