Sultan Hussein Shah

Sultan Hussein Mohamed Shah (b. 1776/1777 - d. 1835, Malacca) a.k.a Tengku Long or Tengku Hussein, was the eldest son of Sultan Mahmud Shah, the last ruler of the Johore empire. As the eldest son, he was the rightful heir to the throne. He was bypassed for kingship that instead went to his younger brother Abdul Rahman. The British reinstated him as part of their strategy to gain a foothold in the Far East trade routes.

Before Kingship

Tengku Hussein, or Tengku Long, was the eldest son and thus heir-apparent heir to Sultan Mahmud, ruler of the fading Johore empire which stretched to include Pahang, the Riau islands and Singapore. Reluctant to head the empire, Hussein never claimed full rulership when his father died in 1812. His younger brother, Abdul Rahman, claimed this position instead, supported by the Bugis of the Riau Archipelago despite opposition from the Malay chiefs. With the Bugis allying themselves with the Dutch, Abdul Rahman's title gained endorsement from the Dutch in 1818. This endorsement did not however end the tussle for overall control of the Johore empire. It intensified when the British came into the picture, after having decided that they needed a settlement in the Malay straits to further their trading interests.

Eager to prevent Dutch monopoly over the lucrative Eastern trade routes, Raffles saw in Tengku Hussein and Singapore an opportunity for the East India Company (EIC) to preside over trade routes going to the Far East, especially China. Sir Stamford Raffles, then the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen, together with Colonel William Farquhar, surveyed the Malay waters and chose Singapore for the EIC's trade headquarters. They then sought out Temenggong Abdul Rahman, Tengku Hussein's representative in Singapore, to endorse the flying of the British flag on the island in return for British support and protection of Tengku Hussein as the ruler of Johore. Tengku Hussein was installed as the Sultan of Johore by the Company on 6 February 1819, and Hussein henceforth assumed the kingly title of Sultan Hussein Mohammed Shah.

After Kingship
Sultan Hussein prospered for a while after his kingship. Prior to becoming Sultan, he was living quietly and penniless in Riau. The arrangement with the British gave him prestige and wealth, and soon with a monthly allowance of $416, he was able to command a royal living and even had a part of the island, Kampong Glam, exclusively allotted to him and his family. His wish of a palace or istana was granted and his entourage followed him in his move from Riau to Kampong Glam.

Not long after, Sultan Hussein's troubles started, much owing to the aggravated expenses that he incurred in maintaining his lifestyle and his followers. His repeated demands for a larger income frustrated Raffles but it was not until Crawfurd's residentship of Singapore that was this dealt with. On 2 August 1824, Crawfurd quite cunningly negotiated for the complete transfer of power over Singapore and her surrounding islands from Sultan Hussein to the Company, leaving the Sultan monetary benefits of $32, 000 in lump sum and a fixed monthly lifetime allowance of $1300.

Loss of authority
Sultan Hussein did rarely see better days after the 1824 treaty with Crawfurd. Against Crawfurd's steadfast and sometimes forceful orders, he witnessed the realm of his prestige, authority and wealth diminished significantly. Two instances provide remarkable examples. One was a case involving his women servants who sought protection from the Colony's police after being allegedly mistreated by the Sultan. Crawfurd freed these women despite the Sultan's angry protest, an act that overrides the Sultan's authority in the area of Malay customs. Another instance which also became source of humiliation to the Sultan was British incursion into his private dwelling space. Crawfurd ordered for a road to be laid whose path unfortunately had to cut across the Sultan's grounds. Despite the show of defiance by the Sultan, Crawfurd forcefully razed the Sultan's wall to the ground to make way for the construction.

The move to Malacca
A personal misfortune involving his closest and most trusted family friend, Abdul Kadir, was the last straw that made Sultan Hussein cast his gaze northwards. In 1834, following the footsteps of Abdul Kadir, the Sultan moved together with his family to Malacca chiefly to live with his friend who later married one of the Sultan's daughters. At first Sultan Hussein stayed in Bandar Hilir, then moved to Kampong Belanda (Dutch) where he rented a house from a Mr. Adrian Minjoot before shifting to a new house in front of the second one. Sultan Hussein died in Malacca in 1835. His shrine can be found at the Tengkera Mosque, Malacca. Interestingly, description on a sign near the shrine included statements that the Sultan and the Temenggong were forced to cede Singapore to the British EIC.

Variant Names
Malay: Sultan Hussain Mohammad, Sultan Husain Muazam Shah.


Abdullah Haji Musa Lubis. [1961]. Sultan Husain Shah: Suatu cherita yang mengkesahkan peri perjuangan bagindo itu sa-hingga akhir hayat-nya [A biographical story of Sultan Husain Shah]. [Penang]: Sinaran.
(Call no.: RSEA Malay 959.5 ABD)

Khalid Hitam bin Raja Hasan. (2002). Bahwa inilah Syair perjalanan Sultan Lingga dan yang Dipertuan Muda Riau pergi ke Singapura dan peri keindahan istana Sultan Johor yang amat elok. Pekanbaru, Riau: Proyek Pembinaan Bahasa dan Sastra Daerah Riau, Dinas Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Pariwisata.
(Call no.: RMalay 899.281 KHA).

Turnbull, C. M. (1989). A History of Singapore: 1819-1988. Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)

Sheppard, M. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years (pp. 74-111). Singapore: Times Books International: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society .
(Call No.: RSING 959.57 SIN) 

Nadarajah, N. (2000). Johore and the origins of British control, 1895-1914 (pp. 11-15). Kuala Lumpur: Arenabuku.
(Call no.: 959.5 NES).

Soszynski, Henry. (2002, 1 July). Singapore Sultanate. Retrieved on 14 July 2003 from

Further Readings
Ernest C.T. Chew, et. al. (Eds.). (1991). A History of Singapore (pp.36-40). Singapore : Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 HIS) 

Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore's heritage : Through places of historical interest (pp.21-23). Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM)

Singapore Sultan's Treasures in Heir's Jakarta Home. (1994, March 3). The Straits Times, Life!, p. 14. 

Winstedt, R. O. Sultan Husain and Temenggong Abdu'r-Rahman. In Winstedt, Richard Olaf. (1979). A history of Johore, 1365-1895 (pp. 86 - 90). Kuala Lumpur: Art Printing Works: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5142 WIN) 

The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia
Sultan Hussein Shah, 1776 or 7-1835
Personalities>>Biographies>>Political Leaders
1826-1867 Straits settlements
1819-1826 Founding and early years
Malay--Kings and rulers--Biography
Events>>Historical Periods>>Founding of Modern Singapore (1819-1941)

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