Muzium Negara Gallery B
The Melaka Administrative System
The Malay Kingdom of Melaka or Malacca, had a good system of administration, with the Sultan at the pinnacle of the social hierarchy, and possessing absolute power. He was assisted by 5 senior officials, namely
- the Bendahara or Chief Minister
- the Penghulu Bendahari or Finance Minister
- the Temenggung or Minister of Defense
- the Laksamana or Admiral
- the Syahbandar or Harbour Master
This elite group of officials were the foundation of the power and sovereignty of the Malay Kingdom of Melaka, which ruled the Malay World for 111 years. An important and most famous member of this elite was Tun Perak, who served as Bendahara under 4 sultans.
Under his able leadership and good sense Melaka was able to
- successfully repel attacks by its traditional enemy Siam, and
- extended its its own rule to more territories.
Melaka's dependencies were ruled by a raja from the royal family of Melaka or by one who had married into that family. The rulers of these territories had to come for an audience with the Sultan and a ceremony of installation before taking office.
Territories ruled directly by Melaka were governed by officials with the rank of ministers, or by members of the aristocracy.
The peace and security of Melaka and its dependencies were assured by 2 sets of written laws
- the Hukum Kanun Melaka (Canon Laws of Melaka) and
- the Undang-undang Laut Melaka (Melaka Laws of the Sea).
These 2 collections contained regulations prohibitions and specified punishments for every criminal offence committed on land or at sea.
*The words Melaka and Malacca are used interchangeably today. Both means the same place in Malaysia. Melaka is probably the more modern form of the word.