Istana Bukit Serene
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Istana Bukit Serene is the royal palace and official residence of the Sultan of Johor, located in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The palace faces the Straits of Johor and has a bird's eye view of Singapore, a former possession of the Sultanate.
From historical records, the palace was completed in 1933.
Istana Bukit Serene has a tower measuring 35m in height and is among the famous tourist attractions in Johor Bahru. Tourists are also amazed by the unique carvings on the walls on this historical building which features Art Deco influences.
The palace has a huge sprawling garden which is a common site for many royal gatherings and celebrations. The palace is well guarded by the Johor Military Force, the Sultan's own private army.
Japanese Occupation (1942-1945)
Sultan Ibrahim became a personal friend of Tokugawa Yoshichika during the 1920s. Tokugawa was a scion of the Tokugawa clan, and his ancestors were military leaders (Shogun in Japanese) which ruled Japan from the 16th to the 19th centuries. When the Japanese invaded Malaya, Tokugawa accompanied General Yamashita Tomoyuki's troops and was warmly received by Sultan Ibrahim when they reached Johor Bahru at the end of January 1942.
Yamashita and his officers then stationed themselves at Istana Bukit Serene and the state secretariat building, Sultan Ibrahim Building to plan for the invasion of Singapore. From the palace, he had a splendid view of the positions of the Australian Army and Navy across the Straits of Johor. Yamashita used the palace tower as viewing point as it had a bird's eye view of Singapore.
Although advised by his top military personnel that the palace is an easy target, Yamashita was confident that the British Army would not attack Istana Bukit Serene because it was the pride and possession of the Sultan of Johor. Yamashita's prediction was correct as the British Army did not dare attack the palace.
- Lee, Singapore: The Unexpected Nation, pg 37
- War for the Empire: Malaya and Singapore, Dec 1941 to Feb 1942, Richard Reid, Australia-Japan Research Project
- Bayly, Harper, Forgotten wars: Freedom and Revolution in Southeast Asia, pg 132
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