The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said Johor appreciates the role played by the Chinese community in developing the state since the beginning of the Johor Sultanate in the 16th century.
The Royal Press Office, in a statement issued to mark the Lunar New Year, stated that Sultan Ibrahim regarded the hard work and resilience of the Chinese community in modernising Johor as significant and formidable, hence the need to recognise them for their outstanding contributions.
According to Sultan Ibrahim, the Chinese were actually invited to Johor as “guests” by his forefathers to help develop the state.
“My forefathers had the foresight to forge a unique relationship with the Chinese. They are not ‘pendatang’ (immigrants). They were invited to Johor to open our land and cultivate plantations.
“They are the ‘Bangsa Johor’ – just like the Malays, Indians and others, who are all Malaysians,” he stressed.
Tracing the history of their arrivals, Sultan Ibrahim said it was Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim who first invited the Chinese from China to come to Johor in 1844 to help open large-scale gambier and pepper farms.
Since then, it was the Chinese also who helped to put Johor on the world map, he said, adding that by 1850 the state was the largest producer of pepper and gambier, with active downstream activities like leather tanning and cloth dyeing from gambier.
“The Johor Sultanate and the Chinese have a special relationship. They have played a pivotal role in the development of Johor. We appreciate their contributions,” he emphasised.