Johor History

Johor Bahru in Malaysia is a city that has emerged rather recently. The history of the city dates back to not for than one hundred and fifty years. “Johor” in Johor Bahru comes from the word ‘jauhar’ which is Arabic for ‘precious stones’. The name of the city itself is indicative of the influence that the Arab traders had cast on the city as they traced spices. The Siamese would relate ‘Johor’ with ‘Gangganu’ which translates as ‘treasured stones’ in English. The multifaceted character of Johor together with its multicultural ethnic mix which is evident even today had started to assimilate in its character from the time when the Dutch, Chinese, Malay, Portuguese, and British were fighting over it.

The history of the modern city of Johor can be traced back to the time of Dato’ Temenggong Daing Ibrahim who was the son of Temenggong Abdul Rehman, a descendant of Sultan Abdul Jalil 4 in Johor. In the year 1855, the authority of Johor was passed over to Dtao Teenggong Diang Ibrahim through a treaty signed between Johor’s Sultan Ali and the British living in Singapore. The control on Kesang was retained by Sultan Ali until before he died in the year 1877. It was then that the control of the territory was passed over to Abu Bakar. Although Daing Ibrahim maintained his government at Singapore, he wanted as well to develop Tanjung Puteri at Johor Bahru. During his reign the land was opened to the settler who were Chinese aborigines and who came from Singapore in order to cultivate pepper. This was a move that gave a considerable boost to the state’s economy.

As Abu Bakar took to himself the authority of Johor, he became famous under the name of Seri Maharaja Johor. Abu Bakar continued to maintain a friendly relationship with the British with a view to keep up and boost the economy and development of the place. It was in the year 1866 when he was crowned as the Sultan of Johor. It was in very short time that Abu Bakar earned the name of the Father of the modern Johor. It was he who had given Johor its present constitution, though it has undergone several amendments since then. The Sultan developed a much efficient and progressive administrative order and system in the city. The shifting of the government’s seat to Tanjung Puteri from Teluk Belanga took place in the year 1841. It was since this time that the development of Tanjung Puteri, which got renamed as Johor Bahru, started rapidly. A number of police stations, court houses, mosques, and government offices were built during the time. Istana Besar became the residence of Sultan Abu Bakar officially. It was also constructed during the time.

Sultan Ibrahim, the successor of Abu Bakar, kept continuous the relationship with the British. It was in the year 1910 when Ibrahim requested the British to counsel him in matters of the administration and development of Johor. Johor has continued to thrive since then and also after Malaysia got independence in the year 1957. Johor Bahru is one of the most prosperous and developed cities in Malaysia today.

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