Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Istana Kg GLAM today

[ Photo credit: Wolfgang Sladkowski ]
Singapore was founded in the year 1819 when Stamford Raffles landed near the Singapore River and there after started a trading post. At that time the island of Singapore was under the jurisdiction of the Johore Sultanate under Sultan Hussein Shah. It was he who ordered the building of the original Istana Kg Glam in that same year of 1819 on the plot of land given by the British East India Company. It was nothing glamourous. Just a wooden structure to the east of present day Beach Road.
The Sultan lived there until his death in 1835. His eldest son Ali Iskandar Shah then became Sultan and it was during this period between 1836 - 1843 that the existing concrete building ( see photos ) was built.
It was designed by colonial architect George Drumgoole Coleman. Incidentally our old Parliament House and the Armenian Church were also designed by George Coleman.
When the Istana Kg Glam was completed, Tengku Alam, who was Ali's eldest son, lived there till his death in 1891.
In 1896, because of an internal dispute in the ruling family over a succession issue, the matter went to court.
So in 1897, the verdict was out. The court had ruled that the land belonged to the crown. But the descendants of the original Sultan were given a stipend to maintain that place.

[ Photo credit: Sengkang - Wikipedia ]

In 2004, the former palace was refurbished and the grounds renovated by the government of Singapore. On 27 November 2004 the Malay Heritage Centre was officially launched and the Centre now caters to maintaining the history and culture, especially of the Malays and other early residents such as the Bugis, Boyanese, Minangkabau, Orang Gelam and more.
Did you notice the name " Orang Gelam"?
Who were they? Where did they come from? Was Kg Glam named after them?

The Orang Gelam was a tribe that came from Batam Island and settled around where Kg Glam was located. Apparently, in the compound of the Istana Kg Glam, there are still "Gelam" named perhaps because these early immigrants brought them here.

History is indeed fascinating! Researching for facts, figures and origins of places, people and events, among other things, is always a rewarding and fulfilling revealation.
For example, if I were to ask you ' how many Bugis are there in our population today?'.
What's your answer going to be?
Fact: The British conducted the 1st Population census in 1824, a mere 5 years after our founding.
The number of Bugis people alone was about....19 % of the total poulation back then. And this figure did not include the Malays.

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