The Strange Case Of Tun Mutahir And Tun Mahathir

The uncanny similarities between the backgrounds of both Tuns has put Hang Kasturi in a tailspin.

There have been a lot of articles and musings about comparing Tun Mahathir’s achievement, actions and character to that of the second last Bendahara of Melaka whose name was Tun Mutahir. Some of these writers said the similar name was more than just a coincidence and was proof that history does repeat itself.

Does it?

Is the 7th Bendahara of Melaka the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia?

Most refer to the first obvious similarity between to two. Both are of Indian ancestry. According to Wikipedia Mahathir’s father, Mohamad Iskandar, was a Penang Malay of partly Indian ancestry. Mahathir’s paternal grandfather had come from Kerala and married a Malay woman. Bendahara Tun Mutahir’s grandfather, according to Sulalatus Salatin (The Malay Annals), was one mysterious character by the name of Mani Purindan. Depending on which source you believe, Mani Purindan was a textile merchant/royal person from Gujerati/Kalingga/Pahili. He was either Muslim or Hindu.

According to the allhistory blog, Mani Purindan, a wealthy man from India visited Melaka with a fleet of seven ships and was well received by Sultan Muhammad Shah who regarded Mani Purindan’s status as that of a minister. Mani Purindan then became an important person in the Palace when he married Melaka’s Temenggong Seri Nara Di Raja’s daughter Tun Ratna Sandari. Mani Purindan and his wife had a son and a daughter – Tun Ali and Tun Ratna Wati. Tun Ratna later married Sultan Muhammad Shah. This made Mani Purindan the Sultan’s Father In Law. After that, the name of Mani Purindan disappeared from the Malay Annals and other documents.

This marriage between Mani Purindan and Ratna Sandari created the Tamil bloc or clan within the Melaka palace. Tun Ali became the Kingdom’s fourth Bendahara but from most reports wasn’t much of a performer. His deeds were eclipsed by the man who succeeded him – the legendary Bendahara Tun Perak.

One of the most powerful in Melaka

Tun Perak was then succeeded by Tun Perpatih Putih who was then suceeded by Tun Ali’s son Tun Mutahir. So, Mani Purindan’s bloodline continues via Tun Mutahir and according to most reports, Tun Mutahir was one of the most powerful if not the most powerful person in Melaka next to the Sultan. In fact according to Portuguese reports, Tun Mutahir was the power controlling Melaka and not the Sultan (who was old and just wanted to live life in luxury).

According to Portuguese reports: :

  • The Bendahara (Tun Ali) was the Sultan’s brother-in-law. He (Tun Mutahir) was the Sultan’s nephew.
  • Utimutiraja. A wealthy Javanese lord with 6000 slaves conspired with the Bendahara (Tun Mutahir) to induce the Sultan to go against Diogo Lopes.
  • The Bendahara was a tyrant. He was also corrupt. He was known to accept bribes openly.
  • The Bendahara, who was by nature a treacherous man and a tyrant, accepted their (Utimutiraja and Syabandar Raja Mudaliar) advice and induce the Sultan to agree to their plan of action.

[Documents on the history of the Portuguese patronage in the far east collected and annotated by artur Basilio de sa insulinda Vol 1 (1506-1549).]

So, let’s see how the comparison works. – New Malaysia Herald

About the writer: Unemployed writer, stressed beyond belief. Waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel to shine on his world. Bad golfer. Wannabe cartoonist.

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