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TAIPING PRISON
Ben van Wijnen


Guard tower

Taiping Prison is a prison for intermediate prisoners. The prison was established 1879 and many believe it to be the very first prison in Malaysia. However, that is not the case. The oldest prison is in Penang, whose history dates back to 1811.
Taiping Prison was built by prisoners of war or convicts brought in from India and Africa. The building materials were imported from England through the British East India Company. For a time it was also Malaysia's most modern prison. It was also the largest prison complex at the time.
The complex consisted of 3 meter high wooden gates and 5 interconnected half-stone buildings. Each building could house only 50 prisoners.

 

The prison was built to imprison triad members (a Chinese underworld organization) from Ghee Hin and Hai San. It was also used to imprison Malay chiefs who opposed British rule, as well as other criminals such as robbers, thieves, and murderers.
In 1881 Sikh guards of Indian descent were appointed. To assist the later appointed Malay guards and vocational trainers for the prison from Hong Kong were brought over to introduce a useful pursuit in the prison.
A European guard was appointed in 1889. With the establishment of the Federated Malay States, the Taiping Prison became the detention center for long-sentence prisoners from Perak, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor.
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The prison industry was developing more and more and finally included printing, fabric production, sewing and rattan and iron working. In 1924, stonework was discontinued and was replaced by coconut husking. In World War II, during the Japanese occupation (1941-1945), Taiping Prison was used as a public prison and also as a detention center for Japanese POWs. It was during this period that all records of the prison and its inmates were destroyed and the prison still functions as Penjara Taiping.

The prison was run by British officers from 1879 to 1960 and was initially called Larut Prison. It was later called the Taiping Training Center. On January 9, 1992, the prison was renamed Taiping Prison, or Penjara Taiping in Malay.


The main entrance

 

 

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