A Royal Visit

On 22 July 2022, ISEAS Library was honoured by a visit from His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, Sultan and Sovereign Ruler of the State and Territories of Johor Darul Ta’zim, and Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah Binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, Permaisuri of Johor. They were accompanied by Singapore’s Minister for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, and other officials from Johor and Singapore.

After an introduction to the Institute, Their Majesties were briefed about ISEAS’ Archaeological Unit before moving on to items from the Library collection. Among the exhibits on display were a selection of antiquarian books and publications relating to Southeast Asia and Johor, including travelogues of Southeast Asia and dictionaries of Southeast Asian languages from the 1700s-1900s.

Items from the Library collection on display. Photo credits to ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

Among the dictionaries highlighted to Their Majesties was a Japanese wartime reprint of R. J. Wilkinson’s A Malay-English dictionary. Originally published in 1901, this dictionary was “unobtainable [in] Malaya or England” immediately after World War II, prompting the British Military Administration in Malaya to request their mission in Tokyo to “buy up all available copies in Japan on behalf [of] Malayan Governments”[i].

Their Majesties proceeded to view selections from the Longhurst Collection of maps at the ISEAS Library, comprising mainly maps and charts from the 1940s to the 1990s including British maps and topographical details of Malaya and Singapore.

His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim viewing a map from the Longhurst Collection, accompanied by Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah and Singapore’s Minister for National Development Mr Desmond Lee (first right). Photo credits to ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

Also on display was a selection of photographic slides from the collections of Barbara Anello and Carl Trocki. Taken in the 1970s and 1980s, the slides depict views of natural landscapes, communities, and architecture in Pulau Pemanggil, Kuala Sedili and other parts of Johor.

Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah viewing photographic slides. Photo credits to ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

Selections from ISEAS Library’s private paper collections were highlighted, including that of Wong Siew Qui (1888-1980), who was well-acquainted with Sultan Ibrahim of Johore. S.Q. Wong also served on the Johore Council of State for many years. Among the photos in this collection are those of Sultan Ibrahim and his son Tengku Mahkota Ismail.

Their Majesties then took a tour through the Wang Gungwu and Yusof Ishak Galleries. Before ending their visit to the Library, Director & Chief Executive Officer of the Institute Mr Choi Shing Kwok presented His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim with a selection of ISEAS publications.

His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim at the Yusof Ishak Gallery. Photo credits to ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

[i] Undated message from HQ BMA (M) Kuala Lumpur to ALFSEA, “Education. Publication of books & periodicals,” National Archives of Malaysia, https://ofa.arkib.gov.my/lores/hq/digitdoc_10/19570572419d02.pdf.

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