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Dutch East India

Kuala Linggi Fort

With the Bugis gaining control over much Kedah, Perak and Selangor during the mid-18th century, the Bugis saw the Dutch as major threat to their domination of the Peninsula - especially after Johore allied itself with the East India Company. The Bugis leader, Daeng Kamboja, made Linggi his base - the word "Linggi", in fact, is actually derived from an old Bugis word  which means the 'stem' or the bow of a ship.


From Linggi, the Bugis in October 1756  blockaded and besieged Dutch Malacca. Unfortunately, Dutch reinforcements from Batavia arrived in February 1757, attacked Daeng Kemboja's bases in Linggi and the Bugis were forced to lift the siege in July 1757. Exhausted by the war, the Bugis sought to restore friendly relations with the Dutch and both agreed to jointly build a fort at the mouth of the Linggi River as a token of friendship.

The fort was built on a Bukit Supai (Sepoy Hill), just a few hundred metres from the seashore, on the southern bank of the river mouth. It is a square-shaped structure measuring 167 feet by 150 feet, with walls consisting of broken laterite slabs. The walls were about 8 feet high and had bastions for artillery at each corner. A moat completely surrounded the fort, except for a landward entrance and a seaward entrance that led to a passageway connecting the fort and the landing stage at the beach.

The Dutch called it Fort Filipina after the daughter of Jacob Mosel, the Governor General of the Dutch East India Company at the time. The Dutch formally sealed this unlikely alliance with a peace treaty that was signed at the fort on the 1st of January 1758 with Daeng Kemboja of Linggi, Raja Adil of Rembau and Raja Tua of Klang.

Under the terms of the treaty, the three ruling chiefs submitted to the Dutch but were allowed to retain their positions. All trade with foreign Europeans nations was to cease and all the tin of Linggi, Rembau and Klang was to be sold to the Dutch at the price 32 Spanish dollars per bahar and 2 Spanish dollars for the ruler. No vessels were to pass along the coast from south to north and vice versa without calling at Melaka to obtain passes.

The treaty also required that the fort be also offically handed over to the Dutch. From this strategic location, the Dutch could control traffic on the river and collect taxes from vessels transporting tin quarried in the Linggi and Rembau river valleys.

The Dutch finally abandoned the fort in 1759 because of the continuing good relations with the Bugis. The uneasy peace remained until the death Daeng Kemboja, after which Raja Haji led the Bugis to war against the Dutch in 1782.
 
Though remnants of the stone walls and bastions of the fort remain today, other structures, including buildings that were erected inside the fort, have now vanished with time. The fort was gazetted as a historical monument under the Antiquities Act of 1976 and archeological work at the site have unearthed a cannon, some clay pots and six shillings belonging to the East India Company.


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Write to the author: sabrizain@malaya.org.uk

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