Negri Sembilan (nine states) is a federation of states on the West coast of peninsular Malaysia. Immigrants from Minangkabau in Sumatra peopled significant parts of the area during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. An ancient people, who once adhered strictly to Buddhist teachings, their laws of inheritance and government differ substantially from Muslim norms elsewhere in the country. Property, lineage and titles are all heritable through the female line, rather than the male. Government is decentralised, with rulers selected by the great nobles or regional magnates.

It appears that from time to time, the colonists in Malaya petitioned their sovereign in Sumatra to send them a prince or overlord to reign over them. The earliest known reference is to a certain Raja Ibrahim, who claimed to have been delegated by the Minangkabau emperor and to be descended from the 'lords who previously ruled Malacca', attempted to assert himself as ruler ca 1677-1679. Despite his 'wondrous holiness and rare miracles' he failed to convince his would be subjects in Nanning, who checked his ambitions by his murder.

Forty years after Raja Ibrahim, we find that a certain Raja Khatib, also claiming to be a delegate of the Minangkabau emperor, established as an overlord of sorts. However, his efforts proved divisive as the Bugis Viceroy of Johor together with his local clients refused to acknowledge Khatib and opposed him with military force. Beaten in Rembau and forced to flee to Nanning, he was prevented from causing any further trouble when the Dutch promptly intervened and deported him to Siak. After him, Raja Adil held a position of Wakil or Regent in Rembau on behalf of the Johor Viceroy. At his death in 1779, the principal penghulus and clan chiefs resolved not to have a supreme ruler over them.
During this same period another Minangkabau prince, popularly (though erroneously) called 'Raja Melawar' by local historians, had also made his way across the straits and attempted to have himself made supreme ruler. His efforts were also curtailed to some degree, and he was not able to gain anything more than a foothold in Sri Menanti and the near adjacent districts. He was opposed by most of the principal penghulus and the Bugis Viceroy, Daeng Kemboja, the son-in-law of the late Daeng Marewah. Although he succeeded in securing his recognition as ruler of Sri Menanti in 1778, Sultan Ahmad Shah ibni al-Marhum Raja Baijang was not accepted as sovereign by the most powerful local magnates until 1785. Forced to compromise with these chiefs in order to secure his position, he had to forego any effective power over them, his authority being largely limited to his personal domains in Sri Menanti, virtually the only region from which he was able to extract any revenue or labour.

After Sultan Ahmad Shah's death in 1796, a series of disputes arose over the succession. For a considerable period, the local nobles applied to the Minangkabau ruler in Sumatra for their ruler. However, competing interests supported different candidates, often resulting in instability and civil war. This pattern continued until a convention of choosing the rulers from the family of Raja 'Ali [Raja Lenggang Laut], became established during the middle of the nineteenth century. It is with his family and descendants that we largely deal with in these pages.

Although the number of states within Negri Sembilan has fluctuated over the years, the federation now consists of six states, Jelebu, Johol, Linggi, Rembau, Sri Menanti, Sungai Ujong and Tampin. The rulers are known collectively as the Undang Laut. All, save Sri Menanti and Tampin, are themselves, selected by the great nobles of their states. They all take part in the selection of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar.

The historic list of states of the federation, according to reputed date of foundation, together with the titles of their rulers are as follows:
Negri Sembilan became one of the original Federated Malay States in 1897, endured Japanese occupation between 1941 and 1945, and joined the Federation of Malaya in 1948. In common with the other Malay states, it became independent within the Federation of Malaya in 1957, and formed a component state of Malaysia in 1963.
The ruling prince: Sri Paduka Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku (personal name) ibni al-Marhum (father's title and personal name), Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negri Sembilan, or he who is the highest Lord of Negri Sembilan, with the style of His Royal Highness.
The Royal consort of the ruling prince: Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tengku Ampuan (Besar) Negri Sembilan, i.e. the Tengku Ampuan (Besar) of Negri Sembilan, with the style of Her Royal Highness.
The non-Royal consort of the ruling prince: Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Che' Ampuan Besar Negri Sembilan, i.e. the Che' Ampuan Besar of Negri Sembilan, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Yang di-Pertuan Muda Negri Sembilan, i.e. the Crown Prince of Negri Sembilan, with the style of His Highness.
The Royal consort of the Heir Apparent: Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Tengku Puan Muda Negri Sembilan, i.e. the Tengku Puan Muda of Negri Sembilan, with the style of Her Highness.
The non-Royal consort of the Heir Apparent: Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Che' Puan Muda Negri Sembilan, i.e. the Tengku Che' Muda of Negri Sembilan, with the style of Her Highness.
The Regent: Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Pemangku Raja Negri Sembilan, i.e. the Prince Regent of Negri Sembilan, with the style of His Highness.
The junior wives of the ruling prince, the Heir Apparent and other princes: Yang Mulia Che' (personal name) binti (father's title and name).
Other male members of the Royal family, descended in the male line: Yang Mulia Tengku (personal name) bin (father's title and name).
Other female members of the Royal family, descended in the male line: Yang Mulia Tengku (personal name) binti (father's title and name).

