Dato’ Maharaja Lela Pandak Lam

An artist's impression of Dato' Maharaja Lela Pandak Lam. (Source: Wikipedia)

An artist's impression of Dato' Maharaja Lela Pandak Lam. (Source: Wikipedia)

Pandak Lam was a descendant of Daeng Salili (Haji Besar), the son of a Bugis Raja that hailed from Daerah Luwuk in Sulawesi. During the reign of Almarhum Sultan Mudzaffar Shah III, Daeng Salili came to Perak in 1743 and was appointed as a mufti and was bestowed the title Dato’ Maharaja Lela Tan Lela Putera Panchong Ta’ Bertanya.

Like Daeng Salili, Pandak Lam was also made Dato’ Maharaja Lela and had a pivotal role in the fight against British rule in Perak. Pandak Lam planned the assassination of James Wheeler Woodford Birch, the British Resident for Perak, in collaboration with the Orang Kaya-kaya Seri Agar Diraja Dato’ Sagor and Ngah Kandin. The decision for the resistance against British rule was made at a meeting chaired by Sultan Abdullah at Durian Sebatang on May 21 1875, which was also attended by other Perak chiefs, ultimately culminating in the meeting at Belanja on October 1 1875, which consented the Dato’ Maharaja Lela to proceed with the assassination .

Sultan Abdullah and chiefs

Sultan Abdullah and the chiefs of Perak, including Dato' Maharaja Lela and Dato' Sagor. (Source: Google Images)

After Birch’s assassination in Pasir Salak on November 2 1875, Dato’ Maharaja Lela Pandak Lam was pursued by the British and was arrested. He was tried in a court of law presided by Raja (later Sultan Sir Idris I) Dris which ran from December 14 to 22 1876, and was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. He was hung on January 20 1877 in Taiping, along with his collaborators, which included Dato Sagor and Ngah Ibrahim.

One view is that Birch’s assassination was because he outlawed slavery in Perak. Dato’ Maharaja Lela, whose income depended on capturing and selling the indigenes of Perak or Orang Asli as slaves, was then incensed and plotted with some of the slave-traders to kill Birch by spearing him when he was taking his bath in the river.

The more popular view among local historians indicate that Birch was assassinated because of his disrespect to the local custom and tradition, and conflict with local Malay chiefs. He (Birch) was known to be arrogant and disrespectful of even the Sultan of Perak. Some history books noted how he was despised by the Sultan. Dato’ Maharaja Lela is generally celebrated as a folk hero among Malaysians, due to his substantial contribution.

For more information regarding the role of a Dato’ Maharaja Lela in Perak, click here.

1. Wikipedia
2. Sultan Mudzaffar Shah III. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak
3. Sultan Abdullah Muhammad II. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak


Tok Temong

Tok Temong, or her real name Tun Perobu, was a daughter of Bendahara Tun Perak of Melaka and also Tun Saban’s sister. Tun Saban appointed her as the head of Temong and she was thereafter known as Tok Puan Putih. It was only after her death that she was known as Tok Temong.


The Mestika or Geliga Embun.

During the installation of Sultan Muzaffar Shah, the first Sultan of Perak, Tok Temong presented the Sultan with the Mestika Embun as a gift for Tuanku’s installation, which was said to be made of petrified dew.

In return, Sultan Mudzaffar Shah presented her a golden puan bujur which she declined to accept, instead requesting an understanding from him that she be allowed to continue to rule from Temong upstream of the Perak River and that the Sultan and his successors should keep to the left bank (when faced downstream) of the river only, to which the Sultan agreed.

However, Sultan Idris Shah I departed from this tradition by building himself a palace on the right bank of the river on Bukit Chandan.


Makam Tok Temong at Kati in Kuala Kangsar.

Today, Mestika Embun is one of the Articles of the Perak Regalia during the installation ceremony of a new Sultan. Following the installation and the invocation of the Perak Guardian Spirits ceremonies (bertabal Jin), the new Sultan and his consort would make a pilgrimage to the royal graves to pay homage to the graves of the former Sultans. The pilgrimage begins at Makam Tok Temong.


DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah visiting Makam Tok Temong at Kati, in Kuala Kangsar, on his installation in 1984.

Reference: Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak

The final journey home

Orang Kaya-Kaya Laksamana Mohd Amin Alang Duakap and Orang Kaya-Kaya Menteri Larut Ngah Ibrahim Long Jaafar were chiefs of Perak found complicit in the assassination of J.W.W. Birch in November 1875. Together with Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II, they were sent into exile to the Seychelles in 1877. Also exiled were Orang Kaya-Kaya Shahbandar Uda Maamor, and the family members of Sultan Abdullah and those of the two aforementioned chiefs. In 1894, Sultan Abdullah together with Laksamana Mohd Amin, Ngah Ibrahim and Uda Maamor were allowed to return. Whilst Sultan Abdullah returned to Singapore, the three chiefs were sent initially to Sarawak and then finally allowed to go to Singapore. Sultan Abdullah finally returned to Kuala Kangsar in 1922, but the three men never saw Perak ever again, only to remain in exile in Singapore until their passing. Ngah Ibrahim died in 1895 whilst Mohd Amin died in 1905. The final resting place of Uda Maamor in Singapore is not known to this day.

OKK Menteri Larut Ngah Ibrahim Long Jaafar. (Source: Google Images)

On 9 September 2006, the final resting place of the late Laksamana Mohd Amin and Ngah Ibrahim in Singapore were finally discovered and the remains brought back to Perak. The exhumation of their remains at Pusara Al-Junied at Jalan Kubur were given the go ahead by the Singaporean National Environment Agency. Archaeologists from Malaysia’s National Heritage Department, as well as staff of Warees Investments Pte Ltd , a subsidiary of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), managed the exhumation. The remains were brought back on KD Laksamana Mohd Amin back to the naval port at Lumut, received with full honours in the presence of DYTM Raja Muda Nazrin Shah ibni Sultan Azlan Shah and DYAM Raja Di-Hilir Jaafar ibni Raja Muda Musa.

The remains of OKK Laksamana Muhammad Amin and Tengku Menteri Ngah Ibrahim being returned to Perak with full honours by the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The remains of Laksamana Mohd Amin was interred at the Al-Ghufran Royal Mausoleum at Bukit Chandan whilst that of Ngah Ibrahim was interred at the Kompleks Kota Ngah Ibrahim at Matang.

A personal account of the event has been written by Mohammad Shidek Nazarran, a fifth-generation descendant of Laksamana Mohd Amin, and his written description (in Bahasa Malaysia), in PDF, can be read here.

Further reading:
1. SEAARch. The Southeast Asian Archaeological Newsblog. The exhumation of Ngah Ibrahim.
2. Sawatan J. Remains Of Ngah Ibrahim And Mohamad Amin To Be Exhumed On Thursday. BERNAMA. 2006 Sept 5.
3. Hamdan Othman, Adham Shadan. Perjalanan Ngah Ibrahim. KOSMO. 2006 Sept 10. p26, p27.