Could Malacca treasure be Sultan Mahmud's riches?MALACCA: Among the theories surrounding the reported buried treasure in Pulau Nangka is that it could be part of a fortune stashed away by the last Sultan of Malacca.
Sultan Mahmud is said to have fled with most of his gold bullion before the Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511 and for centuries, the story that it was hidden somewhere nearby has refused to die down.
History books say Sultan Mahmud had tried to retake Malacca unsuccessfully on several occasions, probably because of the wealth that he had left behind.
According to 16th Century Portuguese historian Fernão Lopes de Castanheda's description of the conquest, the soldiers who plundered the city after the victory could not find the Sultan's reputed riches.
What they were looking for were gold in the form of "loaves", silk, lacquer and porcelain.
He wrote: "They were so angry that the King (Sultan) had taken with him all his treasures that they avenged themselves by burning the residence of the King (the Sultan's palace), that of the Prince and those of the mandarins.
"The Governor (Alfonso d'Albuquerque) was very sorry for this wanton act, especially when he knew what treasures the palace contained. He gave orders to put out the fire but it was too late as the building was already in ashes."
In 1960, when the old State Assembly building on St Paul's Hill was being constructed, ruins of an ancient structure, believed to be relics of the palace, were exposed. About 7,000 fragments of porcelain were found there.
According to historical records, the booty that Albuquerque took out of Malacca on the Flor de la Mar - chests of gold, jewels, a golden table, an assortment of precious stones, two brass statues of lions and a supposed magic bracelet of the Rajah of Sabandar - were only a small portion of the Sultan's fortune.
But even the rich pickings on board Flor de la Mar were lost when the carrack sank in a storm somewhere off Sumatra in December 1511.
Since then, there have been many attempts to locate the shipwreck and its riches.
The latest is being initiated by a former politician.