A brief appraisal on the Perak Rajas and chiefs by Wilkinson

Under the Sultan, whose full title is “Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Sultan, Yang Di-Pertuan Negeri Perak Darul Ridzuan”, there is an interesting system of nobility and chieftainship or known as Orang Besar Negeri dating back to the earliest years of the State, back in sixteenth century.

R.J. Wilkinson in his Notes on Perak History pointed out that the Sultan was theoretically absolute, but he was expected to obtain the consent of his principal chiefs before he appointed any high officer of state or took any step of great importance to the state. He also added that if left consulted, the chiefs were apt to affect ignorance of the decisions arrived at, to refuse to recognise the Sultan’s nominees, and even (by questioning the authenticity of documents) to decline to obey the Sultan’s orders. It was the rule in the olden days that the Sultan should be succeeded by the heir apparent or Raja Muda. Nonetheless, the approval of the chiefs was still necessary. Back in the old days, the procedure was that when a Sultan mangkat, the Bendahara, or chief minister, would at once take the possession of the regalia and to administer the government as regent.

At the expiration of seven days, he would send or head a deputation to invite or escort the Raja Muda to the Istana. On his arrival, the Raja Muda would be presented with the regalia and would be formally installed as the new Sultan in the presence and with the approval of the assembled chiefs. In the early days, the Bendahara was a commoner[1] and was regarded as the head of the chiefs, but later members of the royal families, several branches of which share the throne in rotation, were appointed to this high office as Raja Bendahara. The Raja Bendahara is, however, still regarded as the head of the chiefs, although he is a Raja[2].

Under the Raja Muda come princes of the blood, known as the waris negeri and, in default of any special title, they are addressed as Engku. The Raja Muda’s full Malay title is Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Tuanku Raja Muda, Wakil us-Sultan. The waris negeri are eligible for offices of state and for certain titular dignities carrying high precedence. The present honorary distinctions in order of rank are the DYAM Raja Di-Hilir, Raja Kecil Besar, Raja Kecil Sulong, Raja Kecil Tengah and Raja Kecil Bongsu.

The chiefs of the state are divided into the Four, the Eight, the Sixteen and the Thirty-Two. The four great dignitaries of Perak Sultan’s court are the Orang Kaya Bendahara Seri Maharaja (Bendahara), Orang Kaya Besar Maharaja Di-Raja (Orang Kaya Besar), Orang Kaya Temenggong Paduka Raja (Temenggong), and Orang Kaya Menteri Paduka Tuan (Menteri).

[1]The early Bendaharas were descendants of Megat Terawis, the last being Megat Abu Kassim (Megat Hilang Di-Teluk) during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain (1754-1764).
[2]The last Raja Bendahara was Raja Abdul Rashid ibni Almarhum Sultan Idris I, and following his demise, the position of Bendahara was returned to non-royals.


Wilkinson RJ. Notes on Perak History. In Papers on Malay Subjects: History (Part II). Kuala Lumpur: FMS Government Press; 1908. p73-9.

Dato’ Panglima Kinta Muhammad Yusuff


Dato' Panglima Kinta Muhammad Yusuff

The title of Dato’ Panglima Kinta originated during the reign of Sultan Mudzaffar Shah II in 1636. For services rendered, Tok Chandang, son of Tok Changkat Piatu was appointed Maharaja Kinta (title later changed to Dato’ Panglima Kinta) and his wife Che Intan, daughter of Tok Nyior Manis, made a Toh Puan (first Toh Puan of Perak). Wilkinson had described that the succession to this dignity is a good example of the bergilir principle – where two families (the Ipoh or Paloh family and the Kepayang family) took it in turn to provide the Dato’ Panglima Kinta.

When the ninth Dato’ Panglima Kinta Zainal Abidin (Uda Bidin) of the Kepayang family passed away in 1884, his cousin Muhammad Yusuff was elected the tenth Dato’ Panglima Kinta. Zainal Abidin’s son, Abdul Wahab became a very influential and wealthy Toh Muda, retaining his family’s aristocratic standing.  Kinta’s interest were strengthened whenboth the new Dato’ Panglima Kinta and the Toh Muda were nominated to the Perak Council of State.  It was the Dato’ Panglima Kinta Muhammad Yusuff who steered the growth of Ipoh from a small village into the largest town in Kinta,throughout his career from 1884 until his death in 1903.  A relative of his by marriage, Che Hussin of Ipoh ascended to the title Orang Kaya Laksamana and was made a member of the Council of state in 1894.

1. Khoo Salma Nasution and Abdur-Razzaq Lubis. Kinta Valley.
2. Papers on Malay Subjects: Part II Notes on Perak History, by R.J. Wilkinson. FMS Government Press, 1908. In Sembangkuala: The title of Dato’ Panglima Kinta.