Temerloh, peaceful and pleasant
(Zafiyah Hussain's photo compilation)

TEMERLOH is a district located in the  state of Pahang, the largest state in the peninsular of Malaysia. To be more specific, Pahang is one of the three states in east coast together with Kelantan and Terengganu. It ìs not convincing on the facts about how this district was named.

There was a story the name came from the word "mereloh" by a group of Minangkabau ethnic from Indonesia who went to open the place and to live there for good. Upon arrival, they saw the "orang asli" (aborigines) were sleeping without doing anything during the day time.

The word "mereloh" means sleeping and this was how the district was named Temerloh.

Temerloh became strategic as it was located in the middle between the capital city Kuala Lumpur and the capital of Pahang state Kuantan. The distance to Temerloh from Kuala Lumpur is about less than 2-hour drive or 130 kilometers via Karak Highway with the continuity through East Coast Highway.

One part of Temerloh town

Temerloh district was established in 1889 during British administration under its first state resident, J. P. Rodger. Therefore, the age of Temerloh now is 129 years.

At present, Temerloh is usually referred to the administration of the local authority, that is Temerloh Municipal Council, which its jurisdiction also includes Mentakab, Lanchang, Kuala Krau and Kerdau.

HOSHAS, Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Hospital, Temerloh

With the area size of 2,251 square kilometer and population of 158,724 according to last statistic in 2010, the population is expected to increase by at least 16 percent today.

Patin fish with durian gravy

For the past 30 years, Temerloh has been well known with its tagline, "The City of Patin Fish". (Temerloh, Bandar Ikan Patin). Patin, in English, silver catfish, in Temerloh context, is a fresh river fish from Pahang River, the longest river in peninsular Malaysìa. With 459 kilometers in length, Pahang River begins at the confluence of Jelai and Tembeling rivers on the Titiwangsa Mountains and drains into the South China Sea.

Sweet sour Patin with durian gravy

For river fish lovers, it's Pahang River that makes fresh patin very delicious. Furthermore, Pahang River is less polluted compared to others in the country.

Apart from Pahang River, another river which is almost equally significant is Semantan Rìver. During British administration, Temerloh was also known as Kuala Semantan as it was situated at the confluence of the river.

One of many eateries offering patin fish dishes

According to a few super senior citizens from Temerloh, there was a fine gentleman from Brunei who came and lived in Temerloh about 150 years ago. His name was Seman Tahan, an extraordinary master of Malay highly respected martial arts. And Seman Tahan became famous.

Due to his superb credibility, many young boys from all over Asian countries travelled to Temerloh to become his students. Finally, Seman Tahan was shortened to Semantan for the names of Semantan River and Kuala Semantan.

A district situated at two confluences, Pahang River and Semantan River, Temerloh has many kinds of fresh river fish, such as patin, jelawat, baung, tenggalan, lampam, belida, tilapia, kerai, jora and kaloi. However, only patin appeared to lead Temerloh image development.

Another presentation of patin dishes

Patin fish has gone through dynamic evolution, slowly commercialized and actively plays significant role. Besides wild patin fish from the river, there have been active business of cattling patin fish where they were caged and placed in the river. The taste of this category of patin is good, but not as good as the wild ones.

The third category is the cattled patin fish as livestock in the man made fish ponds. Patin fish under this category can be found everywhere including bìg supermakets. The price is cheap, less than USD2.40 (RM10) per kilogram.

The price of wild patin fish is the most expensive within the range of USD73.00 (RM350) to USD144.00 (RM600) per kilogram. The caged patin priced between USD7.40 (RM30) and USD18.00 (RM80) per kilogram. Prices are subject to change from time to time based on supply and demand in the market.

Patin's head is different from fish head curry

A restaurant specialized in river fish dishes in Kuala Lumpur offered patin fish menu dining set for four pax at  USD600.00 (RM2,500) excluding service tax.

It's so obvious that Temerloh has been enjoying the fortune of patin's name for a very long time.

House on the river

Another factor that determines the good taste of the patin fish is the natural recipe of patin dishes itself. The writer was made to understand that the traditional Pahang inherited recipe from the previous generations made patin fish distinctively special. The most popular recipe is "ikan patin asam tempoyak" (sweet sour patin fish with durian gravy). And its originality is only available in Temerloh.

When it appears as good business, we may expect certain possibilities. It was reported that patin active business is at its peak. "All patin fish dishes finish everyday, even always not enough," said an owner of patin fish restaurant in Temerloh. Many customers from far away to have their meals were disappointed.

Actually, Temerloh is facing serious shortage of patin fish. If this problem cannot be resolved appropriately, the prices of patin fish and the dishes may increase beyond control. Ultimately, the city of patin fish ìmage could disappear.

Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin, born in Temerloh
Pahang Assemblyman (Lanchang) since 1999
Pahang State Government Exco
...well liked by the locals

Short term action has been taken to overcome the shortage of supply. It was reported that 70 percent of patin fish and dishes sold and consumed in Temerloh today are from outside Temerloh including those imported from other countries. This may cause probable question on the quality of the patin, especially those cattled in the fish ponds.

Whatever it is, necessary steps of action should have been taken by the authorities concerned to tackle the unexpected situation.



By Fauzi Kadir
Permadu Harmony//Permadu Malaysia
All Rights Reserved
Copyright Fauzi Kadir 2018

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All pictures compiled by
Zafiyah Hussain


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