FROM the end of the year 1874 till the following May, when Sir Andrew Clarke was translated to a post on the Council of the Viceroy of India, there is nothing particular to chronicle but the reports from the Residents, especially from Perak and the Nine States, showed that there was a feeling of unrest, and that those whose profits and influence were threatened were not taking kindly to the new order of things.

Mr. Birch showed extraordinary energy in travelling about Perak, making the acquaintance of all the chiefs, and personally inquiring into the numberless complaints of the poor and oppressed. The peculiar circumstances of this State must be borne in mind. The quarrels of the Chinese had been stopped ; they were again at work, the mines were doing well, order had succeeded chaos, and Larut was on the high road to a prosperity exceeding anything ever known before. But the Mantri was secretly dissatisfied, his plans had miscarried; he could no longer collect and expend the revenues as he pleased, and instead of holding an almost independent position, he found himself in his proper place, with Abdullah, the recognized Sultan, but ill-disposed towards him. Then
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Abdullah, who had gained so mach, was far from content. He was weak, inordinately vain, and hopelessly extravagant The up-country people still declined to acknowledge him, and declared that Ismail, who had the regalia and refused to give it up, was their Sultan. Raja Yusuf, of course, sulked in his own lonely village, posing as the rightful claimant and threatening to invite the assistance of Siam, of Johore, of any one he could think of, to support a cause which he knew was hopeless so long as he was its sole advocate. The Assistant Resident in Larut had a moderate force of Indians and Malays, and having only one man to deal with, the Mantri, he experienced no difficulty in collecting the revenue and seeing that it was properly expended. In the Perak Valley and the districts south of it the circumstances were widely different Not only did the three Sultans essay to tax every one within their reach and every passer-by, but all the small chiefs did the same, and every sprig of nobility felt and said that this squeezing of the raiat and the Chinese was the only way in which a gentleman could condescend to make a living. As " the collection and control of all revenues and the general administration of the country" were, by the Pangkor engagement, to be regulated under the advice of the British Residents, it followed that Mr. Birch's determined efforts to carry out these provisions brought him into frequent and unpleasant conflict with all the influential people in the country. In the course of his wanderings Mr. Birch met with numerous cases of great oppression ; poor people fined and even murdered for supposed offences, traders squeezed and robbed, and men, women, and children subjected to the infamous practice of debt -slavery. This custom, common to all Malay countries, consisted in the forcible detention of persons said to be indebted. Very often there was no real debt ; the creditors invented one, or inflicted a fine for an offence never committed, and then compelled the reputed debtor,


with his wife and family, to enter his service and treated them all as chattels. Of course the supposed debt was not paid, because, according to the creditor, it always kept increasing. Very often the original circumstances surrounding the claim were lost in the obscurity of past generations ; the debt slaves were pesaka, an inheritance, like any other property. I will not harrow the reader by tales of the infamies committed under the cloak of this system ; they can be imagined if it is understood that the creditor did what he liked with his debt slaves, and when they found life intolerable and ran away, if caught they were killed and no one objected, because every one of any position had debt slaves of their own. It is necessary to mention this custom, because its abolition created more trouble than any other question with which the Residents had to deal. It should also be added that if a free man or woman married a debt slave the free also entered into bondage, and the children of the marriage with them. Moreover, it was very common for a creditor to sell his debt slaves when he was tired of them or wanted money, and the bonds people not infrequently suffered by the transfer.

This practice of debt-slavery was particularly rife in Perak, and as Mr. Birch determinedly set his face against it and helped several of the most oppressed to get out of the country, his action did not increase his popularity with the chiefs. Sultan Abdullah and the Lower Perak chiefs were amongst the worst offenders in this respect, and having gained the end for which they invited British assistance, they began to consider how they could get rid of the British Adviser, who interfered with their most cherished privileges, the collection of taxes, the power to fine and kill, and the institution of debt-slavery.

Raja Ismail and his adherents did not like the Resident, because they regarded him as a man brought in by their enemies, the Lower Perak chiefs, and also because he


tried, unavailingly, to persuade Ismail to give up the regalia to AbdulIah.

