Thursday, December 01, 2016

Brunei Darussalam Tackles Rise of Non-Communicable Diseases


Brunei Darussalam tackles rise of non-communicable diseases
27 Nov 2016

The rising incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is placing an increasing burden on Brunei Darussalam’s health care system and economy, though the government is stepping up efforts to improve the nation’s health.

NCDs have been the main cause of death in Brunei Darussalam for more than 30 years, with a shift away from traditional lifestyles and dietary patterns seen as the underlying cause, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

If unchecked, the increasing incidence of NCDs could put a strain on the country’s health care system, as well as affect social and economic growth.

“Without a change in our behaviour, the number of obese adults in the country is forecast to soar. This will prove devastating for the country and pose a real barrier towards our national development,” the MoH said in a statement in June.

Rising to the challenge

In response, the government has launched the Brunei Darussalam National Multisectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs (BruMAP-NCD) 2013-18­ – a broad programme to boost the prevention and treatment of NCDs ­– as part of the MoH’s Vision 2035, known as “Together Towards a Healthy Nation”.

The programmes aim to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by 18% by 2018, a goal that is in line with the global target of a 25% reduction by 2025.

Under the BruMAP-NCD’s five objectives ­– to reduce tobacco use, promote a balanced and healthy diet, increase physical activity, identify people at risk of NCDs and manage effectively, and improve the quality of care and outcome of NCDs management – health officials have laid out a number of more specific national targets.

For example, the government aims to curb tobacco consumption by 30% by 2018 and to make public places smoke-free by the end of this year.

In terms of diet, state agencies are targeting a 10% reduction in salt usage, encouraging more Bruneians to engage in regular exercise and mandating improved diets for children by regulating the products offered at school canteens, as well as implementing health programmes in the country’s workplaces.

Overall, these lifestyle changes aim to achieve a 1% reduction in the rate of increase of obesity and diabetes by 2018.

Meanwhile, measures to bolster treatment will include initiatives to identify people at risk of developing NCDs, provide support for the effective management of illnesses and ensure the availability of affordable technologies and generic medicines in both private and public health care facilities.

Risk of obesity

The need for such measures is crucial especially as the country is seeing an increase in obesity in its youth, which is leading to higher levels of NCDs in the adult population.

Obesity is reaching alarming levels among the country’s young people, with half of the nation’s children over the age of five either overweight or obese, according to a statement made by Awang Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, minister of health, in mid-October.

“From 2008 to 2014, obesity among school children in Brunei Darussalam increased from 12% to 18%,” he said. “This means that obesity rises by 1% every year. If this issue is unresolved, every single child in Brunei could potentially be obese in the near future.”

As a result of this growing trend, health conditions normally seen in adults are occurring in children, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disorders.

The increasing rate of excessive weight in childhood is also likely to contribute to obesity later in life, with the MoH showing that currently 62% of Bruneians are either overweight or obese. Furthermore, 30% of the total population suffer from high blood pressure, 12.4% from diabetes and 70% from above-average levels of cholesterol.

Measurable success

Although Brunei Darussalam still has a way to go to curtail NCDs, progress is already being made, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO’s “NCDs Progress Monitor” released last year indicated that Brunei Darussalam had made the most strides out of all ASEAN countries in preventing and combatting NCDs. The country achieved 10 out of 18 indicators on the WHO’s index, such as smoke-free policies and health warnings to reduce tobacco usage, advertising bans and pricing policies to limit alcohol intake, drug therapy and counselling for high-risk individuals, and public awareness on diet and physical activity.

Brunei Darussalam scored higher than other countries in the region, such as Cambodia (3), Myanmar (2) and Laos (1), as well as slightly better than Singapore (9) and Malaysia (8).

Courtesy of the Oxford Business Group

Friday, November 25, 2016

Overcoming challenges of Westernisation, Globalisation (MIB Series)

The Castille War in Brunei

Model of Brunei's Mosque in 15th Century

Map Showing Pigafetta's Trip Around the World

Overcoming challenges of Westernisation, Globalisation
on: November 07, 2016
| Dr Muhammad Hadi Bin Md Melayong, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

IN AN increasingly globalised world, it is next to impossible to overlook the challenges posed by external forces, especially in a borderless stream of modernisation.

These challenges to our national consciousness began after the arrival of Western powers to the East in the 16th Century. Our forefathers managed to preserve their cultural and national iden-tity, while a host of unwelcome elements brought by the Western colonisers spread throughout the region.

