Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Sultan Hussein Shah of Singapore

Parameswaran/Parameswara, a Hindu prince founded Malacca. Parameswara became Sultan Iskandar Shah when he married a Muslim princess. His palace could be anywhere.

The Malacca Sultanate is complex and the associated stories, long-winded and one full of unhappiness. Once initially a strong Hindu Sultanate, it became a Muslim Sultanate. However, it was weakened with internal troubles and power struggles, and it finally crumbled. Only stories remained of the once powerful Indian-Malay sultanate.

The last Malacca Sultan escaped south when the Portuguese attacked Malacca in August 1511.


The Johor Empire was another big Malay Empire but it did not last too. Rife with internal power struggles, which eventually led to the split in this region and now were are 3 totally different nations.


Raja Jawa poster in Facebook:

Raja Menangis Lenyapnya Kesultanan Melayu Singapura
"Jika istana ini hilang, Melayu di Singapura akan lenyap"
A photo showed a descendant and the caption says:
YAM Tengku Mohamed Shawal (berbaju Melayu kuning) adalah salah seorang keturunan Sultan Hussein Shah, Sultan Singapura.


Sultan Mahmud Riayat Shah III (1761-1812)
16th Sultan of the Johor Empire (a Malay empire)
His palace was at Pulau Lingga

Singapore was ruled by Raja-raja Melayu towards the end of the Johor Empire. At the time, Johor was a large empire, covering the regions of Pahang, Johor, Singapore and associated islands, and the islands forming Riau-Lingga today.


Sultan Abdul Rahman ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud
17th Sultan of the Johor Empire
1812 - ?
His palace was at Pulau Lingga

When the 16th Sultan of Johor, Sultan Mahmud Riayat Shah III (1761-1812) died at Pulau Lingga, which was the capital of Johor at the time, his elder son named Raja Hussain Shah (Hussain/ Hussein/ Hussin) and nicknamed Tengku Long (long for sulong)/ Tengku Embong, was in Pahang - getting married. As such he could not be at his father's side nor attend his burial rites. In the Malay Adat-istiadat Kesultanan Melayu, it is stated that the Sultan's successor must be first named, pronounced and sworn in as the deceased sultan's successor, before the deceased sultan can be buried. A separate full palatial ceremony is then held later for the new sultan's installation. Since the elder prince was away, an internal palace conspiracy grabbed the opportunity and the younger prince, Raja Abdul Rahman, was installed as the next Sultan of Johor.


Sultan Hussein Muazzam Shah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud
(i)  First Sultan of Singapore (Sultan Singapura Yang Pertama)
      31 January 1819 - 5 June 1834
(ii) Commoner in Malacca: 10 June 1834 - 5 September 1835 (deceased)

Appointment as First Sultan of Singapore 1819

When the elder prince returned and found out what had happened during his absence, he was unhappy and went to Lingga to claim what was rightfully his throne as the next Sultan of Johor, succeeding his father. Alas, all his efforts were futile and he was saddened.

In the meantime, the British were aware of the internal power struggles of the Johor Empire, that between the 2 princes, and decided to intervene, by taking sides with Raja Hussein Shah (who became Sultan Hussein Shah).

Lord Warren Hastings in India appointed Yang Teramat Mulia Raja Hussain Muazzam Shah as the First Sultan of Singapore (Sultan Singapura) and of its territories on 31 January 1819. His name was styled as Sultan Hussain Muazzam Shah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud. Sultan Hussein Shah then ordered the construction of his palace, Istana Kampong Glam, in 1820.

Kg Glam
There were 3 coastal villages allocated to the Singapore Muslims: Kg Arab, Kg Glam and Kg Bugis. Kg Glam was a Malay village. Istana Kampong Glam was constructed in 1820. The Sultan's mosque is Masjid Sultan.

Masjid Sultan
Masjid Sultan was initially a small prayer place. It was rebuilt with funds of the British Colonial Government and the Muslim community. It was renovated and is a beautiful mosque today.

