PULAU NANGKA, Malaysia - Hundreds of relics in Pulau Nangka have been sighted in a cave that is believed to have been used as a hideout for Sultan Mahmud when he fled from the Portuguese armada that invaded Malacca in 1511.
One of the companies given a state government approval to survey and gather pictorial evidence of the treasures hidden in the little island, 17km from here, said they have sighted hundreds of relics inside the cave.
Smart Partnership International (M) Sdn Bhd director Mohammad Fuad Khushairy Mohd Said revealed that his team used state-of-the-art scanning technology and geo-technical methods to sight the treasure.
"We have yet to determine the quantity and actual value of the relics inside the cave, but there are various types of relics inside," he said.
Mohammad Fuad also said various elaborate drawings and symbols were discovered at the entrance of the cave.
"We have to find ways to decipher the drawings and symbols that could be related to the Majapahit Kingdom and Islamic sultanates from the Malay Archipelago," he said, adding that there were several chambers inside the cave believed to be Sultan Mahmud's hideout.
Meanwhile, reports of the hidden treasures on the island have drawn droves of relic hunters there, prompting the state government to beef up patrols and security around the island.
Chief Minister Idris Haron said there had been a reported attempt to detonate a huge boulder said to have blocked an entrance two decades ago to the cave, where billions of ringgit worth of treasure were said to be hidden.
The attempt to plunder the relics failed, said Idris.
"We have to be extra vigilant to avoid anyone encroaching the site as the media report on the treasure has also received worldwide attention," he said.
Previous sightings claimed the treasures include more than 80 chests of gold, gold ingots, coins, jewels, jewellery, gold plate, land deeds, religious relics, weapons, trophies, artefacts and royal regalia.
A front-page exclusive on the treasure island on Monday had stated that the state government had given permits to two local companies to carry out excavation work under strict conditions set by the Malacca Museum Corporation (Perzim).
There is a belief that mystical obstacles are preventing the treasure from being taken, with villagers saying the buried cave is either protected by a curse or by spirits.
Representatives of the two companies that would be carrying out the excavation works for the state government had reportedly sought "spiritual help" to undertake their venture.
Idris said the work to identify the type of treasures was in progress by one of the companies.
"We will apply for permits and licences from the relevant authorities once we enter the second phase, where the company confirms the treasures could be salvaged," he said.
Fisherman Shukri Ahmad, 48, said it would not be easy for relic hunters to take away the treasures from the cave.
"I tried with a group of friends by deciphering the symbols, but all of us went into a trance-like state when we took out some of the treasures," he said.