By Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli NST, Johor Buzz, 22 March 2010
WHEN Sultan Ibrahim appointed his second son Tunku Idris Iskandar as Tunku Temenggong Johor on Feb 26, he fulfilled his desire to maintain royal traditions created by his forefathers.
Tunku Idris Iskandar kissing the hand of his father Sultan Ibrahim after his appointment as Tunku Temenggong Johor in Johor Baru on Feb 26
During the glory days of the kingdom of Johor in the 14th century, royal titles wereused to differentiate the ranks and responsibilities of princes and leaders. The more well-known titles were bendahara, te-menggong and laksamana.
A bendahara was someone who ruled the peasantry, the army and those who depended on the state. He was also known as prime minister. The population then consisted of "sea people" or islanders who fished or offered protection to merchant ships, land dwellers and agriculturists who collected forest produce.
Among the notables was Bendahara Tun Sekudai, who determined Johor's suzerainty over Negri Sembilan in the 15th century, and Bendahara Tun Abdul Majid Sri Maharaja, the founder of the Bendahara dynasty after the assassination of Sultan Mahmood in 1699.
A temenggong was a deputy and heir apparent to the bendahara. He was a minister of justice with a functionary duty to enquire and to seek out criminals, prevent oppression and punish transgressors. The urban area was the realm of the temenggong.
He was the minister in charge of defence, police and trade. In palace court, he was in charge of ceremonies and official functions.
The third officer was a laksamana, or admiral, in charge of the navy. The Dato' Laksamana Paduka Raja of the late 16th century was as swashbuckling and powerful in administering the Johor kingdom as was Laksamana Hang Tuah of 15th-century Malacca.
When the Bendahara dynasty was defeated by the Achenese and the Dutch, they fled to Riau. The new sultanate came under the control of the Bugis.
In 1760, there emerged among the Bugis princes Daeng Kechil, also known as Dato' Abdul Hamid, the father of Temenggong Abdul Rahman, the first of Johor's modern rulers. In 1816, Rahman settled in Singapore and was installed as Temenggong of Johor.
The title temenggong was last used by Abu Bakar, who later styled himself maharaja in 1866 and sultan in 1885. But he perpetuated the titles bendahara and temenggong by including them in the state Constitution.
Inexplicably, the title laksamana was not included, perhaps because the temenggongs had moved on to mainland Johor.
Sultan Ibrahim in 1927 through the Statute of the Palace and Sultan's Court redefined the roles of the offices.
The bendahara was nominally to act as grand court treasurer and exercised financial control over the accounts of the palace, and to ensure the crown jewels and insignia are kept in proper custody. Thus, the title had the prefix Aris, an Arabic word to mean custodian.
The duty of the temenggong was nominally as grand court controller to verify the accounts of palace expenditure. Their duties are now taken over by the comptroller of the royal household but the titles remain. The appointment is made by the ruler with the concurrence of the Council of Royal Court. Today, the Tunku Temenggong, being the son of the ruler, takes precedence over the Tunku Bendahara.
Tunku Abu Bakar, the second son of the late Sultan Ibrahim, was appointed as the first Tunku Aris Bendahara. He was the first Malay from Johor to obtain a degree from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, London, and was responsible for establishing the Animal Husbandry Institute in Kluang.
The title is now held by the present sultan's younger brother, Tunku Abdul Majid Idris.
The late Sultan Ibrahim also appointed his third son, Tunku Ahmad, as the first temenggong in modern times. Tunku Temenggong Ahmad was the last state commissioner for Muar from 1929 to 1936.
Sultan Abu Bakar made provisions for the appointment of an heir (Tunku Mahkota) of his first-born son, and an heir-presumptive (raja muda) to ensure his bloodline is perpetuated.
Other traditional royal titles include Tun, which was conferred by Sultan Iskandar on his sister, Tunku Maimunah. The title was formerly held by his mother Sultanah Ungku Tun Aminah.
He conferred the title Tunku Puteri on his eldest daughter Tunku Kamariah, the title formerly conferred by Sultan Abu Bakar on his daughter who was later known as Tunku Besar. Sultan Iskandar conferred the title Tunku Besar on his second daughter Tunku Zabedah.
Sultan Ibrahim plans to revive the traditional honorific of Orang Kaya to personalities who have contributed to the well-being of the community. The title was conferred by Abu Bakar on village headmen who had influenced the development of Johor.
Among them was Orang Kaya Abu Bakar for opening and developing Muar Padang (now mukim of Parit Bakar after his name), and Orang Kaya Bagan for helping Dato' Bentara Dalam build roads in Batu Pahat.
