|visit us at www.chengho.org | 2010-Feb-01|
(1) First International Zheng He Conference in Melaka – An Update
Our organising committee met twice in November, the later meeting took place on 20th November 2009. We are pleased to announce that good progress has been made. Our team travelled to Melaka to meet with our joint organizers, PERZIM, to work out some detailed arrangements for the conference. We have received some 40 abstracts, most of them from scholars in China. There is a wide range of very interesting papers and authors have been notified acceptance of their papers. We look forward to receiving their full papers by April 2010.
(2) Chinese-Style Mosques for Malaysia
In the November 2009 issue of our newsletter, we reported a mosque with a Chinese-Islamic design recently completed in Rantau Panjang, Kelantan in Malaysia. The Straits Times (Singapore) article on 4 December 2009 reported that Malaysia has plans to build three other mosques with Chinese-style architecture in three different states – Rawang in Selangor, Malacca and Perak. They will be built over the next two years. The roofs will take on a pagoda style similar to one found in the old part of Malacca (Melaka) instead of the usual domes alongside one or more minarets. This is reported to represent an effort on the part of the government to win over the Chinese community.
The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mashitah Ibrahim is reported to have said that sermons would be conducted in Malay and Mandarin in the new mosques in order to help the Chinese community understand Islam better and that Islam does not promote hatred towards other religions. The mosques will also have activities to promote Chinese art, food, and use of herbs on non-religious festivities
(3) Arabian Dhow Tracing the Maritime Silk Route
Singapore received a gift of a replica of an ancient Arabian dhow named Jewel of Muscat from the Sultanate of Oman located on the Southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. Two reports appeared in the Singapore Straits Times on 2 and 17 February 2010. The vessel is a replica of a ninth-century dhow shipwrecked in the Belitung Strait in Indonesia.
The 18-m ship was built with traditional materials using traditional methods. No nails were used and the planks would be tied together using ropes made out of coconut fibre. The vessel had a crew of 18 men comprising a multi-national team of Omanis, Indians, Malaysian, Singaporeans, Sri Lankans and Americans. On 17 February 2010, the dhow sailed from Sultan Qaboos Port in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea to Kochi, India, for its first stop, where its hull would be inspected. It will receive a new coat of chunam (quick lime) to protect the hull from marine organisms. It will then make its way to Sri Lanka and Peninsular Malaysia before reaching its final destination, Singapore. It is expected to arrive in Singapore in July 2010.
According to the report, the vessel would be on display in Resorts World Sentosa’s maritime museum and would likely be displayed on dry land. The journey taken by the dhow retraces the maritime silk route from the Arabian sea to Singapore -- a route that fostered Middle Eastern trade with countries in Southern and Southeast Asia as well as China.
(4) New Address for our Society
It was decided at our Committee Meeting held on 16 October 2009 that our Society’s address should be changed to:
8 Commonwealth Lane, Singapore 149555
Tel: (65) 6474 2112 Fax: (65) 6474 0990
The office is on the second level in the Utraco-Greentech Building which is located just a few minutes walking distance from Commonwealth MRT (subway) station in Queenstown on the East-West Line.
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