Raja Yusuf was dissatisfied because nothing was done for him ; and the chiefs of every grade made common cause against a Resident who scoured the country, inquired into and pushed home their evil deeds, and endeavoured to put a stop to them. Therefore, some began to conspire to compass his death or removal, and others looked idly on, conscious of what was brewing, but not anxious to take a hand if they could avoid it. Only the poor and oppressed recognized and were grateful for all the many kindnesses they received from the Resident ; for when he was not busy finding out all about the country and its resources, or writing instructions and suggestions for its development and administration, he was tending the sick, or giving generous help to those most in need of it. Unfortunately, he did not speak Malay, or understand the customs and prejudices of the people, and to this cause more than any other his death must be attributed.

In Selangor matters went well enough. The State had a very small Malay population, and they were tired of fighting. The Viceroy was established in authority with a British Resident to help him. The rebellious action of the Sultan's sons was paralyzed by the presence of a British officer in their own village; Raja Mahmud had renounced the profession of a freelance ; Raja Mahdi had also given himself up, and was dying of consumption in Singapore ; while the Sultan was all for peace and freedom to give his undivided attention to his garden. So the Chinese flocked into Selangor, and the development of mining promised shortly to put the State finances in a satisfactory condition.

Sungei Ujong made progress slowly; but the neighbours, the people of the eight other little States, who in their inland fastnesses had seen practically nothing of this new turn of affairs and heard news of the outer world but


seldom, were far from content. So, when the Resident of Sungei Ujong pushed his travels beyond his borders, he was greeted by die same old tales of oppression, of squabbles for position and power, and he was warned, not always politely to mind his own business and not come where he was not invited. That was well enough, and though, from motives of humanity he might have wished to interfere. he would not have been allowed to do so if his neighbours had not made a raid into Sungei Ujong.

That, however, came later. Up to the time of Sir Andrew Clarke's departure from the Straits there was no disturbance of the peace, but rumours of impending trouble reached him. and at the very moment when he and his successor. Sir W. F. D. Jervois, were together in Singapore messengers came from Sultan Abdullah full of complaints of the Resident and his interference with those very affairs to deal with which Abdullah had asked for his assistance.

Major-General Sir William Jervois was another officer of the Royal Engineers, the third in succession as Governor of the Straits Settlements, and he arrived at a moment when the affairs of the Malay States were to absorb all his attention.

It should be remarked in passing that the assistance rendered by Sir Andrew Clarke had cost a good deal of money, and it was fortunate that Governor Ord had left the colony with a large balance, for it was exhausted by his successors in carrying out the new policy towards the Malay States. I should, however, at once state that every farthing of this expenditure, and of future military expeditions, was eventually repaid by the Malay States on whose behalf it was incurred.

Sir William Jervois arrived in the end of May, 1875, and for the next four months devoted himself to the study of the Malay problem, as it was then developing. He received constant reports from the Residents, and those


which came from Perak showed that affairs were becoming so strained that action of some kind would soon be a necessity. The Governor therefore decided to see what could be done by a personal interview with the chiefs. He went to Larut, crossed over to the Perak River at Kuala Kangsar (the residence of the present Sultan of Perak), and made a progress down the Perak River, having interviews with Raja Yusuf and ex-Sultan Ismail, and continued his journey to Sultan Abdullah's village, where he joined his yacht and returned to Singapore.

In 1874-5 I had made several visits to Perak to help Mr. Birch, and I was one of the party of about a dozen European officers who accompanied Sir William Jervois on this expedition, Mr. Birch and Mr. Davidson were also there, and it was explained to the Governor that the position of the Resident, as set out in the Pangkor Engagement, was untenable. Either the Resident, being alone and unsupported, must turn a deaf ear to all complaints, regard the terms of the Pangkor Engagement as a dead letter, and content himself with the impossible role of offering advice to those who paid no heed to it, or he must hold Sultan Abdullah and his adherents to the faithful discharge of those obligations which they had willingly undertaken, which the Secretary of State had approved, and the Proclamation of November, 1874, had warned them must be observed. It was evident that the Resident, if he met with direct refusal, or indirect obstruction which amounted to the same thing, could not threaten unless he had the means to enforce his words. Even if Abdullah and his party had shown any desire to be amenable, there would still have been serious trouble with Ismail and the up-country chiefs.

