The Battle for Junk Ceylon presents a new scholarly edition of the text of the Malay “ballad” known as the
Syair Sultan Maulana, together with an English translation. This long poem was written during the second decade of the 19th century by the secretary to the
Lakasamana (Admiral) of the sultanate of Kedah. It gives an eye-witness account if the events which occurred during the early part of the reign of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin, in particular the part played by the Kedah fleet in helping the Siamese to expel the Burmese form the island of Phuket (“Junk Ceylon”) on the west coast of southern Thailand.
The accuracy and relative lack of bias on the part of the author make this Malay text a primary source of some importance, and accordingly the editor has concentrated his attention on the historical features of the text, in particular the military and naval aspects of the Junk Ceylon campaign, thereby also making use of sources in Thai in order to paint a remarkably clear picture of the course of the events.
Professor Skinner (1924) has also edited the
Syair Perang Mengkasar (1963) and
Ahmad Rijaluddin’s Hikayat Perintah Negeri Benggala (1982), and has written a number of articles on Malay “transitional” Literature. He is Chairman of the Department of Indonesian and Malay at Monash University in Australia.