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Terengganu (Jawi: ترڠڬانو, formerly spelled Trengganu or Tringganu) is a sultanate and constitutive state of federal Malaysiamarker. The state is also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Iman ("Abode of Faith"). The coastal city of Kuala Terengganumarker which stands at the mouth of the broad Terengganu River is both the state and royal capital as well as the largest city in Terengganu.


There are several theories on the origin of the name 'Terengganu'. One theory attributes the name's origin to terang ganu, Malay for 'bright rainbow'. Another story, said to have been originally narrated by the ninth Sultan of Terengganu, Baginda Omar, tells of a party of hunters from Pahangmarker roving and hunting in the area of what is now southern Terengganu. One of the hunters spotted a big animal fang lying on the ground. A fellow party member asked to which animal did the fang belong. The hunter, not knowing which animal, simply answered taring anu (Malay: 'fang of something'). The party later returned to Pahang with a rich hoard of game, fur and sandalwood, which impressed their neighbors. They asked the hunters where did they source their riches, to which they replied, from the land of taring anu, which later evolved into Terengganu. Terengganu was called Trangkanu ( ) by the Siamese when it was under their influence.

Chinese naming

The traditional Chinese name for Terengganu has been "丁加奴" (Pinyin: dīngjiānú), which is a direct transliteration of the Malay name. However, in recent years, the Chinese community in Terengganu has raised objections to the name, citing that the name loosely translates to "giving birth to a child who will become a slave" (Chinese: 添丁加). Therefore, they successfully petitioned the regulatory commission for Chinese language in Malaysia to change the Chinese name for the state to "登嘉楼" (Pinyin: dēngjiālóu), which can be loosely translated to "aspiring/stepping up to a higher level", in September 2004. It is worth noting, however, that the new name has been in unofficial use by the state's Chinese society for at least 30 years before its official adoption.

There are certain segments of the Chinese society who opposed to the name change, citing the fact that the new name contains too many character strokes, making it much more difficult to write. They have proposed to revert the name back to the version used before 2004, but with the word "奴" (slavery, which was mainly the cause of the controversy) to the similar sounding, but more positive "努" (perseverance).

Geography and demographics

Terengganu is situated in north-eastern Peninsular Malaysiamarker, and is bordered in the northwest by Kelantanmarker, the southwest by Pahangmarker, and the east by the South China Seamarker. Several outlying islands, including Pulau Perhentianmarker, Pulau Kapasmarker and Pulau Redangmarker, are also a part of the state. The state has a total area of 12,955 km².

Terengganu has a population of 1,080,286 (2006 census), of which Malay make up 94.7% of the population and Chinese, 2.6%, while India 0.2% and other ethnic groups comprise the remainder, 2.4%. In the year 2000, the state's population was only 48.7% urban; the majority lived in rural areas. By the 2005 census, the proportions had changed significantly, with 51% of the population living in urban areas and 49% in the rural areas. Terengganu is divided into seven administrative districts (called Daerah in Malay), of which the respective names, area, population, district seats and density are shown in the table below:

District Area (km²) Population(2006 census) District seat Density
Besut 1,233 145,324 Kampung Rajamarker 118
Dungun 2,736 159,996 Kuala Dungunmarker 58
Hulu Terengganu 3,874 73,912 Kuala Berangmarker 19
Kemaman 2,536 174,876 Chukaimarker 69
Kuala Terengganumarker 605 361,801 Kuala Terengganumarker 598
Marangmarker 667 102,470 Marangmarker 154
Setiu 1,304 61,907 Bandar Permaisurimarker 47

The people of Terengganu generally speak Terengganese Malay, which is distinct from standard Malay and Kelantanese Malay, except for those in Besut district and Perhentian Islandsmarker who speak Kelantanese.


Terengganu's location by the South China Seamarker ensured that it was on trade routes since ancient times. The earliest written reports on the area that is now Terengganu were by Chinesemarker merchants and seafarers in the early 6th century A.D. Like other Malay states, Terengganu practiced a HinduBuddhist culture combined with animist traditional beliefs for hundreds of years before the arrival of Islam. Under the influence of Srivijaya, Terengganu traded extensively with the Majapahit Empire, the Khmer Empire and especially the Chinese. Terengganu was the first Malay state to receive Islam, as attested to by a stone monument dated 1303 with Arabic inscriptions found in Kuala Berangmarker, the capital of the district of Hulu Terengganu. Terengganu became a vassal state of Melakamarker, but retained considerable autonomy with the emergence of Riau-Johor.