Abu Bakar conferred the honorific Major Cina on Tan Hiok Nee, head of the powerful Ngee Heng kongsi, and Kapitan Cina on Thye Seah Heng, head of the Sekudai Kangchu, and on Chua Tua Soon to look after Chinese affairs in Muar.
Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli is the secretary of the Council of Royal Court
THREE cries of "Daulat Tuanku" reverberated through the crowd that had waited for the proclamation of His Royal Highness Sultan Ibrahim as the new Sultan of Johor Jan 23.
Earlier he took his oath of office witnessed by the Council of the Supporters of the Country that had unanimously agreed to appoint the heir as the new ruler upon the demise of Sultan Iskandar.
Traditions and rites practiced since the time of Sultan Abu Bakar dictate the proclamation of the new ruler is made before the funeral of the late sultan.
At 5pm the previous day the Council of Royal Court had appointed him as Regent after the testimony of three medical specialists who said Sultan Iskandar was incapacitated and could not perform the duties of a ruler. Sultan Iskandar passed away peacefully at 7.15pm on Jan 22.
The state anthem followed the proclamation read out by the Menteri Besar at 1.36pm. After the recital of the doa Sultan Ibrahim symbolically touched the royal coffin signaling the start of the funeral procession to the Royal Mausoleum at Mahmoodiah.
The pall bearers headed by the Raja Muda and the Tunku Bendahara and 10 male Kerabat inched slowly down the 30 steps of the Tangga Agong to the waiting royal hearse. The guard of honour of the Commando Unit gave the royal salute as the coffin was placed on the hearse.
The hearse that was used during Sultan Abu Bakar's funeral was pulled by 20 men of the Johor Military Force on the right and 20 Commando Unit officers on the left.
Sultan Ibrahim accompanied by the Sultans of Pahang, Selangor and Brunei and flanked by the prime minister and other dignitaries followed behind the hearse.
Sultan Ibrahim pledged to rule the state and his people justly and with compassion and uphold the sanctity of Islam and Malay customs and traditions.
In many ways he will consolidate the just reign of his father. His friendly disposition belies his desire for the development of his state for the benefit of his people, and that his government exhibits diligence and integrity in its delivery system.
He has directed the government to preserve the environment and upgrade cleanliness of the towns and practice the culture of maintenance.
He decreed Johor's age-old court traditions be revived and upheld for posterity. His wisdom in not discarding traditions but making innovations and improvements to enrich court practices and culture is inherited from his forefathers.
The ruler is styled as Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, Sultan and Sovereign of the State and Territories of Johor, a title that has been used since Sultan Abu Bakar. His Consort is styled as Yang Maha Mulia Raja Zarith Sofiah Bte Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah. Both of them are to be addressed as "Tuanku" during conversation.
Sultan Ibrahim wants his coronation ceremony to take place in one-and-a-half years time to allow for physical preparations and other related requirements. Johor is the first state to have a crown for its ruler but the coronation itself is customary and not a legal requirement.
As provided in the state Constitution the Sultan at the earliest possible time upon ascending the throne must appoint an heir. On Feb 4, the young Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim was appointed as heir and styled the Tunku Mahkota of Johor with the honorific Duli Yang Amat Mulia.
Sultan Ibrahim also decreed the title of his younger brother Tunku Abdul MajidIdris be changed to the traditional Tunku Aris Bendahara as used during the reign of his great grandfather Sultan Ibrahim.
Curtsey for ladies on being introduced to or taking leave of royalty is changed to executing a brief bob with the weight on the front foot at the same time lightly taking the extended royal hand.
Non-Malay lady guests are free to be dressed in their national attire. The so called forbidden colours of yellow, blue, and white will no longer be enforced. This is his wish not to inconvenience his guests.
The Sultan is now seen donning the Baju Telok Belanga the traditional Bugis way of dagang dalam and black trousers. This style was popularised by Sultan Abu Bakar.
Sultan Ibrahim is maintaining blue and white as the sovereign's colours as decreed by Sultan Abu Bakar and practiced by his forefathers, and that yellow is for other royals.
He has revived the use of his Royal Standard on his official cars, and other titled royals their colours. The Menteri Besar and Members of the Council of Royal Court are also to use their dedicated flags on official cars.
Royal protocol and decorum is to be observed. The use of the symbolic crown on letterheads and ciphers will be limited to the Sultan and his immediate family.
The use of the state emblem must conform to its laws. Associations that have been conferred with the honorific "Royal" will be audited to determine if their standards and performance commensurate with the status.
Sultan Ibrahim is a stickler for punctuality, arriving at functions well ahead of time. It reflects his desire for fast paced development and augurs well for his new reign.