Johor Sultanate

The Sultanate of Johor (or sometimes Johor-Riau or Johor-Riau-Lingga or Johor Empire) was founded by Malaccan Sultan Mahmud Shah's son, Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah II in 1528.[1] Johor was part of the Malaccan Sultanate before the Portuguese conquered Malacca's capital in 1511. At its height, the sultanate controlled modern-day Johor, Riau, and territories stretching from the river Klang to the Linggi and Tanjung Tuan, Muar, Batu Pahat, Singapore, Pulau Tinggi and other islands off the east coast of the Malay peninsula, the Karimun islands, the islands of Bintan, Bulang, Lingga and Bunguran, and Bengkalis, Kampar and Siak in Sumatra.[2] In 1564 the Ottomans conquered the Sultanate during the Ottoman expedition to Aceh. During the colonial era, the mainland part was administered by the British, and the insular part by the Dutch, thus breaking up the sultanate into Johor and Riau. In 1946, the British section became part of the Malayan Union. Two years later, it joined the Federation of Malaya and subsequently, the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. In 1949, the Dutch section became part of Indonesia.

Johor Sultanate

کسلطانن جوهر
Kesultanan Johor
Flag of Johor
Flag (1855–1865)
  • Sayong Pinang
  • (c. 1528–1536)
  • Muar
  • (1536–1540)
  • Johor Lama
  • (1540–1564)
  • (1571–1587)
  • Bukit Seluyut
  • (1564–1570)
  • Batu Sawar
  • (1587–1615)
  • (1642–1673)
  • Bintan
  • (1617–1618)
  • Lingga
  • (1618–1623)
  • (1812–1824)
  • Tambelan Islands
  • (1623–1641)
  • Kota Tinggi
  • (1641–1642)
  • (1685–1699)
  • Riau Islands
  • (1678–1685)
  • (1708–1716)
  • (1718–1788)
  • Panchor
  • (1700–1708)
  • Pekan
  • (1788–1795)
  • Singapore
  • (1819–1824)
Common languagesMalay
Sunni Islam
• 1528-1564
Alauddin Riayat Shah II (first)
• 1835–1855
Ali Iskandar (last)
• 1513-1520
Tun Khoja Ahmad (first)
• 1806–1857
Tun Ali (last)
• Established
• Disestablished
CurrencyTin ingot, native gold and silver coins
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Malacca Sultanate
Pahang Sultanate
Siak Sultanate
Riau-Lingga Sultanate
Straits Settlements
Pahang Kingdom
Today part of Malaysia

Fall of Malacca and the Beginnings of the Old Johore Sultanate

In 1511, Malacca fell to the Portuguese and Sultan Mahmud Shah was forced to flee Malacca. The sultan made several attempts to retake the capital but his efforts were fruitless. The Portuguese retaliated and forced the sultan to flee to Pahang. Later, the sultan sailed to Bintan and established a new capital there. With a base established, the sultan rallied the disarrayed Malay forces and organised several attacks and blockades against the Portuguese position.

Based at Pekan Tua, Sungai Telur, Johor, the Johor Sultanate was founded by Raja Ali Ibni Sultan Mahmud Melaka, known as Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah (1528–1564), with his Queen Tun Fatimah in 1528. Although Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah and his successor had to contend with attacks by the Portuguese in Malacca and by the Acehnese in Sumatra, they managed to maintain their hold on the Johor Sultanate.

Frequent raids on Malacca caused the Portuguese severe hardship and it helped to convince the Portuguese to destroy the exiled sultan's forces. A number of attempts were made to suppress the Malay but it was not until 1526 that the Portuguese finally razed Bintan to the ground. The sultan then retreated to Kampar in Sumatra and died two years later. He left behind two sons named Muzaffar Shah and Alauddin Riayat Shah II.

Muzaffar Shah continued on to establish Perak while Alauddin Riayat Shah became the first sultan of Johor.

Triangular war

Aceh Sultanate en
Aceh attacks on Malacca, Johor and other Malay states

The new sultan established a new capital by the Johor River and, from there, continued to harass the Portuguese in the north. He consistently worked together with his brother in Perak and the Sultan of Pahang to retake Malacca, which by this time was protected by the fort A Famosa.

On the northern part of Sumatra around the same period, Aceh Sultanate was beginning to gain substantial influence over the Straits of Malacca. With the fall of Malacca to Christian hands, Muslim traders often skipped Malacca in favour of Aceh or also of Johor's capital Johor Lama (Kota Batu). Therefore, Malacca and Aceh became direct competitors.

With the Portuguese and Johor frequently locking horns, Aceh launched multiple raids against both sides to tighten its grip over the straits. The rise and expansion of Aceh encouraged the Portuguese and Johor to sign a truce and divert their attention to Aceh. The truce, however, was short-lived and with Aceh severely weakened, Johor and the Portuguese had each other in their sights again. During the rule of Sultan Iskandar Muda, Aceh attacked Johor in 1613 and again in 1615.[3]

Dutch Malacca

In the early 17th century, the Dutch reached Southeast Asia. At that time the Dutch were at war with the Portuguese and allied themselves to Johor. Two treaties were signed by Admiral Cornelis Matelief de Jonge on behalf of the Dutch Estates General and Raja Bongsu (Raja Seberang) of Johor in May and September 1606.[4] Finally in 1641, the Dutch and Johor forces headed by Bendahara Skudai, defeated the Portuguese. As per the agreement with Johor struck in May 1606, the Dutch took control of Malacca and agreed not to seek territories or wage war with Johor. Finally in January 1641, the Dutch (attacking by land and the sea) and Johor forces (attacking by land and under the leadership of Bendahara Skudai), defeated the Portuguese at Malacca. By the time the fortress at Malacca surrendered, the town's population had already been greatly decimated by famine and disease (the plague).[5] As per article 1 of the agreement with Johor ratified in May 1606, the Dutch assumed control of the town of Malacca and also of some surrounding settlements. Malacca then became a territory under the control of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and formally remained a Dutch possession until the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 was signed.