Terengganu emerged as an independent sultanate in 1724. The first Sultan was Tun Zainal Abidin, the younger brother of a former sultan of Johormarker, and Johor strongly influenced Terengganu politics through the 18th century. However, in the book Tuhfat al-Nafis written by Raja Ali Haji, in the year 1708, Tun Zainal Abidin was installed as the Sultan of Terengganu by Daeng Menampuk also known as Raja Tua under the rule of Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Shah. In the 19th century, Terengganu became a vassal state of Siammarker, and sent tribute every year to the King of Siam called bunga mas. Under Siamese rule, Terengganu prospered, and was largely left alone by the authorities in Bangkokmarker. The terms of the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 saw power over Terengganu transferred from Siam to Great Britainmarker. A British advisor was appointed to the sultan in 1919, and Terengganu become one of the Unfederated Malay States. The move was highly unpopular locally, and in 1928 the British used military force to suppress a popular uprising. During World War II, Japanmarker occupied Terengganu and transferred sovereignty over the state back to Siam, along with Kelantanmarker, Kedahmarker, and Perlismarker. After the defeat of Japan, British control over these Malay states was reestablished. Terengganu became a member of the Federation of Malayamarker in 1948, and a state of independent Malayamarker in 1957.

Following decades of rule by the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition, the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) came to power in the 1999 General Elections, making Terengganu the second state in Malaysia to be ruled by the Islamist party (the first being neighboring Kelantan). However, in the 2004 General Elections, Terengganu was recaptured by the Barisan Nasional.

Politics and government


The Constitution of Terengganu came into force in 1911. It has a supplement that came into force in 1959. The official English title for the 1911 constitution is;

  • " The Constitution of the Way of Illustrious Sovereignty "

The 1959 constitutional supplement is divided into two sections. The sections' official English language titles are:


The Sultan of Terengganu

The Sultan is the constitutional Ruler of the state of Terengganu. The State Constitution proclaims that the Sultan is "the Ruler and fountain head of all authority of government in the State and Territory of Terengganu", the Head of the Religion of Islam in the state and the source of all titles, honours and dignities in the state. He is also vested with the Executive Power of the State. The hereditary Sultan of Terengganu since 1998 has been Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.


The current Sultan was elected as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong or King of Malaysiamarker. As per the Malaysian constitution and the State constitution, the King cannot reign both as the Head of State of the federation and as ruling monarch of his state. During his tenure as King of Malaysia the state ruler appoints a Regent to rule in his place. The Regent (Pemangku Raja) of Terengganu is now the King's eldest son, Tengku (Prince) Muhammad Ismail. As he is not yet of age suitable for the post (being only eight years old), the Prince co-reigns with the three-member Regency Advisory Council (Majlis Penasihat Pemangku Raja) headed by Raja Tengku Baderulzaman (the King's younger brother) as dictated by syarat (2) Fasal 16 AA Undang-Undang Bagi Diri Kerajaan Terengganu (Bab Yang Kedua) under the state constitution.

Chief Ministers

When Terengganu was an absolute monarchy, the Chief Minister was selected by the Sultan of Terengganu. Since the declaration of independence of Malaysia (then called Tanah Melayu) and the first general election, the Chief Minister has been the State Assembly (ADUN) member elected by a majority of all State Assembly members, who are themselves elected by universal adult suffrage of the citizens of their constituencies. Below is the list of the Chief Ministers of Terengganu from 1925.

Term Starts Term Ends Chief Minister

April 1925 June 1940 Dato' Seri Amar Diraja Ngah Muhamad bin Yusof
June 1940 May 1942 Tengku Seri Setia Raja Tengku Omar bin Othman
May 1942 Dec 1945 Dato' Jaya Perkasa Da Omar bin Mahmud
Dec 1945 Dec 1949 Tengku Panglima Perang Tengku Muhamad bin al-Marhum Sultan Ahmad
Dec 1949 June 1959 Dato' Perdana Menteri Di Raja Dato' Seri Setia Raja Kamaruddin bin Idris
June 1959 Nov 1961 Mohd Daud bin Abdul Samad PAS*
Nov 1961 Sep 1970 Tan Sri Ibrahim Fikri bin Mohammad Perikatan
Sep 1970 Sep 1971 Dato' Mahmood bin Sulaiman Perikatan
Sep 1971 Aug 1974 Dato' Nik Hassan bin Wan Abdul Rahman Perikatan
Sep 1974 Dec 1999 Dato Seri Amar Diraja Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad Barisan Nasional
Dec 1999 March 2004 Dato' Seri Abdul Hadi Awang PAS
March 2004 March 2008 Dato Seri Idris Jusoh Barisan Nasional
March 2008 Current Datuk Ahmad Said Barisan Nasional

Note:* The state Government formed by PAS after the general election in 1959 was turned over to Perikatan in Nov 1961, due to a vote of no confidence in the State Assembly and the fact that two PAS assemblymen switched parties

2008 Menteri Besar appointment crisis

The state of Terengganu, where Barisan Nasional won two-thirds of the seats in the state parliament, was the last to appoint a Menteri Besar. after the 2008 general elections. In the formation of the new Terengganu state government, the federal government under Prime Minister Abdullah recommended Idris Jusoh as Menteri Besar, who received full support of twenty-three of the 24 Barisan Nasional state assemblymen elected. However, on 22 March, the office of the Sultan of Terengganu announced the appointment of Kijal assemblyman Ahmad Said instead of Idris Jusoh.

