Klang War

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The Klang War or Selangor Civil War took place in the Malay state of Selangor and was a series of conflicts that lasted from 1867 to 1874. It was initially fought between Raja Abdullah bin Raja Jaafar, the administrator of Klang and Raja Mahadi bin Raja Sulaiman, and was joined by Tengku Kudin (Tengku Dhiauddin) as well as Chinese rival gangs. The war was eventually won by Tengku Kudin and Abdullah's son, Raja Ismail .


In 1854, the sultan of Selangor Sultan Muhammad Shah appointed Raja Abdullah as Klang's administrator instead of his grandson Raja Mahdi whose father, Raja Sulaiman, was the previous Klang's head. Raja Abdullah's brother was Raja Juma'at who had opened very successful tin mines in Lukut. Raja Abdullah, with the help of his brother, then obtained the finance to open tin mines in what was to become Kuala Lumpur in 1857. The success of the tin mines generated considerable revenues, and the struggle for the control of the revenues from the tin mines as well as the polital power were essentially the reasons for the war.[1]

Sultan Muhammad died in 1857 and was replaced by Sultan Abdul Samad. The Malays were split into two camps. On Raja Abdullah's side was his son, Raja Ismail, and later supported by Tengku Kudin. On Raja Mahdi side was Syed Mashhor (originally on Raja Abdullah side but switched side later) and Raja Mahmud. The Chinese tin miners were divided between the two camps.

Initial conflict[edit]

The entrance gate of the old fort of Sultan Mahadi in Klang built in 1866 as a defense against Raja Abdullah . Today only the main gate and the earthen ramparts remain of the fort.

In 1866, Raja Abdullah leased Klang to two traders from the Straits Settlements; William Henry Macleod Read and Tan Kim Ching. Among benefits of being a renter was tax collection from the opium trade. When the two traders went out to collect tax, Raja Mahdi was offended and refused. Raja Mahdi, supported by Sumatran traders, then laid siege to the fort of Klang, and gained possession of the fort. Raja Abdullah then fled to Malacca, where he later died. One of his sons, Raja Ismail, returned to lay siege to Raja Mahdi, but was unable to take Klang.[1]

Chinese Kongsi Involvement[edit]

When the Selangor Civil War broke out, Kapitan Cina Yap Ah Loy was faced with internecine fighting among dissident Chinese groups as well as attacks from Malay factions. The two largest Chinese gangsters, the Hakka-dominated Hai San and the Cantonese-dominated Ghee Hin, frequently engaged in warfare to gain control of tin production in the town.[2][3] The Chinese factions would eventually joined opposing sides in the civil war, with the Ghee Hin (based in the Kanching and Rawang area) siding with Raja Mahdi, and the Hai San with Yap Ah Loy (based in Kuala Lumpur) siding with Tengku Kudin.[4]

Tengku Kudin enters the war[edit]

Tengku Dhiauddin and Raja Ismail with Captain Powlett. H.M.S. "Avon".

In 1867, Tunku Ziauddin Zainal Rashid, also known as Tengku Kudin, a prince from Kedah, married into the Selangor royal family. The Sultan appointed his son-in-law as Viceroy of Selangor to arbitrate between the warring parties, which he did twice; first on 26 June 1868 and again on 22 July 1871.[5][6][7]

Raja Mahadi however flatly refused the peace effort. Offended by Raja Mahdi's blunt no, Tengku Kudin sided with Raja Ismail instead. Raja Mahdi was defeated in Klang, and retreated to Kuala Selangor. He then allied himself with the enemies of Yap in Kanching and attacked Kuala Lumpur in 1870.[4] Initially the Chinese kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, Yap Ah Loy stayed uncommitted, choosing to deal with whoever was in power, first with Raja Madhi in Klang, but later recognizing Tengku Kudin's authority after he captured Klang.[8]

Meanwhile, with disruption to the economy and trade in the British Straits Settlements, and concerns over security especially occurrences of piracy, the British became increasingly involved in the affairs of Selangor. In July 1871, due to an attack by pirates which was traced to Raja Mahdi's stronghold Kuala Selangor, the British attacked and captured Kuala Selangor, drove Mahdi's men out and then handed the town to Tengku Kudin.[9]

Throughout the war, Tengku Kudin brought in 500 soldiers from Kedah along with mercenaries and European officers from the Straits Settlements. Sultan Abdul Samad also provided Langat to Tengku Kudin to help him fund the handling of the war. Tengku Kudin in turn engaged the help of Sultan of Pahang in 1872, mercenaries and Sir Andrew Clarke of the British Empire. This marked the first British involvement in local politics.