As the British Government had recognized Abdullah, clearly the first thing to do was to bring him to reason, and with this object Sir William Jervois and his party, attended by a guard of bluejackets, had a long interview


with Abdullah and his chiefs at a place called Pasir Panjang, on the Perak River a few miles above Bandar Bharu, the small island which Mr. Birch had chosen for his station. That interview resulted in no satisfactory conclusion, but it was ascertained afterwards that Abdullah, realizing that his attitude towards the Resident had earned him the serious displeasure of the Governor, had arranged with a foreign Malay to amok the Governor's party at a given signal should an attempt be made to arrest and remove him. No such attempt was made, but Sir William Jervois decided to meet the difficulties of the situation by a new arrangement appointing British officers, as Queen's Commissioners instead of Residents, to carry on the administration of the country in the name of the Sultan. It was also arranged to have the necessary documents prepared and, when they were ready, to invite Abdullah to sign them, and if he refused to tell him that Raja Yusuf would, if he had the opportunity, be glad to accept the Governor's advice and give effect to it. It had been ascertained that both Raja Yusuf and Raja Idris (Abdullah's cousin and a man of exceptional ability) were agreed that the existing state of affairs could not continue, and they were ready to abide by the Governor's decision.

I remained in Perak for a fortnight after the departure of the Governor and his party to help the Resident to explain the new proposals to the Sultan and endeavour to secure his acceptance of them. The result of several long interviews with Abdullah — interviews wherein he showed himself most impracticable — was to decide him to sign the documents accepting and announcing the new policy, and with these I left at once for Singapore.

Before I left, Mr. Birch had been told by some of those whom he had befriended that there was a plot to kill him, but to this he paid no attention as the story was not new.


After a very short stay in Singapore, I returned to Perak with the proclamations necessary to give effect to the new arrangement and handed them over to Mr. Birch at Bandar Bharu. I found him suffering from a sprained ankle and only able to walk with the help of crutches. Lieutenant Abbott, R.N., and four bluejackets were with him, and, on the night of my arrival, the native sergeant-major of Mr. Birch's Indian guard (about eighty Pathans, Sikhs, and Punjabis) behaved so badly that he had to be confined in the guard-room, while his men were in a state bordering on mutiny. It was then arranged that I should go up river to a village called Kota Lama, above Kuala Kangsar, a village with the worst repute in Perak, and distribute the proclamations in the Upper Country, returning about the 3rd November to meet Mr. Birch at Pasir Salak, the village of the Maharaja Lela, five miles above Bandar Bharu. Mr. Birch, meanwhile, was to go down river and distribute the proclamations amongst Abdullah's adherents, where no trouble was expected, and we were to join forces at Pasir Salak because die Maharaja Lela was believed to have declared that he would not take instructions from the Resident, and it was known that he had built himself a new house and had recently been protecting it by a strong earthwork and palisade. Therefore if there was to be trouble it would probably be there. What was only disclosed long afterwards was that, as soon as he had consented to the new arrangement, Abdullah summoned his chiefs (including the Maharaja Lela and the Dato' Sagor, who lived at Kampong Gajah on the opposite bank of the river to Pasir Salak) and told them that he had handed over the government of the country to Mr. Birch. The Maharaja Lela, however, said that he would not accept any orders from the Resident, and if Mr. Birch came to his Kampong he would kill him. Asked whether he really intended to keep his word, he replied that he certainly meant it. The Dato' Sagor also


said that he was of one mind with the Maharaja Lela. The meeting then broke up and the members returned to their own villages. Later, when the proclamations arrived, the Sultan again sent for the chiefs, showed them the papers, and asked what they thought of them. The Laksamana said, " Down here, in the lower part of the river, we must accept them." But the Maharaja Lela said, " In my Kampong, I will not allow any white man to post these proclamations. If they insist, there will certainly be a fight.'' To this the Sultan and the other chiefs said, ''Very well." The Maharaja Lela immediately left and, having loaded his boats with rice, returned up river to his own Kampong.

