We at Melaka in Fact

about us

Who are we?

The C’rita Orang Melaka initiative is part of a larger project, Melaka in Fact, which seeks to gather multidisciplinary perspectives on the history of Melaka, including new academic research and stories from its communities. Team members comprise people from different walks of life who are united by their deep interest in Melaka’s rich history.  Melaka in Fact is funded by Deep Culture Sdn. Bhd.

Why are we doing this?

Melaka has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. Since obtaining UNESCO’s World Heritage Site status in 2008, Melaka has seen rapid urban transformation, fuelled by foreign investments. Such intense changes have altered the geographical landscape, and influenced cultural practices and communal identities.  With these changes and the loss of community memories, we feel it urgent to document Melaka in its present state, as a legacy for future generations, and to help future researchers and educational projects. We hope to facilitate discussions and initiatives to record what makes Melaka special.

What do we do?

We record oral histories from people of Melaka and collect related materials such as old maps, manuscripts and photographs. We also document communities’ cultural celebrations by way of  photos, videos, and interviews. Our study sites include Tengkera, Kubu, Kg. Empat, Kg.Lapan, Gajah Berang, Bunga Raya, Bandar Hilir, Banda Kaba, and Bukit Cina.  We use the information we collect to create a cultural ‘map’ of Melaka, which will be freely accessible online by the public in due course.

Datin Saidah Rastam

Project Director

Saidah Rastam is a lawyer-turned-musician who has composed music for martial artists, choral groups, Chinese opera singers, western orchestras and electronica. She has been music director for major productions at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre, Tokyo’s Setagaya Theatre and Malaysia’s Istana Budaya. She has lectured in music at Malaysia’s National Arts Academy (now ASWARA), UiTM, CENFAD and the Multimedia University.

Her book on the beauty of Malayan music, Rosalie and Other Love Songs, was published in 2014 and republished in 2016. Malam Terang Bulan, a show she created on the origins of Malaysia’s national anthem, was staged in 2014 and 2015 at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas to critical acclaim. Saidah trained as a barrister (Gray’s Inn) and was in practice for seven years. Saidah’s grandfather from Bertam, Abdul Hadi Hasan, wrote the first 3 volumes of Sejarah Alam Melayu, which were the first history books in the style of modern historiography written by a Malay writer.

Bert Tan

Head, Cultural Mapping

Bert Tan loves Melaka. The “Malaysian Heritage and History Club” (MHHC) which he started as a Facebook group in 2012, now has more than 20,000 members, and has become one of the most vibrant and lively clubs debating history, heritage, and culture. Notable speakers include the renowned zoologist Dr. Lim Boo Liat, diplomat Ahmad Mokhtar Selat, cultural activist Sara Frederica Sta Maria and eminent conservationist Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, the 5th Earl of Cranbrook.

Bert’s work has been featured in local and international newspapers and websites. He was one of the signatories to the “Songkhla Declaration” at the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMG-GT) International Symposium on Livable Old Town Tourism in May 2015.

Razak Bahrom

Head, Digital Platform

Razak Bahrom graduated with double degrees in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. He spent 10 years in an R&D US-Japanese collaboration in the fields of artificial intelligence and advanced computing structures. The following 20 years, he developed applied computing design for national-scale data systems in Malaysia dealing with disasters, and extensive online mapping to help communication between government agencies.

Razak’s interests are in the evolution of the genealogies of Malay families – why they migrated, how they migrated, what they did, and why they do it? Events in history change family destinies and thus have a ripple effect on history itself, perpetuating a cycle that is never-ending. As a trained researcher, he applies the same rigorous approach to multidimensional genealogy. Razak has made the connections between family genealogies his lifelong research project, along the way compiling individual stories and adventures as narrated by his subject of interest.