The senior male members of the Royal family usually receive a princely title of honour in addition to those by right of birth. The order of precedence of such titles is as follows:
1) (Duli) Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Besar (the deputy of the ruler, and the one who usually acts as regent during his absence).
2) (Duli) Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Laksamana/Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Puan Laksamana/Yang Amat Mulia Che' Puan Laksamana.
3) Tengku Muda Serting.
4) Tengku Panglima Besar.

Selection for life by the four great Undang Luat (the Dato' Klana Petra Sri Jaya of Sungai Ujong, the Dato' Mendelika Mantri Akhir Zaman of Jelebu, the Dato' Johan Pahlawan Lela Perkasa Setiawan' of Johol, and the Dato' of Rembau)  from amongst the Putera Yang Empata (or four Royal princes). These four princes are the Tengku Besar of Sri Menanti, Tunku Laksamana, Tunku Panglima Besar and Tunku Muda of Sertang. They are appointed to these titles, for life, from amongst the senior members of the Sri Menanti dynasty, by the reigning Yang di-Pertuan Besar.

See link below.


See under Malaysia.

Tan Sri Datuk ‘Abdu’l Samad Idris. Takhta Kerajaan Negeri Sembilan. Utusan Printcorp Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, 1987.
T. Braddell. “Notes on Naning, with a brief notice of the Naning War”, Journal of the Eastern Archipelago and Eastern Asia. New Series, Volume 1, pp 194-232. Singapore, 1856.
Buyong bin ‘Adil. Sejarah ‘Alam Melayu. Penggal V (Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan Dan Pahang). Chetakan Yang Pertama. Department of Education, SS & F.M.S., Singapore, 1940.
A. Caldecott. Jelebu, its History and Constitution, 1912.
Corpus diplomaticum Neerlando-Indicum, verzameld en toegelicht. J. E. Heeres (deel 1 en 2) en F. W. Stapel (deel 3-6, The Hague, 1907-1955.
P. E. De Josselin de Jong. “The Dynastic Myth of Negri Sembilan (Malaya)”, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 131 (1975), No 2,3, Leiden, pp 277-308.
Ensiklopedia Sejarah dan Kebudayaan Melayu, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 1995.
Further Correspondence Relating to the Affairs of Certain Native States in the Malay Peninsular in the Neighbourhood of the Straits Settlements (Continuation of Command Paper C. IIII of July 1874) Presented to the House of Commons by Command of Her Majesty, August 6, 1875. HMSO, London, 1876.
Generale Missiven van gouverneurs-generaal en raden aan heren XVII der verenigde Oostindische Compagnie. Dl. VIII: 1725 – 1729, pp 172-173. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1985.
Tunku Halim. Tunku ‘Abdu’llah, a passion for life. Kuala Lumpur, 1998.
Norhalim Hj. Ibrahim. Negeri yang Sembilan, daerah kecil pesaka adat warisa kerajaan berdaulat. Penerbit Fajar Bakti Sdn Bhd, Shah Alam, 1995.
J.J. Sheehan and Abdul Aziz bin Khamis. “Adat Kuala Pilah”, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol XIV, Part 3, 1936, pp. 190-225.
R J Wilkinson. Papers on Malay Subjects, Malay History, Part V, Notes on the Negri Sembilan. FMS Government Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1911.
R J Wilkinson (ed.), Papers on Malay Subjects 1907-1916. Oxford in Asia Historical Reprints, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1971.
R O Windstedt, CMG, MA, D.Litt (Oxon). Negri Sembilan, The History, Polity and Beliefs of Nine States, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol XII, Part 3, 1934.

Y.M. Tunku Abidin Muhriz.
Y.M. Tunku Datin Anne Noraini binti Tunku Ismail.
Y.M. Tunku Dato Sri Iskandar bin Tunku Abdullah.
Y.M. Tunku Dato’ Mahmood Fawzy bin Tunku Muhiyiddin.
Y.M. Tunku Mu'tamir bin Tunku Tan Sri Mohamed.
Y.M. Tunku Muthai'mah binti Tunku Muhammad Jamil.
Y.M. Tunku Sudiana binti Tunku Sulaiman.
Jeffrey Finestone.
Dr Hans Hagerdal.
Winnie Hui.
David Williamson.
Dato' Zulkipli bin Shamsudin.
I would be grateful to hear from anyone who may have changes, corrections or additions to contribute. If you do, please be kind enough to send me an e-mail using the contact details at:
 Copyright© Christopher Buyers  

Copyright©Christopher Buyers, November 2000 - January 2012