I left Bandar Bharu at noon, on 28 October, with two boats, my companions being Raja Mahmud of Selangor and two of his men whom I had brought with me from Singapore, a Manila boatman of tried courage, and a Chinese servant. As I went up stream Mr. Birch was starting to go down, and when last I saw him he was lecturing the Sikh sergeant-major, who had been released after his night in the guard-room. On my way up river I called at Blanja, ex-Sultan Ismail's village, but failed to see him. I left a number of proclamations there, after explaining them, and went on to Raja Yusuf, who assured me that no good could ever be done until there had been a fight. The further I went the more threatening became the talk, and every one was full of gossip of the dreadful things that were going to take place. This, however, was rather the custom of the country, and we did not pay too much attention to it. By great exertions we reached Kuala Kangsar on the night of 31 October, and on I November I posted the proclamations in that village. On the 2nd I crossed the river, interviewed the Raja Bendahara, read the proclamation to him, and gave him copies which I asked him to post The next day I distributed the proclamation in a number of inland villages,


and in the afternoon went to Kota Lama, where I had a somewhat stormy interview with some of the truculent spirits of that very independent village ; but we managed to part civilly. On 4 November, my work being done, I started down river at 8.30 a.m. intending to spend the night at Blanja. We reached that place about 4 p.m. and found there a very large collection of boats and men. As we were dragging our boats through the shallow water towards the shore, one of Ismail's most trusted scoundrels waded out to tell us that Mr. Birch had been killed by the Maharaja Lela's people, at Pasir Salak, on 2 November; that Bandar Bharu had also been taken and the Indian guard killed or dispersed ; and that the river had been staked right across, at Pasir Salak, to catch my boats as we returned. When I asked how they knew all this, the messenger said the Maharaja Lela had sent a letter to ex-Sultan Ismail to tell him what he had done, and, to prove the truth of his story, he had dispatched it by Mr. Birch's own boat, which had returned down stream only about two hours earlier. The messenger then invited us to land, as there was nothing to gain by an impossible attempt to pass through the lower country, which was now in arms and on the watch for us.

We made an excuse to get rid of him, and Raja Mahmud at once said that to land would be suicide. We could not stay where we were, we had no inclination to turn back, and there was small inducement to do so. As the Perak boatmen did not wish to take the risks, I decided to leave them behind, and continue our journey down stream in one boat. When the messenger returned to usher us ashore, we were just pushing the boat out into the stream, and though he tried to dissuade us and told us we were going to perdition, his words helped to convince us that we had made the right choice. He was still standing in the river, above his knees in water, when we were slipping down at a great rate on a strong current.


All the Residency boats were painted white, and we had one of them, so there could be no pretence at concealment, and for that reason we did not trouble to remove the British ensign which was flying at the stern. For crew we had three foreign Malays and Raja Mahmud's two followers; for coxswain, the Manila man; Mahmud, myself and the Chinese servant were the passengers. The men had already done nearly eight hours' work on one meal, there were about sixty miles of difficult river between us and the zone of greatest danger, and no time to stop for cooking. We calculated that, if we paddled strenuously all night, we should reach the barrier about 9 a.m., for no house boat had ever made the journey in anything like twelve hours. Just as night was falling we passed Mr. Birch's "Dragon" boat, on a sandpit by a large village, and that removed from our minds all doubt as to his fate. By a series of fortuitous circumstances, and to our own immense surprise, we reached the Maharaja Lela's village at I a.m. and passed it safely, for there was no barrier. As usual with Malays, they had meant to build it, but they did not expect us so soon, and probably thought that, if we came at all, they would have due warning. Both banks were lined with large watch fires and groups of armed men, and though we ran into the bank exactly under one of these groups and were duly challenged, we got off again without being recognized.

The Eastern very rarely expresses astonishment, but here was an exception, for to all of us it was not the unexpected, but the impossible which had happened. We crept past Bandar Bharu, Mr. Birch's station, in the belief that it was in the hands of the enemy, but that statement was also incorrect, and made our journey ten miles longer than it need have been.

Afterwards we learned that ex-Sultan Ismail sent from Blanja two boat-loads of braves to follow us and do on the river what they had no doubt hoped to have the oppor-


tunity of accomplishing on shore, when the plan miscarried by reason of our sudden disappearance down stream. The pursuers must have lagged by the way, for we saw nothing of them.

At daylight the next morning we returned up river to Bandar Bharu, and there and afterwards heard the details of Mr. Birch's assassination.

