GRAND TOUR – continued
The Ngah Ibrahim Fort in Matang, Perak was completed around 1858. ‘Fort’ is rather a grand term for what is basically a wooden house in a large compound surrounded by a thick brick wall.
The brown marble Tourism Malaysia information plaque explains that Ngah Ibrahim was a powerful and wealthy Malay tin miner. He fortified his home to resist violent Chinese gangs who has muscled in on the tin trade as well as the British East India Company which wished to monopolise the tin trade in Perak.
Ngah Ibrahim’s discovery of tin at Bukit Gantang, Taiping made him richer than the Sultan of Perak who conferred upon him the title of Minister of Larut.
Ngah Ibrahim managed to quell the civil strife with the help of Captain Speedy.
Captain Speedy’s residence has been preserved but it was not open to the public.
Inside Ngah Ibrahim Fort there are exhibits showing the various roles the building has served over the years such as: a courtroom, a school house and an office for the Japanese during the war.
The museum explains how big Japanese companies (zaibatsu) controlled the Malayan economy during the occupation. Coconut and salt were controlled by Mitsui while rice was monopolised by Mitsubishi and rubber by Nomura Toindo. The successors of these familiar sounding companies are still around today.
There’s also a pensive British official wondering what he has done wrong to be posted to Matang and no doubt looking forward to his first stengah of the day.
Those black and white striped bamboo blinds (chicks) give complete privacy from the outside but you can see out quite clearly and they help keep the interior cool.
As usual I was the only visitor in this museum. Foreigners are always asked to fill in their details in the visitors book and I noted that the last guest had been 9 days earlier. That’s a shame because a lot of effort and expense has gone into restoring and maintaining the museum and it is well worth visiting if you are in the vicinity of Taiping. And it’s free!