Strait of Johor



The Strait of Johor is situated north of Singapore, between mainland peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.1 The Territorial Waters Agreement of 1927 specified an imaginary line in the Johor Strait as an international boundary, following which a new boundary line was drawn in 1994 to help resolve future border disputes. There are no marker buoys indicating the actual border line, as this deep waterway is used as a shipping lane.

History
The Johor Strait appears in Manuel Godinho de Erédia’s 1604 map as “Salat Tubro” and in Jean-Baptiste d’Apres de Mannevillette’s 1775 map as “Det. De Salete Baro”. The strait was often wrongly labelled as the “Old Strait of Singapore”, such as in J. B. Tassin’s 1837 map and J. N. Bellin’s 1755 map.2

The name Johor Strait did not come into use until the 1890s.3 It was also called the Tebrau Strait.4

A group of primitive people known as orang seletar once roamed the northern creeks of Singapore along the present Johor Strait until the 1850s when the area became more inhabited by other locals.5

Description
The 50-kilometre-long Strait of Johor sits between Singapore and Johor at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. There are two bridges crossing the strait. The Causeway, is a rail and road link between Johor Bahru in Malaysia and Woodlands in Singapore.6 The other one, known as the Second Link connects Tanjung Kupang in Johor and Tuas in Singapore.7

International passageway
The Johor Straits is a deep waterway and has been used as a shipping lane.8

During the colonial period, the British built their naval base in Sembawang on the strait. On 2 December 1941, famous warships such as the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse made a stopover there.9

First border agreement
In 1927, the Territorial Waters Agreement was made between the governments of the Straits Settlements and the State of Johor. The treaty specified an imaginary line in the Johor Strait as an international boundary between Johor and Singapore.10

Subsequent border agreement
With the shifting of the Johor Strait due to land reclamation by both Singapore and Johor, it would in future be difficult to determine the boundary along certain stretches of the deep-water channel. It thus became imperative for Malaysia and Singapore to reach an agreement on the boundary line. Both countries then decided that a formal agreement on a definite final boundary line would solve border disputes should these occur.11

Surveys began in 1982 to properly define the boundary. After talks spanning 14 years, Malaysia and Singapore finalised the Boundary Agreement on the boundary in the Strait of Johor during their seventh meeting on 14 October 1994. The new boundary was drawn through precise coordinates based on the results of joint hydrographic surveys to determine territorial waters. As the strait is used for shipping, there are no marker buoys to indicate the actual border line for safety reasons.12

Key features
The development of a causeway in the Strait of Johor linking Singapore to Malaya began in 1919 at a cost of about $17 million. Prior to this, one had to take a ferry boat to cross over to Malaya.13 The causeway was opened to traffic in October 1923,14 and officially opened on 28 June 1924 by then Governor Laurence Guillemard in the presence of the sultan of Johor.15 An agreement between the governments of Malaysia and Singapore was signed on 22 March 1994 to build a second link.16 It was opened for public use on 2 January 1998,17 and officially opened on 18 April the same year by then Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong and his Malaysian counterpart, Mahathir Mohamed.18

Rivers
Several rivers flow into the Johor Straits from Singapore. They include:
Sungei Sembawang19
Sungei Buloh Kechil20
Sungei Buloh Besar21
Sungei Simpang22
Sungei Melayu23
Sungei Perempan Besar24
Sungei Cina25
Sungei Mandai26
Sungei Mandai Kechil27
Sungei Khatib Bongsu28
Sungei Batu Kekek29
Sungei Besar30
Sungei Mamam31

Singapore islands
The islands situated in this waterway include:
Pulau Ubin32
Pulau Tekong33
Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon)34
Pulau Buloh35
Pulau Sarimbun36
Pulau Punggol Barat37
Pulau Punggol Timor38 
Pulau Pergam39
Pulau Seletar40

Malay names

Johor Strait was originally known as Selat Tebrau. In Malay, tebrau refers to “big fish”, and selat means “strait”.41 Tebrau also refers to large areas of grassland like the prairies.42 The strait is also known as Selat Johor.43



Author
Vernon Cornelius-Takahama



References
1. Bogaars, G. (1956). The Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, 1864–1905. Singapore: G. P. O., p. 6. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.51 BOG); Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (2016). Johore Strait. Retrieved 2016, October 28 from Encyclopædia Britannica website: https://global.britannica.com/place/Johore-Strait
2. Visualising space: Maps of Singapore and the region. (2015). Singapore: National Library Board, pp. 66–68. (Call no.: RSING 911.5957 SIN)
3. Bogaars, G. (1956). The Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, 1864–1905. Singapore: G. P. O., p. 6. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.51 BOG)
4. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819–2005. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 24, 56. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
5. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819–2005. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 24, 56. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
6. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (n.d.). Johore Strait. Retrieved 2016, October 28 from Encyclopædia Britannica website: https://global.britannica.com/place/Johore-Strait; Johor Causeway. (1923, October 1). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Fernandez, W. (1998, April 19). Regional crisis draws S’pore, Malaysia closer. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Ismail Kassim. (1994, October 15). Pact on boundary in Straits of JohorThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. McIntyre, W. D. (1979). The rise and fall of the Singapore Naval Base, 1919–1942. London: Macmillan, pp. 47, 186. (Call no.: RSING 359.7 MAC); Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819–2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 177. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
10. Ismail Kassim. (1994, October 15). Pact on boundary in Straits of Johor. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Ismail Kassim. (1994, October 15). Pact on boundary in Straits of JohorThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Ismail Kassim. (1994, October 15). Pact on boundary in Straits of JohorThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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14. Johore Causeway. (1923, September 26). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. The Johore Causeway. (1924, July 5). The Malayan Saturday Post, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Ho, K. T. (1994, March 23). Singapore and Malaysia sign agreement to build second link. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Leong, C. T. (1997, December 31). Advance warning of jams to be given. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Fernandez, W. (1998, April 19). Regional crisis draws S’pore, Malaysia closer. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 2. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
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21. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 8. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
22. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 14. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
23. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 7. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
24. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 7. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
25. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, maps 1, 11. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
26. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 10. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
27. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 10. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
28. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 15. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
29. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 33. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
30. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 33. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
31. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 34. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
32. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, maps 32–35. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
33. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, maps 35A, 55. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
34. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 31. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
35. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 8. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
36. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 6. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
37. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, maps 16, 29. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
38. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, maps 29–30. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
39. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, maps 16, 36. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
40. Mighty Minds street directory. (2017). Singapore: Angel Publishing, map 15. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
41. Rajib, B. (1990, December 4). What’s in a name. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Borschberg, P. (2010). The Singapore and Melaka Straits: Violence, security and diplomacy in the 17th century. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 267. (Call no.: RSING 911.16472 BOR)
42. Rajib, B. (1990, December 4). What’s in a name. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
43. Rajib, B. (1990, December 4). What’s in a name. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we are able to 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.

 

Subject
Johor Strait
Territorial waters--Singapore
Straits--Singapore
Streets and Places
Arts>>Architecture>>Landscape architecture
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places