Johor-Jambi war

With the fall of Portuguese Malacca in 1641 and the decline of Aceh due to the growing power of the Dutch, Johor started to re-established itself as a power along the Straits of Malacca during the reign of Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah III (1623–1677).[6] Its influence extended to Pahang, Sungei Ujong, Malacca, Klang and the Riau Archipelago.[7] During the triangular war, Jambi also emerged as a regional economic and political power in Sumatra. Initially there was an attempt of an alliance between Johor and Jambi with a promised marriage between the heir Raja Muda and daughter of the Pengeran of Jambi. However, the Raja Muda married instead the daughter of the Laksamana Abdul Jamil who, concerned about the dilution of power from such an alliance, offered his own daughter for marriage instead.[8] The alliance therefore broke down, and a 13-year war then ensued between Johor and the Sumatran state beginning in 1666. The war was disastrous for Johor as Johor's capital, Batu Sawar, was sacked by Jambi in 1673. The Sultan escaped to Pahang and died four years later. His successor, Sultan Ibrahim (1677–1685), then engaged the help of the Bugis in the fight to defeat Jambi.[7] Johor would eventually prevail in 1679, but also ended in a weakened position as the Bugis refused to go home, and the Minangkabaus of Sumatra also started to assert their influence.[8]

After the sacking of Batu Sawar in 1673, the capital of Johor was frequently moved to avoid the threat of attack from Jambi. All through its history, the rulers of Johor had in fact constantly shifted their centre of power many times in their efforts to keep the sultanate together. Johor Lama (Kota Batu) was initially founded by Alauddin Riayat Shah II but was sacked by the Acehnese in 1564. It was then moved to Seluyut, later back to Johor Lama during the reign of Ali Jalla (1571–1597) which was sacked by the Portuguese in 1587, then to Batu Sawar, and Lingga (again sacked by the Portuguese). This is followed by a period with no fixed capital (places included Tanah Puteh and Makam Tauhid) during the reign of Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah III before he moved it to Batu Sawar in 1640. After Batu Sawar was sacked by Jambi, later capitals included Kota Tinggi, Riau, and Pancur.[9]

Golden Age

In the 17th century with Malacca ceasing to be an important port, Johor became the dominant regional power. The policy of the Dutch in Malacca drove traders to Riau, a port controlled by Johor. The trade there far surpassed that of Malacca. The VOC was unhappy with that but continued to maintain the alliance because the stability of Johor was important to trade in the region.

The Sultan provided all the facility required by the traders. Under the patronage of the Johor elites, traders are protected and prospered.[10] With wide range of goods available and favourable prices, Riau boomed. Ships from various places such as Cambodia, Siam, Vietnam and all over the Malay Archipelago came to trade. The Bugis ships made Riau the centre for spices. Items found in China or example, cloth and opium were traded with locally sourced ocean and forest products, tin, pepper and locally grown gambier. Duties were low, and cargoes could be discharged or stored easily. Traders found they do not need to extend credit, for the business was good.[11]

Like Malacca before it, Riau was also the centre of Islamic studies and teaching. Many orthodox scholars from the Muslim heartlands like the Indian Subcontinent and Arabia were housed in special religious hostels, while devotees of Sufism could seek initiation into one of the many Tariqah (Sufi Brotherhood) which flourished in Riau.[12] In many ways, Riau managed to recapture some of the old Malacca glory. Both became prosperous due to trade but there was a major difference; Malacca was also great due to its territorial conquest.

Bugis and Minangkabau influence in the kingdom

The last sultan from the Malaccan dynasty, Sultan Mahmud Shah II, was a person of unstable disposition. When Bendahara Habib was the Bendahara, he effectively shielded the people from the Sultan 's idiosyncrasies. After the demise of Bendehara Habib, he was replaced by Bendahara Abdul Jalil. As the Bendahara was only a cousin, he could not rein in the Sultan 's eccentric behaviour.

The Sultan ordered the pregnant wife of a noble, Orang Kaya Megat Sri Rama killed, as she had taken a slice of the royal jack fruit. Subsequently, the Sultan was killed by Megat Sri Rama in revenge. Sultan Mahmud Shah II of Johor had died in 1699 without an heir. The Orang Kayas, who were normally tasked with advising the Sultan, were in a fix. They went to Muar to meet Sa Akar DiRaja, Raja Temenggong of Muar, the Sultan's uncle and asked for his counsel. He pointed out that Bendahara Abdul Jalil should inherit the throne.[13] The problem was resolved when the viceroy Bendahara Abdul Jalil was declared the new sultan and proclaimed Sultan Abdul Jalil IV. Many, particularly the Orang Laut (islanders from Johor maritime territories), however felt that the declaration was improper.

The Bugis, who played an important role in defeating Jambi two decades earlier, had a huge influence in Johor. Apart from the Malays, another influential faction in Johor at that time were the Minangkabau. Both the Bugis and the Minangkabau realised how the death of Sultan Mahmud II had provided them with the chance to exert power in Johor. The Minangkabau introduced a Minangkabau prince, Raja Kecil from Siak who claimed he was the posthumous son of Sultan Mahmud II. The prince met with the Bugis and promised the Bugis wealth and political power if they helped the prince to win the throne. However, Raja Kecil broke his promise and installed himself as the new Sultan of Johor (Sultan Abdul Jalil Rahmat Shah) without the knowledge of the Bugis. Sultan Abdul Jalil IV fled to Pahang where he was later killed by an assassin hired by Raja Kecil.

