Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jason Yoong - The Third Helper in Malacca

Jason didn't wanted to be photographed, which is surprising as he's handsome and has an intelligent look. Anyway, no portrait but some pictures from the city he loves - Malacca
Jason knows his stuff. Jason's history of Malacca came with dates, people's name and even the names of various treaties that have been made over the centuries. This went well beyond the average person. He knew the date that the Chinese temple was built, when the Dutch arrived and the start and end period of British military rule and many, many more things.

He even told me that a Chinese junk from 600 AD was discovered in 1999 off the coast of Java and speculated that the Chinese have been at the very least, trading in this area since those times. He also added, to my admittedly stretchy knowledge of Cheng He, that he was chosen because he was a Muslim. This would make trade negotiations between the Chinese and Javanese/Malay easier because Muslims see other Muslims as brothers and are able to relate to them better and quicker.

As we talked more Jason shared with me his views on modern Malaysia and in particular Malacca. He said “I believe that our forefathers wanted integration (between the races) and I think it has worked, especially here in Malacca. Malacca’s a unique case as this integration and mixing of races has been going on for five hundred years. Malacca’s too small a place for the races to remain separate.”

I then asked Jason, what makes this mixing of races so success, he said “Respect for each other is what’s brings us together” then he stopped and thought about it more “What’s the most important thing…… Yes, it’s respect!”

Jason was very proud of Malacca’s UNESCO’s status and felt that even people in Malacca didn’t really know what an achievement this is. He wants more people in Malacca to understand this. I really enjoyed talking with Jason. He knew his stuff and he spoke with passion. The next day at the museum on Malacca’s history I was more enthusiastic than normal about a place’s history and I believe that was thanks to Jason.

Interior of a Nyonya House - Baboon House in this case

I was getting hungry, so I said “Jason, I’m hungry. Can you recommend somewhere for me to eat?
“Can you eat spicy?”
“Yes, well, a bit.”
“Jonker 88, still makes traditional Nyonya food.”
“Can you recommend a dish?”
“Baba Laksa, do you want spicy or sour?”
“I’ll go for spicy.”
“Be quick, they close at five.”
Jason gave me the card for the place. That’s was the last time I saw Jason but our conversation will last a long time in my memory. Also on his business card it has 'Melaka Intangible Cultural Heritage', perhaps that's another reason why Jason's history is so good. He's certainly the right man for the job.

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