Muar (town)

Muar (town)

Infobox Districts of Malaysian States
malaysian_state=Johor Darul Ta'zim

local_area_government=Majlis Perbandaran Muar
district_office=Muar "(Bandar Maharani)"

Muar (also referred to as Bandar Maharani) is a town in northwestern Johor, Malaysia. The name "Muar" is also used for the name of its district, which formerly sub-divided between the Town of Muar and the sub-district of Tangkak. Tangkak sub-district has been upgraded into a full district known as Ledang District. Muar district formerly borders Malacca on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Upon the upgrading of Ledang District, the Muar District now covers only the area on the southern portion of Sungai Muar, whilst the northern side is now within Ledang District. However, both administrative regions are still collectively called Muar by their residents.

Muar district formerly covers 2346.12 km², with a population of 328,695 (2000). The name originated from the word "Muara" or estuary in Malay.


The town of Muar is located at coord|2|3|N|102|34|E|, at the mouth of the Muar River. The town is about 150 km (93 miles) southeast of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, and about the same distance (179 km) northwest of Singapore . It is 45km south of Malacca Town and Muar district is also sharing the state borderline with Melaka. It is also 50 km north of Batu Pahat.

SAR) shows patterns of land use and agricultural development in Muar District, the grey area at top is Gunung Ledang.
The whole Muar district (North and South) is roughly the size of two and a half Singapore.


2006-2007 floods

On 19 December 2006, unusually heavy rainfall in the states of Johor and Melaka resulted in the worst flooding in southern Peninsular Malaysia. Muar was not spared from this dreadful disaster which lasted almost a month. Many areas of Muar such as Pagoh, Lenga, Kundang Ulu, Bukit Gambir and Sawah Ring were seriously flooded with some areas up to 10 feet. About 22,933 people were evacuated to relief centres (reported by [ The Star] , 25 Dec 2006). Flood waters also damaged freshwater pumps and electric generators. Consequently, in an ironic twist, water supply was cut off in Muar for almost one week. During that period which coincided with the Christmas and the Aidil Adha celebrations, most of the residents in Muar could not obtain clean fresh water supply and people had to resort to collecting rain water. Overall, the flood resulted in huge losses in Muar where many possessions and infrastructure were destroyed.


Muar is rich in history but due to the absence of proper historical record and archeological evidence, Muar's history mostly remains in oblivion. It is believed that the history of Muar started much earlier than the Sultanate of Malacca. In 1361, there was an account that claimed Muar as part of the Majapahit empire. Another account had also stated that Parameswara, founder of the Malacca empire, had established a settlement at Pagoh, Ulu Muar upon his exile from Temasik before proceeding to Melaka. Muar is also the home for the one and only tomb of the Malacca Sultanate, Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah (1477 - 1488). Other tombs were brutally destroyed by the Portuguese during their occupation of Malacca. Muar played a role in resisting the Portuguese occupation of Malacca in 1511. In response to attacks from the Portuguese fleet, the Bentayan fort was built by the Sultan of Malacca to repel seaborne invasions.

Muar, during the Portuguese era, had been a site for a Portuguese fort named Fortaleza de Muar to defend the colony against the Dutch and Acheh attack. The modern and present name of this site is called Bentayan.

Muar was the royal town of northern Johor. It had in fact been an independent kingdom ruled by Sultan Ali for a short period, when control of the state of Johor (except Muar) was formally ceded to Dato' Temenggong Daing Ibrahim under the terms of a treaty between the British in Singapore and Sultan Ali. He was in fact the real heir of the Johor Sultanate but due to his weakness, the Temenggong was the "de facto" ruler, instead.

