The Last Sultan of Singapore

Who was the Last Sultan of Singapore?

How did he look like?
Where did Singapore's last Sultan live?
Are his descendants still alive?

Present Day Singapore

That was taught to us during our primary school days

Yusof Bin Ishak, Singapore 1st President


Singapore's First President, Yusof Bin Ishak

As a fellow Malay Singaporean, I feel that its a lil bit of a civic duty of mine to share about our last Royal family, what really happened to them, what became of their statuses back then, and what became of their rightful inheritance and supposed lineage. The questions have bewildered me for many years now and as they’re not shared in our mainstream classes, I decided take it upon myself to publish whatever findings I can possibly find.. Heck, when I was younger, I thought the late Mr Yusof Ishak was of royal bloodline, but alas, he was not the last Sultan of Singapore 

The vast majority of us are well aware of our modern founding fathers like Sir Stamford Raffles, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Goh Keng Swee etc. But there has been not much talk about our roots, about how were the Malay regarded as the aborigines of this country. For the benefit of our newly appointed Citizens and Permanent Residents, you will not have the luxury of being educated of this piece of history that goes back all the way before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, so dig in this article if you can!

The vast majority of us are well aware of our modern founding fathers like Sir Stamford Raffles, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Goh Keng Swee etc. But there has been not much talk about our roots, about how were the Malay regarded as the aborigines of this country. For the benefit of our newly appointed Citizens and Permanent Residents, you will not have the luxury of being educated of this piece of history that goes back all the way before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, so dig in this article if you can!

The Main Characters in This Story

Via their individual Ancestory

The Rightful Royals

The Outsiders who Took Over Governance

  • Sultan Hussein Shah - Father
  • Sultan Ali ibnu Hussein Shah - Son
  • Tengku Alam ibnu Ali - Grandson
  • Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim - Father
  • Abu Bakar Ibnu Ibrahim - Son
  • The Last Sultan and His Royal Subjects

    Just a little bit of education about the Royal line of rulers. Similarly with our current modern systems of Governance, our aboriginal rulers had their head of state- the Sultan. For Singapore, our last Sultan lived in the vicinity of Johore State, and had one of his Chief Ministers- the Temenggong- to be the caretaker of Singapore.

    Sultan Hussein Mua’zzam Shah ibni Mahmud Shah Alam, ruled Singapore and the state of Johor for decades and had left Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim to govern Singapore in his stead. With the arrival of the British in 1819, Sultan Hussein allowed for Singapore to be turned into a trading post due to the Island’s strategic geometric location on sea-trade routes. Unknowingly to him, that proved to be the tipping point of Singapore’s future. He had just unleashed a can of worms. His son, the would-be Sultan Ali would then inherit all his assets and subjects as normal procedural royal inheritance.

    In 1855, Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, emboldened by his close ties to the British Empire, challenged the authority of Sultan Ali over the territories in Johore. The proposed plan was for Sultan Ali to denounce his Sultanship over some areas in Southern Malaya, specifically the state Johore, with the incentives of retaining some territories further north of Malaya including the island of Singapore itself and in return? Sultan Ali gets to enjoy annual monetary tributes. What we don’t really know is what really took place.Was Sultan Ali bribed? Was he threatened to do so? What spurred him to relinquish his authority to the Temenggong? The mystery dies with him and his line of descendants.

    Feud between the son of a Sultan and a Temenggong

    27 years later, upon the death of Sultan Ali, the territories(in Kesang) got involved in a succession debate. After much fanfare and anger, the son of the Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim- Abu Bakar, inherited the lands, which was supposedly to be in the rightful hands of Sultan Ali's son - Tengku Alam. Tengku Alam did try to fight for his rights, event to the extent of launching Perang Jementah - or Jementah Civil War. But alas, the Temenggong family had the might of the British army behind them.

    And so, with this treaty, Temenggong Abu Bakar proclaimed himself as the new Sultan of Johore. 

    What happened to Tengku Alam?

    Ashamed and bittered by his defeat at Jementah, Tengku Alam returned to Singapore, where he lived at Istana Kampong Glam located near to Masjid Sultan. He died at an early age of 46 and never reclaimed his rights as Sultan of Johore. But we know now that Tengku Alam was Singapore's last Sultan, an ironic similarity that reflects the fall of Malay dominance in Singapore.

    Pak Nasir

    Pak Nasir

    Bringing you juicy news from our tiny red dot. And the areas surrounding it.

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