In Brunei Darussalam, the main defences that were used to safeguard our culture and national identity have been the values enshrined in our national philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB).

The matter was stated in a titah by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, delivered during the National Day celebrations on February 23 ,2014:

“Di samping untuk mencapai Wawasan 2035 dalam bidang fizikal, kita juga ingin meraih rahmat dan keberkatan dalam semua aspek kehidupan. Kita turut menginginkan sebuah negara yang benar-benar memenuhi ciri-ciri ‘Baldatun Tayyibatun Warabbun Ghafur’, yang sejahtera lagi bahagia dibawah pemeliharaan Allah.

“Kerana itu, cara kita mengisi kemerdekaan ini sangatlah istimewa. Kita tidak lupa bersyukur dan berzikir kepada Allah dengan cara sembahyang berjama’ah dan sama-sama mengaminkan do’a. Inilah amalan Negara Melayu Islam Beraja, negara kita.

“Atas landasan unik inilah, kita terus berusaha memantapkan jati diri kita selaku orang Brunei. Perkara ini sangatlah kritikal bagi kelangsungan hidup kita dan proses ‘nation-building’.

“Malahan, pada hemat Beta, MIB adalah merupakan satu-satunya pendinding atau ‘Firewall’ yang kukuh lagi berkesan untuk menangani pelbagai isu dan cabaran globalisasi.”

Globalisation can contribute towards positive changes in human civilisation, especially with the advent of new forms media that enable distribution of unregulated information with an even faster delivery. Unfortunately, globalisation is also a double-edged sword with devastating effects to our culture unless it is properly regulated. At this stage of human civilisation, we need to be more prudent in embracing of globalisation, and able to recognise its destructive aspects. However, we can ensure that MIB values will serve as a guide in assisting us to face up to challenges in this age of globalisation.

We need to look into the lessons of history, to understand how Brunei was able to defend her national dignity and sovereignty. Access to unlimited information and unfiltered networks has enabled us to follow in our forefathers’ footsteps in ensuring the continuity of Brunei’s survival. Present-day challenges are outwardly different, but the risks often involve losing the MIB values that have been our country’s foundation, and the essence of our societal solidarity and harmony.

Out forefathers’ struggle to defend the nation’s sovereignty is a lesson how destructive forces brought about by foreign invasions impacted Brunei’s religion, culture, economy and political administration.

The result was a steady decline of Brunei’s rule over lands beyond present-day borders, followed by a period of political instability within the country.

The decline also caused a stagnation of the ruling political systems in the Malay world. In view of the sacrifices made by our forefathers to preserve their national identity, we cannot afford to have history repeating itself. The deterioration of the Brunei Empire occurred as a result of Western intervention that was also threatening the traditional trade system and weakening Brunei’s political sway over the entire Borneo Island. The arrival of the Spaniards in 1521 presented further challenges to the great Brunei Empire in terms of trade, religion and the socio-political system. The Sultanate was then threatened and attacked, to curb the spread of Islamic influence across Borneo.

Despite those encounters, the people of Brunei were willing to lay down their lives and possessions to defend the independence and dignity of their country, religion and ruler. The Castilian War of 1578 marked the beginning of a struggle in which the Spaniards attempted to bring Brunei under Christian rule. It is a historical event that deserves more exposure among members of the current generation, in their pursuit of modern life in a globalised world.

The arrival of the Spaniards was initially welcomed by the Brunei people in 1521. However, half a century later, what appeared to be friendly intentions was actually a planned conquest in disguise. The Spaniards wanted to spread Christianity across Brunei, and they demanded a cease to Islamic teachings (Dakwah) in the Philippines and the surrounding region.

This enraged Begawan Sultan Abdul Kahar (the Old Ruler), as evident from the contents of a letter sent from the Spanish Governor in Manila, General Dr Francisco de Sande, that read:

“Perkara yang seharusnya Duli Tuanku lakukan ialah menerima paderi-paderi Kristian ke negeri Duli Tuanku serta memberi jaminan keselamatan sepenuhnya kepada mereka menyebarkan ajaran Kristian dan begitu juga sesiapa sahaja di antara rakyat Duli Tuanku hendaklah diberi kebebasan dan kebenaran menghadiri syarahan-syarahan ajaran Kristian, dan sesiapa juga berharsat memeluk ugama Kristian bolehlah berbuat demikian tanpa sebarang gangguan ke atasnya.