The Prime Minister claimed that the appointment of Ahmad Said was unconstitutional as it went against the wishes of the assemblymen and the Prime Minister's office who have supported Idris Jusoh candidacy for Menteri Besar. Ahmad Said was subsequently stripped of his UMNO membership "for disobeying the party's leadership".

On 26 March, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin met at Istana Negara to resolve the impasse. The Prime Minister accepted the King's appointment of Ahmad Said as Chief Minister of Terengganu. He also apologised to the King for the public spat over the appointment of the mentri besar, explaining that there was no intention to disparage or humiliate the royal household. This apparent backdown was due to threat that the royal household would be prepared to dissolve the state assembly if there had been a motion of no-confidence against Ahmad Said by the 22 Umno state assemblymen.

Revolt by Barisan Nasional MPs

On 14 April, 2009 10 Barisan Nasional state lawmakers boycotted the state assembly today in a bid to force the resignation of Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said. The absentees were assemblymen Muhammad Ramli Noh (Tepoh), Mohd Zawawi Ismail (Kuala Berangmarker), Abdul Halim Jusoh (Permaisuri), Datuk Din Adam (Bukit Besimarker), Datuk Rosol Wahid (Ajilmarker), Alias Abdullah (Alor Limbat), Zakaria Abdullah (Paka), Ramlan Ali (Jabi), Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh (Jertih) and Mohd Pehimi Yusof (Kota Putera). There have been discussion amongst his own party about plans to table a no-confidence vote against him. Rumours that nine Umno assemblymen are threatening to defect as a result of a longstanding feud with the state’s mentri besar. If the nine join forces with opposition Pakatan Rakyat’s eight Parti Islam SeMalaysia assemblymen in Terengganu, the Barisan Nasional state government would fall.

The State Executive Council

The state executive council (EXCO) is established by the constitution. It is composed of the Menteri Besar, who is its chairman, and ten other members. The Menteri Besar and the other members of the council are appointed by the Sultan ( or Regent ) from the members of the State Assembly. The Menteri Besar is currently Ahmad Said of the Barisan Nasional.

The Terengganu EXCO (2004-2008) consisted of:

  1. Y.B. Dato' Dr. Abdul Latiff bin Awang, D.P.M.T.,K.M.N., P.K.T., P.J.K.(ADUN Bukit Payung, Marang)
    (Chairman of State Education, Science and Technology and Human Resources Committee)
  2. Y.B. Dato' Rosol bin Wahid, D.P.M.T., P.J.K. (ADUN Ajil, Hulu Terengganu)
    (Chairman of State Islam Hadhari Development)
  3. Y.B. Dato' Ahmad bin Said, D.P.M.T., A.S.M., P.J.K. (ADUN Kijal, Kemaman)
    (Chairman of State Housing and Local Government Committee)
  4. Y.B. Dato' Mohamed bin Awang Tera,D.P.M.T.,D.I.M.P., S.A.P., A.M.P. (ADUN Chukai, Kemaman)
    (Chairman of State Industry Development and Tourism Committee)
  5. Y.B. Dato' Haji Wan Hisham bin Wan Salleh, D.P.M.T., D.J.N., P.J.K. (ADUN Ladang, Kuala Terengganu)
    (Chairman of State Infrastructure Development, Public Services and Communication Committee)
  6. Y.B. Haji Din bin Adam, S.M.T.,P.J.K. (ADUN Bukit Besi, Dungun)
    (Chairman of State Cultural, Youth, Sports and NGO Committee)
  7. Y.B. Datuk Haji Mohd Jidin bin Shafee, D.M.S.M., A.M.N. (ADUN Permaisuri, Setiu)
    (Chairman of State Agriculture and Regional Development Committee)
  8. Y.B. Datuk Abdul Rahin bin Dato' Mohd Said, D.M.S.M., A.M.N. (ADUN Teluk Pasu, Kuala Nerus)
    (Chairman of State Entrepreneur Development Committee)
  9. Y.B. Haji Wan Mohd bin Wan Hassan, P.J.K. (ADUN Kota Putera, Besut)
    (Chairman of State Welfare, Women and Community Development Committee)
  10. Y.B. Encik Toh Chin Yaw (ADUN Bandar, Kuala Terengganu)
    (Chairman of State Environment, Consumer Affair and Health Committee)


Terengganu used to be Malaysia's poorest state until oil and gas were discovered off its coastline not too long ago. Terengganu's main industry now is petroleum and gas. There are huge petrochemical complexes near Paka and Kertehmarker, involving many joint ventures between the Malaysian national oil company, Petronas, and foreign multinationals. Tourism and fishing are also major industries in Terengganu, a state with a long coastline. Agriculture also remains important, with banana, rambutan, durian, watermelon, and various other fruits and vegetables available in season. Terengganu was traditionally famous for boat-building, with highly decorated carved wooden boats called bangau to be found in the harbor of every village and town in days not so long gone by, before electric motorboats became standard equipment for the state's fishermen.

