Si Larut was Che Long Jaafar's pet elephant which was brought to
Bukit Gantang from Lubok Merbau in Kuala Kangsar. Tales and legends have it that not long after staying in Bukit
Gantang. The elephant went missing for three days. Once found, Che Long Jaafar was surprised to find Si Larut was
covered with hard mud. He decided to investigate the muddy lumps.
He was delighted to learn that the lumps was tin. Since the Malays
then lacked knowledge in tin mining. Che Long Jaafar went to Penang and managed to bring back 20 Chinese men to
start the mining activity. It was believed that the Larut district got the name from the elephant. The mines opened
by Che Long Jaafar in Klian Pauh managed to produce profitable tin. Since then, more Chinese started to flood Larut
to work as tin miners.
Before 1848, there were only three Chinese men in Larut and the
number increased when 20 more Chinese men were brought in from Penang. The influx of Chinese who came directly from
China increased the number of people in Larut. In 1862, the number swelled to 20,000 ~ 25,000 people while in 1912,
the whole of Perak recorded a total of 230,000 residents. The arrival of Chinese in Perak gave birth to two clans -
the Ghee Hin led by Lee Ah Kun and the Hai San led by Chung Keng Kwee.
Photos: Courtesy of Matang Museum