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By Toggle Video Published: 27 Sep 2019 Audio: English
The Bendahara Paduka Raja of the Johor Sultanate offered Singapore as a gift to Alexander Hamilton, when he visited Singapore, on his way to China. It was a bold gift to the British Trader. It was made, perhaps, as an attempt to gain new loyalties by introducing a foreign ally into Southeast Asian politics. The Bendahara Paduka Raja had his own personal motivations too – he was suffering from not having ‘white blood’, the heritage of Sang Nila Utama and divine mandate, to rule the sultanate. Despite being the de facto king, he was finding it difficult to command the loyalty and allegiance of the orang laut to defend his reign after the assassination of the Johor sultan, Mahmud Shah II in 1699. Alexander Hamilton assessed that Singapore was a good place for a company to establish a colony with the advantages of being at the centre of trade, endowed with good rivers and safe harbours, as well as having black and fat soil with nearby woods for shipping. He declined the gift, however, as there was no precedent for British individuals to establish a trading post in the region.
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