He had done his work in the low country more quickly than he expected, and reached Pasir Salak at midnight on I November with three boats containing the Resident, Lieutenant Abbott, R.N., a guard of twelve Sikhs, an orderly, a Malay interpreter, and a number of boatmen. In all the party numbered about forty men, and they had plenty of arms and ammunition. They anchored in midstream for the night, and at daylight hauled to the bank, when Mr. Abbott crossed to the other side of the river to shoot snipe, and Mr. Birch sent a message to the Maharaja Lela to say that he would be glad to see him, either at the boats or in his own house. To the interpreter who carried the message the chief said, " I have nothing to do with Mr. Birch."

Some days earlier, the Maharaja Lela had summoned all his people and told them that Mr. Birch would shortly come to Pasir Salak, and if he attempted to post any notices there the orders of the Sultan and the down-river chiefs were that he should be killed. The people replied that if those were the orders they would carry them out, and the Maharaja Lela then handed his sword to a man called Pandak Indut, his father-in-law, and told the people to take Pandak Indut's directions as though they were his own. Directly Mr. Birch arrived messengers were sent out to collect the people, and, before the sun was hot, there were already about seventy armed men on the bank above Mr. Birch's boats. The Dato' Sagor had come over from the other side (in the boat which had taken Mr. Abbott across) and he had seen and spoken to Mr. Birch,


and was now with the Maharaja Lela. By Mr. Birch's orders the interpreter posted a proclamation on the shop of a Chinese goldsmith, close to the bank, and this paper was torn down by Pandak Indut and taken to the Maharaja Lela, the occurrence being at the same time reported to Mr. Birch. The crowd on the bank were showing distinct signs of restiveness ; but the boatmen began to make fires to cook rice, and Mr. Birch went to take his bath in a floating bath-house by the river bank, his Sikh orderly standing at the door with a loaded revolver. The interpreter was putting up another copy of the proclamation when Pandak Indut tore it down, and as the interpreter remonstrated, Pandak Indut thrust a spear into him and cried out, ''Amok ! amok !" The crowd instantly rushed for the bath-house, and attacked the boatmen, and any of the Resident's party within reach. Spears were thrust through the bath-house, and Mr. Birch sank into the river, coming to the surface just below the bath-house, when he was immediately slashed on the head with a sword and was not seen again. Mr. Birch's Sikh orderly had jumped into the river when the first rush was made at the bath-house, and he swam to a boat, taking great care to save the revolver, which he had not fired, from getting wet ! The interpreter struggled to the river, and was helped into a boat by two of Mr. Birch's Malays, but he died very shortly afterwards. A Sikh and a Malay boatman were also killed and several of the others were wounded ; but the rest with great difficulty got away. Mr. Abbott, on the other bank, was warned of what had occurred, and managed to get a dug-out and escape, running the fire from both banks. 
Then the Maharaja Lela came out and asked who were those who had actually had a hand in the killing. Pandak Indut and the others at once claimed credit for the deed, and the chief ordered that only those who had struck blows should share in the spoils. Then he said.


"Go and tell the Laksamana I have killed Mr. Birch." The message was duly delivered, and the Laksamana said, " Very well, I will inform the Sultan." The same evening the Maharaja Lela sent Mr. Birch's boat to Blanja, with the letter to ex-Sultan Ismail describing what he had done, Ismail was much too clever to keep the boat, so he sent it back again. All the arms and other property were removed to the Maharaja Lela's house, and orders were given to build stockades, to stake the river, and to amok the Resident's station at Bandar Bharu. The party sent on this last errand returned without accomplishing their object ; for when they got near the place it began to (rain, and the people in the house where they took shelter told them that they would get a warm reception at Bandar Bharu, and it would be quite a different thing to murdering the Resident.

