by Eric Lim
Today, there are seven districts in the state of Negeri Sembilan, namely Seremban, Port Dickson, Rembau, Jelebu, Kuala Pilah, Jempol and Tampin. Tampin district is administered by Majlis Daerah Tampin/Tampin District Council, which was established on 1 July 1980. The area size of the district is 85,349 hectares and the following towns are located in the district: Tampin, Pekan Repah, Gemencheh, Batang Melaka, Air Kuning Selatan, Pekan Pasir Besar and Gemas. Three of the towns are border towns; Tampin and Batang Melaka at the boundary between Negeri Sembilan and Melaka; and Gemas at the border with Johor. This article will focus on the history of Tampin and its attractions.
(L) Coat of arms of Negri Sembilan (R) Original nine states of Negri Sembilan. Photo source : Wikimedia Commons
Taking a close look at the coat of arms of Negeri Sembilan, one can easily identify the nine yellow stalks of rice in the middle of the shield. These stalks mark the original nine states of Negeri Sembilan, namely Jelai, Jelebu, Johol, Kelang, Naning, Rembau, Segamat-Pasir Besar, Sungai Ujong and Ulu Pahang. The inscription, which is written in Jawi script, is the name of the state and below it is a nine-pointed star that signifies the nine states united as one. Negeri Sembilan today is smaller as parts of the state were annexed to neighbouring states in the 19th century CE. Following the Naning War in 1831-1832, the entire state of Naning was annexed to the Straits Settlement of Malacca and today, it falls under the Alor Gajah and Jasin districts. The long-standing boundary problem with Selangor was finally solved at a convention held in Singapore on 31 July 1880. Negeri Sembilan got hold of Lukut and Cape Rachado but lost some parts of Kelang and Sungai Ujong. They are now part of the Kuala Langat and Hulu Langat districts in Selangor respectively. One part of Ulu Pahang was annexed to Pahang and it became the Bera district of Pahang. Bera district is very much in the news lately because our current Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, is the Member of Parliament for Bera (P90). The other part of Ulu Pahang comes under the Jelebu district. Likewise, for Segamat-Pasir Besar, one part was annexed to Johor and the other is now part of the Tampin district.
The Minangkabaus from Sumatra arrived as early as the 14th century CE where they explored and built settlements within the west coast of the peninsula. The lowlands of Rembau were amongst the earliest sites due to its proximity to the main waterways, Sungai Linggi and Sungai Rembau. Later, they moved to the inland districts. When Melaka fell to the European colonists, these states came under the suzerainty of Johor. When the Dutch took over Melaka from the Portuguese, several treaties were drawn up. On 12 December 1757, at the Johor- Dutch Treaty, Johor ceded Rembau to its ally, the Dutch. A peace treaty between Bugis and Dutch was signed on 1 January 1758 at the newly built fort at Kuala Linggi. On 11 November 1759, Dutch made a treaty with Rembau, which gave a monopoly of its tin trade to the Dutch.
(L) Flag of Rembau (R) Flag of Tampin / Photo source : Wikimedia Commons
The founder of the royal house of Rembau and Tampin was Raja Adil. According to Dutch records, Raja Adil was installed in February 1785. He was a strong supporter of Bugis leader Daeng Kemboja who had set up his main base at the estuary of Sungai Linggi. Raja Adil died in 1798 and he was succeeded by his son, Raja Asil. He was conferred the title ‘Yam Tuan Muda’ (YTM) by the second ‘Yam Tuan Besar’ (YTB) of Negeri Sembilan, Raja Hitam. Raja Asil was also offered a personal fiefdom in Tampin and the right to collect export duties on tin shipped down Sungai Linggi. In 1812, his son’s misdemeanour (he had abducted a woman who had earlier refused his hand for marriage) led to his downfall. Raja Ali ousted Raja Asil from office and became the second YTM. In 1832, at the height of the Naning War, Raja Ali and Rembau changed sides and supported the British who came out victorious in their second invasion of Naning. With British recognition of support, Raja Ali laid claim to the then vacant office of the YTB of Sri Menanti and relinquished the YTM to his son-in-law, Syed Syaaban. These developments enraged other rulers of Negeri Sembilan citing that they had no right to the posts. In 1836, Raja Ali and Syed Syaaban were driven out of Rembau by the combined forces of Dato Klana of Sungai Ujong, Dato Muda Linggi and the Undang of Rembau. Raja Ali fled to Lukut and then to his son-in-law at Tampin. He died at Keru in 1850/1856. Syed Syaaban commuted between Tampin and Melaka, where he had a house. He made several attempts to re-establish himself as the YTM and even the YTB but all came to nought. He only managed to secure his rule over Tampin as Tunku Besar. He died in 1872 and he was buried in Tampin. Syed Hamid took over and continued to push for the establishment of the office of YTM but the British had put a stop to the claim saying that it was no longer valid. The British however recognised Tampin as an independent district and as a ruler of a part of Negeri Sembilan. Syed Hamid died in 1894. Coming to the present, the current Tunku Besar Tampin is YTM Tunku Syed Razman, who was installed on 26 December 2005. The Member of Parliament for Rembau (P131) is Khairy Jamaluddin. KJ, as he is commonly known, is now the Minister of Health. Prior to this, he was the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Coordinating Minister of the National Immunisation Programme.
