Tag Archives: Tengku Long

Kampong Glam

When Tengku Long signed the Treaty with Sir Stamford Raffles, in 1819, to found the British port in Singapore, there was already a long-established Malay settlement at Kampong Glam, then known as Kampong Gelam because of its groves of Gelam trees.

Kampong Glam's Mosque
Kampong Glam’s Mosque

It was here that Tengku Long, appointed Hussein, Sultan of Singapore after the Treaty, set up his royal court, complete with palace and mosque.

It followed, then, that under Raffle’s 1822 town plan, Kampong Glam became the designated Malay-Muslim enclave. As immigrant workers, traders and tradesmen from Indonesia, Malaya, India and the Middle East settled and set up businesses there, the tiny village of only 150 souls quickly grew into a thriving centre of Muslim commerce, with the royal court as its centre and the Mosque as its heart.

Still an enclave, bounded by busy Beach, North Bridge and Ophir Roads, in the city’s north-west, Kampong Glam is the hub of modern Malay-Islamic Singapore. The old royal court is still its centre of culture and tradition and the Mosque is still its heart and soul. Age-old trades and businesses continue in buildings little changed in a century and in streets that still smack of old village life and rich Muslim-Malay history.

Today, Sultan Hussein’s royal court complex houses the Malay Heritage Centre. Set in lush green gardens at Sultan Gate, the elegant Istana, commissioned in the early 1840s by Sultan Ali Iskandar Shah, eldest son of Sultan Hussein, is now a heritage museum. Its eight themed galleries are lined with murals and filled with dioramas and artifacts showcasing Malay culture and outlining the contribution of the Malay community to building the new nation. Cultural Performances feature traditional dance, music and poetry while workshops include sarong tying, pottery, martial arts, dance and music.

Next door to the Istana, the Gedung Kunung, or Yellow Mansion, once the home of the Sultan’s descendants, now houses the Tepak Sireh, a heritage restaurant which serves authentic Malay cuisine and is popular for traditional Malay weddings.

Next door to the Malay Heritage Centre, backing onto North Bridge Road is the magnificent, Sultan Mosque. Built in 1928 to replace Sultan Hussein’s crumbling 1824 mosque, it was the result of a united effort on the part of the local Muslim community. Those who could made generous cash donations while the poor collected bottles which were used for decoration. The Sultan Mosque was designed by architect Dennis Santry and combines the Classical, Persian, Moorish and Turkish elements which make up the distinctive Malay Saracenic style. The massive prayer hall has 5,000 capacity and its end wall or Mihrab, which faces Mecca is intricately patterned in gold. The Sultan Mosque was designated a national monument in 1975. Its tall towers and gilded domes dominate every view from the Kampong and the call to prayer echoes compellingly through its streets.

Next post: shopping, dining, dancing and enjoying the spas of Kampong Glam


Milestones in Singapore’s history

Singapore's White Lion
Singapore’s White Lion

Singapore’s history begins with the Sumatran Prince, Sing Nila Utama sometime in the 14th century. Legend has it that when he landed on the island, then known as Temasek, Sing saw a white lion crouched at the edge of the sea. Believing it to be an omen, he re-named Temasek Singa Pura, or Lion City.

Singapore’s modern history began when, on February 19, 1819, Singa Pura’s Malay Ruler, Tengku Long, signed a Treaty with British Governor Sir Stamford Raffles, allowing the establishment of a port. Soon after, Singapore became a British colony, with Sir William Farquhar as Governor and Tengku Long, now re-named Hussein, as Sultan..

Trade coursed through the new port, which was free and open to ships from any nation. As migrants flooded in from China, India, Malaya and Europe they were assigned to their own separate areas of the city. The population burgeoned and Singapore flourished, taking the lead in Asia as melting pot for different ideas and cultures.

On February 15th, 1942 the Japanese took control of Singapore and re-named it Syonan-to or Light of the South. Japanese became the official language and all systems and institutions were run by the Japanese. British and allied Singaporeans were interned. Chinese and Malay Singaporeans were pressed into slave labour. Times were hard and the regime harsh. Rationing was strict, food was scarce and malnutrition commonplace.

Independence from Britain followed the post-war re-build and in 1963, Singapore joined Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. The union was short-lived and Singapore separated from Malaysia on August, 9, 1965.

Enormous efforts were poured into ensuring the new, independent island state’s survival. Changi airport was built and Singapore Airlines established. Oil refineries and the electronics industry were fostered. A world class financial market was developed and the port of Singapore became one of the busiest in the world.

Today, Singapore is a thriving, modern industrial city state with a clean, green environment. It still leads as melting pot of ideas and cultures and it looks set for an exciting future.

A wealth of great museums tell Singapore’s story. The following three, in particular, are a  must for a fascinating insight into Singapore’s past, present and future.

Fort Siloso Museum on Sentosa Island recaptures seafarer, Sing Nila Utama’s adventures, British colonization, the lives of some the settlers whose grit and determination built early Singapore and the dark days of the Japanese occupation.

The Asian Civilisations Museum, in Empress Place looks at the context of rich and varied Asian cultures in which Singapore sits and also at the unique Peranakan, or Straits Chinese culture with its beautiful traditions of furniture, china, costumes, food and customs which such an important part of Singapore’s story.

The Singapore City Gallery shows Singapore as it is today, with a 3D model of the island, an aerial map, a map pin-pointing interesting nooks and crannies, a transport map, models of Singapore’s architectural highlights and glimpses into future developments and best of a “planner’s table” which allows visitor’s to play at shaping the Singapore of tomorrow.

More lists of Museums can be obtained from Singapore Visitor Information Centres at Changi Airport and all over the city or on http://visitsingapore.com