Unfortunately, the Sultan himself welcomed their arrival having been taken in in by their convincing promises of wealth and luxury. Those who were opposed to the British were headed by Tok Gajah, Mat Kilau, Dato Bahaman, Mat Kelubi and many others. Because of the Sultan’s attitude , they were forced to hide their intention and take action on the quiet.
The Revolt Against British by Mat Kilau
Mat Kilau’s revolt was between the year 1891-1895. He rose to fight against British Colonies for several reasons. The Resident of Pahang J.P. Rodger, introduced a few new rules and regulations which were against the traditional values of the people. Pahang was divided into 6 districts and under the Magistrate and Collector’s administration. The Malay leaders were forbidden from collecting taxes but they were paid pence (according to their standards). Every citizen of Pahang had to pay land tax and they also had to obtain licence in order to search goods in the jungle.
The Malay leaders lost their income and also their power on their very own land, Pahang. At the same time, Dato’ Bahaman, formally known as Orang Kaya Semantan realized that the British wanted to take control of Pahang. Together with his men, he revolted against the British and its colony. This is when our hero, Mat Kilau came into the picture. History tells us that Mat Kilau and his father, Tok Gajah helped Dato Bahaman. They became Dato Bahaman’s main men. When Dato Bahaman revolted against British in 1891 , they lent him a hand. Mat Kilau’s skills were proven in the Lubuk Terua war. This incident happened because British caught 3 of Dato Bahaman’s men while they were searching for goods in the jungle without licence. Furthermore, British built a police station in Lubuk Terua (Dato Bahaman’s territory, near the bank of Semantan River), without his knowledge nor permission. So Dato Bahaman and his men (including Mat Kilau), attacked the police station and they managed to win over Temerloh. Mat Kilau was very eager to win this war because his 3 men were held in the very same police station. So they managed to take Temerloh from E.A Wise, the British officer
In this attack, two Sikh police officers (British) were killed , and one was injured. Through the open revolt, Mat Kilau and Dato Bahaman’s followers began to increase, when 600 supporters from Bentong, joined them. They were also helped by 100 natives who acted as spies in the jungle (to look out for enemies). They also had the support of the Malay leaders of Pahang. Soon a group of Malay leaders lent a hand to British in order to catch and imprison Dato Bahaman and his followers. As it’s against the Malay tradition to betray the Sultan, it’s seen as betrayal. So Dato Bahaman, Mat Kilau, and his follower backed out. They went to the Kelantan and Terengganu and took refuge there for a while. Soon after, Mat Kilau and his followers launched another attack. This was when they obtained support from a Terengganu religious leader Sayyid Abdul Rahman Al- Idrus formly known as Tok Ku Paloh who told them that they were fighting for justice not cruelty. So Mat Kilau, Dato Bahaman and their followers attacked Kuala Tembeling and managed to win over the Jeram Ampai Fort on Jun 1894. However, the success did not last as the British were fast to act and they managed to defeat them. Dato Bahman and all his followers ran away to Kelantan and Terengganu for the second time. Hugh Clifford, the Pahang’s British Resident was assigned to catch the Mat Kilau’s followers in Kelantan, but he failed as he was supported by the Kelantan government and also the people. Dato Bahaman ran to Siam and died there. As, for Mat Kilau and his father Tok Gajah, they died in Terengganu.
The revolt of the people of Pahang (including Dato Bahaman and Mat Kilau),took a long time and lasted for 4 years (1891-1895). Even though British defeated them, but it left a serious impact on British administration in Pahang. Their goods collecting process was interrupted, and the administration was not running smoothly. This caused a terrible financial crisis, especially when The Strait Settlement Organization did not approve the loans. This crisis became the major cause of Pahang’s participation in the Malay State Federation 1896. His patriotic spirit became the inspiration of the upcoming fighters of right in Pahang. Mat Kilau left a great impact on Pahang and its people, even till now.
at Kilau is well known for his bravery, courage and as Malaya warrior who fought against English colonization. He had contributed a lot to this nation. One of his contributions was during Lubuk Terua war. During the war, he played his role very well and his bravey, strength and courage led to victory.
Mat Kilau developed a small settlement by the river in southern in Kelantan. He did that with one purpose to avoid from being arrested by British soldiers and to continue his fight against British colony in Kelantan.
One of his contributions which can be seen until this day is a mosque which is situated in Kampung Masjid, Pulau Tawar. The mosque is nearly 200 years. The mosque is the place which fueled patriotisme among the people who stayed in Pahang during British Colonization. The mosque was built by Mat Kilau and and people in Pulau Tawar 1880. In 1923, the mosque was rebuilt.
Mat Kilau’s Mysterious Death
News of Mat Kilau’s death was been published in two English newspapers in Singapore.The Straits Time and The Free Press reported that ‘The Chief Traitor’, Dato’ Bahaman had lost the battle in October, 1895.The Free Press reported that Mat Kilau was injured on his face and his head when he resisted. The injury was so bad and he died on the way to downstream of Kota Bharu due to excessive bleeding. In the public’s opinion Mat Kilau’s life was finished. But nobody knew what really happened except friend Mustafa B. Awang Mat (Jusoh Rimau), Pendekar Tok Delami Ibrahim (Pak Him) and Mat Kelantan.
In December 1969, Mat Kilau who was known as Mohamad bin Ibrahim (I/C: 2044778) introduced himself at his hometown. With the help of Omar bin Mat Kilau, Mat Kilau was brought to his hometown, Kampung Masjid Pulau Tawar. On Friday 26 December 1969, Mat Kilau went to the mosque at Kampung Masjid for the Friday prayer. After prayer, he read the Quran and then announced himself as Mat Kilau. His announcement surprised so many people that the Pahang Government had to set tup a committee on the 8th, of Januari 1970 to investigate his claims. Several people were questioned to determine that Mat Siam was actually Mat Kilau. After intensive investigations, at 10:30 morning on Thursday, 6 August 1970, Mat Siam were declared as Mat Kilau by Chief Minister of Pahang. Four days after the declaration, Mat Kilau passed away at the aged of 122 years.
In Memory Always
So, even though our hero, Mat Kilau’s death remains a mystery, his efforts and contributions towards building our state and also obtaining freedom for Pahang from the British colony are still fresh in our minds and in our souls. His life’s history and his revolt against colonies are still being mentioned till today. The story of Mat Kilau’s and his contributions are incorperated in the Malaysian’s School syllabus. Although Mat Kilau’s no more with us, but he left a great inspiration for the next generation of leaders. Mat Kilau is an example and role model for many. We’re thankfull we are able to live in peace and harmony now. Thank you, Mat Kilau. We love you always.