“Seterusnya, patik menghendaki supaya Duli Tuanku jangan menghantar mubaligh-mubaligh ajaran Muhammad (Islam) ke mana mana bahagian kepulauan ini atau kepada orang Tingues (orang bukit) yang masih Jahiliah itu, bahkan lebih-lebih lagi tidak juga menghantar ke kawasan-kawasan pulau Duli Tuanku sendiri.”

In the interests of the nation and defending the moral dignity of the Malay Islamic Monarchy, Begawan Sultan Abdul Kahar and the reigning Sultan Saiful Rijal refused to accede to the demands. It was thus on April 14 1578, that the conquistador, De Sande, declared war on Brunei.

Thanks to Allah the Almighty, the Spanish invasion of Brunei only lasted three months, with the Spaniards and their followers retreating to Manila after setting fire to the grand mosque on June 23, 1578, as recorded in ‘Myth and Legends in Brunei History’, by R Nicholl:

“Pada senja hari Isnin (1578) Doktor (Francisco de Sande) telah membakar bangunan besar (masjid) itu. Ia terbakar sepanjang malam, dan pagi esoknya tidak ada apa-apa yang tinggal; tiga hari kemudian dia pun belayar…”

Historical accounts illustrate the firm resolve of the people of Brunei when it came to defending the dignity and sovereignty of their nation. It is the lessons derived from these accounts that we should bear in mind in an ever-changing world of globalisation, where we are constantly exposed to external influences. The main bastion of our religion, people and our country are the values of MIB, combined with the identity and self-respect of the people of Brunei.

We believe and are confident that our experiences under the national philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy are a source of harmony and happiness both in this world and in the hereafter.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Brunei's Golden Period of Expansion - (MIB Series)

Part of Brunei's Canons from the 16th Century

Illustration of Ancient Brunei

Brunei’s golden period of expansion
on: October 24, 2016
| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Md Melayong, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

SULTAN Muhammad Shah adopted the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) as a governmental and authoritative foundation in the Brunei Empire in the 1360s. With MIB as the bedrock of the country’s philosophical and spiritual values, combined with his skilled leadership and the loyal support of his followers, it became the driving force in Brunei’s glorious expansion from the early 15th Century to the 17th Century.

Brunei continued its regional prominence during the reign of the third Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Sharif Ali (1425-1432). He was an Islamic scholar from Ta’if (Hejaz, South Arabia) and it was believed that he was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), through the lineage of Sayyidina Hassan, the Prophet’s grandson.

Brunei’s geographical location was an added advantage, being in the epicentre of the Southeast Asian trade route, allowing her to build ties with Chinese, Arabian and Indian traders, thus further exposing Brunei to commercial trade and Islamic influence. This allowed Brunei to strengthen her Islamic values, which was then adapted into the people’s traditional way of life.

With the loyal support of ethnic Chinese communities, Sultan Sharif Ali was able to establish an administrative base in Kota Batu. He was also the first Sultan to build a mosque, and his tireless dedication towards the country and the Islamic faith earned him great respect.

Loved and admired by his subjects, he became known later as ‘Sultan Berkat’ (the Blessed Sultan). As Brunei’s regional strength grew, so did the concept of MIB, which became the moral compass guiding the country’s administrative and management policies.

During the reign of Sultan Bolkiah, the fifth Sultan of Brunei (1485-1524), Brunei expanded her sphere of influence to the entire Borneo Island. The collapse of the Malaccan Empire in 1511 by the Portuguese, gave Brunei the opportunity to strengthen her trade relations, and consecutively the spread of Islam beyond her borders, namely to Palawan Island, Sulu, Belayan, Mindoro, Bonbon, Belabak, Belambangan, Bangi, Mentanai and Saludang (today known as the Philippines).

The growing influence of the Brunei Empire in these parts posed a challenge for the Portuguese and Spaniards, who at the time, were attempting to spread Christianity and restrict Brunei’s Islamic influence. This touched off 50 years of rivalry between the Spaniards and the Brunei Empire (the Castilian War), but driven by the principles of Malay Islamic Monarchy and with the protection of Allah the Almighty, the Brunei Sultans drove off the invading forces and continued to rule the kingdom as a Malay Islamic Sultanate.

Such leadership qualities, as exhibited by Brunei’s rulers, were based on their faith and the values of Islam.

They led the way in providing an exemplary set of standards, which further reinforced Brunei’s position during her golden age. Islamic values became a routine part of the people’s daily lives, and guided the administrative and ceremonial policies of state.

