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General News

1. Conference - Commemoration of the 600th Anniversary of Zheng He's 3rd Voyage 

The Working Committee for organizing a Conference to commemorate the 605th Anniversary of Zheng He’s 3rd voyage in 1409 held its 2nd meeting on 16th January 2009 at the Confucius Institute off South Buona Vista Road.  The Chairman of this subcommittee, Dr Tan Ta Sen, began the meeting by highlighting several developments that bear on the Conference.  He reported that a project to commission many famous Chinese artists to jointly produce a 100-metre long brush painting has been launched.  Also, a proposal has been submitted to the relevant authorities to build a Zheng He Treasure ship on the site to be named the Cheng Ho Square across the road from the Cheng He Cultural Museum in Melaka and to designate the site on the other side of the Melaka River as the Dutch Square and the adjacent site as the Parameswara Square. Should this proposal be accepted and implemented the Conference may well be an appropriate occasion for the opening of these exciting facilities that will be powerful tourist attractions.

The Executive Chairman, Mr C.C. Chin, took over the meeting and got down to business. It was decided that the Conference would be held on 11-13 May 2010. The year will be the 605th Anniversary of Zheng He’s voyages and also also fall on the 5th anniversary of Cheng Ho Cultural Museum in Melaka. The title of the Conference would be Afro-Asia Cultural World and Zheng He亚非文化 圈与郑和. The many themes of the Conference will be a matter for deliberation and be adopted after due deliberation.  Mr Chin had drawn up a list of potential speakers and invitees to the Conference.  The meeting also came up with the names of a number of prominent persons to be patrons and advisors to the Conference. 

The next meeting for the Organising Committee for the Conference will be held on 18th February, 2009 at the Confucius Institute.


2. Visit of Mr Terry Little to the Zheng He Research Centre and our Society’s Secretariat Office,   13 January 2009.

Mr Terry Little, our US Associate Member residing in Panama came and had discussions with our Honorary Secretary, Dr Chia Lin Sien, on the reasons for his visit.  He wishes to undertake research on the architecture and design of Zheng He’s Treasure Ship using his deep knowledge as a naval architect.  He understands that there may have been just four to six such giant vessels built and the dockyard in Nanjing would probably have been used to build several ships of different sizes at any one time.  The fleet of Zheng He comprised some three hundred vessels including troop and horse carriers, grain ships and vessels that carried freshwater.  Some of these ships are also very large.  Mr Little is of the opinion that huge tracks of virgin forests would have had to be cut down to supply timber for their construction as reported in some sources.  The task of transporting the timber to the dockyards is itself a highly challenging undertaking.

The dimensions of the Treasure Ship as referenced in Dr Tan Ta Sen’s book, Cheng Ho and Malacca is 480 ft long x 194 ft  beam x 38.4 ft deep with a draught of 25.6 ft.   Mr Little said that the size of the keel and cross beams must have been very large.  There are four levels in the Treasure Ships and, as reported by Cedric Bell, the base of the ship must have been cemented.  The hulls would have been double-layered with timber and water-tight segregated chambers were built to prevent the ship from being filled with water when one or more of these chambers were breached.

Mr Little intends also to calculate the distribution of the weight on each section of the hull.   We did not discuss the question of the number of sails – thought to be have been nine on the Treasure Ships -- or the rudder which was capable of being lowered or raised.

Mr Little and his two companions, Dr and Mrs Ng Khye Weng, originally from Penang, Malaysia  and Dr. Raymond Taniguchi from Honolulu, respectively, visited our Library in our Society’s office in 6 Pioneer Place, Tuas.  He was met by Mr Lim How Seng, Senior Research Fellow in the Zheng He Research Centre, and our Treasurer, Mr Freddie Tay Kit Poh.   Mr Little very kindly presented to the Society a beautiful hand-made fused glass image of the Zheng He Treasure Ship (see photo) made by himself. 



From left: Mr Lim How Seng, Mr Little, Dr Ng,                    Gift from Mr Little- Fused glass image of Zheng He's

Dr Taniguchi and Mrs Ng                                                  Treasure Ship




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