Johor (جوهر) is the southernmost state of Malaysia, located between the 1°20″N and 2°35″N latitudes in the southern portion of Peninsular Malaysia. It is the fifth largest state by land area and second most populous state in Malaysia, with a total land area of 7,420 square miles (19,210 km²), and a population of 3,233,434 as of 2010. Johor is surrounded by Pahang to the north, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan to the northwest, and the Straits of Johor to the south, which separates Johor and the Republic of Singapore. The state also shares a maritime border with the Riau Archipelago from the east and Riau mainland on the west by the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca respectively, both Indonesian territories. Johor has eight large islands with numerous smaller ones, namely Pulau Aur, Pulau Besar, Pulau Dayang, Pulau Lima, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Sibu, Pulau Tengah, and Pulau Tinggi. The state capital city of Johor is Johor Bahru. The royal city of the state is Muar and the old state capital is Johor Lama. Johor is also known by its Arabic honorific, Johor Darul Ta’zim (جوهر دارالتّعظيم), or “Abode of Dignity”, and as Johore in English. It is one of the most developed states in Malaysia.
The name “Johor” originated from the Persian word Jauhar, “gem” or “jewel”. Malays tend to name a place after natural objects in great abundance or having visual dominance. Before the name Johor was adopted, the area south of the Muar River to Singapore island was known as Ujong Tanah or “land’s end” in Malay, due to its location at the end of the Malay Peninsula. Coincidentally, Johor is the most southern point of the Asian continental mainland.
In the early sixteenth century, the Sultanate of Johor was founded by the Alauddin Riayat Shah II, the son of Mahmud Shah, the last Sultan of Malacca who fled from the invading Portuguese in Malacca. Johor sultanate was one of the two successor states of the Melaka empire. On Malacca’s defeat by the Portuguese in 1511, Alauddin Riayat Shah II established a monarchy in Johor, which posed a threat to the Portuguese. The Sultanate of Perak — established by Mahmud Shah’s other son, Muzaffar Shah I — was the other successor state of Malacca. During Johor’s peak, the whole of Pahang, present day Indonesian territories of the Riau archipelago, and part of Sumatra Island was under Johor’s rule.
A series of succession struggles were interspersed with strategic alliances struck with regional clans and foreign powers, which maintained Johor’s political and economic hold in the Straits. In competition with the Acehnese of northern Sumatra and the port-kingdom of Malacca under Portuguese rule, Johor engaged in prolonged warfare with their rivals, often striking alliances with friendly Malay states and with the Dutch. In 1641, Johor in co-operation with the Dutch succeeded in capturing Malacca. By 1660, Johor had become a flourishing entrepôt, although weakening and splintering of the empire in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century reduced its sovereignty.
In the eighteenth century, the Bugis of Sulawesi and the Minangkabau of Sumatra controlled the political powers in the Johor-Riau Empire. However, in the early nineteenth century, Malay and Bugis rivalry commanded the scene. In 1819, the Johor-Riau Empire was divided up into the mainland Johor, controlled by the Temenggong, and the Sultanate of Riau-Lingga, controlled by the Bugis. In 1855, under the terms of a treaty between the British in Singapore and Sultan Ali of Johor, control of the state was formally ceded to Dato’ Temenggong Daing Ibrahim, with the exception of the Kesang area (Muar), which was handed over in 1877. Temenggong Ibrahim opened up Bandar Tanjung Puteri (later to become Johor’s present-day capital) in south Johor as a major town.
Temenggong Ibrahim was succeeded by his son, Dato’ Temenggong Abu Bakar, who later took the title Seri Maharaja Johor by Queen Victoria of England. In 1886, he was formally crowned the Sultan of Johor. Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor (1864–1895) implemented a state constitution, developed a British-style administration and constructed the Istana Besar, the official residence of the Sultan. For his achievements, Sultan Abu Bakar is known by the title “Father of Modern Johor”. The increased demand for black pepper and gambier in the nineteenth century lead to the opening up of farmlands to the influx of Chinese immigrants, which created Johor’s initial economic base. The Kangchu system was put in place with the first settlement of Kangkar Tebrau established in 1844.
