Friday, January 29, 2010

Modern Johor Sultanate(1855 until now)

Johor is a constitutional monarchy. Johor was the first state in Malaysia to adopt the constitutional monarchy system via Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Johor (Johor State Establishment Constitution) written by Sultan Abu Bakar. The constitutional head of Johor is the Sultan. This hereditary position can only be held by a member of the Johor Royal Family, who is descended from Sultan Abu Bakar. The State's Sultan since 1981 has been Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj. His Majesty passed away on Fri, 22 Jan 2010. Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar was proclaimed as the new Sultan of Johor on Sat, 23 Jan 2010.

Johor was the first state and currently the only state in Malaysia that has its own military force called the Royal Johor Military Force or 'Timbalan Setia Negeri'. It is a private army of the Sultan of Johor located at Johor Bahru City.

Modern Johore Sultanate

As the Sultan Mahmud Muzaffar was ousted and the new Sultan declared territory separate from the former Johor Empire, it was akin to a sheep slaughtered with Sultan and Riau-Lingga represented by the head. The Bendahara is now the virtual head of remnants of the Empire as per the prevailing adat. Temenggung Ibrahim of Johore understood this situation and quickly signed a treaty with Bendahara Tun Mutahir of Pahang in 1861. The treaty recognizes the territories of Johor (mainland), the Temenggung and his descendent's 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 2 independent states, Johor and Pahang.

Temenggung Ibrahim opened up Bandar Tanjung Puteri in southern Johor as a major city. Bandar Tanjung Puteri would later be known as Johor Bahru. Temenggung Ibrahim was succeeded by his son, Temenggung Abu Bakar, who later took the title Seri Maharaja Johor.

Muar is another vassal of Old Johor Empire and is ruled by its own Raja Temenggung. At gunpoint, the Raja Temenggung and the chieftains of Muar handed over the control of Muar to Temenggung Abu Bakar in 1877; this later contributed to the Jementah Civil War. Temenggung 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 the Johor's independence. He is warmly accepted by the Queen and a friendship treaty was signed. After that he was formally crowned the Sultan of Johor. This sultanate has no relationship to the Old Johore Sultanate as the Johore Empire was broken up into its constituents; Pahang, Johor, Singapore(British), Lingga and Riau was separated.

Sultan Abu Bakar introduced a constitution known as Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Johor and developed an efficient administration system. He founded the Modern Sultanate of Johor. He also moved the official capital city of Johor to Johor Bahru and ordered the construction of Istana Besar, the official residence of the sultan in the city. Due to these achievements, Sultan Abu Bakar is known by the title "Father of Modern Johor".

Johor 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.

Sultan Sir Abu Bakar ibni Daing Ibrahim(1833-1895)

Sultan Sir Abu Bakar ibni Daing Ibrahim (3 February 1833 – 4 June 1895) was the 21st Sultan of Johor. He was also informally known as "The Father of Modern Johor", as many historians accredited Johor's development in the 19th century to Abu Bakar's leadership. He initiated policies and provided aids to ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs to stimulate the development of the state's agricultural economy which was founded by Chinese migrants from Southern China in the 1840s. He also took charge of the development of Johor's infrastructure, administrative system, military and civil service, all of which were modelled closely along Western lines.

Abu Bakar was noted for his diplomatic skills, and both the British and Malay rulers had approached him for advice in making important decisions. He was also an avid traveller, and became the first Malay ruler to travel to Europe during his first visit to England in 1866. In particular, Abu Bakar became a lifetime friend of Queen Victoria in his later years. Abu Bakar's friendship with Queen Victoria played an important role in shaping Johor's relationships with Britain, and was the only state by the end of the 19th century in the Peninsular Malaya to maintain autonomy in its internal affairs as the British Colonial Government pushed for greater control over the Malay states by placing a British Resident in the states. He was also an Anglophile, and many of his personal habits and decisions were aligned to European ideas and tastes.

