A Royal Visit to Fort Tapong
The picture, taken in 1964 by an official photographer shows the then Sultan of Perak, Sultan Idris Shah II (1963-1984), when he visited Fort Tapong. He is in discussion with members of the Police Field Force who were billeted there and conducted anti communist patrols in the area.
This fort, the last to be built (in 1959/1960) for the Malayan Emergency, was sited in North Perak and this reflected the withdrawal of the majority of communist terrorists into Thailand, at that time, and making occasional sorties over the border into Malaya.
Jungle forts like Tapong acted as bases from which infantry and Police Field Force (PFF) patrols could operate. There were a number in operation in mid1955, with more under construction, and by the end of 1957 there were nine completed and fully functional. Fort Tapong was the tenth and last to be built. Every bit of material, apart from timber, needed to build the airstrips and the living quarters, and to make them secure had to be flown in by helicopter, as did the plant such as bulldozers, diggers and earthmovers when they were available, but in the case of Tapong, everything was done by hand, courtesy of the Royal Engineers and the PFF.
Some of you may wonder why the fort was still operating as the Malayan Emergency was declared over in 1960. Well officially it may have been, but as many of the old-timers know it was far from over in Perak and continued to be a problem for almost another 20 years.