Upon his death in 1877, his 11-year-old son, Tengku Mahmood, was named his successor, fueling anger and dissatisfaction of Tengku Alam. Colonel Archibald Anson's action of returning Muar to Sultan Abu Bakar made him even more dissatisfied. Therefore, Tengku Alam launched Jementah Civil War to force the government of Johor to return Muar to him but the government refused. After Johor government's victory in Jementah Civil War on 30 December 1879, Muar was finally annexed as part of the Johor state. Muar was also known as 'Bandar Maharani' (Empress'Town), a name given by Sultan Abu Bakar in 1884. Muar for many years has been the second largest town (in terms of population) in Johor but that spot has now been taken over by the neighbouring town of Batu Pahat. Nonetheless, Muar still remains the second most important town administratively after the state capital, Johor Bahru. Even now Muar is still the northern royal town of Johor provided that the Sultan of Johor still has an official royal mansion with a helipad situated beside Muar river bank which is opposite of Muar High School soccer field.

Muar Town was founded by Lim Tong Lian [cite web | url = | title = Chaozhoulese pioneers at Johor and Muar in Malaysia | publisher = Shan Tou University|accessdate = ] who was leader of Muar Straits, called Kangchu, during the 19th century. During that period, most Chinese were involved in the plantation of gambier, a type of spice. Subsequently, Muar town developed into a commercial center.

Muar State Railway

Muar is the only town in Malaysia that had been served by its own railway network, known as Muar State Railways (MSR), operating just 4 years after the first railway line of the country from Taiping to Port Weld was inaugurated in 1885. The railway operated from 1889 to 1925 linking Jalan Sulaiman in Bandar Maharani and Sungai Pulai for a distance of 22.5 km. Being the local light railway, MSR was isolated from the national railway network but there was a plan in 1916 to extend the line to Batu Pahat. However, the project has never taken off due to financial and geographical constraints. The railway was profitable and had facilitated the mobility of people and goods besides promoting the economic development through opening of new coconut plantations along the railway corridor. However, its prominence had dwindled upon the opening of Jalan Abdul Rahman in 1918 that linked Bandar Maharani and Parit Jawa. In addition, maintenance of the dilapidated infrastructure was very limited. The track was often neglected to the extent that poor drainage had damaged the track substructure. Moreover, the absence of ballast stone in the track construction had also contributed to the fast deterioration of the track that ground settlements were common and had caused several derailments. Huge fund was required to rehabilitate the railway. Being saddled with financial constraints and declining popularity, MSR's glorious existence of 36 years finally came to an end in 1925. Remnants of the track has disappeared since the track had been replaced by Jalan Temenggung Ahmad. The display of MSR locomotive at Taman Tanjung Emas is the only relic that proves the presence of MSR in the past. It is believed that the locomotive is the oldest in the country that can be seen intact since the steam locomotive on display at the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur is of a later model. Considering that Muar has never been a state capital nor largest town of the state, it was a remarkable feat for Muar to have its own and exclusive railway network comparable to the present day LRT system, a facility that even Kuala Lumpur, the nation's capital, did not have at that time.

There is a local lore that only in Parit Jawa, Muar there has been an accident between a railway train and a tongkang (boat).


Muar District was formerly divided into two entities, administratively, Muar town and Tangkak. With the upgrading of Tangkak sub-district into a full district of Ledang, Muar town is administered by Muar Municipal Council, while Tangkak is now administered by Ledang District Council. Muar also has a marine police base.

A new administration centre, called "Muar Two", is being planned for Muar town. The new administration centre which will house all the federal and state administrative buildings will be situated on the inner ring road of Muar town.

Commerce & Industry

Muar is known as the furniture capital of Malaysia. It has more furniture factories than any other towns or cities in Malaysia. In addition, Muar is also the home of two factories belonging to multinational companies, i.e., SGS-Thomson (ST) Microelectronic and Pioneer. Industrial estates within Muar district are located at Tanjung Agas, Pagoh and Tangkak, Parit Bakar.

There are many supermarkets in Muar, such as Giant, The Store, One-Stop, Astaka and K-Mart. Wetex Parade (housing The Store) is the only shopping mall available in Muar at present, located at Jalan Ali, in the heart of the business and shopping district. In the past five years, a new business centre has sprung up along Jalan Bakri at the junction of Jalan Haji Jaib, Jalan Bakri and Kampung Kenangan Tun Dr. Ismail, where the Econsave Hypermarket has just opened for business (03/10/2006).

