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Lela Pandak Lam

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Lela Pandak Lam

This article is about a Malay nationalist. For the current ruler of Rembau, see Dato' Muhammad bin Sharif Othman.

Dato Maharaja Lela Pandak Lam (died on 20 January 1877) was a Malay nationalist from Perak.

A descendant of Daeng Salili, Pandak Lam was the son of a Bugis King from Luwuk District, Sulawesi. During the reign of Sultan Muzaffar Shah III, he came to Perak and was appointed Mufti and was awarded the title "Dato 'Maharaja Lela Tan Lela", granting him the authority to punish by decapitation without question.

Pandak Lam was a leader who later led the struggle against the British in Perak. Together with other leaders such as Dato 'Sagor and Ngah Kandin, he planned an alliance to assassinate James Wheller Woodford Birch (J.W.W. Birch), the British Resident of Perak. The decision was approved by Durian Sebatang meeting chaired by Sultan Abdullah on 21 July 1875.

Birch was murdered on 2 November 1875 Dato Maharaja Lela and his assistant Sepuntum, who speared him to death while he was taking his bath, nearby a river, in Pasir Salak, near today's Teluk Intan (Teluk Anson).

There is inconsistency as to the reason why Birch was assassinated. One view is that Birch's assassination was because he outlawed slavery in Perak. Dato Maharajalela, whose income depended on capturing and selling the indigenes of Perak or Orang Asli as slaves, was then incensed and plotted with some of the slave-traders to kill Birch by spearing him when he was taking his bath in the river.[1] [2] [3]

The more popular view among right wing Malay historians was that Birch was assassinated because of his disrespect of the local customs and traditions, which created conflict with local Malay chiefs. This is because modern Malay historians generally refuse to accept that the Orang Asli were being traded as slaves in the pre-Colonial era. Some accounts claimed that Birch even entered the palace of the ruling Sultan of Perak without removing his shoes.

The murder of JWW Birch led the British army to attack Pasir Salak, and following several days of battle, the leaders of the rebellion surrendered. In a subsequent trial held between December 14 and December 22 in Matang, Perak, Sultan Abdullah and Ngah Ibrahim was deposed and sent to exile in Seychelles. Dato Maharajalela, meanwhile, was found guilty for the murder of Birch and sentenced to death. He was executed by hanging on January 20, 1877 in Taiping. In the wake of the incident, the British administration was shifted to Taiping.

Dato' Maharajalela is generally celebrated as a folk hero by Malay nationalist and seen as a symbol of the Malay resistance against British colonialism.

The terms 'maharajalela' (in Malay language) and 'merajalela' (in Indonesian language) stems from his name to describe uncontrollable actions or phenomenon.


See also


  • Laman web Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia
  • Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak Darul Ridzuan
  • Adopted from Sejarah Tingkatan 2 & Sejarah Tingkatan 5 text book.
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