The sultan of Johor, Mahmud Syah II, was murdered in 1699. This was a key event in Malay history, and the story has been recounted in a variety of texts, ranging from traditional hikayat to comic books and films. In each instance, new elements and explanations were added to the tale. These details, and the perspectives they represent, allow for an examination of how literature and history—while ostensibly describing events as they happened—rarely do so solely for the sake of erudition. History is written to explain the present and inscribe the future, even when it concerns a murder that took place more than 300 years ago.


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