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Pangkor Treaty of 1874
The Pangkor Treaty of 1874 was a treaty signed between the British and the Rajah of Perak. Signed on January 20, 1874 on the island of Pangkor off Perak, the treaty is significant in the history of the Malay states as it signalled official British involvement in the policies of the Malay states.
Perak was a major tin producer throughout the nineteenth century, leading Britain, which had already obtained Penang, Malacca and Singapore, to consider Perak of significant importance. However, local strife between the local Malay elites and frequent clashes between secret Chinese societies disrupted the flow of tin from the mines of Perak.
In 1871, Sultan Ali , the ruler of Perak passed away. Due to Perak's complex succession system, Raja Abdullah should have been appointed as the next Sultan of Perak but Raja Ismail was elected instead. At around the same time, two secret Chinese societies known as Ghee Hin and Hai San constantly waged battle against each other for control of the tin mines.
Raja Abdullah later asked for the British help to solve these two problems. The British immediately saw this as a great opportunity to expand its influence in Southeast Asia and strengthened its monopoly on tin. As a result, the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 was signed.
The agreement dictated:
- Raja Abdullah was acknowledged as the legitimate Sultan to replace Sultan Ismail who would be given a title and a pension of $1000 a month.
- The Sultan would receive a British Resident whose advice had to be sought and adhered to in all matters except those pertaining to the religion and customs of the Malays.
- All collections and control of taxes as well as the administration of the state had to be done under the name of the Sultan but arranged according to the Resident's advice.
- The Minister of Larut would continue to be in control, but would no longer be recognized as a liberated leader. Instead, a British Officer, who would have a vast authority in administrating the district, would be appointed in Larut.
- The Sultan and not the British government would pay the Resident's salary
Raja Ismail did not attend the meeting arranged between Sir Andew Clarke and Raja Abdullah. Raja Ismail obviously did not recognize the agreement but he had no choice against the alliance between Raja Abdullah and the British. As a result, Raja Abdullah was made Sultan and Sir J.W.W. Birch was appointed as Perak's first British Resident after the treaty came to force.
Following this agreement, the British actively became involved in three other Malay states; Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Pahang. These states along with Perak later became the Federated Malay States.
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