Dissatisfied with Raja Kecil's accession, the son of Sultan Abdul Jalil IV, Raja Sulaiman, asked Daeng Parani of the Bugis to aid him in his quest to reclaim the throne. In 1722, Raja Kecil was dethroned by Raja Sulaiman's supporters with the assistance of the Bugis. Raja Sulaiman became the new Sultan of Johore, but he was a weak ruler and became a puppet of the Bugis. Daeng Parani's brother, Daeng Merewah, who was made Yam Tuan Muda (crown prince) was the man who actually controlled Johor.[14]

Johor administration

The Johor Sultanate continued the system of administration previously practised in Malacca. The highest authority lay in the hands of the Yang di-Pertuan who was known as the Sultan. The Sultan was assisted by a body known as the Majlis Orang Kaya (Council of Rich Men) which was tasked with advising the Sultan. Among them were the Bendahara, Temenggong, Laksamana, Shahbandar and Seri Bija Diraja. During the 18th century, the Bendahara lived in Pahang and the Temenggong Johor in Teluk Belanga, Singapore. Each one managed the administration of their individual areas based on the level of authority bestowed upon them by the Sultan of Johor.

The Johor Empire was decentralised. It was made of four main fiefs and the Sultan's territory. The fiefs are Muar and its territories under the Raja Temenggong of Muar;[15] Pahang under the stewardship of the Bendehara;[16] Riau under the control of YAM Tuan Muda and mainland Johor and Singapore under the Temenggong. The rest of the Empire were directly controlled by the Sultan. The Sultan resided in Lingga. All the Orang Kayas except Raja Temenggong Muar reported directly to the Sultan ; Raja Temenggong Muar was a suzerain recognised by the Sultan.

Sultans of Johor Reign
Malacca-Johor Dynasty
Alauddin Riayat Shah II 1528–1564
Muzaffar Shah II 1564–1570
Abdul Jalil Shah I 1570–1571
Ali Jalla Abdul Jalil Shah II 1571–1597
Alauddin Riayat Shah III 1597–1615
Abdullah Ma'ayat Shah 1615–1623
Abdul Jalil Shah III 1623–1677
Ibrahim Shah 1677–1685
Mahmud Shah II 1685–1699
Bendahara Dynasty
Abdul Jalil IV (Bendahara Abdul Jalil) 1699–1720
Malacca-Johor Dynasty (descent)
Abdul Jalil Rahmat Shah (Raja Kecil) 1718–1722
Bendahara Dynasty
Sulaiman Badrul Alam Shah 1722–1760
Abdul Jalil Muazzam Shah 1760–1761
Ahmad Riayat Shah 1761–1761
Mahmud Shah III 1761–1812
Abdul Rahman Muazzam Shah 1812–1819
Hussein Shah (Tengku Long) 1819–1835
Ali 1835–1877
Temenggong Dynasty
Raja Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim 1855–1862
Abu Bakar 1862–1895
Ibrahim 1895–1959
Ismail 1959–1981
Mahmud Iskandar Al-Haj 1981–2010
Ibrahim Ismail 2010–present

Extent of the Empire

As the Sultanate replaced the Malacca Sultanate, it followed that the extent of its territorial area covered the southern Malay peninsular, parts of south-eastern Sumatra and the Riau Islands and its dependencies. This territory included the vassal states of Pahang, Muar, Johor mainland and Riau Islands. The administrative centre of the empire was at various times at Sayong Pinang, Kota Kara, Seluyut, Johor Lama, Batu Sawar and Kota Tinggi; all on mainland Johor and later at Riau and Lingga. It then shifted with the birth of Modern Johore Sultanate to Tanjung Puteri, known today as Johor Bahru.

The fall of the Old Johor Sultanate

Singapore and the British

In 1818, Sir Stamford Raffles was appointed as the governor of Bencoolen on western Sumatra. However, he was convinced that the British needed to establish a new base in Southeast Asia to compete with the Dutch. Though many in the British East India Company opposed such an idea, Raffles managed to convince Lord Hastings of the Company, then Governor General of British India, to side with him. With the governor general's consent, he and his expedition set out to search for a new base.

When Raffles' expedition arrived in Singapore on 29 January 1819 he discovered a small Malay settlement at the mouth of Singapore River headed by a Temenggong Abdul Rahman. Though the island was nominally ruled by the sultanate, the political situation there was extremely murky. The reigning sultan, Tengku Abdul Rahman, was under the influence of the Dutch and the Bugis. Hence, he would never agree to a British base in Singapore.

However, Tengku Abdul Rahman was ruler only because his older brother, Tengku Hussein or Tengku Long, had been away in Pahang getting married when their father died in 1812. He was appointed by the Yam Tuan Muda of Riau, Raja Jaafar because according to him, in a Malay tradition, a person has to be by the dying sultan's side to be considered as the new ruler. However the matter has to be decided by the Bendehara as the "keeper of adat (tradition)".[17] Predictably, the older brother was not happy with the development.

Raja Jaafar's sister, the queen of the late Sultan, protested vehemently at her brother's actions with these prophetic words, "... Which adat of succession is being followed? Unfair deeds like this will cause the Johor Sultanate be destroyed!". And she held on the royal regalia refusing to surrender it.[18]

Bendehara Ali was made aware of the affairs of the succession and decided to act.[17] He prepared his fleet of boats to Riau to "restore the adat". The British upon knowing this despatched a fleet and set up a blockade to stop the forces of Bendehara Ali from advancing.

