Johor Sultanate

Johor Sultanate

:"This article concerns the Sultanate of Johor. For office of the sultan, see Sultan of Johor."

The Sultanate of Johor (or sometimes Johor-Riau or Johor-Riau-Lingga) was founded by Malaccan Sultan Mahmud Shah's son, Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah in 1528. 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 parts of southeastern Sumatra. In 1946, it became part of the Malayan Union. Two years later, it joined the Federation of Malaya and subsequently, the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

Fall of Malacca and Sultan Mahmud Shah

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 organized 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 Kiayat 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 wasn't 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.

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

Triangular war

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 was beginning to gain substantial influence over the Straits of Malacca. With the fall of Malacca to Christians' hands, Muslim traders often skipped Malacca in favor of Aceh. Therefore, Malacca and Aceh became direct competitors.

With the Portuguese and Johor frequently locking horns, Aceh launched multiple raids against both sides in order to tighten its grip on the straits. The rise 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.

Dutch Malacca

In the early 17th century, the Dutch reached Southeast Asia. The Dutch were no friend of the Portuguese and allied themselves with Johor (responsible was Pieter Willemsz. Verhoeff in 1608). Finally in 1641, the Dutch and Johor defeated the Portuguese. Malacca hence became a Dutch territory and remained so until the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 was signed.

Johor-Jambi war

During the triangular war, within the Johor empire, Jambi emerged as a regional economic and political power. Soon in 1666, it tried to break free from Johor and between 1666 and 1673, a civil war erupted between Johor and the Sumatran state. The war was disastrous for Johor as Johor's capital, Batu Sawar, was sacked by Jambi. After the sack, the capital of Johor was frequently moved to avoid the threat of attack from Jambi.

In their efforts to keep the sultanate together, the ruler's shifted their centre of power many times from Pekan Tua to Johor Lama (Kota Batu), Seluyut, Tanah Puteh, Batu Sawar and Makam Tauhid during the reign of Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah III (1623–1677). Johor emerged as the most powerful authority along the Straits of Malacca during the reign of Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah III. He aided the Dutch to defeat the Portuguese and as a result of his good relationship, Johor's trade along the Straits of Malacca was left undisturbed.

Throughout the decade, Jambi continued to exert extraordinary influence on Johor. In 1679 however, Laksamana Tun Abdul Jalil paid Bugis mercenaries to fight alongside Johor against Jambi. Soon afterward, Jambi was brought to its knees.

Bugis infiltration

Sultan Mahmud Shah II of Johor died in 1699 without an heir. The problem was quickly solved when the viceroy Bendahara Abdul Jalil declared himself the new sultan and called himself Sultan Abdul Jalil IV. Many however felt that the declaration was illegal.

The Bugis, which 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 was the Minangkabau. Both the Bugis and the Minangkabau realized 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 Bugis assistance. 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. [ [ "History", Embassy of Malaysia, Seoul] ]

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 treasurer, "Temenggong", "Laksamana", "Shahbandar" and "Seri Biji Diraja". During the 18th century, the Treasurer of Johor 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. Johor's centre of administration was initially based on the mainland of Johor. It then shifted to Bintan Island and then to Lingga. When the Sultanate split up on 17 March 1824 after the London Treaty or Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, the centre of administration was in Singapore. It then shifted to Tanjung Puteri, known today as Johor Bahru. Meanwhile, the Lingga-Riau administration was based at Lingga Island.

ingapore 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 in order 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.

Raffles' expedition arrived in Singapore on January 29, 1819. He discovered a small Malay settlement at the mouth of Singapore River headed by a Temenggung (governor) of Johor. Though the island was nominally ruled by the sultanate, the political situation there was extremely murky. The current 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 Penang getting married when their father died in 1812. According to Malay tradition, a person has to be by the dying sultan's side in order to be considered as the new ruler. Predictably, the older brother was not happy with the development. Furthermore, the Temenggung preferred Tengku Hussein to the younger brother.

Upon learning of these Johor political tensions, Raffles made a deal with Tengku Hussein. Their agreement stated that the British would acknowledge Tengku Hussein as the legitimate ruler of Johor, and thus Tengku Hussein and the Temenggung 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 February 6, 1819.

With the Temenggung's help, Raffles managed to smuggle Hussein, then living in exile on one of the Riau Islands, back into Singapore.

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. The treaty divided the Sultanate of Johor into modern Johor and the state of Riau-Lingga.

In the newly-formed Johor, although Tengku Hussein was the sultan, it was the Temenggung who wielded real authority. The Bugis, on the other hand, controlled Riau under the auspices of the Dutch.


In 1855, under a treaty between the British in Singapore and Sultan Ali of Johor, the control over the state was formally ceded to Temenggung Ibrahim, with the exception of Muar. Muar was later handed over to the Temenggung's control in 1877; this later contributed to the Jementah Civil War. 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. In 1866, he was formally crowned the Sultan of Johor. Sultan Abu Bakar introduced a constitution known as "Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Johor" and developed an efficient administration system. 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.

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

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 February 15 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.

ee also

* Founding of modern Singapore
* Johor


* [ The Johor Empire] at
* [ JOHOR (Sultanate)] at

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