By the turn of the century, the development of the Malayan railway system moved to a new phase with the amalgamation of the Perak and Selangor State Railways to form the Federated Malay States Railway (FMSR) in 1901 with Edwin Spooner as the first FMSR General Manager. By 1903, the trunk line connected Prai in the north to Port Dickson in the south. 15 July 1905 saw the opening of the section between Seremban and Tampin. Right after, works started on the branch line linking Tampin to Melaka. The laying of the 21¼ miles (34.2 km) track was completed in good time by the Malacca Government Railway who was given the concession for this branch line. The opening of this section was on 1 December 1905 and it was reported the following day in The Malay Mail: “Yesterday was an important date in the annals of our railway system, as it marked the opening of the line from the southern boundary of Negri Sembilan to the ancient port of Malacca”. Meanwhile, The Straits Times reported that the first ticket from Melaka to Tampin was purchased by Mr Darbyshire who was the constructing engineer and a few Negeri Sembilan officers including the District Officer of Tampin, made the journey to Melaka where they had breakfast at the Residency. The following year, the main trunk line was extended from Tampin to Gemas. Gemas grew to become an important railway hub in our country, but that would be another story for another time.
During the Japanese Occupation, the entire FMSR network came under Japanese control. Some of the minor/branch lines were closed and construction materials were dismantled and transported to the Thailand and Burma (Myanmar today) border for the infamous Death Railway project. The train tracks of the Tampin-Melaka line was one of the lines that were dismantled. It was also reported that railway workers in Melaka were captured and forced to work there. The line was never rebuilt after the War.
In my last article about Pengkalan Kempas and Kuala Linggi, I wrote about megaliths found at the historical complex located at the former. The district of Tampin is one of the main areas in our country where these ancient stones are found. Further research into the megaliths culture have been lacking until a team from the Museums Department led by Adi Haji Taha and Abdul Jalil Osman started the excavation of the megalithic alignment at Kampong Ipoh, Tampin from the end of November 1981 to the first week of February 1982. Although the site did not yield any positive information, the excavation nevertheless concluded that a megalithic alignment in Peninsular Malaysia is not the site of historic or prehistoric burial, contradicting a widely held local belief.
Places of Interest
The name Tampin is a Malay word for a pouch that is woven from pandanus fronds/nipah leaves and is commonly used to store food such as ‘dodol’ (a kind of sticky sweet toffee-like confection made from coconut milk, red sugar and rice flour) and ‘belacan’ (shrimp paste).
As Tampin is located within the area with the largest distribution of megaliths in the country, a visit to one of the sites would be in order. There is none better than the nearby Megalith Datuk Nisan Tinggi  at Kampung Repah, along Jalan Tampin-Gemas. It is located inside a Muslim cemetery and the stone is recorded to be the tallest in the state, standing at a height of 3.5 metres, which is twice the height of average Malaysians. Megaliths from the old site at Kampong Ipoh were transferred elsewhere after the excavation. Some of the stones are on display at the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur.
When the Tampin-Melaka railway section was opened in 1905, Tampin station was initially known as Pulau Sebang station, named after the actual location of the station, which is in the Alor Gajah district of Melaka. Tampin, which is situated just across the border, was developing rapidly and it was decided that the station’s name be changed to Tampin. However, residents on the Melaka side continued to call it Pulau Sebang station. It was only in 2013, when the old station was demolished and a brand new station was built and also to accommodate the double tracking and electrification project, that KTM managed to resolve the dispute by naming it Pulau Sebang / Tampin station . Today, the station is served by KTM Komuter (the southern terminus of the Seremban Line), KTM ETS (Electric Train Service/Padang Besar-Gemas) and KTM Intercity (starting point of Ekspres Selatan Line to Johor Bahru Sentral station).
