Locally known as Kota Belanda, the historic Dutch Fort in Pangkor Island is located in Teluk Gedung, on the southern part of Pangkor town, particularly southwest of the island. According to Dutch records, the old fort was originally called Dindinghs Fort, named after the Dindingh River, the major river in the district of Manjung, Perak. The Fort plays a huge part in the history of Pangkor Island and the entire Perak province. It is also a significant historic monument in memory of the bravery and courage of Malay warriors against foreign possession of their land.
Because of the location of Pangkor Island, it was a suitable site for the Dutch to build a garrison for their weapons and supply of tin. Long before, the state of Perak was once the main producer of tin in all of Malaysia. Hence, to take over and monopolize its trade, the Dutch Fort in Pangkor Island was built to block their competitors from trading in Perak. Built in 1670 by the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch were the first inhabitants of the island and the island was mainly used to prevent the English from occupying the place. According to William Dampier, the Dutch Fort resembled a house with thick walls made of stone and a towering height of about 30 feet and covered overhead.
The significance of Pangkor was recognized earlier in the history of Perak. During the time when tin was found in Perak, the location of Pangkor at the end of Dinding River was used as a strategic site to dominate the flow of trade, specifically the flow of tin coming from inland Perak. The Dutch wanted to control this trade 300 years ago; hence, they built a fort in Pangkor. Unfortunately, their attempt was said to be a failure since they couldn’t fully control the tin trade coming out from Perak. Eventually, the Dutch abandoned the fort.
After the Dutch Fort was abandoned, it was reconstructed later by the National Museum (Muzium Negara) in 1973. Later on, it became a historical memorial under the Antiquities Act in 1976 and turned into a tourism site. A short distance from the fort is an intriguing stone carving locally known as Batu Bersurat or Sacred Written Rock. On the large rock, there are inscriptions of the Dutch insignia ‘VOC’ which means Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or the The Dutch East India Company, ’1743 I.F.CRALO’ and a drawing of a tiger trying to maul a child. Various stories arise from this stone carving. Locally, it has been carved by the Dutch in memory of a Dutch child being taken by a tiger in the island. However, many villagers said that it wasn’t the tiger that took the child but perhaps the Malay warriors who were eager to free Pangkor from the Dutch. The Dutch soldiers could have also carved the incident on the rock portraying the Malays as a mighty tiger. With this, the large boulder was named Tiger Rock.
The interesting history of the Dutch Fort will constantly remain one of the most fascinating parts in Malaysian history. Currently, you can witness the ruins of the fort. It stands not too far away from the coast. There are souvenir stores and a small park constructed around the area for visitors.