Munshi Abdullah
Munshi Abdullah who had work under Stamford Raffles as a record clerk (pencatat) in Malacca, came to Singapore in June 1819 to continue his work. Since he came to Singapore later, he did not get to witness the swearing in of Sultan Hussein of Singapore, which was held at the Padang. However, he was informed of the occasion by his acquaintances who saw the ceremony. Munshi Abdullah was rather unhappy about what the British colonial masters had done. He knew that one day, the Sultan of Singapore would be ousted, and Singapore would be taken over by the non Malays.

Treaty of Singapore 1824

The installation of Sultan Hussien Shah was a great event as it caused the Johor Empire to fragment. He was forced to sign the Treaty of Singapore in 1824, in which he was to surrender his entire territories in Singapore to the British colonials. The next 10 years was a difficult time for Sultan Hussein Shah as the British tried to gain control of Singapore. John Crawford, British Resident, insulted the Sultan by saying he was no longer Sultan and need not live in Singapore anymore. Sultan Hussein was terribly upset. He finally left Singapore on 5 June 1834 and sailed to Malacca on board Julia, which belonged to Sultan Kedah. He reached Malacca 5 days later, on 10 June 1834.

After the Treaty of Singapore 1824

The large Johor Empire was divided into 3 - Johor became a part of Tanah Melayu under the British Colonial Government, and Riau-Lingga Archipelago went to Dutch Indonesia. Singapore became a British stronghold and a Crown Colony. This is how foreign powers seize Malay lands, divide and rule.

After Kg Glam 1834 / Life in Malacca

Sultan Hussein Shah chose to reside in Malacca as he had many relatives in Malacca. He was much respected and honoured by the Malays in Malacca even though the non Malays did not care about his presence.

However, his life in Malacca was unlike that in Singapore, where he had an assistant (pembantu) and a senior officer (pegawai kanan).

Sultan Hussein left Singapore and came to Banda Hilir to live. He rented a Chinese quarter and lived on his stipend given by the British Colonial Government. The Chinese quarter and the other Chinese huts nearby all belonged to Hj Mohd Sharif bin Ismail, a jaggery boiler and goldsmith in Banda Hilir, my great-grandfather.

The Sultan then moved to Jonker Street, where Masjid Kg Keling is and rented a Chinese quarter there. Masjid Kg Keling is 5 minutes walk to nearby Kg Pali. Kg Pali is the village of Munshi Abdullah, Raffles's clerk. Did Munshi Abdullah help Sultan Hussein Shah in Malacca in 1834, after he left Kg Glam?

Sultan Hussein's demise 1835

In addition to his sadness and worries, the depressed Sultan eventually passed away 15 months later, on 5 September 1835. He is interred at Masjid Tengkera. Sultan Hussein's tomb is at Masjid Tengkera, Melaka.

Remembering Sultan Hussein Shah of Singapore

It is no wonder that long after Sultan Hussien Shah died, a renowned parson - Ulamak Nusantara, Sheik Haji Abdul Latiff bin Haji Nuruddin (1872-1939) published Suara Benar. Who wouldn't want to know the truth? Sultan Hussein Shah is entombed in the grounds of Masjid Tengkera, which was built by Haji Muhammad Salleh (Nakhoda Nan Intan) in 1728. Nakhoda Nan Intan left Malacca for Batu Uban, Penang and built Masjid Batu Uban in 1734.

Funeral rites (Pengurusan jenazah)

Who attended to Sultan Hussein Shah's funeral rites?

Ulamak Nusantara, Sheik Haji Abdul Latiff bin Haji Nuruddin lived between 1872 and 1939 (67 years). He was the 8th generation of Nakhoda Nan Intan.

Four people from four generations of Nakhoda Nan Intan most probably took charge of the funeral rites of Sultan Hussein Shah.

Sultan Hussein Shah was possibly buried during the time when some of Sheik Haji Abdul Latiff's ascendants were still living in Tengkera.