Besides, new commercial development which is expected to house a private hospital and including Giant Hypermarket (opened since mid of 2007) on the northern bank of Muar River, on a site reclaimed from a mangrove forest.

Towns in Muar

The following are some of the small towns in Muar:

*Parit Bakar
*Parit Jawa
*Bukit Bakri
*Bukit Pasir
*Bukit Gambir
*Sungai Mati


The 14 km Muar Bypass highway (2 lane dual carriageway) inclusive of a picturesque Muar Second Bridge that was completed in 2005 is the latest landmark of the town. The highway that traverses through the outskirts of the town would ease the journey by diverting the traffic from Muar town, and thus, alleviating the congestion at the older Sultan Ismail Bridge. Such highway (or ring road) is normally a feature for Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang, Malacca and Seremban which are all state capitals. Although Muar does not enjoy the status of a major city, its provision in Muar has illustrated the economic importance of Muar and would enable Muar to regain its former spot as the second largest town in Johor.

Besides federal roads, Muar is also accessible via the North-South Expressway through the Tangkak and Pagoh interchanges which are located 20 km and 30 km from the town, respectively.

Ferry services to Dumai, Sumatra, Indonesia is also available on regular basis, departing from the Custom Jetty. Muar is the only district (besides the state capital Johor Bahru) in Johor that has its own Custom and Excise Duty Department office and checkpoint at its own jetty.


Gunung Ledang National Park

One of the main tourist attractions in Muar is the Gunung Ledang National Park. The park is situated 170 km from Johor Bahru and has an area of 107 km². The park has two entry points, one in Sagil, Johor and the other in Asahan, Melaka. Gunung Ledang's peak, which is 1276 m above sea level is the highest point in the park and Johor. Gunung Ledang is also the 64th highest mountain in Malaysia and arguably the most climbed mountain in the country. Sagil waterfall, which is also in the park is a famous picnic site. Gunung Ledang is also widely recognised as a friendly training venue for amateur (or beginners) mountain hikers/climbers.

"See also" Legend of Gunung Ledang


Muar is also famous for its food. The most well-known local food are "Otak-otak" 乌达 and "Mee Bandung Muar", a rich spicy noodles. Muar is also known for being one of the few places where satay (a Malaysian delicacy of skewered grilled chicken or beef) is served for breakfast. The most famous place to have mee bandung and satay for breakfast is along Jalan Abdullah.

Visiting some restaurants and coffee shops in Muar would give nostalgic experience since the environment and food/beverage being served have not changed since the 60s and 70s. Coffee served by these restaurants has its unique taste which is believed to be comparable to the famed Kluang coffee.

Muar has a famous street, "Jalan Haji Abu", known as "T'am Cjia Kueh" 贪呷街 in Hokkien [which literally means "the gluttoning eating street" in (Min Nan)闽南dialect] , which is well known for its variety of food. Many local Chinese food are available here, including fish ball and fish cake with wanton mee, otak-otak, "Õ chien" "(Fried Oyster Omelette)" 蚝煎, and etc. The prawn noodles here known as hey mee 虾面is cooked differently from the rest of the country. Instead of being made as a soup, in Muar they prepare it dry. You can also find "char me suah" 炒面线, a kind of typical Hokkien stir fried "raw wheat flour pasta in vermicelli style" delicacy that usually hard to come by else where but it is easily available in Muar. This is because "raw wheat flour pasta in vermicelli style" or 面线 (mee suah) is very difficult to handle and at the same time trying to maintain its complete "wholesome" look without ending up as a pile of gooey cooked wheat flour is a unique skill. And this skill is passing down from generation to generation. That's why not many people can cook it, not even mention stir fried it.

