Pasir Salak, Malaysia's heritage
Pasir Salak is the place where Malaysia's modern history first took shape. In that sense it is more than any place in Malaysia a true cultural heritage. This is the place where the spirit of independence from the British got shape, where democracy in Malaysia was born and the first struggle for freedom took place. Therefore it is an important place in Malaysian history. To me, it's a little hidden gem, little visited, even by Malaysians. And that's a shame.
I have visited the complex three times (last time in December 2010) and I found it most rewarding. So let's see what Pasir Salak really is.
The complex was build in 1987 in honor to the people who helped to shape Malaysia as it is now. It is a reminder for the present and future generations of the sacrifice made by chiefs and warriors of Perak in defending their dignity, customs and religion.
The complex consists of different buildings in traditional Malay style.
The Warriors Monument
The Warrior Monument was erected in 1990 as a symbol of bravery, courage and pride of the Malay warriors who fought against the British forces in the 1875 rebellion.
This monument was officially opened by the Raja Muda of Perak on 26 May 1990. The monument was sculptured in the form of a "sundang", a Malay sword widely used in the war between the Malays and the British in 1875 at Pasir Salak.
The Sundang is originated from the islands of Sulawesi Indonesia and brought to the Malay Peninsula in the 17th.Century. The blade of these weapons are similar to the keris (double sided blade).
The Sundang is mainly used for cutting and not stabbing as the keris. The Sundang is used in the Royal Ceremonies and named as: Cutam, Si Raja Wali, Sundang and Sada Maikah. It is carried by four personal named 'Kundang' on their right shoulders and was a much feared weapon in the war with the British forces.
Terawong Sejarah Pasir Selak is a fine example of Malay heritage. The museum offers a good overview of the history of Pasir Salak and the ruling of the British over Perak. It shows photos and artifacts of modern Malaysia's history and the shaping of Malaysia as we know it now.
The museum is very well designed with sceneries depicting the historical significance of the area. There are two levels, the upper level with a good review of Malaysian history. The lower level have a beautiful collection of the history of the "kris", a weapon typical for Malaysia, Singapore, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand.
Around the museum, there are traditional Malay houses rebuild which gives you an idea how people used to live. Although some of the buildings need maintenance, some others are in excellent state. For anyone interested in the turbulent history Pasir Salak is an essential visit.
This is the oldest Mosque built on the original site which was burned down by the British when they attacked Pasir Salak on 5 November 1875. The Mosque was officially opened on 25 September 1964.
The Watchtower is the first building you see when entering the complex. The tower is located in the heart of complex. As I understood, it was even used as a watchtower by the British forces.
If this is true I can not say. Truth is that the tower is beautifully preserved as all the buildings in the complex.
Site where Birch was killed
At about 12 midnight on the second of November 1875 J.W.W. Birch disembarked from his boat named "Naga" Birch on to a raft nearby. His mission was to enforce British administration in Perak.
On the morning of the same day, Dato' Sagor and 50 of his warriors proceeded to meet Birch. They told Birch he had no right to post proclamations and enforce British rule in Perak. Birch was adamant whereupon heated argument ensued. Birch requested Maharaja Lela to see him. But when about to do so he was speared by Pandak Endut.
There was a commotion during which Birch was killed while still in the bath house. Thus began one of the most significant events in the history of the nation which would eventually lead into the independence from the United Kingdom in 1963. The monument of JWW Birch was build by the British government around 1900 as a memory of J.W.W. Birch, the first British Resident who was murdered at Pasir Salak.
Birch was born in 1826 in South England. His father was a Christian clergyman and had served in the Ceylon navy. One of his sons, P.C.J.W. Birch became the fourth British Resident of Perak after Sir Frank Swettenham from 1904-1911.
Without your own transport it is difficult to get there. With your own transport, you could make a nice day out with visiting Pasir Salak, take the road to Kampar (Kampong Gajah) and visit further the Gua Tempurung Caves and Kellie's Castle.
The road from Pasir Salak via Kampong Gajah to Kampar offers spectacular views in the old tin mining areas with beautiful lakes and excellent fishing areas. Read more about this on our Kampar page.
As for accommodation, sadly the resort next to the complex is no longer in use and fell to the elements of nature.