Abu Bakar became the soverign ruler of Johor when his father, Temenggong Daing Ibrahim died in 1862. Six years later, Abu Bakar changed his legal state title of "Temenggong" to "Maharaja". In 1885, Abu Bakar sought legal recognition from Britain for another change in his legal state title of "Maharaja" to a regnal title of "Sultan", and was proclaimed the following year. In all, Abu Bakar's reign lasted for thirty-two years until his death in 1895.

Early years
Wan Abu Bakar was born on 3 February 1833 in Teluk Belanga, Singapore. He was the oldest son of Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, who in turn was a descendant of Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah IV, the first Sultan of Johor's Bendahara dynasty. Abu Bakar spent his childhood years in his father's kampung in Teluk Blanga; at a young age he was tutored by local teachers on Islam and Adat (traditional Malay law),[9] before he was sent to the Teluk Blanga Malay school, a mission school run by Reverend Benjamin Peach Keasberry. Under the guidance of the missionary teachers, Abu Bakar was observed to develop the manners of an English gentleman, and the ability to speak fluent English in addition to his native Malay.

In 1851, the Temenggong delegated Abu Bakar, then an eighteen-year old youth, to assist him in negotiation efforts against Sultan Ali, who was making frivolous attempts to claim sovereignty rights over Johor. As the Temenggong aged, he gradually delegated his state administrative duties to Abu Bakar. During this period, several British officers praised of Abu Bakar's excellent diplomatic skills, as mentioned in William Napier's diaries, who was the senior law agent of Singapore. Napier had accompanied Abu Bakar to fetch Tengku Teh, the mother of the deposed Sultan of Lingga, Mahmud Muzaffar Shah to Johor shortly after her son began to exert sovereignty claims over Pahang.

The outbreak of the Pahang Civil War the following year saw Abu Bakar befriending Tun Mutahir, whom he provided support for his war efforts. Abu Bakar married Mutahir's daughter in 1860 during a visit in Pahang, and the following year he signed a treaty of friendship, alliance and a guarantee of mutual support with Mutahir in 1861. Meanwhile, Temenggong Ibrahim was already suffering from a prolonged period of ill health, and a bout of high fever resulted in his death on 31 January 1862

As Temenggong

(i) Against the deposed sultan

Abu Bakar assumed office as the Temenggong of Johor within three days of his father's demise. At the time of his succession, Johor was facing a political threat from the deposed Sultan, Mahmud Muzaffar Shah. The Sultan was pursuing his sovereignty claims over Johor and Pahang and aimed to overthrow the Sultan of Terengganu with the backing of the Siamese. Mahmud Muzaffar Shah established an alliance with the Wan Ahmad, a brother and arch-rival to the Bendahara Tun Koris. The alliance ignited the concern of Abu Bakar that the fall of Pahang would bring Abu Bakar's political position in Johor under threat. Abu Bakar signed a treaty of friendship with Tun Koris in June 1862, and sent a small expeditionary force to aid Wan Ahmad in his war efforts in Pahang when war broke out in August 1862 and much of 1863.

(ii) Kapitan Cina
Within the first two years of his reign, Abu Bakar began issuing Western-style contracts (termed as Surat Sungai in Malay, literally "River Documents") to the Kapitan Cina (Chinese leaders) who have established plantations along river banks in Johor. Letters of authority (Surat Kuasa) were issued when the first Chinese leaders began settling in Johor during the 1850s. Abu Bakar quickly established goodwill relations with the Kapitan Cina; one Malay administrator who was able to speak the Teochew dialect (the language spoken by most Kapitan Cina) and read Chinese was employed for these purposes. He also employed the service of a Chinese contractor from Toisan, Wong Ah Fook, to oversee the construction of Istana Besar.