This in turn led to the establishment of the ‘Hukum Kanun Brunei’ (Brunei’s Code of Laws), the policies that dictated ethical processes, together with the structural development of royal and state customs. These days, it has become a philosophical legacy, protecting and providing stability to our monarchial institution.

It constituted broad legal aspects of the country’s legal system, which eventually gave way to the implementation of Syariah Law. The inscription of ‘Hukum Kanun’ became the mainstay of state governance, based on the principles of Malay Islamic Monarchy, as stated in the titah of Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Hasan:

“…maka inilah suatu risalah pada menyatakan Hukum al-Kanun di dalam negeri yang besar-besar dan segala adat yang takluknya dan dusunnya supaya manfaat atau negerinya dan segala Raja-Raja dan Manteri-manteri bahawa memeliharakan ia akan segala rakyatnya.”

The above titah describes the application of the ‘Hukum Kanun’ in the governing of state, administration of resources and state customs.

The Hukum Kanun Brunei constituted 47 aspects, including those upholding the rights of the ruler; criminal law and order; and laws on theft, marital rights, adultery, apostasy, commercial trade and usury.

All aspects of the Hukum Kanun Brunei contain Islamic legal and Malay traditions. The implementation of the legal system based on Syariah Law had already been in place, long before the reign of Sultan Muhammad Hasan, as evident from Spanish records on Brunei in 1588-1589, which clearly show that convicted criminals were given the death penalty.

While many tend to view the implementation of Syariah Law as a recent occurrence, historical sources suggest that it has been deeply rooted in Brunei since the 14th Century. Records of Hukum Kanun Brunei inscribed in Jawi can be found in the National Brunei Archives and the Brunei History Centre, as well as in many Western academic Institutions and libraries, which point to the existence of a MIB in Brunei since 1400 AD.

MIB has influence the values in the state administration and the daily life of the people in Brunei for hundreds of years. The strong stand for Islam in carrying the values of MIB has been the main factor behind the success and prominence of the Brunei Empire since the 15th Century. It is interesting to know why even western power are willing to invest their time to explore and appreciate the establishment of MIB and the success and prominence of the Brunei Empire.

There is no denying that the effects of globalisation has helped Brunei to achieve her present status, beginning with the British Residential System, but too much globalisation would mean losing our cultural heritage and identity.

MIB provides a counterbalance to Brunei’s rapid industrialisation, while protecting the country from losing her core values, which has helped to shape Bruneian society and bring prosperity to the people. MIB is a compulsory subject in Brunei’s education system, and a way of life that should be practised both in the workplace and at home.

You don’t have to be Malay or Muslim to understand that theft, falsehoods, rape and murder are moral crimes. As Bruneians, we are fortunate to have MIB which complements the Islamic way of life. It is our duty to uphold those principles, because by doing so, we can unite the country’s people, regardless of their ethnicity, race and religion.

MIB brings harmony, mutual respect and a better understanding between one another, and as Muslims, we should be grateful towards Allah the Almighty. As stated in a titah by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam:

“Dengan izin dan rahmat Allah serta berkat pegangan kita terhadap dasar-dasar MIB selama ini, maka Negara Brunei Darussalam terus meni’mati keamanan, ma’amur dan bahagia, di bawah perlindungan dan √≠nayah Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala.”

In this regard, the people have always strongly supported the policies that are in line with the teaching of Islam under the leadership of His Majesty. In the face of the many challenges besetting the country and its people, His Majesty demonstrated devotion and piety to Allah the Almighty by declaring May 1, 2014 as the official commencement of the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013.

This was a historical move to continue the development of Islamic Syariah that began centuries ago, under the reigns of previous Sultans, and has since remained as part of the governing system.

We should learn to trust ourselves to preserve and strengthen the values of MIB towards achieving the goals of Brunei Vision 2035; and to have better a quality of life, that goes with stable economic progress and a well-educated populace.

The success of the Brunei people is not limited to this world, but also extends into the next. Insya Allah.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Melayu Islam Beraja, MIB, Living Foundation of Every Bruneian (MIB Series)

16th Century Map of Borneo Island

MIB, living foundation of every Bruneian
on: October 10, 2016
Dr Muhammad Hadi Bin Muhammad Melayong
Secretariat of the Malay Islamic Monarchy Supreme Council of Brunei Darussalam

ARCHEOLOGICAL sources point to the existence of MIB coming to the tiny country of Brunei, then still known to the world as Po-ni, approximately more than 600 years ago. The concept itself was established by Awang Alak Betatar, the monarch in power at the time, in 1368 AD and later practised by his lineage till present day. Stated in Datu Imam Yaakup’s version of The Genealogy of Brunei Kings “The the first government to bring Islam into the Brunei government administration under the syariat of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the government of Paduka Seri Sultan Muhammad Shah”, the Muslim name bestowed upon Awang Alak Betatar when he converted to Islam following his marriage to the Princess of Johor, which we now refer to as ancient Singapore.

