The photograph shows the view from the gate of the Matang Historical Complex which was originally Ngah Ibrahim’s fort built in 1865. It was initially simply a home for Ngah Ibrahim, who after his elephant went tin mining became a powerful and wealthy tin miner, but he fortified it to save himself from the Chinese triads of the Ghee Hin and Hai San who eventually went to war over tin mining rights and inadvertently brought the British to Perak.
Richer than the Sultan of Perak, he was appointed by the Sultan as Minister of Larut, but became involved in the plot against J W W Birch the British Resident, was charged with murder, found guilty and banished to the Seychelles. He was never permitted to return to Perak and died in Singapore in 1877. You may remember that his remains were found in a grave in Singapore in 2006, brought back to Perak and buried at his fort. Rightly or wrongly he had returned home.
The building has had many roles over the years: tax office and collection centre for the Larut tin trade; as a court to try Dato Maharaja Lela and Si Puntum for the murder of J W W Birch; the Matang primary school; and the first Malayan Teachers’ Training College, among others. Today the site is the Matang Historical Complex under the management of the Museum and Antiquities Department, proudly displaying that elephant.
Do visit the complex at some stage it really is very interesting and just next door is Captain Speedy’s house. Captain Speedy was of course the Perak Chief of Police in 1873 and appointed Assistant British Resident of Perak when the Pangkor Treaty was signed on the 20th January 1874.
This model of a full size elephant and handlers stands in the entrance to a building in Perak. Legend has it that one day he ran amok into the jungle and when he was finally caught he had a silvery substance smeared all over his left front leg. When his handlers had quietened him down enough to clean him up they found the substance was tin. The then Regent (there was no Sultan at the time) then gave all mining rights in the area to the owner of the elephant. True or not, it is a lovely story and is said to have started the tin boom and, later, wars between two Chinese miner clans, Hai San and Ghee Hin.
Now for the history buffs out there, where is the building, who owned the elephant and what was the date? No prizes given other than your knowledge of your local history being proudly displayed to the world.
Answers on Wednesday if you have not got them right by then.
This grand old picture dates from 1894 when a bull elephant gallantly refused to move off the rail tracks, close to Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan) in defence of his herd against what he saw as an intruder into his domain. Unfortunately the train, which had previously killed a calf elephant in the same place, was doing some 80 kilometres per hour and the driver could not stop in time. The two therefore met head on.
The net result was one dead elephant, three coaches derailed and two dead railway workers who died from their injuries sometime later. A number of businesspeople and other passengers were also injured.
This event is marked by a signboard at the spot of the collision, erected by the British Government.