Sultan Iskandar of Johor

Sultan Iskandar of Johor

In full, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Baginda Al-Mutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Sir Ismail Al-Khalidi (born April 8, 1932) in Johor Bahru was the eighth Yang di-Pertuan Agong (roughly equivalent to King) of Malaysia from April 26, 1984 to April 25, 1989, and fourth Sultan of Johor.

The eldest son of Sultan Ismail ibni Almarhum Sultan Ibrahim by Sultanah Ungku Tun Aminah binti Ungku Paduka Bena Sri Maharaja Utama Ahmad, the prince was named Tunku Mahmood Iskandar. However, popular belief was that as all other Sultans of Johor with the name "Mahmood" met with an uneasy end, he dropped his first name upon succeeding his father on May 10, 1981. In reality, since the reign of Sultan Ibrahim, the official royal emblem was a monogram with the letters 'S' & 'I' denoting his name ' Sultan Ibrahim' of which all of the eldest sons in the royal family was to have a name starting with the initial 'I' and thus Sultan Iskandar retained the monogram during his reign. This is also followed by the current 'Tunku Mahkota' or crown prince Tunku Ibrahim Ismail and his eldest son Tunku Ismail, the Raja Muda or the third in-line to the throne.

Sultan Iskandar divorced the mother of his Crown Prince, a Cornish lady by the name of Josephine Trevorrow, in favour of Tengku Zanariah binti Tengku Panglima Raja Ahmad of the Kelantan royal family. She served as his Raja Permaisuri Agong and is the current Sultanah of Johor.


A controversial figure in Malaysia, Sultan Iskandar has led a chequered life. Appointed "Tunku Mahkota" or Crown Prince in 1959, he was dismissed from that post in 1961 by his father after being found guilty of assault in the Malaysian courts and sentenced to imprisonment. The post of Tunku Mahkota was then given to his younger brother Tengku Abdul Rahman. In 1977, Sultan Iskandar was convicted of culpable homicide after shooting a man whom he accused as a smuggler but was later pardoned by his father. [ [ Nationsencyclopedia Malaysia GOVERNMENT] ] [ [ AROUND THE WORLD; Elected King's Reign Ending in Malaysia] ] [cite book|title=Metal Men: How Marc Rich Defrauded the Country, Evaded the Law, and Became the World's Most Sought-After Corporate Criminal|accessyear=September 20, 2007|url=|pages=145|author= A. Craig Copetas, Marc Rich|publisher=Little Brown|isbn=0349106843] However, Sultan Ismail relented on his deathbed after persual from the royal council of Johor and restored Tunku Mahmood Iskandar to the succession ten days before the former died. [cite book|title=Around the World on Expenses|accessdate=2007-09-20|url=|pages=190|author=Roland Huntford|publisher=Little Brown|isbn=006097060X]

A keen soldier, Sultan Iskandar was often at loggerheads with the then Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad while he was Sultan of Johor. However, in 1984, upon election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Iskandar warmed to his Prime Minister and relationships between the two reached dizzying heights when Mahathir was invested with the first class family order of the crown of Johor, a previously unheard of honour for a commoner.

While he was Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 1988, Sultan Iskandar created further controversy by assaulting a golf caddy, who laughed lightly when Sultan Iskandar missed a shot at a golf session. A military soldier, the brother of the caddy who was badly injured and subsequently ran amok in Kuala Lumpur causing a security scare. The soldier was later arrested and sent to a mental hospital. [ [ Johor Sultan Tells Dr Mahathir To Act Like A Pensioner!] ] Following which, Salleh Abas prosecuted Sultan Iskandar for Homicide and sentenced him to six months imprisonment. In response, the Sultan collaborated with then-Prime Minister Mahathir to fire Salleh Abas. [ [ May Day For Justice] ] [ [ Salleh speaks out] ]

Sultan Iskandar's younger son, Tengku Abdul Majid, also hit the headlines in October 1992 following news reports that he had assaulted the Perak goalkeeper, Mohamed Jaafar Mohamed Vello. [Prince to appear before MHF board, by Gerald Martinez, August 10, 1992, New Straits Times] [MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) ban Tunku Majid for five years, by Lazarus Rokk, October 19, 1992, New Straits Times] In the later part of the same year, Tengku Majid was also known for attacking an opponent during a hockey match and kicking the hockey coach and teacher, Mr Douglas Gomez (1940-1999). Sultan Iskandar himself was also known for playing a part in his son's assault. The assault by the Sultan sparked a constitutional crisis between the government and the Malay Rulers which culminated in the removal of the legal immunity from prosecution of all the rulers in March 1993. [ [ The Talk In KL: Royals rumble] ] [ [ Malaysia Prepares To Strip Sultans Of Their Immunity] ]

Sultan Iskandar, however, continues to be immune from prosecution for his previous offences as the law which provides for the rulers to be stripped of their legal immunity was not made retroactive. (i.e. having a backdating effect). The stripping of legal immunity is also toothless as families of Malay Rulers still flaunt the rules and engage in illegal activities such as gambling and drinking without any prosecution from the court of Islamic law.

In November 2006, Sultan Iskandar caused a stir during the ceremony of the Iskandar Development Region, who remarked that the Causeway, which connects Johor and Singapore, should be removed. He also remarked that the people should be wary of all foreigners as they were "vultures" and also urged the people not to hold them in high regard. [ [ Demolish Causeway - Sultan Iskandar] ] [ [ Sultan’s Causeway remark causes a stir] ]


The Iskandar Development Region (IDR) or South Johor Economic Region (now Iskandar Malaysia) was named after him. [ [ Sultan Of Johor Conferred Honorary Doctor Of Laws] ] Sultan Iskandar held the rank of Marshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. []


Further reading

* [ 04/11: Johor sultan calls for scrapping of causeway to Singapore]
* [ Johor Sultan: Support Pak Lah]
* [ JOHOR (Sultanate)]
* [ The Malay Rulers' Loss of Immunity]

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