With Temenggong Abdul Rahman's help, Raffles managed to smuggle Hussein, then living in exile on one of the Riau Islands, back into Singapore. According to a correspondence between Tengku Hussain and his brother, he left for Singapore out of his concern of his son's safety. Unfortunately he was captured by Raffles and forced to make a deal.[19] Their agreement stated that the British would acknowledge Tengku Hussein as the "legitimate ruler" of "Johor", and thus Tengku Hussein and the Temenggong would receive a yearly stipend from the British. In return, Tengku Hussein would allow Raffles to establish a trading post in Singapore. This treaty was ratified on 6 February 1819.

Bendehara Ali was requested by the British to recognise Tengku Hussein as a ruler. However, Bendehara Ali claimed that he had no connection with the events in Singapore, as it is the Temenggong's fief and stated that his loyalty lies only with the Sultan of Johor in Lingga.[20]

Anglo-Dutch Treaty

The Dutch were extremely displeased with Raffles' action. Tensions between the Dutch and British over Singapore persisted until 1824, when they signed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty. Under the terms of that treaty, the Dutch officially withdrew their opposition to the British presence in Singapore. Many historians contend that the treaty divided the spheres of influence between the Dutch and the English; Sultanate of Johor into modern Johor and the state of Riau-Lingga which exists de jure after the ouster of the last Sultan of Johor. However this treaty was signed secretly without the knowledge of the local nobility including the Sultan and thus its legitimacy was called into question.

Nevertheless, the British successfully sidelined Dutch political influence by proclaiming Sultan Hussein as the Sultan of Johor and Singapore to acquire legal recognition in their sphere of influence in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. The legitimacy of Sultan Hussein's proclamation as the Sultan of Johor and Singapore was controversial to some of the other Malay rulers. As he was placed on the throne by the British, he was also very much seen as a puppet ruler. Temenggong Abdul Rahman's position, on the other hand, was strengthened as it was with his cooperation that the British successfully took de facto control of Johor and Singapore; with the backing of the British he gained influence as Raja Ja'afar.[21] Meanwhile, Sultan Abdul Rahman was installed as the Sultan of Lingga in November 1822, complete with the royal regalia.[22] Sultan Abdul Rahman, who had devoted himself to religion, became contented with his political sphere of influence in Lingga, where his family continued to maintain his household under the administrative direction of Raja Ja'afar who ruled under the auspices of the Dutch.

The Interested Parties

The actors on this stage were three parties; the Colonial powers of British and the Dutch; the nobles who made agreement with the Dutch namely Raja Jaafar, Yam Tuan Muda of Riau and Temenggong Abdul Rahman, of Johore and Singapore ; the palace namely the Sultan, and the Bendahara who claimed he was not aware of any treaty signed with their knowledge.[23] Because the treaties are not ratified by the Sultan or the Bendahara, the Malays tried not to pay heed to any action of the Colonial powers.

The Yam Tuan Muda has been accused of committing treachery by "selling" the sovereignty of Johore,[24] however the counter argument is that neither the Sultan nor the Bendahara were parties to the treaty. The treaty was signed in secret[25] and details were only known in 1855. The Temenggong, strengthened his position through his friendship with Great Britain, and gained influence, together with Britain, over the state at the expense of the Sultanate. This is especially true for the son of Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, the ambitious Temenggong Abu Bakar succeeded in eventually usurping the throne.

Sultan tries to repair the damage

Sultan Abdul Rahman died in 1832 and was replaced by his son, Sultan Muhammad Shah (reigning from 1832–1841). Raja Jaffar, Yam Tuan Muda of Riau died and the Sultan is in no hurry to appoint a successor. The Sultan saw the damage that was done to the Palace in his father's reign and decided to reemphasis and restore adat[26] as a rule governing personal behaviour and the politics. He summoned Bendahara Ali (Raja Bendahara Pahang) to Lingga. At Lingga, an adat-steeped function[27] was held. The Bendahara conducted ceremonies (as per adat) aimed at re-educating the nobility and the Sultan about their respective duties and responsibilities. Islam and politics were discussed. It was attended by all the nobles from across the Empire hence, proving that 'Sultan' of Singapore is not recognised by the Malays. The ceremonies also include installation of Tengku Mahmud (later ruling as Sultan Mahmud Muzaffar) as a Crown Prince and Tun Mutahir as Bendehara-in-waiting.

In 1841, Bendahara Ali appointed Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim[28] to replace his father who died in 1825. The long interval was due to displeasure of the Bendahara over the affairs of Singapore. Conditions imposed during the appointment included paying a visit of fealty to the ruling Sultan Mahmud Muzaffar in Lingga. Sultan Hussein of Singapore died in 1835 and his prince Tengku Ali wished for the legitimacy granted to Temenggong Ibrahim, by the British and some Malay nobles. The British forwarded the request in 1841 to the Bendahara. Bendahara Ali.

After waiting since 1835 for the 'appointment' as a Sultan, in 1852 Tengku Ali decided to return Johor'[29] to the former Johor-Riau Empire by paying homage to Sultan Mahmud Muzaffar in Lingga. For three years Johor Empire was one again, except Singapore which was ceded to the British. Worried by the state of affairs, the British called Tengku Ali back to Singapore on the threat of cancelling his pension. In Singapore, he was frequently visited by Sultan Mahmud Muzaffar and their relations are cordial.

End of the Empire

The worried British then forced the 1855 treaty between Temenggong Ibrahim and Tengku Ali. In exchange for recognition as a Sultan, Tengku Ali agrees to 'give up all of Johor'. The treaty was intended to solidify the position of Temenggong Ibrahim, their key ally.

