Bugis in Malaysia

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"Because the Bugis were not regarded as Malays, they asked Sulaiman, a son of Sultan Abdul Jalil, to become the ruler of Riau-Johor."  —  Tunku Halim in History of Malaysia: A Children's Encyclopedia [1]
Tun Abdul Razak is a Bugis Malay.

The Bugis are a people who first came to the Malay peninsula from the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), Indonesia's 3rd largest island. It was in the southwest peninsula of Sulawesi that the ancestors of the present-day Bugis settled, probably in the mid-to-late 2nd millennium BC. The Bugis do not refer to themselves as "Bugis" (an exonym derived from an older form of the name) but instead called themselves To Ugi or Ugi. In historical European literature, the Bugis have a reputation for being fierce, war-like, and industrious, placing great importance to honor, status, and rank.


2.  Bugis culture: The Bugis speak a distinct regional language called Basa Ugi (Buginese). In reality, there are several Bugis dialects, some of which are sufficiently different from others to be considered separate languages. Traditionally, marriages are arranged by parents and ideally take place between cousins. A newly-wed couple often lives with the wife's family for the first few years of their marriage. The Bugis culture recognizes 5 separate genders that are necessary to keep the world in balance and harmony: (1) makkunrai (feminine woman); (2) calabai (feminine man); (3) calalai (masculine female); (4) oroanĂ© (masculine man); and (5) bissu (embodying both male and female energies, revered as a shaman). In the early 1600s, the Bugis converted from indigenous animistic practices and beliefs to Islam.

History of the Bugis in Malaysia

Bugis brothers: Although migrants from the Celebes (present-day Sulawesi), the descendants of Daeng Relaga would wield great power in the Malay peninsula.

Traditionally rice farmers, the reputation of the Bugis as seafarers began only after 1670. Defeated in a protracted civil war in their homeland in southwest Celebes (now Sulawesi) in 1669, they started a diaspora and entered into the politics of the Malay peninsula and Sumatra. Under the leadership of Daeng Parani ("Daeng" is a Bugis noble title), the descendants of Daeng Relaga settled on the Linggi and Selangor rivers and with the creation of the office of the Yam Tuan Muda (Bugis underking), became the power behind the Johor throne beginning from 1722.[2]


2.  Conquest of Riau-Johor: After Sultan Mahmud II of Riau-Johor was murdered in 1699, his Bugis bendahara, Abdul Jalil, became the new Sultan. Many locals did not support him as he was not of royal blood [3] and being Bugis, was neither a Malay. Thus, upon ascending the throne, Abdul Jalil killed all the wives of Sultan Mahmud to avoid any future claims to the throne. However, one wife, Che Mi, managed to escape to Minangkabau and gave birth to Raja Kechil.[4] Less than two decades later in 1718, Raja Kechil (then aged 18 or 19) assembled a Minangkabau fleet and ousted Sultan Abdul Jalil, basing his legitimacy on the claim that he was the posthumous son of Sultan Mahmud Shah II. Sultan Abdul Jalil was demoted to Bendahara and he fled to Pahang but was murdered by Raja Kecil's men.[5] Abdul Jalil's brother ran amok and killed his own wife and children.[6] Led by Daeng Parani from Selangor in 1722, the Bugis mercenaries who had earlier assisted Raja Kechil in his campaign now changed sides and fought against Raja Kechil. Chain-cladded and using muskets and blunderbusses, Daeng Parani's warriors drove Raja Kechil out of Riau-Johor where he flee to Siak and founded a new Sultanate. Because the Bugis were not regarded as Malays, Daeng Parani asked Sultan Mahmud's son, Sulaiman, to become the figurehead ruler, whilst making his own brother, Daeng Merwah, the Yamtuan Muda who would wield true power in the kingdom. For the next 200 years, the Bugis Yamtuan Mudas would be the real power behind the throne.


3.  Selangor Sultanate (1745-present): The Bugis first settled in Selangor around 1680. After wielding power in Riau-Johor, the Yamtuan Muda's family ruled Selangor from there. Wishing to break away from Riau-Johor, Selangor's Bugis chief, Raja Lumu, traveled to Perak in 1745 and was installed as the Sultan of Selangor by Sultan Muhammad Shah who had become the Sultan of Lower Perak the year previous. Raja Lumu then took the name of |Sultan Sallehuddin Shah and became the first Sultan of Selangor. His descendants rule Selangor to this day.


4.  First Bugis-Dutch War (1760): The Bugis and the Malays in Bintan, the capital of Riau-Johor, were always at loggerheads and in 1753, the Bugis decided to leave for Linggi in present-day Negeri Sembilan to begin their own trading center. As they were good traders, ships soon traveled to Linggi to trade and Bintan lost its wealth. In 1760, Sultan Sulaiman asked the Dutch to help him defeat the Bugis in revenge. Unfortunately for him, the Bugis uncovered his plan and attacked the Dutch first, almost capturing Dutch Melaka. After the Dutch won, Sultan Sulaiman made a fatal mistake by allowing Daeng Kemboja, the defeated Bugis leader, to return to Bintan. That same year, the elderly Sultan Sulaiman died. His son and grandson, who in turn became the sultan, died the following year in quick succession. Many Malays believed that the three sultans were poisoned by the Bugis.[7] The infant Sultan Mahmud Shah III was then installed and with no strong sultan to challenge them, the Bugis once again became powerful in Riau-Johor.


5.  Second Bugis-Dutch War (1784): Hostilities between the Bugis and the Dutch was sparked by a dispute over the cargo of a seized English ship. In frustration, the Bugis leader, Raja Haji, began to attack ships in the Straits of Melaka, prompting a failed Dutch attempt to try to blockade Bintan. Supported by Selangor and Rembau, the Bugis then attacked Dutch Melaka. Raja Haji was killed and the Bugis fled to Bintan when vessels from Holland arrived and defeated the Bugis. The Dutch then captured Bintan and took control of Riau-Johor. Sultan Mahmud remained as sultan but the new Dutch Resident, David Ruhde, held the real power. Thus, power in the old kingdom of Riau-Johor passed from the Malays to the Bugis and now to the Dutch.  more... at Chronology