Abstract

From the Larut fighting of 1872 to the 'Perak War' of 1875–6 Perak was disrupted by armed conflict and political crisis. Economic recovery was checked by the sharp fall in the price of tin late in 1875. Nevertheless, the ordinary activity of making a living continued in many parts of the state. This brief period deserves attention because (apart from Larut, already dominated by financial interests in Penang) it was the final phase of an autonomous economy. When the price of tin rose again in 1879 a colonial regime under the direction of Hugh Low as Resident (1877–89) was in effective control. For the mid-1870s we have the reports of British administrators Birch, Speedy, Swettenham, McNair, Maxwell and, finally, Low, who were exploring a territory of which they did not yet have effective control. Undeniably these sources are 'colonial records history' but they do provide factual information of the local economy that this article seeks to present.

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