Thursday, August 11, 2022

History of Brunei

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Early history

The letter of the Po-ni king to the Chinese emperor in 977 AD, which some historians think relates to Borneo, is one of the earliest Chinese documents. Chau Ju-Kua (Zhao Rugua), a Chinese official, claimed in 1225 that Po-ni possessed 100 vessels to defend his commerce and that the kingdom was wealthy.

Barune was described in the fourteenth century Javanese book Nagarakretagama, authored by Prapanca in 1365, as a vassal kingdom of Majapahit that had to pay an annual tribute of 40 katis of camphor to Majapahit. Sulus invaded Po-ni in 1369 and looted his valuables and money. The Sulus were expelled by a Majapahit fleet, but Po-ni was weakened as a result of the assault. Po-ni was characterized as poor and completely dominated by Majapahit in a Chinese record from 1371.

Scholars believe the Sultanate of Brunei was at its most powerful during the 15th and 17th centuries, with control stretching from northern Borneo to the southern Philippines. Brunei was deeply entrenched in Islam in the sixteenth century, and the kingdom had constructed one of the world’s biggest mosques. It was reported as five storeys and constructed on water by Alonso Beltrán, a Spanish explorer, in 1578.

War with Spain and decline

Brunei began a period of decline exacerbated by internal disputes about genuine succession as European influence progressively eroded regional authority. Because the Spaniards saw Brunei as the epicenter of Islamic teaching in the Philippines, they launched war in 1578, intending to assault and take Kota Batu, Brunei’s capital at the time. This was partly due to the help of two Bruneian aristocrats, Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. Pengiran Seri Lela came to Brunei to offer a tributary to Spain in search of help to reclaim the throne usurped by his brother, Saiful Rijal, the first had traveled to Manila, then the center of the Spanish colony, the same Manila was captured from Brunei and Christianized, Pengiran Seri Lela came to Brunei to offer a tributary to Spain in search of help to reclaim the throne The Spaniards decided that if they conquered Brunei, Pengiran Seri Lela would be named Sultan, and Pengiran Seri Ratna would be named Bendahara.

De Sande, serving as Captain General, planned an expedition from Manila to Brunei in March 1578, after the Spanish navy had arrived from Mexico and landed in the Philippines. 400 Spaniards, 1,500 Filipinos, and 300 Borneans made up the mission. The operation was part of a larger campaign that included activities in Mindanao and Sulu.

On April 16, 1578, the Spanish attacked the capital with the assistance of Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Abdul Kahar and Sultan Saiful Rijal were compelled to escape to Meragang and subsequently to Jerudong. They formed preparations in Jerudong to follow the victorious army far away from Brunei. Due to a high mortality rate caused by a cholera or dysentery epidemic, the Spaniards chose to leave Brunei and returned to Manila 72 days later on June 26, 1578. They first set fire to the mosque, which was a towering building with a five-story roof.

Pengiran Seri Lela died in August or September 1578, most likely from the same sickness that her Spanish friends were suffering from. He was suspected of being poisoned by the Sultan, who was in power at the time. Seri Lela, a Bruneian princess who had fled to Spain with the Spaniards, married Agustn de Legazpi de Tondo, a Christian Tagalog.

Brunei’s local reports vary significantly from the widely held perspective of events. The Spaniards were evicted by Bendahara Sakam, allegedly a brother of the reigning sultan, and a thousand local soldiers in what was known as the War of Castile. The majority of historians believe it is a popular hero tale that emerged decades or centuries afterwards. From 1660 until 1673, the nation was ravaged by civil conflict.

British intervention

Brunei’s affairs have been interfered in by the British on numerous times. Brunei was invaded by Britain in July 1846 due to internal disputes about who was the rightful Sultan.

The fall of the Bruneian Empire proceeded in the 1880s. The Sultan gave James Brooke territory (now Sarawak) in exchange for his assistance in quelling a revolt and establishing the Kingdom of Sarawak. Brooke and her nephews (his successors) leased or annexed additional property throughout time. He and his dynasty, the White Rajahs, took over most of Brunei’s land.

Sultan Hashim Khalilul Alam Aqamaddina pleaded with the British to halt the Brookes invasion. Sir Hugh Low negotiated the “Treaty of Protection,” which went into effect on September 17, 1888. The contract stated that the Sultan “could neither surrender or lease any land to other countries without British permission,” and it gave Britain full authority over Brunei’s external affairs, thus declaring the country a British protectorate (which continued until 1984). The British, on the other hand, did nothing to dissuade the Kingdom of Sarawak from acquiring the Pandaruan area of Brunei in 1890. Brunei and Sarawak were not considered “foreigners” by them (according to the Protection Treaty). After the ultimate conquest of Sarawak, Brunei was left with its current limited area and division into two sections.

