Istana Kampong Glam in Singapore

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Istana Kampong Glam (Malay for "Kampong Glam Palace"; Chinese: 甘榜格南皇宫), also Istana Kampong Gelam, is a former Malay palace in Singapore. It is located near Masjid Sultan in Kampong Glam. The palace and compounds were refurbished into the Malay Heritage Centre in 2004.


Early days

The original Istana Kampong Glam was built by Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor in 1819 on land of about 23 ha in Kampong Glam that had been given to him by the British East India Company. It is believed to have been a wooden structure in the area to the east of Beach Road. When it was completed, it occupied an area twice the size of the present compound, which was reduced in 1824 for the construction of North Bridge Road. The Sultan lived there till shortly before his death in Malacca in 1835. The extensive compound of the Istana was enclosed by a perimeter wall, and small kampung-style houses were built around it for the Sultan's kin, servants and artisans.

After the completion of the Istana in 1843, Tengku Alam, Sultan Ali's eldest son, lived in it until his death in 1891. Leases of portions of the land on which the palace stood had been granted by Sultan Ali, and Tengku Alam continued to collect rents and supported the members of his father's family according to Malay custom.<ref name=SHO/> After his death he was buried in the royal grave at the nearby Sultan Mosque.

Succession dispute

In 1896, there was a succession dispute in Sultan Hussein's family over rights to the Kampong Glam estate, and the matter went to court. In 1897, the court ruled that no one could rightfully claim to be the successor of the Sultan and that the estate belonged to the Crown. [Tengku Mahmud vs. Tengku Ali, Straits Settlements Laws Report 1897 (Vol. 5)] The estate became state land when Singapore gained independence.

In 1904, the Sultan Hussein Ordinance was enacted to provide the descendants of Sultan Hussein with income derived from the Kampong Glam estate. The amount was capped at S$250,000 in 1991, revised by the government in 1999. Under the new scheme, the beneficiaries could opt either for a share of S$350,000 a year for 30 years or for a lump sum payment.

Residents still living in the Istana were resettled, as the building was to undergo conservation works. Until that time, the Istana had been the private residence for the Sultan's descendants.


The Istana Kampong Glam and compounds were refurbished as part of the development of the Malay Heritage Centre in 2004. The Istana has been faithfully restored according to Coleman's design with special emphasis on its setting, retaining the compound, its walled enclosure and the road leading to the building. Timber and cement were used to replicate the interior flooring of the former building.

See also

  • Gedung Kuning


  • National Heritage Board (2006), Discover Singapore - Heritage Trails,
  • Tommy Koh et al. (2006), ', Editions Didier Millet and National Heritage Board,

External links