In July 1876, Johor became the first of the Malayan sultanates to issue its own postage stamps, using a Straits Settlements 2-cent brown stamp overprinted in black with the star and crescent of Johor’s flag (Scott #1). Between 1884 and 1916, Johor used Straits Settlements stamps on overseas mail either alone or in combination. Until 1891, the sultanate also overprinted Straits Settlements stamps with JOHORE or JOHOR with surcharges of TWO CENTS added on 24-cent Straits Settlements stamps in 1891 in four different varieties (Scott #14-17). The first stamps printed inscribed specifically for Johor were a set of seven issued between 1892 and 1894 bearing the portrait of Sultan Abubakar (Scott #18-24). Four of these received surcharges in 1894 (Scott #26-29) and in 1896 all seven values (non-surcharged) were overprinted KEMAHKOTAAN to mark the coronation of Sultan Ibrahim (Scott #30-36). A set of 15 stamps bearing the new sultan’s portrait were issued between 1896 and 1899 (Scott #37-51).
The decline of the Kangchu economy at the end of the nineteenth century coincided with the opening of the railway line connecting Johor Bahru and the Federated Malay States in 1909 and the emergence of rubber plantations throughout the state. Under the British Resident system, Sultan Ibrahim, Sultan Abu Bakar’s successor, was forced to accept a British adviser in 1904. D.G. Campbell was dispatched as the first British adviser to Johor.
A new set of Sultan Ibrahim definitive stamps were released between 1904 and 1908 (Scott #59-75), including two high values — $50 and $100 — that were theoretically available for postage but were mostly used for revenue purposes. This design continued in usage, with occasional changes in watermark and paper, until 1940. The final set included a stamp with the denomination of $500, issued in 1926 (Scott #125), that was probably only used fiscally.
From the 1910s to the 1940s, Johor emerged as Malaya’s top rubber producing state, a position it has held until recently. Johor was also until recently the largest oil palm producer in Malaysia.
During World War II, Johor Bahru became the last city on the Malay peninsula to fall to the Japanese. Allied Forces, Australian, Malayan and Indian forces held out for four days in what was known as the Battle of Gemas. General Yamashita Tomoyuki had his headquarters on top of Bukit Serene and coordinated the downfall of Singapore.
Johor gave birth to the Malay opposition that derailed the Malayan Union plan. Malays under Dato’ Onn Jaafar’s leadership formed the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in Johor on May 11, 1946. UMNO is currently the main component party of Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. In 1948, Johor joined the Federation of Malaya.
Johor participated in the omnibus Silver Wedding stamp issue with two stamps released on December 1, 1948 (Scott #128-129). These were the first to be inscribed MALAYA JOHORE. A new set of definitives bearing the portrait of Sultan Ibrahim was released on May 2, 1949, with additional values added until 1955 (Scott #130-150). Johor issued stamps for the Universal Postal Union omnibus on October 10, 1949 (Scott #151-154) and for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953 (Scott #155). A commemorative was released marking Sultan Ibrahim’s diamond jubilee on November 1, 1955 (Scott #156). From 1957, the stamps of the Malayan Federation were used concurrently with those of Johor.
In September 1963, Johor became part of the new Federation of Malaysia. Since then. only low-value stamps have been issued by Johor itself. The first of these were released on November 15, 1965, featuring orchids in their natural colors (Scott #169-175) and bearing the portrait of Sultan Ismail who succeeded Sultan Ibrahim in 1960. The next set of Johor-inscribed definitives was a set of seven portraying butterflies issued on February 1, 1971 (Scott #176-182). Flowers were the focus of the next issue on April 30, 1979 (Scott #183-189) while while Johor released seven low values featuring agricultural products and fruit on October 25, 1986 (Scott #190-196).