In 1906, the Supplementary Protectorate Agreement brought British settlers to Brunei. On all administrative issues, the residents were to advise the Sultan. Over time, the Sultan relinquished executive authority to the resident. In 1959, the residential system came to an end.

Discovery of oil

After many failed efforts, oil was found in 1929. At the end of 1926, two men, F.F. Marriot and T.G. Cochrane, scented the oil near the Seria River. A geophysicist was notified, and a survey was performed there. Gas leaks were recorded in the region in 1927. On July 12, 1928, Pozo Seria Number One (S-1) was drilled. On April 9, 1929, the oil was discovered at a depth of 297 meters. Pozo Seria Number 2 was drilled on August 19, 1929, and has been producing oil since 2009. With the construction of additional oil fields in the 1930s, oil output grew significantly. Oil output peaked at almost six million barrels in 1940. On July 22, 1922, the British Malayan Petroleum Company (now Brunei Shell Petroleum Company) was established. In 1957, the first offshore well was dug. Brunei’s growth and riches have been based on oil and natural gas since the late twentieth century.

Japanese occupation

On December 16, 1941, the Japanese invaded Brunei, eight days after attacking Pearl Harbor and the US Navy. The Kawaguchi Detachment of Cam Ranh Bay in Kuala Belait arrived with 10,000 soldiers. They seized the whole nation after six days of battle. The 2nd Battalion of the 15th Punjab Regiment, stationed in Kuching, Sarawak, was the sole allied force in the region.

After occupying Brunei, the Japanese struck an agreement with Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin on the country’s administration. Ernest Edgar Pengilly, a former British Resident Secretary, nominated Inche Ibrahim (after known as Pehin Datu Perdana Menteri Dato Laila Utama Awang Haji Ibrahim) as Chief Administrative Officer under the Japanese governor. Pengilly had been offered a post under his administration by the Japanese, but he turned it down. The Japanese imprisoned him and other British residents remaining in Brunei at the Batu Lintang camp in Sarawak. Ibrahim made a point of shaking everyone’s hand and bidding them well while the British officers were under Japanese protection.

The Sultan kept his throne and received a pension and honors from the Japanese. He spent the last years of the occupation in Tantuya, Limbangand, and had minimal contact with the Japanese. The Japanese held the majority of Malaysian government officials. Brunei’s government was divided into five prefectures, one of which was responsible for northern British Borneo. Baram, Labuan, Lawas, and Limbang are among the prefectures. During the occupation, Ibrahim concealed a number of crucial Japanese government papers. Pengiran Yusuf (later YAM Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusuf) was sent to Japan for training, along with other Bruneians. Yusuf survived the Hiroshima atomic explosion despite being in the vicinity on the day of the attack.

Due to their participation in the European war, the British had expected a Japanese assault but lacked the means to defend the region. In September 1941, the Punjab Regiment covered the oil wells of the Seria oilfield with concrete to prevent the Japanese from using them. When the Japanese invaded Malaya, the remainder of the equipment and infrastructure were destroyed. At the conclusion of the conflict, 16 wells in Miri and Seria had been reopened, with output reaching half of what it had been before the war. Muara’s coal production was also resumed, although with mixed results.

Japanese was taught in schools under the occupation, and government employees were forced to acquire the language. The native currency was replaced with the duit pisang currency (banana money). Hyperinflation decimated the currency’s value beginning in 1943, and by the conclusion of the war, it was worthless. The transaction was eventually halted due to Allied assaults on the cargo. Food and medication were in short supply, and the populace was starving and sick.

During the occupation, the Japanese constructed the airport runway, and Japanese naval forces were stationed in Brunei Bay and Labuan in 1943. Allied bombardment destroyed the naval base, but the airport runway was spared. The facility was designed to function as a public airport. The Allies launched a bombing assault against the Japanese occupants in 1944, which destroyed most of the city and Kuala Belait but missed Kampong Yesterday.

The 9th Australian Division arrived at Muara on June 10, 1945, as part of Operation Oboe Six, to retake Borneo from the Japanese. They were backed up by air and naval forces from the United States. After three days of heavy warfare, the city of Brunei was heavily bombed and recaptured. Many structures, including the Mosque, were demolished. On September 10, 1945, the Japanese troops in Brunei, Borneo, and Sarawak, led by Lieutenant General Masao Baba, officially surrendered at Labuan. The Japanese were taken over by the British Military Administration, which remained in charge until July 1946.

Post-World War II

Brunei was given a new government after WWII, which was administered by the British Military Administration (BMA). It was mostly made up of Australian officials and military personnel. On July 6, 1945, the Brunei administration was handed up to the Civil Administration. In the same year, the Brunei State Council was resurrected. The BMA was tasked with reviving Brunei’s economy, which had been severely harmed by the Japanese during their rule. They also had to put out flames in Seria wells, which the Japanese had built before they were defeated.