By the help of a friendly Malay, a foreigner, Mr. Birch's body was recovered and buried at Bandar Bharu, on 6 November.1

I arrived at Bandar Bharu on 5 November, and there was plenty to do, attending to the wounded, strengthening the place, and heartening the rather demoralized garrison of Indians. The position was also difficult, in that it was impossible to tell which, if any, of the Lower Perak chiefs were friends. The Sultan sent a message with offers of assistance, but we thought it best to send a polite refusal. On the 6th, Captain Innes, R.E., arrived from Pinang with two officers and sixty men of the 1/10th Regiment, and the Honourable H. Plunket with twenty Pinang police. We already had Lieutenant Abbott and his four bluejackets, and about fifty so-called Sikhs, besides Raja Mahmud and a Sumatran, named Nakodah Orlong, with about fifteen followers, who volunteered their services. With this force we started at 4.30 am. the next morning to attack Pasir Salak, but, for various reasons, principally

1 This and other incidents are described in greater detail in Malay Sketches.


because no gun was taken, the attack failed. The Pinang police, in spite of Mr. Plunket’s strenuous efforts, retired as soon as we came in touch with the enemy, and the Sikhs a little later, and, in trying to take a strong stockade Captain Innes and Nakodah Orlong were killed ; both the 1/10th officers were severely wounded and there were a number of other casualties. A week later, with re-enforcements and a naval brigade, the whole position was successfully carried without loss on our side. The villages of the Maharaja Lela and the Dato' Sagor were burned, and I had the satisfaction of recovering from the Maharaja Lela's house my dispatch-box, which had formed part of the plunder of Mr. Birch's Dragon boat .

The assassination of the Resident of Perak, and rumours of trouble in Selangor and the Nine States, gave such a serious turn to affairs that assistance was requested, both from Hong Kong and India. In the course of the next few weeks the following troops, under Major-General the Honourable F. Colborne, C.B, (from Hong Kong), and Brigadier-General John Ross (from India), were collected at the scene of disturbance : 300 officers and men of H.M.'s 80th Regiment, 200 officers and men of H.M.'s 1/10th Regiment, a battery and a half of Royal Artillery, H.M.'s 3rd Regiment (the Buffs), about 600 strong, the 1st Goorkhas, 450 strong, and one company of Bengal sappers, numbering 80 men.

These troops were greatly assisted by a Naval Brigade drawn from H.M.'s ships Modeste, Thistle, Philomel, Ringdove, and Fly.

Major-General Colborne and the troops from China made their head-quarters at Bandar Bharu, while the Indian contingent, under Brigadier-General Ross, were stationed at Kuala Kangsar.

After the capture of Pasir Salak and Kampong Gajah, the Maharaja Lela, the Dato' Sagor, and their people retired up river to Blanja, joined ex-Sultan Ismail, and the


main body then established themselves at a small town called Pengkalen Pigu, on the Kinta River, fifteen miles inland from the left bank of the Perak River.

Major-General Colbome then organized an expedition to follow and dislodge the fugitives. The main difficulty was transport, for, as there were no roads, the whole force had to be sent up river by boats. Blanja was reached on 13 December, and after a very trying march of three days through the jungle, taking several stockades on the way, and suffering some loss, Pengkalen Pigu was occupied on 17 December. The Malays abandoned the place after a slight resistance, and retreated north until they eventually crossed the frontier and got into Kedah territory.

Brigadier-General Ross's foree was to have co-operated in this movement, but, owing to the transport difficulty, they failed to appear till long after the end was accomplished. Meanwhile they had several affairs of their own at the village of Kota Lama, where our troops met with some loss, but eventually put down all opposition.

A certain number of the troops remained quartered in strategic positions in Perak for about eighteen months, after which they were withdrawn and their places taken by a force of armed police. In the early part of that period ex-SuItan Ismail and his followers were so persistently hunted by various parties of irregulars that at last they gave themselves up to the Sultan of Kedah, who handed them over to the Lieutenant-Governor of Pinang on 20 March, 1876. Thus the Perak regalia, to which Ismail had clung so tenaciously, found its way into the Singapore treasury, and was stored there for several years, until it was transferred to the keeping of the present Sultan of Perak. The ex-Sultan, Ismail, was allowed to reside in Johore, where he died in 1889.

Whilst these events, so briefly described, were taking place in Perak, affairs had come to a crisis in the Nine States.


