Ismail Nasiruddin of Terengganu

Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Zainal Abidin III Mu’azzam Shah KCMG (Jawi: سلطان إسماعيل ناصرالدين شاه ابن سلطان زين العابدين ٣; 27 January 1907 – 20 September 1979) was the fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia and the sixteenth Sultan of Terengganu.

Ismail Nasiruddin
إسماعيل ناصرالدين
Yang di-Pertuan Agong IV
Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Reign21 September 1965 – 20 September 1970
Installation11 April 1966
PredecessorPutra of Perlis
SuccessorAbdul Halim of Kedah
Prime MinisterTunku Abdul Rahman
Sultan of Terengganu
Reign16 December 1945 – 20 September 1979
Coronation6 June 1949
PredecessorAli Shah
SuccessorMahmud Al-Muktafi Billah
Menteri Besar
See List
  • Tengku Mohamad Sultan Ahmad
    Kamaruddin Idris
    Mohd Daud Abdul Samad
    Ibrahim Fikri Mohammad
    Mahmood Sulaiman
    Nik Hassan Wan Abdul Rahman
    Wan Mokhtar
Born(1907-01-27)27 January 1907
Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Unfederated Malay States, British Malaya
Died20 September 1979(1979-09-20) (aged 72)
Istana Badariah, Padang Seri Negara, Mukim Batu Burok, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia
Burial21 September 1979
SpouseChe Wan Aminah Binti Wan Cik
Tengku Tengah Zaharah Binti Tengku Umar
Tengku Intan Zaharah
(m. 1944)

Che Jarah Binti Abdullah
IssueTengku Wuk Fatima Sabariah
Tengku Zaharah Putri
Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah
Tengku Abdul Malik Shah
Tengku Ibrahim Shah
Tengku Abdullah Sulaiman Shah
Tengku Zaleha Putri
Tengku Nur Azia Iman Putri
Tengku Zainah Putri
Tengku Maria Noraishah Putri
Tengku Ramlah Azizah Putri
Tengku Ismail Nasirudddin Shah ibni Sultan Zainal Abidin III
Regnal name
Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Zainal Abidin III Mu’azzam Shah (as Sultan)
Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Zainal Abidin III Mu’azzam Shah (as Yang di-Pertuan Agong)
HouseHouse of Bendahara
FatherSultan Haji Zainal Abidin III Mu’azzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Ahmad
MotherCik Maimunah Binti Abdullah
ReligionSunni Islam

Early career

The date of his birth has been given as either 16 March 1906[1] or as 24 January 1907,[2] the latter being the one more often used. Born in Kuala Terengganu, he was the fifth, but third surviving, son of Sultan Zainal Abidin III ibni Sultan Ahmad II (reigned 1881–1918). His mother was a Thai Muslim convert, Cik Maimuna binti Abdullah, who died in 1918.[3]

Educated at the Kuala Terengganu Malay School, he then went to the Malay College.[4] In 1929, he entered the Terengganu administrative service. In 1934, he was appointed Assistant Collector of Land Revenue in Kuala Terengganu.

In 1935, he became aide-de-camp to his elder half brother Sultan Sulaiman, accompanying him to the coronation of King George VI on 12 May 1937. In 1939, he became Registrar of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. He also served as the Land Court Registrar. In 1940, he was appointed a minister of the Terengganu state cabinet, having been made Tengku Sri Paduka Raja. In 1941, he became First Class Magistrate and was promoted Terengganu State Secretary on 15 November 1941.[5]

Succession dispute

Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Shah of Terengganu died on 25 September 1942 of blood poisoning. The Japanese Military Administration, which occupied Malaya at that time, proclaimed his son as the fifteenth Sultan of Terengganu bearing the title Sultan Ali Shah. On 18 October 1943, the Thai government under prime minister Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram took over the administration of Terengganu from the Japanese and continued to recognise Sultan Ali Shah.[6]

When the British returned after the end of World War II, they declined to recognise Sultan Ali Shah. Allegedly, Sultan Ali was too much in debt and had been too close to the Japanese during their occupation.[7] According to Sultan Ali, the British Military Administration wanted him removed for his refusal to sign the Malayan Union treaty.[8]

The British Military Administration also disapproved of Sultan Ali's character, where he was said to have repudiated his official consort, Tengku Seri Nila Utama Pahang (the daughter of Sultan Abu Bakar of Pahang) and had contracted an unsuitable second marriage to a former prostitute.[9]

On 5 November 1945 the Terengganu State Council of thirteen members announced the dismissal of Sultan Ali and the appointment of Tengku Ismail as the fifteenth Sultan of Terengganu. Tengku Ismail became known as Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah and was installed on 6 June 1949 at Istana Maziah, Kuala Terengganu.[10] Sultan Ismail's descendants have since ruled Terengganu.

Sultan Ali continued to dispute his dismissal until his death on 17 May 1996.[11]

Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Sultan Ismail served as Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong between 21 September 1960 to 20 September 1965.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Sultan Ismail was elected the fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia and served in that office from 21 September 1965 until 20 September 1970.