Besides that, Muar has two well-known Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball 海南鸡饭粒 shops located at Jalan Meriam. The chicken rice is made into sphere shapes, which look like tennis balls. Even the size of Muar chicken rice ball is normally much bigger than its counterpart in Melaka/Malacca. Muar Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball is the authentic chicken rice ball, the Melaka/Malacca Hainanese chicken rice ball is actually copied from Muar and then they applied modern marketing technique on this cuisine and make it sounds like an authentic Melaka/Malacca dish. Actually, the chicken rice ball was originated among Muar Hainanese.


There are also a few hotels which cater to tourists who wish to stay overnight in Muar town. These include:
*Apartel Maharani
*Classic Hotel
*Riverview Hotel
*Embassy Hotel
* [ Hotel Sri Pelangi]
*Kingdom Hotel
*Leewa Hotel
*Nam Yang Hotel
* [ Muar Trader's Hotel] (opened in 2007, located at the building formerly owned by Muar/Pagoh UMNO division).

Local Attractions

Rows of well preserved pre-war buildings still dominate the town’s architecture. These buildings still house various shops along Jalan Abdullah, dubbed as Muar’s central business district. Prominent heritage buildings, among others, are the Abu Bakar Building (completed in 1929) that houses the town’s administrative offices and the Custom building (completed in 1909). The age of most buildings can be easily identified since the date of completion (ranging from 1930s to 1950s) were cast on the buildings’ exterior. These buildings are the priceless heritage that portrays Muar’s prosperous past and appreciating this splendour would bring one’s memory back to the nostalgic yesteryears.

Another attraction of Muar town is Taman Tanjung Emas, the town’s park, which is located at the estuary of Muar river. It is outlined by a picturesque esplanade overlooking the scenic river. The park, which is much visited during the weekends, also houses a 9-hole golf course. A 45 minute to one hour river cruise departing from this park is also available to offer tourists views of Muar town from the river.

The Sultan Ibrahim Jamek Mosque is one of the major landmarks of Muar town. Completed in 1927, its architectural design has British influence. The mosque is noted for its four-storey minaret in its backyard. The latest icon of the town is the Sultan Ismail Mosque, located at the northern bank of Muar River in Tanjung Agas. Its design is similar to the first mosque. Completed in 2002, it is the biggest mosque in town. Both mosques offer a breathtaking scenery when viewed from the Muar River mouth, while on a river cruise.


Education of Muar's younger generation is adequately provided by the schools in Muar. This is an incomplete list of schools in Muar.

Secondary Schools
Muar High School (麻坡高级中学) began as a Government English School and it was first housed in an attap (the processed leaves of nypa fruticans) shed known as ‘Balai Kuning’ which was actually used by the Sultan as a reception hall whenever he visited Muar. It was located at the site of the present High Court Building. The school was founded in 1902. It was under the charge of one Mr. C.P. Frois, a Eurasian gentleman from Malacca. He was the first headmaster cum teacher of the school and the enrolment of the school then was about 40 pupils.

It was not until 1904, the majestic colonial style historical school building started its construction and completed in 1915 and it is still standing. During the Second World War, the school was used as a Japanese concentration camp. Its alumni include national and state leaders, high-ranking government officials and industrialists, such as Tan Sri Osman Saat, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Dato Seri Abdul Ghani Othman and human rights activist Rahul Doraisamy.
*SMK St. Andrew (SAS)
*SMK(A) Ma'ahad Muar
*SMK Tun Perak Muar
*Muar High School
*SMK Convent
*SMK Bandar Maharani (SMKBM)
*SMK Dato' Sri Amar Diraja (SEDAR)
*SMK(P) Sultan Abu Bakar (SAB)
*SMK Tengku Mahkota (SMTM)
*SMK Jalan Junid
*SMK Sri Muar
*MRSM Muar (full boarding school)
*Sekolah Menengah Sains Muar (full boarding school)
*SMK Tun Mamat (half boarding school)
*SMK Bukit Pasir
*Chung Hwa High School
*SM Teknik Muar ( formerly known as Sekolah Menengah Vokasional Muar)

