a long time ago in 1871, HH sultan ali al-mukammal inayat shah, the sultan of perak died. my great-great granddad, YM raja abdullah ibni al-marhum sultan jaafar, who was then the raja muda of perak residing in batak rabit, would have been the new sultan if it wasn’t for the subsequent coronation of HH sultan ismail muabbidin shah. as raja muda, great-great granddad was supposed to be sultan, and rightly so, according to the traditional system of the perak rajas. he was initially invited to sayong by raja (then, before finally becoming sultan) bendahara ismail, but great-great granddad wasn’t too happy to do so as he had to pass the area of senggeng, the stronghold of one raja yusuf and his sons, a rival who also wanted to lay claim to the throne.

it was also a time of turmoil in the larut region. larut is rich in tin (legend has it that a runaway gajah that was found by long jaafar had mud all over its legs – mud which was rich in tin ore.). i’m sure you remember from your sejarah lessons in school about the ghee hin vs. hai san secret society war. to paraphrase blackadder‘s daft side-kick, baldrick, great-great granddad then had a cunning plan.

he wrote a letter to sir harry ord, who was then british governor of the straits settlement in singapore (later governor of western australia), asking for help. unfortunately for great-great granddad, sir harry felt that it wasn’t in her majesty’s empire’s interest to meddle in the affairs of the orang melayu. however, when sir harry left in 1873, the new straits settlement governor, sir andrew clarke, was, should i say, more helpful in response to great-great granddad’s request for intervention.

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