Prior to 1941, the British High Commissioner for Brunei, Sarawak, and North Borneo was accountable to the Governor of Straits Settlements, headquartered in Singapore (now Sabah). Sir Charles Ardon Clarke, the Governor of Sarawak, was the first British High Commissioner for Brunei. On April 12, 1946, the Barisan Pemuda (“Youth Movement”) (abbreviated as BARIP) became Brunei’s first political party. The party aimed to “preserve the Sultan’s and country’s sovereignty, as well as protect the Malays’ rights.” BARIP also contributed to the creation of the country’s national anthem. Due to inactivity, the party was disbanded in 1948.

Brunei became an independent state in 1959 when a new constitution was drafted, with the United Kingdom continuing to be responsible for its foreign affairs, security, and defense. In 1962, a minor uprising against the monarchy erupted, which was put down with the assistance of the United Kingdom. The Brunei Revolt, also known as the North Borneo Revolt, led to the North Borneo Federation’s collapse. Brunei’s decision to quit the Federation of Malaysia was influenced in part by the uprising.

On January 1, 1984, Brunei gained independence from the United Kingdom. The official National Day, which commemorates the country’s independence, is observed on February 23.

Writing of the Constitution

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III established the Tujuh Serangkai, a seven-member committee, in July 1953 to hear people’ opinions on a written constitution for Brunei. The Sultan, the Resident, and the High Commissioner met in May 1954 to examine the committee’s conclusions. They agreed to allow the constitution to be written. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III led a team to London in March 1959 to debate the proposed Constitution. Sir Alan Lennox-Boyd, Secretary of State for the Colonies, headed the British delegation. The proposed constitution was then approved by the British administration.

The Constitution Agreement was concluded at Bandar Seri Begawan on September 29, 1959. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Sir Robert Scott, the General Commissioner for Southeast Asia, signed the pact.

National development plans

Omar Ali Saifuddien III, Brunei’s 28th Sultan, launched a number of national development initiatives.

The first one was released in 1953. Brunei’s State Council authorized a budget of B $ 100 million for the project. E.R. Bevington, of the Colonial Office in Fiji, was tasked with putting it into action. The proposal included the construction of a $US14 million gas plant. Brunei Shell Petroleum began prospecting and exploring operations in offshore and onshore areas in 1954. Production peaked at 114,700 bpd in 1956.

In addition, the strategy aided in the growth of public education. Education expenditures totaled $ 4 million in 1958. As new roads were developed and the Berakas airport was reconstructed in 1954, communications increased.

In 1962, the second National Development Plan was launched. Liquefied Natural Gas became significant with the discovery of a large oil and gas deposit in 1963. The oil and gas industry has continued to develop, and oil output has continuously risen since then. The strategy also encouraged the production of meat and eggs for consumption by people. Throughout the strategy, the fishing sector boosted its output by 25%. During this time, the Muara deepwater port was also constructed. The energy needs were fulfilled, and studies to supply power to rural regions were undertaken. With the assistance of the World Health Organization, efforts were undertaken to eliminate malaria, a prevalent illness in the area. Malaria infections dropped from 300 cases in 1953 to only 66 cases in 1959. From 20 per thousand in 1947 to 11.3 per thousand in 1953, the mortality rate was decreased. Public cleanliness and drainage improvements, as well as the supply of pure water via pipeline to the populace, have all helped to avoid infectious illnesses.


On November 14, 1971, His Royal Highness Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who subsequently adopted the title Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah since Malaysia was a protectorate of the United Kingdom, traveled to London to debate the 1959 Constitution changes. A new agreement was made in November 1971 with British representative Anthony Henry Fanshawe Royle.

The following conditions were agreed upon in this agreement:

  • Brunei was given complete domestic autonomy.
  • External affairs and defense would continue to be the responsibility of the United Kingdom.
  • Brunei and the United Kingdom agreed to share security and defense responsibilities.

As a result of this arrangement, Gurkha troops were stationed in Brunei, where they remain to this day.

Brunei and the United Kingdom signed another another pact on January 7, 1979. It was signed with Lord Goronwy-Roberts as the United Kingdom’s representative. Brunei was given international responsibilities as an independent country as a result of this agreement. Brunei has agreed to receive diplomatic assistance from the United Kingdom.

Brunei gained independence on January 1, 1984, as stated by the United Kingdom in May 1983.

On December 31, 1983, a mass was held in the four major mosques of the nation, and at midnight on January 1, 1984, His Majesty Hassanal Bolkiah, who is now addressing this manner, read the Proclamation of Independence.

21st century

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah declared in October 2013 that the country’s Muslims, who make up about two-thirds of the population, will be subjected to Sharia law. Brunei would be the first and only nation in East Asia to include Sharia law into its penal code, which would be enacted in three stages, concluding in 2016. The move drew worldwide condemnation, with the UN expressing its “deep worry.”

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