Taiping - Perak
My landlord has a dream of returning to Taiping, retiring to the town he grew up in, where its rich tapestry of historical milestones are stitched into the fabric of his childhood memories.
Don't blame him for wanting to leave the city, really. It has become so impersonal and sprawling. Neighbours are names to faceless shadows. Back in Taiping, old neighbours become steadfast friends, the butcher at the old market place becomes a reliable golf buddy, a daily walk in the evenings around the lake with other retired comrades or a lifelong partner is an addiction, A pint before dinner at the old club in the evening is not a must but a social event eagerly awaited. Life goes on at a pace where the finer things in life are not only found on money. Unfortunately, fast growing economies like Asia and the U.S. tend to forget, that life is not about fast cars, large mansions and lots of admirers. This is not reality TV, this is life and not everyone needs 15mins of fame in his or her lifetime.
|cigar manufacturing. a small industry in taiping, first brought in by a burmese merchant who hired burmese ladies to roll the cigars..very much like how it's still being handrolled in burma now. does this building still house the business..i wonder. photo taken in 1997.
Isabella Bird, a British adventurer and the first woman to be elected as a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, came to the Malay Archipelago in the late1870's in which she documented her travels and stories during her stay in a book called 'The Golden Chersonese and The Way Thither'. British government officials graciously extended their invitation for her to stay with them as she travelled her way to various destinations in Malaya . She had first hand reports and information on the situation in through the eyes of officials such as Sir Hugh Low, Mr W.E. Maxwell etc. (if not a little heavily opinionated on the side of the British).
|many derelict shophouses were torned down and replaced in the past decade
The situation was so degraded until Sir A. Clarke, the Governor of the Straits Settlements decided to intervene before the bloodshed became infectious. A Chinese businessman residing in Singapore by name of Kim Cheng had persuaded a Malay Chief called Abdullah, to approach the British with a proposition that he had desire to place Perak under British protection, and "to have a man of sufficient abilities to show him a good system of government"(Isabella Bird) in which he would make good his desires if he were officially appointed Sultan.
|raintrees line the pathways and roads encircling the lake gardens
Sir A. Clarke, called for a meeting between the British Officials, the Malay Chiefs and the Chinese Triad headmen at Pulau Pangkor and a treaty was signed on 20 th January 1974 , with the appointment of Abdullah as sultan. The Malay Chiefs were unhappy with decisions made and although they seemingly did not oppose to Abdullah's usurpation during the meet at Pulau Pangkor..by way of miscommunication some people say. After the signing of treaty, peace came to Larut. It is reported that in 1876, the export of tin had was 144,000lbs which rose to 436,000 lbs in 1881 and Chinese immigration increased the population of Chinese miners, shopkeepers, vendors from twenty thousand in 1879 to forty thousand in 1881.
The Pangkor Treaty of 1974 also stated that Sultan Abdullah should receive an English Resident and Assistant Resident, whose salaries and expenses should be the first charge on the revenue of the country, whose counsel must be asked and "acted upon" on all questions other than those of religion and custom, and under whose advice the collection and control of all revenues and the general administration should be regulated. The first Resident appointed was J.W.W. Birch, a rather pompous officer who was in poor standing with the Malay chiefs. Since Captain Speedy had a lot of experience and influence with the Malays and the Chinese, he was appointed as the Assistant Resident at Larut. He set aside 2 towns one named the Taiping or 'everlasting peace' for the Hakka Chinese and Kamunting for the rival group.
|war cemetary at the base of maxwell hill
The British eventually rounded up the participating Malay Chiefs and banished Ismail to Johore; and Sultan Abdullah , Ngah Ibrahim and others to Seychelles .