As various Chinese dialect groups began to compete for commercial interests in the 1850s and 1860s which led to communal violence, Abu Bakar and the Kapitan Cina in Johor (who were mainly migrants from Chaozhou) tried to assimilate Chinese entrepreneurs of non-Teochew origin. Abu Bakar gave official recognition and support for the Johor branch of the Ngee Ann Kongsi, which was seen as a secret society in Singapore at that time. As Johor prospered from the large revenues generated from the gambier and pepper plantations managed by the Kapitan Cina, Abu Bakar gave generous provisions to the Kapitan Cina in recognition for their contributions to the state; among his beneficiaries was a long-time family friend, Tan Hiok Nee, who was given a seat in the state council. The plantations operated relatively independently of the state government, and Abu Bakar had raised fears on the possible dangers that the plantations may face in the event of an economic crisis. Shortly after a financial crisis broke out in Singapore in 1864, Abu Bakar implemented a series of regulations on these plantations, as many of them were owned by Chinese businessmen from Singapore. The Kapitan Cina and the Singapore Chamber of Commerce were particularly disturbed by the new regulations, and accused Abu Bakar of attempting to impose a trade monopoly over Johor. The British government pressured Abu Bakar to retract the regulations, which he did so in January 1866. In addition, the Kapitan Cina also faced considerable difficulties in securing new agreements with Abu Bakar. The crisis was only resolved in 1866 after Abu Bakar designated five new ports for the registration of cargo, and the British softened their animosity against Abu Bakar

(iii) Muar
Abu Bakar's relationship with the ruler of Muar, Sultan Ali were strained. Shortly after Abu Bakar took his office from his late father, he sent a letter to Sultan Ali to assert Johor's sovereignty over Segamat, which Sultan Ali had hoped to exert political influence upon. In addition, Sultan Ali, who had borrowed a large sum of money from an Indian moneylender in 1860, became a source of irritation for Abu Bakar. Facing difficulties with paying back his debts to the moneylender, Sultan Ali called upon Abu Bakar to divert the payment of his monthly pension to the moneylender but alternated between recalling back the course of payment to himself and the moneylender. In 1866, when the moneylender lodged a complaint to the British government, Sultan Ali attempted to borrow a sum of money from Abu Bakar to repay his outstanding debts. As a result of these constant irritations, Abu Bakar (by then a Maharaja) persuaded the British governor to sign an agreement with the power to terminate payment of Sultan Ali's pension at the agreement of Abu Bakar and the British governor

(iv) New Capital Johor Bahru & Administration
Abu Bakar made revisions to Johor's Islamic code in 1863 shortly after the Sultan of Terengganu made extensive modifications to his state's Islamic judicial system more closely aligned with those of Syariah law. In a letter to the Straits Governor, Abu Bakar expressed hope that his revisions would suit more comfortably with European ideas. He founded an English school in Tanjung Puteri in 1864. Two years later, Abu Bakar moved the administrative headquarters to Tanjung Puteri, and officially renamed it as Johor Bahru. A new administration was set up, which was modeled after European styles and certain elements of a traditional Malay government. He recruited some of his close relatives and classmates which he had met during his days at the Teluk Blanga Malay school into the bureaucracy, and also set up an advisory council which included two Chinese leaders. In the early 1870s, the Governor of Straits Settlements, Sir Harry Ord, mentioned of Abu Bakar (who became a Maharaja in 1868) as the "only Raja in the whole peninsula or adjoining states who rules in accordance with the practice of civilized nations."

As Maharaja(1868-1885)
During a state visit to England in 1866, Abu Bakar was commonly addressed as the "Maharaja" of Johor and led him to realise that the Malay title of Temenggong was hardly known to the Western World. He contemplated a change of another title, which led him to send his cousin, Ungku Haji Muhammad and the Dato Bentara, Dato Jaafar to meet the Bugis historian, Raja Ali Haji who was residing in Riau. Raja Ali supported Abu Bakar's cause, after they did a cross examination and concluded that the past office holders had wielded actual control over the affairs of Johor, rather than the Sultans of the Bendahara dynasty. In addition, questions pertaining to Abu Bakar's pursuits to clamour for recognition were also sidelined as he was able to trace his ancestry to the first Sultan of the Bendahara dynasty, Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah IV by his patrilineal ancestors. The Sultan of Lingga, gave his approval for a formal recognition of Abu Bakar as the Maharaja of Johor, after Ungku Haji and Dato Jaafar travelled to Lingga and presented their claims. Abu Bakar also secured approval from the Governor of the Straits Settlements for his change in title, and was officially proclaimed as the Maharaja of Johor on 30 June 1868

