Treasures in cave belong to sultanate, says historian

MALACCA - The treasures said to be buried in Pulau Nangka are part of the riches of the prosperous Malacca Sultanate, said a local historian.

Historic Study and Patriotism Institute (ISKEP) chairman Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Jamil Mukmin said during its heyday, Malacca's busy port had many large foreign ships sailing in, with the visitors presenting gifts such as old ingots and jewels as port taxes to the Sultan's trusted lieutenants.

"These valuables were stored in a palace and they could have been transferred to the secluded Pulau Nangka or even Pulau Besar when the Portuguese attacked Malacca in 1511," he said in an interview.

Dr Mohd Jamil said the hype about treasures buried in a cave at Pulau Nangka, a tiny island, 17km from the coast here, first surfaced in 1997.

He said there had been attempts to find the treasure loot back then but efforts to salvage the valuables failed.

There was also hearsay that part of the Malacca Sultanate treasures were buried under St John's Hill.

However, Malacca Museum AuthoriĀ­ties (Perzim)'s general manager Datuk Khamis Abas confirmed that archaeologist surveys revealed no signs of the treasures buried there.

The only possibility left is Pulau Nangka.

Khamis Abas added the organisation was flooded with calls, including from foreign media following The Star report on the treasure.

A front-page exclusive on the treasure island on Monday had stated that the state government authorised two local companies tocarry out excavation work under strict conditions set out by Perzim.

An antiquarian Abd Aziz Husin, 59, said the mysterious symbols at the entrance of the cave in Pulau Nangka must be properly deciphered or else those entering to the treasure site could face various obstacles.