Prof. Heng specializes in the utilising textual and archaeological data to study the interactions between Island Southeast Asia and China, and the impact that these interactions had on the state and social formation processes in the Malay region.
Prof. Heng also maintains a keen interest on the historiography of Singapore, and has co-authored Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore (Singapore: National Library Board, 2019), and edited several volumes on Singapore history.
Chinese documentary records have been one of the most important corpus of historical information for the study of Melaka. While the Sultanate of Melaka only lasted through the 15th century and came to an end in 1511, the term for Melaka, rendered as “manlajia” and “maliujia”, continued to appear in Chinese documents well into the late eighteenth century. The information that these entries with references to Melaka were both legacy information (recording information from the past) as well as contemporaneous or living information (recording information at the time of that the texts were written).
The paper seeks to explore the patterns of information-recording that were instituted by the Chinese, and to establish the broader issues that concerned the Chinese officialdom over this span of time that led to the types of information that were recorded in Chinese official texts. In the process, this paper seeks to illuminate the archivalisation process that led to the Chinese utilizing the terms for Melaka well after the demise of the original sultanate.