Bendahara Ali was asked by the Sultan Mahmud Muzaffar about the 1855 treaty.[30][31] In his reply, the Bendahara reiterated that the Temenggong was supposed to swear fealty to his majesty and on the behaviour of Tengku Ali, the Bendehara claimed ignorance. He also reiterated that he was not a party to any discussion with the British or the Dutch.

The Dutch were also very worried. It seemed that the Sultan is acting on his own and would not listen to any of the Dutch-influenced Yam Tuan Muda of Riau and the Bugis nobility. It erupted into an open dispute between Sultan Mahmud Muzaffar and the Bugis nobility over the appointment of new Yam Tuan Muda of Riau. The Bugis preferred candidate was also the Dutch choice.[32] The Sultan resented having another foreign-backed Yam Tuan Muda of Riau. It resulted in a deadlock and the Sultan set sail to Singapore to cool off. It was during the Singapore trip that the last Sultan of the mighty Johore Empire was deposed by the Bugis nobility in 1857.[33]

The Breakup

After the ouster of the former Sultan of Johor-Riau, the Bugis nobles elected the new Sultan, Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Shah,[34] the Sultan of the "new" Riau-Lingga Kingdom built on the Riau remnants of the Johore Empire. The Sultan signed an agreement with the Dutch.[34] In the agreement he agreed to acknowledge the overlordship of the Dutch government among others. With a stroke of a pen, he broke up the Johor Empire into 2 big parts and has given up the sovereignty of his part of territory to the Dutch. This also marked the end of the original Johor-Riau Sultanate, that was descended from the Sultanate of Melaka. This division remains until today as the Malaysia-Indonesia border.

Johor and Pahang

Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim of Johore signed a treaty with Bendahara Tun Mutahir of Pahang in 1861.[35] The treaty recognised the territories of Johor (mainland), the Temenggong and his descendants' right to rule it, mutual protection and mutual recognitions of Pahang and Johor. With the signing of this treaty, the remnants of the Empire became two independent states, Johor and Pahang.

Modern Johore Sultanate

State of Johor

Negeri Johor
نڬري جوهر
Motto: Malay: Kepada Allah Berserah
(To Allah We Surrender)
Johor in present-day Malaysia
Johor in present-day Malaysia
StatusIndependent (1886–1914)
Protectorate of the United Kingdom (1914–1942, 1945–1946)
CapitalJohor Bahru1
Common languagesMalay2
Sunni Islam
• 1886–1895
Abu Bakar
• 1895–1959
• 1914–1918
Douglas G. Campbell
• 1935–1939
W. E. Pepys
Historical eraEarly modern period
• Recognised by United Kingdom
11 December 1885
• British adviser accepted
12 May 1914
• Japanese troops take Johor Bahru
31 January 1942
14 August 1945
• Added into Malayan Union
31 March 1946
CurrencyStraits dollar until 1939
Malayan dollar until 1953
Succeeded by
Japanese occupation of Malaya
Malayan Union
Today part of Malaysia
1 Formerly Tanjung Puteri, remains as capital until today
2 Malay using Jawi (Arabic) script
The Istana Besar (Grand Palace), completed in 1866 under Abu Bakar of Johor's rule, serves as the seat and residence of the Johor Sultanate.

In 1855, Temenggong Ibrahim selected Tanjung Puteri, a small fishing village in southern Johor which would later develop into Johor Bahru, as the administrative headquarters of the state. Temenggong Ibrahim was succeeded by his son, Temenggong Abu Bakar, who later took the title Seri Maharaja Johor.

Muar was another vassal of Old Johor Empire and was ruled by its own Raja Temenggong. At gunpoint, the Raja Temenggong and the chieftains of Muar handed over the control of Muar to Temenggong Abu Bakar in 1877; this later contributed to the Jementah Civil War. Temenggong Abu Bakar, aided by the British won decisively. Abu Bakar went to Istanbul to seek recognition as the Sultan of Johor, to allay fears of his religious credibility.

In 1885, he went to London seeking the recognition from the British Queen, Queen Victoria on his sultanate and Johor's independence. He was warmly accepted by the Queen and a friendship treaty was signed. After that he was formally crowned the Sultan of Johor. The modern Sultanate of Johor ruled only over mainland Johor. The Old Johore Sultanate (Johore Empire) was thus broken up into its constituents- Pahang, Singapore, Lingga/Riau and mainland Johor.

Sultan Abu Bakar has often been credited as the "Father of Modern Johor" due to the modernisation of the state under his rule. He introduced a constitution known as Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Johor and developed an efficient administration system, officially moving administrative operation of the state to Johor Bahru. As the capital of the state, Johor Bahru witnessed significant growth and development, culminating to the construction of buildings on grand scales with architecture deriving from Western and Malay sources. Johor as a whole also enjoyed economic prosperity. An increased demand for black pepper and gambier in the nineteenth century lead to the opening up of farmlands to the influx of Chinese immigrants, creating Johor's initial economic base. The Kangchu system was put in place.

In 1914, Sultan Ibrahim, Sultan Abu Bakar's successor, was forced to accept a British Adviser and effectively became a crown protectorate of the Britain as part of the Unfederated Malay States. D.G. Campbell was dispatched as the first British advisor to Johor.

World War II and Malaysia

Under the reign of Sultan Ibrahim until his death in London in 1959, Johor transitioned from a British protectorate of the Unfederated Malay States, to a Japanese possession during Japanese occupation in World War II, to a federated state in the Malayan Union and Federation of Malaya.

