YBhg. Tan Sri Dato' Seri DiRaja Ramli bin Ngah Talib was born and raised in the rural area of Pasir Salak, Perak. His birth place has great historical and personal significance as it was where both his great grandfather, Tok Anjang Pelita and his great great grandfather, Dato' Sagor, Dato Maharaja Lela together with other Malay warriors rebelled against the British occupation in Malaya following the demise of Mr. J. W. W. Birch, the first British Resident of Perak.
Tan Sri Ramli was educated at the elite Malay College Kuala Kangsar and later pursued his degree in Law at Queens University, Belfast followed by a Barrister-at-Law degree at Lincoln’s Inn, London. Whilst in the United Kingdom, he was active in the Students Union in Belfast and was the political secretary as well as editor of the magazine Kesatuan Melayu United Kingdom (United Kingdom Malay Students Association). Upon his return to Malaysia, he became a Law Lecturer at the MARA Institute of Technology (now known as Universiti Teknologi MARA or UiTM) and was also a part-time lecturer at the Universiti Malaya in the early 70’s. In 1971, he became the first in-house legal advisor of Lembaga Letrik Negara (formerly referred to as LLN and now known as Tenaga Nasional Berhad or TNB). Later on he qualified as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya and co-founded Kadir, Tan & Ramli in 1977. Around that period, he was also appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of Utusan Melayu, a Malay mainstream media and a member of the Board of Directors of LLN.
In 1978 Tan Sri Ramli was elected as the Perak State Assemblyman for Kg. Gajah, Perak and later as a member of the State Executive Council of Perak. Within a year, he was appointed as the 8th Menteri Besar or Chief Minister of Perak, where he served for 17 years (from 1982 to 1999) and today remains the longest serving Chief Minister of Perak. In 2004, he became a Member of the Malaysian Parliament for the Pasir Salak constituency and it was during his first term as a Member of Parliament that he was also appointed as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. In addition to these portfolios, he also served as the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) from 2004 to 2008 and was also the Chairman of Perak UMNO Liaison Committee from 1984 – 2000 and a member of the UMNO Supreme Council from 1980 – 2006.
While still serving as the Chief Minister of Perak, Tan Sri Ramli wrote a book entitled, ‘Pasir Salak: Sehamparan Sejarah Perjuangan’ which was about the Malay rebellion that took place on 2 November 1875 against British rule in Perak. At the end of 2010, he completed a book entitled, ‘Meniti Zaman’ (Going Through the Eras) which described the beautiful and simple but yet challenging rural existence during and after the Japanese occupation. His next acclaimed book, ‘Mr. Speaker, Sir: From Kampung Boy to the Helm of Parliament’ was published in 2012 in which he described in vivid details the proceedings in Parliament in a manner not done before – the technicalities, the political posturing and the many unanswered questions. However, his literary prowess was not limited to writing books alone as he also produced various pamphlets and booklets on tourism for Pasir Salak and Perak. In addition, Tan Sri Ramli has also written and contributed articles to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association magazine.
Realising the importance of educating Malaysians on their history, Tan Sri Ramli commissioned the Pasir Salak Historical Complex, consisting of 42 dioramas done in wood depicting all the important events in the history of Malaysia and the Malays in the early 1990s. Fully aware of the need for more institutions of higher education in Perak, he encouraged ITM (now UiTM) to establish their first branch campus in Perak by providing shop houses belonging to the State Government to the institution for free while waiting for land to be made available for a permanent campus. Among other notable projects which he helped to promote in Perak included the construction of Proton City in Tanjung Malim, the Lumut Port, establishment of other educational institutions like Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) as well as the development of Meru Raya in Ipoh, the development of rural centres and the promotion of industrial centres. However, in spite of all these notable achievements, Tan Sri Ramli cherishes the recognition accorded to him for his efforts in the eradication of hardcore poverty in Perak in 1996.
His busy schedule and commitments to various projects have not prevented Tan Sri Ramli from pursuing his love for sports. Besides badminton, football, polo and he also enjoys trekking and has trekked in Norway, Bhutan and Nepal. He also has a pilot’s license and enjoys flying ultra-light planes and small aircrafts and has been President of the Perak Aero Club since 2007. In between, he has also found time to scale Malaysian Peninsula’s highest mountain, Gunung Tahan.
Tan Sri Ramli’s achievements have not gone unnoticed and he has received a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions. In 1986, he was awarded the title Dato' Seri Maharaja Lela Mangkubumi by a panel of Acheh’s customary chiefs for promoting good relations between Acheh and Perak. He is also a permanent member of the Dewan Negara Perak (Perak Privy Council) and holds the title, Orang Kaya-Kaya Seri Agar Diraja (Dato’ Sagor), which he inherited from his great great grandfather, Dato’ Sagor. In 1996, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D. (Hon.)) by the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom for promoting closer relations between Perak and Sheffield University through the joint establishment of the Perak Medical College in Ipoh with Sheffield University. In 2014, he was appointed as the Pro-Chancellor of the Universiti Malaya.
For his illustrious services, he was awarded the Seri Paduka Sultan Azlan (S.P.S.A.)
(with the title, Dato’ Seri DiRaja) by the Sultan of Perak and the award, Panglima Setia Mahkota (P.S.M.) (which carried the title, Tan Sri) by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He has also been awarded the Justice of Peace (J.P.), the Seri Paduka Cura Simanja Kini (S.P.C.M.) (with the title, Dato' Seri) by the Sultan of Perak, and is a holder of the Paul Harris Fellowship.