The low values for the 1986 definitives were identical for each State, except for the state name, state crest and ruler, or state crest only for those States without a ruler. The stamps were printed in five-color lithography, cyan, yellow, magenta and black with grey for highlighting various areas and a brown-grey shade for the background panel. They were printed on phosphorized ‘Multiple SPM’ paper with a wavy pattern, in sheets of 100, 10 by 10 and had pink gum and were perforated 12 by 12 . The low and medium values were printed by Security Printers Malaysia in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur.
The 30-cent denomination from the 1986 set pictures Oryza sativa, commonly known as Asian rice, the plant species most commonly referred to in English as rice. Oryza sativa is a grass with a genome consisting of 430Mb across 12 chromosomes. It is renowned for being easy to genetically modify, and is a model organism for cereal biology.
Oryza sativa contains two major subspecies: the sticky, short-grained japonica or sinica variety, and the nonsticky, long-grained indica variety. Japonica varieties are usually cultivated in dry fields, in temperate East Asia, upland areas of Southeast Asia, and high elevations in South Asia, while indica varieties are mainly lowland rices, grown mostly submerged, throughout tropical Asia. Rice occurs in a variety of colors, including: white, brown, black, purple, and red rices. Black rice (also known as purple rice) is a range of rice types, some of which are glutinous rice. Varieties include Indonesian black rice and Thai jasmine black rice.
A third subspecies, which is broad-grained and thrives under tropical conditions, was identified based on morphology and initially called javanica, but is now known as tropical japonica. Examples of this variety include the medium-grain ‘Tinawon’ and ‘Unoy’ cultivars, which are grown in the high-elevation rice terraces of the Cordillera Mountains of northern Luzon, Philippines.
Debates on the origins of the domesticated rice are numerous. In 2011, genetic evidence showed that all forms of Asian rice, both indica and japonica, sprang from a single domestication that occurred 8,200–13,500 years ago in China of the wild rice Oryza rufipogon. A 2012 study, through a map of rice genome variation, indicated that the domestication of rice occurred in the Pearl River valley region of China. From East Asia, rice was spread to South and Southeast Asia. Before this research, the commonly accepted view, based on archaeological evidence, is that rice was first domesticated in the region of the Yangtze River valley in China.
Rice is the staple for all classes in contemporary Southeast Asia, from Myanmar to Indonesia. In Indonesia, evidence of wild Oryza rice on the island of Sulawesi dates from 3000 BCE. The evidence for the earliest cultivation, however, comes from eighth-century stone inscriptions from Java, which show kings levied taxes in rice. Divisions of labor between men, women, and animals that are still in place in Indonesian rice cultivation, can be seen carved into the ninth-century Prambanan temples in Central Java.
In the sixteenth century, Europeans visiting the Indonesian islands saw rice as a new prestige food served to the aristocracy during ceremonies and feasts. Rice production in Indonesian history is linked to the development of iron tools and the domestication of water buffalo for cultivation of fields and manure for fertilizer. Once covered in dense forest, much of the Indonesian landscape has been gradually cleared for permanent fields and settlements as rice cultivation developed over the last 1500 years.
In the Philippines, the greatest evidence of rice cultivation since ancient times can be found in the Cordillera Mountain Range of Luzon in the provinces of Apayao, Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao. The Banaue Rice Terraces are 2,000- to 3,000-year-old terraces that were carved into the mountains by ancestors of the Batad indigenous people. The terraces are commonly thought to have been built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located about 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) above sea level and cover about 4,000 square miles (10,360 km²) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces.
Evidence of wet-rice cultivation as early as 2200 BC has been discovered at both Ban Chiang and Ban Prasat in Thailand.
By the eighteenth century, encroaching European expansionism in the area increased rice production in much of Southeast Asia, and Thailand, then known as Siam. British Burma became the world’s largest exporter of rice, from the turn of the twentieth century to the 1970s, when neighboring Thailand exceeded Burma. In recent years, Vietnam has been a strong exporter, as well, occasionally eclipsing Thailand. While China, India, and Indonesia remain the top rice producers, they are also some of the top rice consumers.