Sultan Ibrahim of Johor

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor

Infobox_Monarch | name =His Royal Highness Almarhum Sultan Ibrahim
title =Sultan of Johor

caption =Almarhum Sultan Sir Ibrahim Iskandar Al-Masyhur ibni Almarhum Sultan Sir Abu Bakar
reign =Sultan of Johor - 4 June 1895-8 May 1959
coronation =2 November 1895
predecessor =Sultan Abu Bakar
successor =Sultan Ismail
suc-type =Tengku Mahkota
heir =Sultan Ismail
consort =Sultanah Helen Ibrahim, Sultanah Marcella
issue =4 sons, 1 daughter
royal house =House of Bendahara
royal anthem =
father =Sultan Abu Bakar
mother =Zubaida binti Abdullah
date of birth =17 September 1873
place of birth =Istana Bidadari, Serangoon, Singapore
date of death =8 May 1959 (age 85)
place of death =Grosvenor House, London, United Kingdom
buried =Makam Mahmoodiah |

Major-General Paduka Sri Sultan Al-Hajj Sir Ibrahim Iskandar Al-Masyhur (the Great) ibn Almarhum Sultan Sir Abu Bakar, GCMG, GBE, (17 September 1873-8 May 1959) was the second sultan of modernized Johor, in Malaysia. He was known as one of the richest men in the world during his reign.

He became highly unpopular later due to him being known as an Anglophile and opposed to Malayan independence. This led him to spend most of his time away from his state, travelling to Europe, particularly Britain.

Early life

Born Che Wan Ibrahim on September 17, 1873 in Istana Bidadari, Singapore, he was the only son of Che Wan Abu Bakar, Temenggung of Johor by Che Puan Besar Zubaidah ("nee" Cecilia Lange, daughter of Mads Johansen Lange; a Danish businessman with the nickname "the King of Bali" ). His title changed to Tunku Ibrahim in 1885, when his father, then Maharaja Abu Bakar, proclaimed himself sultan and sovereign of the state of Johor.

ultan of Johor

He succeeded his father Sultan Abu Bakar in 1895. An Anglophile, Sultan Ibrahim continued the policy of friendly relations with the crown of the United Kingdom, often manipulating his friendship with the reigning kings of Britain to thwart the expansionist ambitions of the British Colonial Office.

However, by 1914, financial mismanagement and worries over the impending First World War caused the British to force an Advisor upon Johor. Sultan Ibrahim lost his political independence, though he compensated for it by building his private army, the Askar Timbalan Setia.

During the Japanese occupation of Malaya between 1941 and 1945, Sultan Ibrahim received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Emperor of Japan, Showa Tenno.

His love for "all things English" caused a rift with his chief executive or "Menteri Besar" Onn Jaafar, who was also his adopted son and president of the United Malays National Organisation or UMNO - a Malay nationalist movement. Sultan Ibrahim's quick and enthusiastic accession to the Malayan Union caused uproar amongst his subjects and led to seven dignitaries (in Malay the group was called "Orang Tujuh") led by Dr. Awang Hassan to declare that by this act, the sultan had been automatically deposed in favour of his son.

Sultan Ibrahim quickly tried to restore his credibility by hosting UMNO's first general assembly at his palace in Johor Bahru in May 1946. He also joined a boycott of the installation ceremony of the first governor of the Malayan Union, Sir Edward Gent.

However, from time to time, Sultan Ibrahim voiced his concern over the demand for independence from the British. A speech delivered by the sultan, in which he exclaimed disbelief at the ability of Malayans to govern themselves, led to a walkout by UMNO President Tunku Abdul Rahman and other stalwarts.


The unpopularity of the sultan later led to him spending more time overseas, especially in Europe. He declined election as first Yang di-Pertuan Agong or king of independent Malaya and died in London on May 8, 1959. His eldest son succeeded him as Sultan Ismail. At the time of his death,Sultan Ibrahim was probably the longest reigning Malay sultan in Malaysian history after having ruled for 64 years.

The late sultan's body was shipped back to Johor Bahru for burial from London and it arrived a month later. It was reported that the casket containing the by now much decomposed remains of the late sultan caused a terrible stench at the state funeral.

In recent years, efforts have been made by the sultan's heirs to rehabilitate his image and paint him as a benevolent ruler. However, Sultan Ibrahim is largely remembered as an anti-independence figure, a wastrel and a close (almost deferential) ally of the British. The posthumous title of "the Great" (in Malay, "mil Masyhur") conferred on him by his grandson Sultan Iskandar, never caught on.


Sultan Ibrahim married at least four official wives who became sultanahs of Johor. They were:
* Ungku Maimunah binti Ungku Abdul Majid (d. 1909)
* Che Rogayah (d 1926)
* Helen Bartholomew Wilson (d 1977)
* Marcella Mendel (d 1982) - fathered a daughter, Meriam, when he was in his seventies.


During his reign, the Sultan was known as one of the richest men in the world. He also had a reputation as a wild international playboy. His exploits ranged from changing the colour of his racing horse to present it as an unknown – with better odds of course – to less savoury behaviour in the red-light area of Vienna. To be fair, he spread his wealth around, giving a magnificent pair of Malayan tigers to Edinburgh Zoo on the one hand and, on the other, sending a huge cash present to King George V on his Jubilee.

The Sultan was an Anglophile and spent much of his life away from Johor, preferring the more liberal delights of Europe. He sent his sons, by his Malay wives, to be educated in Britain.

The Sultan was reported to have given Sultanah Helen Ibrahim a spectacular jewel collection, reputedly giving her an emerald on her birthday and a diamond on their wedding anniversary, even after the divorce. It is little wonder that her jewellery collection was held to be the finest in the world.


Grand Commander of the Family Order of Johor (DK)-1891

Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Crown of Johor (SPMJ)-1891

Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Medal-1897

Imperial Order of the Osmans (Nishan-i-Osmanieh), 1st Class-1898

King Edward VII Coronation Medal-1902

King George V Coronation Medal-1911

Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG)-1916 (KCMG-1897)

Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Romania-1920

Grand Cordon of the Order of the White Elephant of Siam-1924

Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Cambodia-1933

Grand Cross of the Order of the Dragon of Annam-1933

Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun-1934

Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE)-1935 (KBE-1918)

King George V Silver Jubilee Medal-1935

King George VI Coronation Medal-1937

Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy-1938

Grand Cordon of the Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal-1953

Order of the Crown of State of Malaysia (DMN)-1958

External links

* [ Glasgow girl and the Sultan of Johore]
* [http://www.4dw.royalark/johor12 Royalty]

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