In the mid 1870s, the Straits Governor, William Jervois contemplated on placing Maharaja Abu Bakar as the overlord of the chiefs in Negeri Sembilan after the British failed to quell the sectarian violence in Sungai Ujong. Abu Bakar's client, Tunku Antah was placed as the Yam Tuan of the Sri Menanti confederacy (comprising of several small states within the region), and Abu Bakar was made the adviser of Negeri Sembilan (except Sungai Ujong) in 1878. Abu Bakar was believed to have nursed expansionist ambitions, which was suggested by his involvement in the Pahang Civil War between 1857 and 1864. A later governor, Frederick Weld, aspired for stronger British control over the Malay states and was weary of Abu Bakar's influence. The chiefs were lukewarm to the prospect of Johor's sphere of influence over Negeri Sembilan, and in 1881 Weld convinced the chiefs within the Sri Menanti confederacy to deal directly with Singapore rather than with Abu Bakar. British officers were also appointed to oversee the affairs in 1883 and 1887, and were gradually given the powers similar to that of a British resident.

After Sultan Ali's death in 1877, the Raja Temenggong of Muar and its village chieftains voted in favour of a merger of Muar with Johor following a succession dispute between two of Sultan Ali's sons. Sultan Ali's oldest son, Tengku Alam, disputed the legitimacy of the chieftains' wishes and staked his hereditary claims over Muar. Tengku Alam instigated the 1879 Jementah Civil War in a bid to reclaim Muar, but was quickly crushed by the Maharaja's forces. During the 1880s, Abu Bakar actively encouraged the Chinese leaders to set up new gambier and pepper plantations in Muar.

Meanwhile, Weld's continued efforts to keep Abu Bakar's political influence in check and relations between Johor and Singapore became increasingly strained. Abu Bakar was reportedly said to be increasingly reluctant to accept advice from the British-appointed state lawyers, and increasingly turned to his private lawyers which he had employed.[30] Weld voiced his intent to place a Resident in Johor, which prompted Abu Bakar to make a trip to England in August 1884 to negotiate new terms with the British Colonial Office. The Assistant Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office, Robert Meade, conceded to Abu Bakar's request for an absence of a British Resident in Johor, although Abu Bakar gave an in-principle acceptance for an British adviser in Johor (though none was appointed until 1914).[31] An agreement was drawn up, and Abu Bakar was promised control over internal affairs in exchange for British control over foreign affarirs pertaining to the state.

Years as Sultan (1885-1895)

The Bendahara of Pahang, Wan Ahmad, was proclaimed Sultan in 1881. Abu Bakar, who was weary of the increasingly hostile political environment imposed by Weld, considered the importance of the superior moral authority that was accorded to a "Sultan" than to a "Maharaja". In 1885, Abu Bakar instituted the creation of a state postal and judiciary system modelled along British lines, as well as a military force, the Johor Military Forces (Malay: Askar Timbalan Setia) upon his return to Johor.

During his stay in London in late 1885, Abu Bakar expressed his desire to Meade for a formal recognition as the Sultan of Johor. He also met up with Queen Victoria, who had become a personal friend of Abu Bakar, within the same course of his visit. Queen Victoria consented to his wishes, and a treaty was signed on 11 December 1885 which formalised relations between Great Britain and Johor, was concluded between Abu Bakar and the Colonial Office. Abu Bakar also founded the state advisory board in London, which was intended to oversee state interests in London. Several retired officers from the Colonial Office, including William Fielding and Cecil Smith were personally appointed by Abu Bakar to oversee the board's administration.

