ONCE the residence for one of Perak’s most prominent historical figures, Kota Ngah Ibrahim Historical Complex near Matang is an important, though quiet landmark.
Kota Ngah Ibrahim is an imposing physical legacy of one of Perak’s most prominent historical figures and was built in 1854 as a private residence within a fortified compound.
Located on a two km stretch of land and about eight km from the town of Taiping, Kota Ngah Ibrahim was once the private residence of NgahIbrahim, a rich Malay aristocrat who held the title Orang Kaya Menteri Paduka Tuan.
He was also the son of Long Jaafar, the officer who is sometimes credited as the founder of Taiping and the person who discovered tin in Larut in the 1840s.
Ngah Ibrahim is also known as the person who established the first modern system of administration in Perak which then comprised a police force, a judge, a magistrate, a treasurer, and a clerk.
However, Ngah Ibrahim is best remembered as a resistance fighter. He, along with his father-in-law Laksamana Mohamad Amin Alang and Sultan Abdullah, who ruled Hilir Perak then, were among several people implicated in the assassination of the first British Resident in Perak James W.W. Birch in Pasir Salak on Nov 2, 1875.
Ironically, his residence and fort was turned into a courthouse for the murder trial.
While other statesmen such as Dato Maharaja Lela, Dato’ Sagor, Sepuntum and Pandak Indut were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, Ngah Ibrahim, Mohammad Amin, Sultan Abdullah, and several other were banished to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean in 1877.
Although Sultan Abdullah was pardoned by the British after 16 years and allowed to return to Perak, Ngah Ibrahim and his father in law’s appeals to return were rejected.
Instead, they were sent to Sarawak and then Singapore where Ngah Ibrahim died on Feb 4, 1895, and Mohamad Amin in 1908.
However, on September 7, 2006, Ngah Ibrahim’s remains were exhumed and were brought back to Perak where he was given a full-scale ceremony before being finally laid to rest near his house.
After Ngah Ibrahim’s downfall, Kota Ngah Ibrahim witnessed itself being put under the British administration until converted into the Matang Malay Teaching College (1913-1922).
During the Japanese occupation in 1941, the Japanese Imperial Army made the fort its headquarters and war strategic operations centre.
After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, and World War II ended in 1946, it was transformed into a Malay School (1945-1984).
The fort was converted into the Matang Historical Complex at the beginning of 1985 and was handed over to the Department of Museums and Antiquities.
In 1987, the Perak Museum Department took over the fort and it was listed as a state historical site. Kota Ngah Ibrahim Historical Complex features collections of all types of artefacts related to the chronology of events leading to the erection of the complex itself.
Today, Kota Ngah Ibrahim sees few visitors although its historical contribution to Perak’s history is immeasurable.