He was loved by Malaysian children and admired by Malaysian adults for his reputed martial skills and fierce loyalty to Sultan Mansur Shah of the Malacca sultanate in the 15th century.
Every Malaysian knew who Hang Tuah was. He was looked upon as the model Malaysian hero. And the favourite of UMNO politicians.
We even had the annual Pingat Hang Tuah award for bravery given out to children who had shown outstanding bravery.
But since about a decade ago, Malaysians have not heard much of Hang Tuah and even UMNO politicians don't talk about him anymore. He is also no longer mentioned in the school history books.
Why? What happened?
I don't know. But some years ago, there was an e-mail circulating around that had alleged that the Malaysian government had commissioned experts to ascertain, once and for all, the ethnicity of Hang Tuah among some other objectives. And the result was not something that had been expected.
The research allegedly showed that Hang Tuah was a Chinese and not a Malay!
I really don't know whether there was indeed such a research and the result of that so-called research.
The article had mentioned Federal Association of Arc and Research of Michigan USA, but a search on google for it turned out fruitless.
There are many arguments for why it is possible Hang Tuah was a Chinese and not a Malay. And there are some in favour of saying that he was indeed a Malay and not a Chinese.
However, the fact that now Hang Tuah is no longer mentioned in our history books and nobody, including UMNO politicans, are eager to speak of Hang Tuah is intriguing.
How can a long time hero of everyone suddenly become a zero?