The transformation of Perak, Malaysia, in the late 19th century was an unlikely collaboration between the Malay Sultans, their British advisers and dynamic migrant groups, brought together by the ‘tin rush’. Mandailing migrants from northwestern Sumatra, Indonesia, were among the ‘foreign Malays’ who played a key role in the new administration and socio-economic development of Perak state.
As pioneer miners and agriculturalists, adventurous Mandailings opened settlements al over the Kinta Valley and contributed to the growth of Papan, Pusing, Batu Gajah, Gopeng, Kampar, Tronoh, Tanjong Tualang and Chemor.
This story focuses on Raja Bilah, who succeeded the legendary Raja Asal as the undisputed leader of the Mandailings. As a British-appointed penghulu, revenue-collector and peace-keeper, Raja Bilah harnessed the energies of Chinese miners as well as Sumatran migrants to make Papan the leading tin-mining town of its day.
“…A pioneering work…A noteworthy example of how Malaysia’s local history can be written…Malaysia’s cultural diversity demands that more micro-studies should be undertaken, without which the macro-view can be seriously flawed.” – Professor Emeritus, Dato’ Khoo Kay Kim