Author's Preface and Acknowledgements

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Alimin – An Abridged Biography (Nusantara's Chinese Admiral)
李明 - 簡傳 (南洋海軍 華裔上將)

By Vincent Li (Lee Teck Seng - 李德成)
Former Deputy Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to the Nusantaran Empire

It has been a great honour to have been able to write a biography on the leader of one of Asia's – if not the world's – great powers. Extensive travel, research and interviews in Nusantara, China and Vietnam over a decade has made the writing of this book possible. Cognisant of the Nusantarans' general devotion towards their late Emperor, especially among the Tionghoa (ethnic Chinese) communities, we have the privilege of consulting many of the people who knew him in life. Among the people we interviewed were members of Alimin's own family; such as Bodhi Liswanto and General Khaled Assegaf – his son and son-in-law respectively, his daughter Veila Liswanto, and some of the officers who had served alongside and under him, such as Field-Marshal (Ret.) Wibi Radityo, Admiral (Ret.) Erwin Mogot, and Air Marshal (Ret.) Erwin Lau. Special mention must also be made of the contribution of Messrs Pradityo Iqbal and Kristoffer Julius, whose vast records of archival footage and photographs allowed me to piece together some of Alimin's most important milestones in life. Finally, I would like to thank Daoist Hung (Hong Daoshi) and Sayed Asad Assegaf, the two men still alive today who exercised significant spiritual influence on the Emperor, for their hospitality and willingness to discuss his philosophical discourses with them.

Until the middle of 2075 most of my primary sources on Alimin were gleaned from an audience I've had the privilege of being granted a decade earlier and Alimin : Tugas Bakti Seorang Laksamana (Alimin : An Admiral's Life of Service), an official biography released in November 2065 on his seventieth birthday. In addition I also had the Li Beng : Khi-Goan Ko-Su (Alimin : Origins), an autobiographical novel written in the Zhangzhou dialect of Hokkien, to help me piece together some of the seminal events in his youth. Upon his passing, several of his journals were released by his estate, and I cannot thank Bodhi and Veila Liswanto enough as his executors for making them public. They helped me a long way in putting together a more comprehensive picture of Nusantara's first (and so far only) Tionghoa leader. In addition, records of his speeches and dealings with other heads of states had been graciously provided by Messrs Fauzan Rasyid and Evander Li, his top diplomats. Checking the information in these new records with those already provided in Tugas Bakti and Khi-Goan Ko-Su, we found no major discrepancies.

Assisting in this decade-long work were outstanding associates, such as Mochamad Adri, who, during my first five years of staying in Jakarta, had helped me in translation and access to primary sources, in addition to arranging and managing my stay in Nusantara's historical capital. Chen Huiren turned out fascinating records in Beijing, while Nguyen Minh Anh did likewise in Hanoi. Zulham Idris was my guide in Palembang – Alimin's birthplace – and helped me understand centuries of acculturation between Chinese, Malay and Arabic elements in the city's long and distinguished history, all of which contributed to the Emperor's background. Many locals in various Tionghoa communities such as Lanfang and Benteng have also helped me understand the contemporary dynamics of ethnic Chinese life in Nusantara through first-hand accounts. Academic support for this project has been graciously provided by Dr. Nadarajah Ponnudurai, Dean of the National University of Singapore's political science department, along with Dr. Tan Chin Hock of the George Yeo Trust for Global Affairs. I would also like to extend my gratitude to peers in the Nusantaran National University's political science department for their assistance and willingness to co-sponsor my research.

My daughter Jennifer Li was my principal editor, trimming words and pages which made the original draft far too superfluous, and reorganising key points here and there to present a more cogent text. Likewise, manuscript editor Peter Sudarso's careful reading and vetting of the text, along with his corrections and suggestions have been invaluable. Elsa Lam, my principal editor in Nusantara, herself an expert in Tionghoa affairs, was also a key advisor whose help and wide connections ensured my biographical text would find insightful and critical input before being published. Finally, my wife, Amelia Chua, who supported me with affection, care and a conducive environment at home to put my research into writing.

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