The Johor Sultanate continues to exist as a member of the Conference of Rulers following Malaya's independence in 1957 and the formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963, with successive sultans presiding over modern Johor as ceremonious figureheads, including Sultan Ismail (1959–1981), Sultan Iskandar (1981–2010), and Sultan Ibrahim (2010–present). Sultan Iskandar served as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the federal head of state of Malaysia, from 1984 to 1989.

See also

Further reading

  • Borschberg, Peter, “Three questions about maritime Singapore, 16th and 17th Centuries”, Ler História, 72 (2018): 31-54.
  • Borschberg, Peter, "The Seizure of the Santa Catarina Revisited: The Portuguese Empire in Asia, VOC Politics and the Origins of the Dutch-Johor Alliance (c. 1602–1616)", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 33.1 (2002): 31–62.
  • Borschberg, Peter, ed. (2015). Jacques de Coutre's Singapore and Johor, 1595-c.1625. Singapore: NUS Press. ISBN 978-9971-69-852-2.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Borschberg, Peter, ed. (2015). Journal, Memorials and Letters of Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge. Security, Diplomacy and Commerce in 17th-Century Southeast Asia. Singapore: NUS Press. ISBN 978-9971-69-798-3.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Borschberg, Peter, ed. (2015). Admiral Matelieff's Singapore and Johor, 1606-1616. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)


  1. ^ Christopher Buyers – The Ruling House of Malacca-Johor
  2. ^ Winstedt R. O. (1992). A history of Johore, 1365–1895 (M.B.R.A.S. Reprints, 6.). Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. p. 36. ISBN 983-99614-6-2.
  3. ^ Borschberg (2010a)
  4. ^ Borschberg (2011), pp. 215–223
  5. ^ Borschberg (2010b), pp. 97–100
  6. ^ M.C. Ricklefs, Bruce Lockhart, Albert Lau, Portia Reyes, Maitrii Aung-Thwin. A New History of Southeast Asia. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 150. ISBN 9781137015549.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b Tan Ding Eing (1978). A Portrait of Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0195807226.
  8. ^ a b Jim Baker. Crossroads (2nd Edn): A Popular History of Malaysia and Singapore. Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-9814516020.
  9. ^ John Miksic (15 November 2013). Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300–1800. NUS Press. pp. 204–207. ISBN 978-9971695743.
  10. ^ E. M. Jacobs, Merchant in Asia, ISBN 90-5789-109-3, 2006, page 207
  11. ^ Andaya & Andaya (2001), p. 101
  12. ^ Andaya & Andaya (2001), p. 102
  13. ^ The Family Tree of Raja Temenggung of Muar, traditional sources, Puan Wan Maimunah, 8th descendant of Sa Akar DiRaja
  14. ^ "History", Embassy of Malaysia, Seoul Archived 30 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Othman (2006), p. 239
  16. ^ Othman (2003), p. 36
  17. ^ a b Othman (2003), p. 57
  18. ^ Othman (2003), p. 136
  19. ^ Othman (2003), p. 61
  20. ^ Othman (2003), p. 62
  21. ^ Ministry of Culture (Publicity Division), Singapore; Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore., Singapore: A Ministry of Culture Publication, pg 24
  22. ^ Trocki (1979), p. 108
  23. ^ Othman (2007), p. 90
  24. ^ Othman (2007), p. 46
  25. ^ Othman (2007), p. 40
  26. ^ Othman (2007), p. 67
  27. ^ Othman (2007), p. 68
  28. ^ Othman (2007), p. 70
  29. ^ Othman (2007), p. 75
  30. ^ Othman (2007), p. 221
  31. ^ Baginda Omar's private correspondences, National Archives, Kuala Lumpur
  32. ^ Othman (2007), p. 85
  33. ^ Othman (2007), p. 86
  34. ^ a b Othman (2007), p. 87
  35. ^ Ahmad Fawzi Basri, Johor 1855–1917 : Pentadbiran dan Perkembangannya, Fajar Bakti, 1988, pages 33–34


Abdul Jamal

Tun Abdul Jamal bin Tun Abbas (1720 – 1802) was the first Temenggong of Johor. He is noted to be the direct ancestor to the current Sultan of Johor and the descendants of the House of Temenggong.

Abdul Jamil

Abdul Jamil (Arabic: عبد الجميل‎) (also spelled Abdülcemil) is a Muslim given name of Arabic origin, made from the elements Abd, al- and Jamil, meaning servant of the beautiful one.

It may refer to:

Abdul Jamil Khan (born 1930), Pakistani medical doctor

Abdul Jamil Tajik, Pakistani American researcher

Tun Abdul Jamil (died 1688), Malay warrior of the Johor Sultanate

Mustafa Abdülcemil Qırımoğlu (born 1943), Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People

Alauddin Riayat Shah II of Johor

Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah II ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Shah (died 1564) was the first Sultan of Johor. He ruled Johor from 1528 to 1564. He founded the Johor Sultanate following the fall of Malacca to the Portuguese in 1511. He was the second son of Mahmud Shah of Malacca. Thus, Johor was a successor state of Malacca and Johor's sultans follow the numbering system of Malacca. Throughout his reign, he faced constant threats from the Portuguese as well as the emerging Aceh Sultanate.

Dutch Malacca

Dutch Malacca (1641–1825) was the longest period that Malacca was under foreign control. The Dutch ruled for almost 183 years with intermittent British occupation during the Napoleonic Wars (1795–1818). This era saw relative peace with little serious interruption from the Malay kingdoms due to the understanding earlier on forged between the Dutch and the Sultanate of Johor in 1606. This time also marked the decline of the importance of Malacca. The Dutch preferred Batavia (present day Jakarta) as their economic and administrative centre in the region and their hold in Malacca was to prevent the loss of the city to other European powers and subsequently the competition that would naturally come with it. Thus in the 17th century, with Malacca ceased to be an important port, the Johor Sultanate became the dominant local power in the region, due to the opening of its ports and the alliance with the Dutch.