1) They possibly include Sheik Haji Abdul Latiff's great-great-great-grandfather (Nakhoda's Nan Intan's grandson): Haji __ bin __  who lived between 1740s and the early 1800s. He was probably a great-grandfather (moyang; approximately 88 years old) when Sultan Hussein Shah passed away in Malacca.
  • 1747 - birth
  • 1747 - 1787 (40 years)
  • 1747 - 1797 (50 years)
  • 1747 - 1807 (60 years)
  • 1747 - 1817 (70 years)
  • 1747 - 1827 (80 years)
  • 1747 - 1835 (88 years)  .... Sultan Hussein Shah died on 5 September 1835 

2) Another person who could have witnessed and attended to Sultan Hussein Shah's funeral rites was Sheik Haji Abdul Latiff's great-great-grandfather (Nakhoda's great-grandson): Haji ___ bin ___ who lived between the late 1770s and the early 1860s. He was possibly a grandfather (datuk; approximately 63 years old) when Sultan Hussein Shah passed away in Malacca.
  • 1772 - birth
  • 1772 - 1812 (40 years)
  • 1772 - 1822 (50 years)
  • 1772 - 1832 (60 years) 
  • 1772 - 1835 (63 years) .... Sultan Hussein Shah died on 5 September 1835
  • 1772 - 1842 (70 years)
  • 1772 - 1852 (80 years)
  • 1772 - 1862 (90 years)

3) Yet another person who could have witnessed and attended to Sultan Hussein Shah's funeral rites was Sheik Haji Abdul Latiff's great-grandfather (moyang; Nakhoda Nan Intan's great-great-grandson): Haji  ___ bin ___ who lived between the late 1790s and late 1880s. He was possibly a young father (bapa muda; approximately 38 years old) when Sultan Hussein Shah passed away in Malacca.
  • 1797 - birth
  • 1797 - 1835 (38 years) .... Sultan Hussein Shah died on 5 September 1835
  • 1797 - 1837 (40 years)
  • 1797 - 1847 (50 years)
  • 1797 - 1857 (60 years)
  • 1797 - 1867 (70 years)
  • 1797 - 1877 (80 years)
  • 1797 - 1887 (90 years)

4) Still, another person who could have witnessed and attended to Sultan Hussein Shah's funeral rites was Sheik Haji Abdul Latiff's grandfather (datuk; Nakhoda Nan Intan's great-great-great-grandson): Haji Muhammad Salleh bin __ who lived between early 1820s and late 1890s/early 1910s. He was possibly a teenager son (budak belasan tahun; approximately 13 years old) when Sultan Hussein Shah passed away in Malacca.

  • 1822 - birth
  • 1822 - 1835 (13 years) .... Sultan Hussein Shah died on 5 September 1835
  • 1822 - 1862 (40 years)
  • 1822 - 1872 (50 years)
  • 1822 - 1882 (60 years)
  • 1822 - 1892 (70 years)
  • 1822 - 1902 (80 years)
  • 1822 - 1912 (90 years)

Sultan Hussein's tomb at Masjid Tengkera 1835

It is quite interesting to find his tomb here. His family members are buried at a basement grave of Masjid Sultan in Singapore. I wrote a post about the Singapore tombs in another blog (The Early Malay Doctors).

Sultan Hussein Shah is interred in a moderate tomb at a corner of the grounds of Masjid Tengkera. He is left alone, unknown to many. Only a small brown notice board tells his brief life story and an epitaph mentions him.

He was the most significant man in the founding of Singapore, the Malay state, but world history still chose to say that Stamford Raffles founded Singapore, which is untrue. What a lie and cover-up of a significant event in world history!

External links:

From the Daily Times, 5th February, Malacca.
Straits Times Overland Journal, 7 February 1879, Page 5

Makam Sultan Husssein at Masjid Tengkera, Melaka:
The Straits Times, 20 May 1950, Page 6

New Nation, 29 July 1971, Page 9

New Nation, 30 November 1974, Page 15

Distinctively Malaccan
The Business Times, 17 April 1982, Page 7

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