The formal recognition of the British by Abu Bakar as the Sultan of Johor quickly drew criticisms among the Malays in Johor. A pantun circulated among the Malays in Johor, which poked jibes at Abu Bakar's background, became very popular. Many Malays were coy on accepting Abu Bakar as their paramount ruler, as they were skeptical of Abu Bakar's Temenggong political origins and Buginese heritage. Furthermore, his affinity with Western culture did not go down well with the culturally-conservative Malays. A proclamation ceremony was held on 13 February 1886, whereby Abu Bakar made an official announcement on his adoption of the title "Sultan" in place of "Maharaja".[39] In the same year on 31 July, Abu Bakar instituted the first state decorations, Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat Dihormati (also translated into English as "The Most Esteemed Family Order of Johor") and the Seri Paduka Mahkota Johor (Order of the Crown of Johor).

Wong Ah Fook, the contractor
Abu Bakar employed the service of a Chinese contractor and long-time acquaintance, Wong Ah Fook, to oversee the development of Johor Bahru. The Johor Archives showed that Wong was the largest building contractor at that time and had been involved in at least twenty public works projects between 1887 and 1895. In addition, Wong was contracted to oversee the construction of the state mosque and several palaces under the direction of Abu Bakar.[41] As a gratitude to Wong's contributions to the state, Abu Bakar granted him a plot of land in the heart of Johor Bahru in 1892. Wong then oversaw the construction of a village, Kampong Ah Fook, as well as a road, Jalan Wong Ah Fook on the land that he was granted

Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar Al-Masyhur ibni Abu Bakar, GCMG, GBE, (17 September 1873–8 May 1959)

Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar Al-Masyhur ibni Abu Bakar, GCMG, GBE, (17 September 1873–8 May 1959) was the 22nd Sultan of Johor, in Malaysia. He was known as one of the richest men in the world during his reign.

An Anglophile, Sultan Ibrahim continued the policy of friendly relations with the crown of the United Kingdom, often manipulating his friendship with the reigning kings of Britain to thwart the expansionist ambitions of the British Colonial Office.

He became highly unpopular later due to him being known as an Anglophile and opposed to Malayan independence. This led him to spend most of his time away from his state, travelling to Europe, particularly Britain.

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. D.G. Campbell was dispatched as the first British advisor to Johor.

Sultan Ibrahim passed away in London in 1959 and replaced by Sultan Ismail. Sultan ruled until 1981 and was replaced by Sultan Iskandar. Sultan Iskandar passed away on 22 January 2010, and replaced by his son Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ibrahim Ismail, who proclaimed as the next Sultan of Johor(Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Iskandar Al-Haj)on 23 January 2010.

World War II and Malaysia

The Second World War broke out in 1939 and Japan invaded British Malaya in December 1941. The British, who were responsible for Johor's defense, were swiftly defeated by the Japanese and retreated to Singapore to make a stand. Japan occupied Johor from 1942 to 1945. Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.

With the end of the war, the British came back and in 1946, Johor became part of the Malayan Union. Opposition to the Union by Malay nationalists, led by Dato' Onn Jaafar, however forced its dissolution and in 1948, the state joined a new federation called Malaya. It achieved independence in 1957 along with the rest of the Malay Peninsula, and later in 1963, it was one of the fourteen states that formed Malaysia.

Chronological list of rulers

Temenggung Daing Tun Ibrahim 1855 - 1862
Wan Abu Bakar Daing Ibrahim 1862 - 1868

Abu Bakar Daing Ibrahim 1868= 1885

Sir Abu Bakar Daing Ibrahim 1885 - 1895
Ibrahim Iskandar Al-Masyhur 1895 - 1959
Ismail Al-Khalidi Ibrahim Al-Masyhur 1959 - 1981
Mahmud Iskandar Al-Haj Ismail Al-Khalidi1981 - 2010
Ibrahim Ismail 2010 - now

Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar was proclaimed as the new Sultan of Johor on Sat, 23 Jan 2010.

Related articles:
1. Abu Bakar of Johor,
2. Ibrahim of Johor,
3. Ismail of Johor,
4. Iskandar of Johor,
5. Ibrahim Ismail of Johor,
6. Tunku Ismail Ibrahim,
7. Johor,
8. Johor Sultanate,

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