Makam Sultan Ali: Memorialising the last sultan of the old Johor

Makam Sultan Ali is the burial place of Sultan Ali (1825-1877), who was for a time the Sultan of Johor and Singapore.

Sultan Ali Iskandar Shah ibni Hussein Muazzam Shah was the 19th Sultan of Johor. He succeeded his father, Sultan Hussein, in 1835 on his death.

Upon his succession, Tengku Ali moved to Singapore where he lived in a new istana, which today is the Malay Heritage Centre building in Kampong Glam.

The British initially refused to acknowledge Tengku Ali as sultan because he was only 11 years old and because of the stronger influence of the Temenggong of Johor, Daing Ibrahim, the de facto chief of the Malay community in Singapore.

To solve this rivalry the British governor of the Straits Settlements, William Butterworth, engineered the Johor Treaty of 1855, under which Tengku Ali was recognised as Sultan of Johor and received a lump sum and monthly allowance but ceded all sovereignty over Johor (except Kesang in Muar) to Temenggong Daing Ibrahim.

Daing Ibrahim’s son, Sultan Sir Abu Bakar ibni Almarhum Temenggong Seri Maharaja Tun Daeng Ibrahim eventually became the first sultan of modern Johor, the 21st sultan of Johor and the first Maharaja of Johor from the House of Temenggong.

Many historians credit Johor’s development in the 19th century to his leadership.

Sultan Ali spent his last years in Umbai, Melaka. He died in 1877 and was buried here. Like most Royal graves in Malaysia, his grave is painted yellow, the royal colour.

Makam Sultan Ali Umbai
5, Kampung Umbai
77300 Merlimau
Melaka, Malaysia

This article first appeared in Malaysia Traveller