Monday, June 05, 2006

Taiping - Ngah Ibrahim's Fort

The Ngah Ibrahim Fort is situated at Matang, Taiping and was built in 1855 as the administrative center as well as for the handling of tin ore. The total area of this fort is 0.4 hectare, the length is 131 meters and the width is 110 meters. This fort became the centre for administration, trade and defence. For more information and photos on this historical building, please visit HERE and HERE

The following is a news item published in the local New Straits Times on June 5th 2006 :

Cross Country: Restoring Ngah Ibrahim’s fort
05 Jun 2006
Jaspal Singh

TAIPING : The restoration of the 150-year-old fort in Matang built by Tengku Menteri Ngah Ibrahim, the richest Malay aristocrat of his time, is nearly complete. Arrangements by the National Heritage Department to bring his remains back to Matang from Singapore, where he died in exile, is also on the cards.That’s the good news. The bad news is that the last leg of the restoration, the reconstruction of the fort’s two large watchtowers, is likely to be tricky.Museums Department’s assistant curator Osman Kassim, who has been supervising the restoration and conservation of the fort since 2001, said the absence of data on the original shape and layout of two towers was hindering reconstruction."There is hardly any evidence in the form of drawings, sketches or otherwise to guide the Museums Department in its restoration of the towers," he said.Osman said the department was gathering as much information as possible as to the shape of the towers, including from local folklore and from the design of Fort Cornwallis on Penang island."The department wishes to complete the restoration of both towers before Ngah Ibrahim’s remains are brought back to Matang sometime this year," he said.Made of small bricks said to be imported from India, the watchtowers are located at the south, facing Sungai Melawati and the sea, and the north, overlooking the hinterland.While the battles fought around the fort between Ghee Hin and Hai San in the late 1800s, and the crash of a Japanese fighter plane into the fort during WWII, damaged the fort, a century of neglect and erosion was the main cause of the destruction of the towers, said Osman.The department is planning to leave the breach caused by the fighter plane as it is an added tourist attraction. Pieces of metal, including engine parts , were found at the base of the destroyed portion of the fort during the excavation.The fort has a rich history. It was built in 1856 by Ngah Ibrahim when he succeeded his father, Long Jaafar, as the administrator of Larut and he ruled his fiefdom with pomp and ceremony from the fort. It was also in that fort that he, Raja Abdullah, Datuk Maharaja Lela, Datuk Sagor, Laksamana Mohd Amin and others were tried by assistant resident Captain T.C.S. Speedy for the murder of the first British Resident, J.W.W. Birch, in 1875.Ngah Ibrahim, Raja Abdullah and Mohd Amin were banished to the Seychelles while Maharaja Lela and Sagor were hanged from a tree just outside the fort in 1876.

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