Sultan Ismail's reign was at a time when Malaysia began to be active in making its presence felt in the international arena, having secured a more solid foundation and confidence as a Federation of Malay States, Sabah and Sarawak. There were many visits by important world and South East Asian leaders, including US President Lyndon B Johnson, West German President Lubke, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Shah of Iran, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, General Ne Win of Burma and Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky of South Vietnam. The security of the country was more secure during his reign as the Konfrontasi with Indonesia ended and the Philippines sought normal relations (after its claim of Sabah) with Malaysia. Due to health reasons he wanted to resign as Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 1969, but was persuaded by Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman not to do so as the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong would be Tunku Abdul Rahman's nephew (Tuanku Abdul Halim of Kedah) and the Tunku felt it was not right for him to continue in office during that time.[12] In his farewell speech at the end of his and Sultan Ismail's term as Yang Di Pertuan Agong, Tunku Abdul Rahman declared that the event signified "the end of the first chapter of Malaysia's history".[13]

Sultan Ismail was reigning as Yang di-Pertuan Agong when the May 13 incident sparked racial riots in Kuala Lumpur and parliament was suspended. Despite this unfortunate event Tunku Abdul Rahman described Sultan Ismail's reign as "a most eventful and glorious one".[14] Sultan Ismail launched the Rukun Negara, the Malaysian declaration of national philosophy on 31 August 1970.

Death and funeral

Sultan Ismail died at Istana Badariah, Padang Seri Negara, Mukim Batu Burok, Kuala Terengganu on 20 September 1979 after suffering from two heart attacks and was buried a day later at the Abidin Mosque, Royal Mausoleum, Kuala Terengganu.[15] He was succeeded by Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah, his eldest son. He died exactly nine years later after his tenure as Yang di Pertuan Agong ended on 20th September 1970.

Family and personal life

Sultan Ismail married four times:

  1. Che Wan Aminah binti Che Wan Chik, by whom he had two daughters
  2. in 1929 to Tengku Tengah Zaharah binti Tengku Setia Raja Pahang Tengku Umar bin Sultan Ahmad Pahang (1911–1979; divorced) by whom he had eight children including his successor as sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mahmud
  3. in 1944 to Tengku Intan Zaharah binti Tengku Setia Raja Terengganu Tengku Hitam Umar (1928-2015) sometime Tengku Ampuan Besar of Terengganu, Raja Permaisuri Agong and eventually made Tengku Ampuan Tua of Terengganu[16]
  4. Che Jarah binti Abdullah, by whom he had one daughter

Ismail was an amateur photographer.[17] His photographic works date from 1923 to 1979. A monograph of his life as photographer was written and published in August 2013 by his grandson and heir of his photograph archives, Raja Mohd Zainol Ihsan Shah.[18]

Awards and recognitions

National and Sultanal Honours

Foreign Honours

Places named after him

Several places were named after him, including:

  • Jalan Sultan Ismail, formerly known as Treacher Road in Kuala Lumpur
  • Sultan Ismail LRT Station in Kuala Lumpur
  • Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
  • Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
  • SK Sultan Ismail, a primary school in Kemaman, Terengganu
  • SM Agama Sultan Ismail, a secondary school in Dungun, Terengganu
  • SMK Sultan Ismail 1, a secondary school in Kemaman, Terengganu
  • SMK Sultan Ismail II, a secondary school in Kemaman, Terengganu
  • SMK Nasiruddin Shah, a secondary school in Besut, Terengganu
  • Sultan Ismail Power Station in Paka, Terengganu


  1. Finestone, Jeffrey and Shaharil Talib (1994) The Royal Families of South-East Asia Shahindera Sdn Bhd
  2. Buyong Adil (1974) Sejarah Terengganu p 205 DBP
  3. Buyong Adil (1974) p 140
  5. Buyong Adil (1974) p. 205
  6. Willan, HC (1945) Interviews with the Malay rulers CAB101/69, CAB/HIST/B/4/7
  7. Willan (1945)
  8. Wan Ramli Wan Mohamad (1993) Pengakuan Tengku Ali Mengapa Saya Diturunkan Dari Takhta Terengganu Fajar Bakti, Kuala Lumpur
  9. Willan (1945)
  10. Buyong Adil (1974) p. 205
  11. Wan Ramli Wan Mohamad (1993)
  12. Tunku Abdul Rahman (1977) Looking Back pp 343-344 Pustaka Antara, kuala Lumpur
  13. The Straits Times, 4 September 1970
  14. The Star - Reviews of the First Five Kings (1975)
  15. (22 September 1979) New Straits Times
  16. Finestone, Jeffrey and Shaharil Talib (1994)
  17. "Home". Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  18. HRH Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah: Pioneering Malaysian Photography 1923-71 (ISBN 978-967-11726-0-5)
  19. "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1958" (PDF).
  20. "DK 1976".
  21. "Tiga Orang Dato' Baru Negeri Selangor". 13 March 1962. p. 2.
  22. "No. 39243". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 June 1951. p. 3064.
  23. Angelfire
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