In 1872, Raja Mahdi's forces led by Syed Mashhor captured Kuala Lumpur, forcing Yap Ah Loy to flee to Klang. Yap however was determined to recapture Kuala Kumpur. In 1873, Kudin's men, with support from Pahang fighters, defeated Mashhor, effectively ending the war.[1] Raja Mahdi left for Johore and then Singapore, where he died in 1882.[10]

The royal family however viewed Tengku Kudin with suspicion. What made the situation worse was Tengku Kudin's army from Pahang. After the war, the army refused to return to Pahang because they wanted to collect tax as a payment for their service. While the British through the new Governor Andrew Clarke was on Tengku Kudin's side, the post-war situation had weakened Tengku Kudin's power base. Kudin remained the Viceroy of Selangor until 1878, but had already left to live in Kedah in 1876, and later in his life in Penang.

British Resident[edit]

Tengku Dhiauddin's Secretariat.

In November 1873 however, a ship from Penang was attacked by pirates near Kuala Langat, Selangor. After a number of piracy attacks took place in Selangor, Andrew Clarke assigned Frank Swettenham as a live-in advisor to Sultan Abdul Samad in August 1874. Sultan Abdul Samad accepted James Guthrie Davidson, a lawyer from Singapore, as the first British Resident of Selangor in 1875. In October the same year, Sultan Abdul Samad sent a letter to Andrew Clarke requesting for Selangor to be placed under the British protectorate.[11][12]

The war ended in 1874 and was won over by Tengku Kudin and Raja Ismail while Raja Mahadi step down. Raja Mahadi died and was buried in Klang.

The Sultan later handed over the ruling power of Klang to Tengku Kudin after the war was won in 1874. In 1878 Tengku Kudin stood down from this post.[13][14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c J.M. Gullick (1983). "Chapter 4: The Selangor Civil War (1867-1873)". The Story of Kuala Lumpur, 1857-1939. Eastern Universities Press (M). pp. 17–23. ISBN 978-9679080285. 
  2. ^ "From tin town to tower city", kiat.net, Retrieved 28 September 2010
  3. ^ "Kuala Lumpur History". Kuala-Lumpur.ws. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Jim Baker (31 July 2010). Crossroads: A Popular History of Malaysia and Singapore (2nd ed.). Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. pp. 124–125. ISBN 9789814435482. 
  5. ^ "Sultan Abdul Samad memberi kuasa kepada menantunya Tengku Kudin". National Archives of Malaysia. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  6. ^ "Selangor Sultanate - the History". Irfan Nughoro. Melayu Online, Indonesia. 2008. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  7. ^ "Perlantikan semula Tengku Kudin sebagai wakil Yamtuan Negeri Selangor". National Archives of Malaysia. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2009. 
  8. ^ Sharon A. Carstens (31 March 2005). Histories, Cultures, Identities: Studies in Malaysian Chinese Worlds. Singapore University Press. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-9971693121. 
  9. ^ "The Selangor Civil War". Sejarah Melayu. 
  10. ^ J.M. Gullick (1983). The Story of Kuala Lumpur, 1857-1939. Eastern Universities Press (M). p. 39. ISBN 978-9679080285. 
  11. ^ "Perisytiharan Pentadbiran Inggeris di Selangor". National Archives of Malaysia. 3 December 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  12. ^ Andaya, B.W. (1984). A History of Malaysia. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-38121-9. 
  13. ^ "Tengku Kudin meninggal dunia". National Archives of Malaysia. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  14. ^ "Raja Mahadi Fort (Kota Raja Mahadi)". Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia. 2000. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  15. ^ "Tengku Kudin menawan Kuala Selangor". National Archives of Malaysia. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 

Further reading[edit]