National Primary Schools
*SRK St. Andrew (SAS)
*SRK Ismail 1
*SRK Ismail 2
*SRK Convent Infant Jesus
*SRK Sawah ring
*SRK Bukit Gambir
*SRK Simpang Lima
*SRK Serom 3 [] Chinese Primary Schools
*SRJK Chung Hwa 1A (中化一小)
*SRJK Chung Hwa 1B
*SRJK Chung Hwa 2A (中化二小)
*SRJK Chung Hwa 2B
*SRJK Chung Hwa 3 (中化三小)
*SRJK Chung Hwa Presbyterian (中华基督小学)
*SRJK San Chai (善财小学)
*SRJK Sing Hwa (醒华小学)
*SRJK Chian Kuo (建国华小)
*SRJK Hwa Ming (华明小学)
*SRJK Pu Nan (埔南华小)
*SRJK Pei Yang (培养小学)
*SRJK YU JERN (育人学校)


Muar and Tangkak are served by two government hospitals as well as numerous primary health centres. The two hospitals are:

*Muar General Hospital, which has recently been upgraded to specialist hospital status and renamed Hospital Pakar Sultanah Fatimah.

*Tangkak District Hospital

Currently, both hospitals also serve as teaching hospitals for Melaka Manipal Medical College.


Muar is the birthplace of ‘Ghazal', Johor’s traditional musical heritage, which has a Persian origin. Muar is also the birthplace of Zapin Lenga, it is a combination of semi-squatting style Malay dance with Arabic influence. The dancers usually perform in pairs and are accompanied by a traditional music ensemble normally consists of the gambus, accordion, violin, marwas (bongos), rebana (drum) and dok. Usually Zapin music is very alive and energetic.

'Kuda Kepang', a traditional horse dance originating from Indonesia is believed to be best performed by the Muarians of Javanese origin especially the Sg. Balang troupe from Bukit Gambir.

It is generally acknowledged that the local dialect of Malay spoken here (and throughout the state of Johor) is the standard version of the language adopted by the country.

Other than the above, the Muar Chinese community is well known for their lion dance. Muar "Guan Sheng Temple" 关圣宫 had been world champion for 10 times consecutively in the International Championship for Lion Dance.

Among the Indian community, Muar has a famous hill temple called the Nagamalai Koil Alaiyam in Bukit Pasir. The temple is very auspicious among Hindus from Malaysia and Singapore and is believed to be the third most important hill temple in Malaysia after Batu Caves temple in Kuala Lumpur and Thannimalai temple in Penang.

Notable people from Muar

* Sellapan Ramanathan, President of Singapore, was born in Singapore but grew up in Muar. He has generously contributed personal donations to the development of the town's Hindu temples.
* Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, Menteri Besar of Johor.
* Tan Sri Othman Saat, former Menteri Besar of Johor.
* Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, currently Minister of Agriculture and Agro Based Industry who was also a former Menteri Besar of Johor.
* Chua Jui Meng, former Health Minister of Malaysia.
* Famous singer/celebrity, Ramlah Ram, Nash, Zainal Abidin, TRO Group and Jaafar Onn.
* Yap Kim Hock, Malaysia's former top badminton player.
* Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Yusuf , former Minister of Law and the Judiciary, Lord President of the Supreme Court and Attorney General of Malaysia, was born in Parit Sakai.
* Tan Sri Mohammad Noah, the former Minister of Home Affairs and first Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.
* Tun Sulaiman Ninam Shah, former UMNO meeting chairman.
* Datuk Dr. Neo Yee Pan, former Acting President of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).
* Dave Chong Min Kuin, Founder and Former Managing Director of NEC Infrontia Asia Pacific
* Martin Chua, former assistant to Datuk Michael Chong, the head of social service organization Public Services and Complaint Department, MCA.

External links

* [ History of Muar]
* [ Magazine of Muar]
* [ city center map]



* [ Muar to say goodbye to Tangkak] , The Star, November 20, 2006.

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