Family tree of Johor monarchs

The following is family tree of the Malay monarchs of Johor, from the establishment of the Old Johor Sultanate in 1528 until present day.

Johor Lama

Johor Lama is a mukim in Kota Tinggi District, Johor, Malaysia. It is situated on the banks of Johor River. It was once a thriving port and the old capital of the Johor Sultanate.

Kota Tinggi Museum

The Kota Tinggi Museum (Malay: Muzium Kota Tinggi) is a museum in Kota Tinggi Town, Kota Tinggi District, Johor, Malaysia. The museum is about the history of Johor Sultanate.

Laksamana Hang Nadim

Laksamana Hang Nadim was a warrior of the Johor-Riau during the Portuguese occupation of Malacca. He is the son of legendary Malacca Warrior Hang Jebat and foster son another legendary Malacca Warrior Hang Tuah.

After the fall of Malacca to the Portuguese in 1511, Sultan Mahmud withdrew from Teloh Naming to Ulu Muar, then settled in Pagoh and Bentayan. Sultan Mahmud and his descendants built up the Johor Sultanate as the basis of Johor-Riau Empire based in Johore, the Riau Islands, Pahang and all those parts of the old Malacca Sultanate which was not occupied by the Portuguese. Although Malacca had fallen to the Portuguese, Sultan Mahmud and his son Sultan Ahmad had continuously sent his army to attack the Portuguese in Malacca from 1511 till 1526. Sultan Mahmud died in Kampar, Sumatra in 1528 and was known as Marhum Kampar. [1]


Lingga may refer to:

MalaysiaLingga, Malaysia, a small town in Sarawak, Malaysia

Lingga (state constituency), represented in the Sarawak State Legislative AssemblyIndonesiaLingga Islands

Lingga Island, the largest island of the archipelago

Lingga, Karo Regency, a traditional village of the Karo people (Indonesia)SultanateJohor Sultanate, a former empire of the Malay Peninsula, sometimes known as Johor-Riau-Lingga

Riau-Lingga Sultanate, a sultanate formed after the partition of Johor-Riau

Mahmud Shah III of Johor

The Most Serene Prince Paduka Sri al-Wakil al-Imam Sultan Mahmud Ri’ayat Shah Zilu’llah fil’Alam Khalifat ul-Muminin ibni al-Marhum Sultan ‘Abdu’l Jalil Shah (24 March 1756–1811) was the 15th Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Johor of the Old Johor Sultanate Empire and their dependencies who reigned from 1770 to 1811.

Pahang Kingdom

The Pahang Kingdom (Malay: Kerajaan Pahang, Jawi: كراجاءن ڤهڠ ) was a Malay state that existed from 1770 to 1881, and is the immediate predecessor of the modern Malaysian state of Pahang. The kingdom came into existence with the consolidation of power by the Bendahara family in Pahang, following the gradual dismemberment of Johor Empire. A self rule was established in Pahang in the late 18th century, with Tun Abdul Majid declared as the first Raja Bendahara. The area around Pahang formed a part of the hereditary domains attached to this title and administered directly by the Raja Bendahara. The weakening of the Johor sultanate and the disputed succession to the throne was matched by an increasing independence of the great territorial magnates; the Bendahara in Pahang, the Temenggong in Johor and Singapore, and the Yamtuan Muda in Riau.In 1853, the fourth Raja Bendahara Tun Ali, renounced his allegiance to the Sultan of Johor and became independent ruler of Pahang. He was able to maintain peace and stability during his reign, but his death in 1857 precipitated civil war between his sons. The younger son Wan Ahmad challenged the succession of his half-brother Tun Mutahir, in a dispute that escalated into a civil war. Supported by the neighbouring Terengganu Sultanate and the Siamese, Wan Ahmad emerged victorious, establishing controls over important towns and expelled his brother in 1863. He served as the last Raja Bendahara, and was proclaimed Sultan of Pahang by his chiefs in 1881.

Pedra Branca dispute

The Pedra Branca dispute [2008] ICJ 2 was a territorial dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over several islets at the eastern entrance to the Singapore Strait, namely Pedra Branca (previously called Pulau Batu Puteh and now Batu Puteh by Malaysia), Middle Rocks and South Ledge. The dispute began in 1979 and was largely resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2008, which opined that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore and Middle Rocks belonged to Malaysia.

In early 1980, Singapore lodged a formal protest with Malaysia in response to a map published by Malaysia in 1979 claiming Pedra Branca. In 1989 Singapore proposed submitting the dispute to the ICJ. Malaysia agreed to this in 1994. In 1993, Singapore also claimed the nearby islets Middle Rocks and South Ledge. In 1998 the two countries agreed on the text of a Special Agreement that was needed to submit the dispute to the ICJ. The Special Agreement was signed in February 2003, and the ICJ formally notified of the Agreement in July that year. The hearing before the ICJ was held over three weeks in November 2007 under the name Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia v. Singapore).

Singapore argued that Pedra Branca was terra nullius, and that there was no evidence the island had ever been under the sovereignty of the Johor Sultanate. In the event the Court did not accept this argument, Singapore contended that sovereignty over the island had passed to Singapore due to the consistent exercise of authority over the island by Singapore and its predecessor, the United Kingdom. The actions taken included selecting Pedra Branca as the site for Horsburgh Lighthouse and constructing the lighthouse, requiring Malaysian officials wishing to visit the island to obtain permits, installing a military rebroadcast station on the island, and studying the feasibility of reclaiming land around the island. Malaysia had remained silent in the face of these activities. In addition, it had confirmed in a 1953 letter that Johor did not claim ownership of the island, and had published official reports and maps indicating that it regarded Pedra Branca as Singapore territory. Middle Rocks and South Ledge should be regarded as dependencies of Pedra Branca.

