（By David Thien from Daily Express）
KUNMING (Yunnan, China): After losing about six hours of lead time to flight delays, eight journalists from Sabah finally landed here on June 14 late afternoon and were bussed straight to see the fast developing Ancient Dian Town project, one of the scheduled visits not cancelled.
Kunming, the “Eternal Spring” capital of Yunnan, is 1,900 metres or 6,234 feet above sea level and right beside it is the Dianchi Lake, also known as Kunming Lake to some.
The project is located at a vast area at one side of the lakeshore.
It is about the same altitude as the Kinabalu Park office in Kundasang.
The question of whether Malays originated from Yunnan has been asked countless times and debated, written about, published and still being disputed, but this article only tries to present what the journalists saw as to what’s happening at the Ancient Dian Town project being developed in phases.
Is there any corroborating historical evidence that the Malays of Malaysia and Indonesia are actually descendants from residents of Yunnan?
The Yunnan theory, Mekong River migration (first published in 1889) of Proto-Malay originating from Yunnan is supported by R.H. Geldern, J.H.C Kern, J.R. Foster, J.R. Logen, Slametmuljana and Asmah Haji Omar.
Other evidence that supports this theory includes: Stone tools found at Malay Archipelago which are analogous to Central Asian tools; similarity of Malay customs and Assam customs; and the fact that the Malay and Cambodian languages are kindred languages because the ancestral home ot Cambodians originated at the source of Mekong River.
Other theories are the Taiwan Theory and the Papua Guinea Theory.
The research discovered that the Malays in these sub-ethnic groups were genetically composed of some Proto-Malay, Semang and Indian DNA, with at least 20 per cent Malay and 52 per cent Chinese DNA.
“This finding corresponds with a theory that these Malays originated from Austronesia in Yunnan, China,” Professor Zilfalil said, “with the first wave of migration from Austronesia to Southeast Asia occurring in 25,000 B.C. And the second in 1,500 B.C.,”
“The Malay language used in the Malay Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak also belongs to the Austronesian stock,” the professor added.
Mekong River, approximately 4,180 km in length, originated from Tibet and runs through Yunnan Province of China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Anthropologists traced the migration of Proto-Malays who were seafarers, to some 10,000 years ago when they sailed by boat (canoe or perahu) along the Mekong River from Yunnan to the South China Sea and eventually settled down at various places.
Inhabitants of early Yunnan may be traced back into prehistory from a homo erectus fossil, ‘Yuanmou Man’, which was unearthed in the 1950s. In year 221 B.C., Qin Shihuang conquered Yunnan and unified China.
Yunnan has since become a province of China. They were the ancestors of rice cating peoples, with their culture of cultivating rice spread throughout the entire region. The native name of the Mekong River peoples’ home in Yunnan is Xishuangbanna (Sipsongpanna) which literally means “twelve thousand rice fields,” it is the home of the Dai minority. Xishuangbanna sits at a lower altitude than most of the Yunnan mountainous ranges.
The oldest Malay text is the Kedukan Bukit Inscription of 682CE found at Palembang and the modern Yunnan Dai minority’s traditonal writings were of the same language family of Pallava, also known as Pallava Grantha. Dai ethnic (or Dai minority) of Yunnan is one of the aborigional inhabitants of modern Yunnan province of China.
Although the existing Kunming City is just 2,400 years old, the earliest activities of human beings in this region can be traced back to over 30,500 years ago. In the light of archaeological finds, primitive people settled in the area around the current Dianchi Lake in the Neolithic period.
Apart from agricultural production, these primitive people also earned their living by fishing, hunting and stock raising. Therefore, the Dianchi (Lake) region is also considered to be one of the important cradles of humankind.
Next, the Sabah media delegation moved on to the public park commemorating Admiral Cheng Ho’s legendary exploits as learned by local Malaysian students in the 1970s or Zheng He to China. A China PLA Navy traing ship by the same name called at Sapanggar Port in the past but never any of the warships.
He grew up here in Kunming, probably honed his sailing skills at the Dianchi Lake up to his teenage years before being sent to serve in the service of the Emperor in the imperial capital.
He led China’s Ming Dynasty exploratory trade voyages up to Africa and is the inspiration for today’s Maritime Silk Road concept of China.
Dinner for the journalists from Sabah (the first meal in Yunnan) was at a Muslim halal restaurant food in honour of the Muslim Chinese seafarer in the month of Ramadan.
Muslims would find it easy to eat at halal restaurants in Kunming, if they ever want to “balik Tong Shan or China” as Malay extremists shouted at Chinese Malaysians now and then.
Sunset in Kunming is around 8 p.m., so from 5 p.m. To 8 p.m., it is possible to continue with outdoor study visit tours in pleasant weather.