Near the end of November, 1875, a survey party, despatched from Sungei Ujong across the border into Terachi, was stopped, and when the escort came up they were fired upon. The party retired, but the Malays collected a considerable force, invaded Sungei Ujong territory, and established themselves in some mines at a place called Paroe, not many miles from the Residency. There were then stationed in Sungei Ujong a few men of the 1/10th Regiment, and these being reinforced and supported by some police and a native contingent of about eighty men, attacked the Malay defences, suffered considerable loss, and failed to force them until the arrival of a gun, which soon settled matters. The Malays were driven out, and retired to a very strong position in a narrow defile in the range of hills dividing Sungei Ujong from Terachi. Before attacking this place --- Bukit Putus by name --- considerable reinforcements of Royal Artillery, Goorkhas, and Naval Brigade were dispatched to Sungei Ujong, and the defile was eventually carried on 20 December by the courageous action of Captain Channer, of the Goorkhas, who had gone forward scouting with a few men, and, seeing his opportunity, rushed a stockade which commanded the rest of the position. Captain Channer was awarded the Victoria Cross for this gallant action. The Malays, driven over the border without further loss to us, were completely demoralized, and gave no further trouble.

When the military operations in Perak were concluded, I was called to Singapore to be Secretary for Malay Affairs. Mr. J. G. Davidson, of Selangor, succeeded Mr. Birch as Resident of Perak, and Captain Blomfield Douglas was appointed Resident of Selangor.

Commissioners had been appointed to inquire into all the circumstances which led up to the assassination of Mr. Birch, and the evidence they collected was of such a character as to prove the complicity of Sultan Abdullah the Mantri, the Dato' Laksamana, and the Dato' Shaban-


dar. These persons were therefore removed to Singapore, and after a long residence there, during which the case was gone into most thoroughly, they were severally deported to the Seychelles.

The Maharaja Lela, Pandak Indut, and others, wearied by months of wandering in the jungles of Upper Perak, came south in July, 1876, and gave themselves up to emissaries from the Maharaja of Johore on the sole condition that they should receive a fair trial. They were conveyed to Johore, from thence to Singapore, and finally to Larut, where they and the Dato' Sagor, who had already been secured, were charged with the murder of the Resident, his interpreter, and two of his people. The accused were tried in December, 1875, before Raja Yusuf and Raja Husein, with Mr. Davidson and Mr. W. E. Maxwell as British assessors. Colonel Dunlop and I prosecuted for the Government, and the prisoners were defended by an able member of the Singapore Bar, Mr. J. D. Vaughan. After a trial which lasted seven days all the accused were found guilty. The Maharaja Lela, the Dato' Sagor, and Pandak Indut were executed, but in the case of all the others the sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life. One man had already been tried and executed, another had died in the jungle, and, so far as is known, every one directly or indirectly concerned in the crime was brought to justice. The village of Pasir Salak was destroyed and not allowed to be reoccupied.

These measures were then very necessary if they sound severe now ; but Malays did not question the justice of them, and considering the circumstances they cannot really be regarded as harsh. Neither the Maharaja Lela, the Dato' Sagor, nor any of their people had any grievance against the Resident. He represented ideas of right and wrong with which they had no sympathy and a foreign Power beyond their ken, against whose interference in Malay affairs they instinctively rebelled. Therefore they


determined to kill him, believing that that would be the end of the matter. All warnings that the British Government would carry its policy through they treated with contempt, for they disbelieved them ; and never having seen white men in the State before, Malays laughed at the idea of white troops ever penetrating its jungle fastnesses. To get rid of the one or two who knew the country seemed to them all that was wanted, and then they would be left alone, as they had been since the beginning of time. They took on themselves a responsibility which they paid for with their lives, and when their own Rajas passed sentence they told the Maharaja Lela and his fellows that they were guilty not only of murder, but of treason ; for while Sultan Abdullah and many responsible chiefs, including the Dato' Sagor, had asked for British help and a British officer, the accused had taken upon themselves to assassinate their country's invited guest.

Of the complicity of Sultan Abdullah and the rest, there was proof enough and to spare. They had guilty knowledge of and acquiesced in the intended murder ; banishment and loss of position were not too heavy a penalty for conniving at a crime which it was their bounden duty to prevent. During banishment they were accompanied by their families and granted allowances for their support. After a number of years in the Seychelles, and when peace and order had been firmly established throughout the western States, Abdullah and the others were permitted to return to Singapore. The Mantri, the Laksamana, and the Shabandar died years ago, but Abdullah is still in Singapore, where he receives a generous allowance from the Perak Government, and is free to do as he pleases.

