Perak (ڤراق in Jawi, 霹雳 in Chinese, and பேராக் in Tamil) also known by its honorific, Darul Ridzuan, or “Abode of Grace”, one of the 13 states of Malaysia, is the fourth largest state in the country. It borders Kedah at the north; Thai Yala Province to the northeast; Penang to the northwest; Kelantan and Pahang to the east; Selangor to the south, and the Straits of Malacca to the west. Perak covers an area of 8,122 square miles (21,035 km²), making up 6.4 percent of total land banks in Malaysia. The longest river in Perak is the Perak River (Sungai Perak in Malay), it originates in the mountains at the Perak-Kelantan-Thailand border, and empties into the Strait of Malacca. It is the second longest river in Peninsular Malaysia, after the Pahang River. The state’s administrative capital of Ipoh was known historically for tin-mining activities until the price of the metal dropped, severely affecting the state’s economy. The royal capital, however remains at Kuala Kangsar, where the palace of the Sultan of Perak is located.
The state’s official name is Perak Darul Ridzuan (ڤراق دار الرضوان). Perak means silver in Malay, which is probably derived from the silvery color of tin. In the 1890s, Perak, with the richest alluvial deposits of tin in the world was one of the jewels in the crown of the British Empire. However, some say the name comes from the “glimmer of fish in the water” that sparkled like silver. Darul Ridzuan is the state’s Arabic honorific, and can mean either “land” or “abode” of grace.
Legend tells of a Hindu-Malay Kingdom called Gangga Negara in the northwest of Perak. Archaeological discoveries indicate that Perak was inhabited since prehistoric times. The modern history of Perak began with the fall of the Malacca Sultanate. Raja Muzaffar Shah, (the eldest son of the last Sultan of Melaka, Sultan Mahmud Shah) fled the Portuguese conquest of 1511 and established his own dynasty on the banks of the Sungai Perak (Perak River) in 1528. Being rich in tin ore deposits, the dominion was under almost continuous threat from outsiders.
The Dutch attempted to control the tin trade in the seventeenth century, and built defensive forts at the mouth of the Perak River and on Pulau Pangkor. Early history recorded the arrival in Perak of the Dutch in 1641, when they captured the Straits of Malacca and controlled tin-ore and spice trading. However, the Dutch attempt to monopolize the tin-ore trading in Perak by influencing Sultan Muzaffar Syah failed. They then turned to Sultanah Tajul Alam Safiatuddin, the Sultan of Aceh, to seek permission to trade in Perak, which forced the Sultan of Perak to sign a treaty, allowing the Dutch to build their plant in Kuala Perak on August 15, 1650. This did not go down well with the aristocracy of Perak.
In 1651, Temenggung and the people of Perak attacked and destroyed the Dutch plant. The Dutch were forced to leave their base in Perak. The Dutch sent a representative to Perak in 1655 to renew the earlier agreement and to seek compensation for the loss of their plant. The Perak government however did not honor the treaty and was thus surrounded by the Dutch; in retaliation, the people of Perak, Aceh, and Ujung Salang, launched a surprise attack on the Dutch.
In 1670, the Dutch returned to Perak to build Kota Kayu, now known as Kota Belanda (“Dutch Fortress”), on Pangkor Island. Perak agreed to the construction because of news that the Kingdom of Siam would be attacking the state. Nevertheless, in 1685, Perak once again attacked the Dutch on Pangkor Island, forcing them to retreat and close their headquarters. The Dutch attempted to negotiate for a new treaty, but failed.
In the nineteenth century, the Bugis, Acehnese, and the Siamese all attempted to invade Perak, and only British intervention in 1820 prevented Siam from annexing Perak. Although the British were initially reluctant to establish a colonial presence in Malaya, increasing investment in the tin mines brought a great influx of Chinese immigrants, including Foo Ming, who formed rival clan groups allied with Malay chiefs and local gangsters which all fought for control of the mines. The Perak Sultanate was unable to maintain order as it was embroiled in a protracted succession crisis.
In her book The Golden Chersonese and The Way Thither (published in 1892 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons), Victorian traveler and adventurer Isabella Lucy Bird (1831–1904) describes how Raja Muda Abdullah turned to his friend in Singapore, Tan Kim Ching. Tan, together with an English merchant in Singapore, drafted a letter to Governor Sir Andrew Clarke which Abdullah signed. The letter expressed Abdullah’s desire to place Perak under British protection, and “to have a man of sufficient abilities to show (him) a good system of government.” In 1874, the Straits Settlements governor Sir Andrew Clarke convened a meeting on Pulau Pangkor, at which Sultan Abdullah was installed on the throne of Perak in preference to his rival, Sultan Ismail. This Pangkor Treaty also required that the Sultan of Perak accept a British Resident, a post granted wide administrative powers.
In 1875, various Perak chiefs assassinated the British Resident James W. W. Birch, resulting in the short-lived Perak War of 1876. Sultan Abdullah was exiled to the Seychelles, and the British installed a new ruler. The new resident, Sir Hugh Low, was well-versed in the Malay language and local customs, and proved to be a more capable administrator. He also introduced the first rubber trees in Malaya. Perak joined Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang to form the Federated Malay States in 1896. However, the British Resident system persisted until the Malayan Union was established in 1948. Perak (as a component of the Federation of Malaya) gained its independence from the British on August 31, 1957.
Perak was one of Malaysia’s wealthiest states during Malaya’s colonial period, as much of Malaya’s mineral deposits were situated here. The tin industry here subsequently flourished under the auspices of the British fueled by the ongoing Industrial Revolution then. The global tin industry collapsed in the 1980s, subsequently forcing the closure of many local tin mines concurrently crippling Perak’s economy.
This turn of events led the local state government to diversify the economy’s base towards commodity-based manufacturing. The mid-1980s witnessed a large influx of electronics SMEs from Taiwan to Silibin and Jelapang industrial estates, but these have relocated to China in the 1990s as a result of outsourcing. A local car manufacturing hub called Proton City at Tanjung Malim has been developed with the establishment of state-of-the-art car manufacturing facilities, it is the largest manufacturer of Proton cars. However, the economy has never fully recovered from the decline of the tin industry.
Agriculture is also one of Perak’s main industries, especially those concerning rubber, coconut and palm oil. Tourism is a growing industry given the state’s abundant natural attractions.
Perak is set to become the second state (after Kelantan) to introduce the gold dinar and silver dirham as official currency.
Scott #155 was released on April 30, 1979, lithographed, perforated 14½, a 5-cent stamp in the flower type of Johore but with a portrait of Sultan Idris Shah and the Perak coat of arms. The stamp pictures Lagerstroemia speciosa, known popularly as Pride of India. It is grown in South East Asia, India and the Philippines. It is also widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas. The leaves of the banabá and other parts are used widely in the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan as a tea preparation. Banabá herb is one of the 69 herbal plants promoted by the Philippine Department of Health (DOH). In Vietnam, the plant’s young leaves are consumed as vegetables, and its old leaves and mature fruit are used in traditional medicine for reducing glucose in blood.
In Theravada Buddhism, this plant is said to have been used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by the eleventh Lord Buddha (“Paduma – පදුම”), and the twelfth Lord Buddha (“Naarada – නාරද”) . The plant is known as මුරුත (Murutha) in Sinhala and “Mahaasona – මහාසොණ” in Sanskrit.