Income and Quality of life 1995 2005
GDP (RM Million) 12,082.9 16,821.2
GDP Per Capita (RM) 13,636.1 13,642.6
Average Household Income (RM) 1,113.0 2,075.3
Crude Birth Rate (Per Thousand) 29.5 18.5
Infant Mortality Rate (Per Thousand) 10.4 6.5
Number of Population Per Doctor 2,803.0 1,930.0
Number of Students Per Teacher 17.6 15.1
Motor Vehicles Registered (Per Thousand) 181.0 212.5
Number of Viewers Per TV 11.4 9.0

Culture and attractions

250 px
Terengganu did not receive many Indian or Chinese migrants, and therefore Malay cultural influences predominate. Traditional pursuits such as kite-flying contests, top-spinning contests, and traditional arts & crafts, such as batik and songket are still very much alive. The people of Terengganu have always had a reputation for being socially conservative and devout Muslims.

The major tourist attractions in the state include: Kuala Terengganumarker, the capital; Tasik Kenyirmarker, a large artificial lake; Sekayu Waterfalls; Kuala Ibai Lagoons; Batu Burok Beach, Kemasik Beach, Rantau Abang, Marang, Chukaimarker town and several offshore islands such as Pulau Redangmarker, Pulau Lang Tengah, and Pulau Kapasmarker, and the Pulau Perhentianmarker, which attract beachgoers and snorkelers because of their picture perfect beaches. Many travelers find the relatively rural and tranquil atmosphere in the state conducive to a relaxing holiday.Terengganu has recently been known internationally as the host of Monsoon Cup, which was first held in 2005 and then became an annual national sporting event. The event brought millions of ringgit of investment into the state from the private sectors and Malaysian Government. Tourists flocked to Kuala Terengganumarker and Duyong to witness this event, held during the monsoon season, which had previously been low season for tourism in Terengganu.

Basic Tourism Sector Data 1999 2005
Average Day of Stays of Foreign Tourist 3.3 4.2
Average Day of Stays of Domestic Tourist 1.9 3.1
Sectorial Constribution to the Economy (RM Million) 298.9 1281.0
Number of Registered Tourist Agents 70 92
Number of Tourist Guides 21 37
Average Hotel Occupancy Rate (%) 55.9 58.3
Domestic Tourist 1,002,324 1,624,726
Foreign Tourist 146,713 197,952
Total Tourist Arrival 1,149,037 1,822,678


  • 2008 National Horse Show at Terengganu Equestrian Resort Oct 31 to Nov 2
  • Monsoon Cup- international sailing event
  • Sultan's Cup Terengganu Endurance Challenge - Horse Endurance Race
  • Formula Future- speed boat racing for under 15
  • Kapas-Marang International Swimathon- International swimming event
  • Kenyir Motocross Championship
  • Terengganu Masters- Golf
  • Kenyir International Mountain Bike Challenge
  • 'Candat Sotong' Fiesta - fishing conmpetition
  • Kenyir Lake International Triathlon
  • Terengganu Starhill Tasik Kenyir 4x4 Challenge
  • Tasik Puteri Water Festival
  • Terengganu Traditional Games Competition
  • Terengganu International 4WD Rainforest Challenge 2007
  • FEI World Endurance Championshiop 2008


The most famous local food is Keropok Lekor, which is made primarily from a combination of dough (sago flour) and pounded fish mainly from mackerel and sardines, fried and served with hot chilli sauce for afternoon tea. Keropok Keping (fish crackers) are made from sun-dried slices of Keropok Lekor. Numerous keropok stalls are to be found on the side of the highway that passes through coastal communities.

Budu, a very pungent and salty anchovy sauce is also popular among the locals. It is often mixed with sliced onions and chillies as condiments.

Laksam (or laksang in local Malay dialect), a modified version of Laksa is made from rice flour (thick and soft slices). It is served in a bowl of light fresh coconut milk mixed with boiled fish flesh (mainly mackerel), finely chopped cucumbers, chillies, onions and long beans. It is eaten cold at breakfast.

Another Terengganu specialty is sata, a type of otak-otak or fish cake wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over a grill.

Nasi dagang is also popular.


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