After the flight of ex-Sultan Ismail, the removal of Sultan Abdullah, and the disclosure of all the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Birch, the British Government recognized Raja Yusuf as Regent, and later


as Sultan of Perak. Though his hereditary claim was, as has already been stated, better than that of Abdullah, he would probably never have become Sultan without the support of the British Government.
Mr. Davidson, the new Resident of Perak, and Captain Speedy, the Assistant Resident, resigned their posts in 1876-7, and were succeeded by Mr. Low, afterwards Sir Hugh Low, G.C.M.G,, and Mr. W. E. Maxwell, afterwards Sir William Maxwell, K.C.M.G.

Sir William Jervois left the Straits in the spring of 1877 to report on the defences of Australia, and remained there, being appointed Governor of South Australia.

Sir William's action in Perak was not approved by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and a long and somewhat bitter correspondence ensued between them. The Governor's main contention was that the situation was impossible, and he took a step in advance of the policy adopted by Sir Andrew Clarke, feeling satisfied that it would meet with the same approval. The Secretary of State's reply was that no new policy of such importance ought to have been initiated without first consulting him, at least by telegram, that a longer trial should have been given to the system so lately introduced, and that there were no grounds to lead the Governor to assume that his new departure would be sanctioned.

Even now it is a little difficult to judge fairly between these two views, though it is not easy to acquit Sir William Jervois of precipitancy, or at any rate of neglecting to use the cable. His excuse was that the need for action was urgent, and he could not have explained the situation within the compass of any reasonable telegram.

Setting aside all personal feelings, and these counted for something at the time, it is very certain that no " system " had ever been conceived. There was an idea and that was all. The idea was that a British officer, or two, should be sent into a country where white men were


unknown ; where everything that could be wrong was wrong; where almost every man was a law to himself; where there was hardly any trade, no development of any kind, no roads, no police, or other means of maintaining order ; and where two or three individuals claimed to be supreme. It was apparently supposed that, under these circumstances, the single white man would reduce everything to order by the exercise of tactful advice. The greatness of the implied compliment did not reduce the difficulties of a task which was only possible when the native ruler was prepared to accept the advice offered him, and had authority to enforce his own commands. In Perak this was not the case ; in fact, it could not be so while there were several claimants to the throne ; but when, in addition to that patent fact, the Resident had to deal with a Sultan and chiefs who declined to accept almost any advice, the position was quite hopeless.

Sir William Jervois's policy met with disaster at its very inception, and that was enough to discredit it. But, if no attempt had been made on the life of the Resident, it is difficult to see how any progress could have been made, until the Queen's Commissioners were supported by a force strong enough to give effect to their orders.

In Selangor the trouble only ceased when all the Viceroy's enemies had been removed, after years of fighting. In Sungei Ujong the Dato' Klana was helpless till his rival had been driven out of the State, and practically interned at Singapore. The conditions in Perak were infinitely more difficult, in proportion as the State was three or four times as large, with eight or ten times as many Malay inhabitants, and twenty or thirty times as many Rajas and chiefs with all sorts of real and fancied vested interests.

Raja Yusuf, unpopular as he was, knew his country and his people probably better than any one, and he was right when he said that no real good could ever be done till


those who most wanted it had been taught a lesson. Intimately associated with all the details from the beginning, I am convinced that twenty years of advice--- could it ever have continued so long --- would not have accomplished, for peace and order and good government, what was done in six months by force of arms. Mr. Birch did not die in vain ; his death freed the country from an abominable thraldom, and was indirectly the means of bringing independence, justice, and comfort to tens of thousands of sorely oppressed people.

In Perak at any rate things had reached an impasse ; Sir William Jervois tried to relieve the situation, and his action had the desired result ; though the means by which it was attained were as far from those he had devised as the end was better than any which his proposal could have secured. Therefore his name deserves to be remembered in connexion with this curious experiment in administration.

Even then, however, after the removal of the most dangerous elements of discord, the most active opponents of reform, there was no " system " to guide the Residents in their difficult task.

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