(L) Megalith Datuk Nisan Tinggi / Photo source : Sustainable Living Institute (SAVE). (R) Megaliths from Kampong Ipoh, Tampin at National Museum / Photo source : Eric Lim
Religious architectures are easily visible in our country and it is not uncommon to find various places of worship all in close proximity to one another, Tampin town is a very good example. Located opposite Pulau Sebang/Tampin station is Masjid Aleyah Kuala Ina . The mosque was opened on 1 January 1972 but was destroyed in a fire in 2000. The current building, which closely resembles the Al Azim Mosque in Central Melaka, was built and at the same time, its perimeter extended. It was inaugurated on 14 March 2004 by the Chief Minister of Melaka. Just next to the mosque is the Tampin Green Dragon Temple . Besides Chinese deities, the shrine of Datuk Kong is also featured in the temple. Further up along Jalan Besar on the Tampin side is the Tampin Chinese Methodist Church . Services are on Sunday mornings and conducted in English, Malay and Mandarin. Also located on Jalan Besar, at the centre of the town is Gurdwara Sahib Tampin . The land of the present site of the Gurdwara Sahib was purchased in 1967 and in the following year, the adjoining land was purchased. Construction of the Gurdwara Sahib started in 1996 and it was completed two years later. It was officially declared open on 15 November 1998. Prayers are held on Sunday mornings at 9.00 am. About one km away from Gurdwara Sahib Tampin, along Jalan Tampin-Gemas is Sri Sundara Vinayagar Temple .
(L) Tampin Green Dragon Temple and Masjid Aleyah at the top right corner / Photo source : Tampin – Great Malaysian Railway Journeys(R) Gurdwara Sahib Tampin / Photo source : Gurudwara Sahib Tampin, Negeri Sembilan
Tampin may be a small town but it is not short of parks for recreation. It also offers interesting places for ecotourism and extreme sports enthusiasts. Not too far from the Tampin District Council office and just next to the boundary line is the Tampin Recreational Park . The park covers an area of nine acres and 0.8 acres of it is the existing lake area. Also within the park are the Tampin Stadium and Tampin Square. About 1.7 km away from the park, heading to Seremban via Jalan Seremban-Tampin/Federal Route 1 is Tampin Lake Gardens , another popular spot for family recreation. It is within walking distance to the R&R (Rehat & Rawat / Rest & Recuperate) stop area for motorists coming into the district from the north. Located at the foot of Tampin forest reserve is the Tampin Water Park . This park offers four pools with depths ranging from 0.3 to 2.1 metres. Visitors to the park can also take part in jungle trekking, archery and paintball. At the Tampin Extreme Park , visitors can try rock climbing, waterfall abseiling, flying fox and tree climbing. According to the park operator, Tampin Extreme Park is one of the most popular rock climbing venues as it offers granite climbing. Gunung Tampin  eco-forest park is located in the Tampin forest reserve, which is at the end of the Titiwangsa Range. It has two peaks, namely Gunung Tampin Utara (north) and Gunung Tampin Selatan (south). From here, a track connects Gunung Datuk, Gunung Rembau and Gunung Gagak.
(Top) Tampin Recreational Park / (Bottom) Tampin Lake GardenPhoto source : Recreation | Official Portal of Tampin District Council (MDT)
According to a recent news report, the local district council is currently embarking on a beautification project of the town in the form of a mural painting. Sixteen wall blocks measuring 437 square meters would be given a fresh look. This beautification project is part of a district tourism project to attract tourists and it is expected to be completed within two months (before the end of the year).
From Kuala Lumpur city centre, use the North South Highway (E2 South) and exit at Exit 227 Simpang Ampat. After the toll plaza, turn left to join Lebuh AMJ (Alor Gajah-Central Melaka-Jasin Highway) a.k.a Federal Route 19 to Simpang Ampat. Once the Simpang Ampat Police Station is in sight on the left, turn left to join M10 – Jalan Kemus / Sempang Ampat. Upon reaching Pulau Sebang intersection, turn left to join Federal Route 61 / Jalan Alor Gajah-Tampin a.k.a Jalan Dato Mohd Zin (former Melaka Chief Minister Mohd Zin Abdul Ghani). Then, keep a lookout for Mydin Hypermarket. Turn left before Mydin and that will lead to Jalan Besar (Tampin) and Pulau Sebang/Tampin station, Masjid Aleyah Kuala Ina and Tampin Green Dragon Temple will be just ahead. Incidentally, A Famosa Resort and Freeport A Famosa Outlet / Melaka Premier Outlet are located along Federal Route 61 / Jalan Alor Gajah-Tampin a.k.a Jalan Dato Mohd Zin. Another option is to use the Komuter service and Tampin is the southern terminus of the Seremban Line.
In this Series
Please click HERE for a list of articles in the ‘A Very Rough Guide’ series.
THE TAMPIN SUCCESSION (page 21 – 33)