Malaysia's case was that Johor had original title to Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge. Johor had not ceded Pedra Branca to the United Kingdom, but had merely granted permission for the lighthouse to be built and maintained on it. The actions of the United Kingdom and Singapore in respect of the Horsburgh Lighthouse and the waters surrounding the island were not actions of the island's sovereign. Further, the 1953 letter had been unauthorised and the official reports and maps it had issued were either irrelevant or inconclusive.

On 23 May 2008, the Court ruled that Pedra Branca is under Singapore's sovereignty, while Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia. As regards South Ledge, the Court noted that it falls within the apparently overlapping territorial waters generated by mainland Malaysia, Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks. As it is a maritime feature visible only at low tide, it belongs to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located. Malaysia and Singapore have established what they have named the Joint Technical Committee to delimit the maritime boundary in the area around Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks, and to determine the ownership of South Ledge.

Riau Islands

The Riau Islands (Indonesian: Kepulauan Riau) is a province of Indonesia. It comprises a total of 1,796 islands lying between the Malacca Strait, the Karimata Strait and the South China Sea. The province is located on one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, sharing water borders with Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Originally part of the province of Riau, the Riau Islands became Indonesia's third-youngest province in September 2002. The capital is Tanjung Pinang and the largest city is Batam.

The native inhabitant of the Riau Islands, called Orang Laut, formed the backbone of most Malay kingdoms from Srivijaya to the Johor Sultanate for the control of trade routes going through the Malacca Strait. After the fall of Malacca in 1511, the Riau islands became the centre of political power of the mighty Sultanate of Johor-Riau, based on Bintan Island, and were for long considered the centre of Malay culture.

Singapore in Malaysia

Singapore was one of the 14 states of Malaysia from 1963 to 1965. Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963 in the merger of the Federation of Malaya with the former British colonies of North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore. This marked the end of a 144-year British rule in Singapore which began with the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.

The union was unstable due to distrust and ideological differences between leaders of Singapore and of the federal government of Malaysia. They often disagreed about economics, finance and politics. In the Malaysian general election of 1964, the political party in power in the federal government, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), saw the participation of the Singapore-based People's Action Party (PAP) as a threat to its Malay-based political system. Also, major race riots that year involved the majority Chinese community and the Malay community in Singapore. During a 1965 Singaporean by-election, UMNO supported the opposition, Barisan Sosialis. In 1965, Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman decided to expel Singapore from the Federation, and the Parliament voted this on 9 August 1965. Singapore and Malaysia became distinct countries in 1966. However, they have continued to cooperate in commerce.

St. Paul's Hill

The St. Paul's Hill (Malay: Bukit St. Paul) is a hill in Malacca City, Malacca, Malaysia.

Tanjung Pinang

Tanjung Pinang is the capital of the Indonesian province of the Riau Islands. With a population of roughly 204,735, it is the second largest city of the province, after Batam.

Tanjung Pinang – whose name is taken from the position of a beech tree that juts into the sea – occupies a strategic location on the south of Bintan Island, guarding the mouth of the Bintan River. Tanjung Pinang has ferry and speedboat connections to Batam, Singapore (40 km away), and Johor Bahru.

Over the centuries, Tanjung Pinang came under the control of Sumatra, China, Malacca, the Netherlands, Britain, and Japan. These contacts each influenced its culture, also being a centre of Malay culture and trade traffic. In the 18th century, it was a capital of the Johor–Riau–Lingga Empire.

Tun Abdul Jamil

Laksamana Tun Abdul Jamil Paduka Raja was a Malay warrior of the Johor Sultanate. He played a major role in trying to wrest Malacca from Portuguese control.

Tun Habib Abdul Majid

Tun Habib Abdul Majid bin Tun Ali bin Tun Muhammad (1637 – 27 July 1697) was the 19th Bendahara (the ancient Malay equivalent of a Grand Vizier) of the Johor Sultanate during the late 17th century. The Johor Sultanate under Sultan Mahmud Shah II (who belonged to the Malacca-Johor royal family) saw a gradual decline of royal authority during Tun Habib's tenure as the Bendahara of Johor. Internal challenges within the Sultanate faced by Tun Habib consolidated his power as the Bendahara, in which case the Bendahara monopolised legitimate authority over the Johor Sultanate by the 1690s. After his death, Tun Habib's descendants spanned throughout the Johor Sultanate and established ruling houses in Riau-Lingga, Johor, Pahang and Terengganu.

Tun Sri Lanang

Tun Muhammad bin Tun Ahmad, better known as Tun Sri Lanang, was the Bendahara (Grand Vizier) of the royal Court of Johor Sultanate who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries. He served under two Sultans of Johor, namely; Sultan Ali Jalla Abdul Jalil Shah II (1570–1597) and Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah III (1597–1615) and also advisers to 3 Acheh sultans namely; Sultan Iskandar Muda (until 1636), Sultan Iskandar Thani (1636–1641) and Sultana Tajul Alam Safiatuddin Shah (1641–1675). He had two honorific titles throughout his lifetime; as the Bendahara of Johor, Bendahara Paduka Raja Tun Mohamad, while he was given the title of Orang Kaya Dato' Bendahara Seri Paduka Tun Seberang after settling in Aceh.


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