This article will focus on the beginning of MIB and how it became the living foundation of every Bruneian and shaped Brunei Darussalam to be the country that it is today; an fascinating country of beautiful Malay culture, with strong Islamic beliefs under the guidance of His Majesty, rich in history with a harmonious society working together for common prosperity.

One of the earliest mentions of Brunei was recorded in a poem of ‘Awang Semaun’, about how Awang Alak Betatar escorted by Pateh Berbai and Demang Sari, with a retinue of by 90 aboriginal people, travelled from Garang, Temburong District to Brunei-Muara and took up residence on the shores of Kota Batu. To be close to their ruler, his people built houses on the Brunei River, which eventually became the iconic landmarks, Kampung Ayer. This simple exchange of mutual respect and loyalty between a ruler and his people laid the foundations of MIB; a Sultan who loved his people, a people that loved their ruler in return, and the set of beliefs that bound them together.

Among others, part of Syair Awang Semaun decribes this story: “Bersama pula Pateh Berbai, Masuk ke Negeri Sungai Brunei, Sembilan puluh banyaknya ramai, Sekaliannya itu semuanya Sakai.

Awang Alak Betatar berkata kepada Demang Sari, Bersama Pateh kanan dan kiri Jikalau terpakai Awangku sendiri, Ke dalam Brunei kita bernegeri.”

We cannot simply base our opinions on a single historic analogy to illustrate the importance of MIB to our nation. Merely stating that MIB has been here for 600 years is simply not enough to satisfy the curiosity of our younger generations. We will need to show to them how it has shaped Brunei; how it kept the country at peace in times of great war and suffering, circumvented the cultural pitfall that is globalisation, and navigated the steady growth of Brunei over the ages. History is, and always has been, a strong and important process of nation building and development, and it is imperative that the youth of today are privy to the knowledge of yesterday for them to make proper decisions for the future of our nation tomorrow.

Some may argue that adhering to the antiquated beliefs will lead us to ruin; that we should follow in the footsteps of our neighbours and forsake the ideologies of old and accept the ways of modern society. But the cost paid by our fellow Malay neighbours was far too high; they have lost both their cultural identity and their political stability in exchange for economic success, something which Brunei can also achieve without sacrificing everything that makes her beautiful. That is what MIB all about.

We must be able to answer when we asked;

“What is MIB?”

“How is MIB beneficial to country?”

“Why is His Majesty always emphasising on the importance of MIB?”

Failing to address these questions mean we ourselves fail to understand the concept of MIB, and we will fail to help the younger generations understand and accept MIB.

Our new generations; our children, and their children’s children hold the future of Brunei. They will be the heart that pumps life into Brunei, and we owe it to ourselves to ensure what has shaped Brunei into what it is today, will not be unforgotten. It’s our responsibility to preserve the nation’s culture and source of pride and when we pass the torch to our younger generation, it’ll be their responsible to continue the legacy.

The new generation is becoming more intelligent, they will question everything. For them to accept the concept of MIB, we have to address all their questions and help them understand the history and the importance of the concept. We can connect to them by sharing facts on MIB; from the history of its establishment to the point where it has helped developed and governed the country today.

We want our generations to understand the importance of preserving our heritage and cultures. Taking some our neighbouring communities as examples. It is true that they are economically more advanced than we are, but what they’ have gained in economy, they lost in their cultures; a Malay country that is governed or shares power with non-Malays and socially globalised by Western cultures.

We will find a middle ground where Brunei can economically advance while preserving the values of her beautiful Malay culture and strengthen her Islamic beliefs. MIB will be the guide that will lead Brunei towards the preservation of her strong identity and integrity; a country with beautiful Malay culture, strong Islamic belief and governed by leadership of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

It’s important that we refer to our nation’s history, and explore how MIB has helped Brunei gain independence, protect its people from globalisation, and advanced in political relations and its economy. As a country with a mix of ethnicities, religion and cultural backgrounds, we have to explain to the younger generations, as inheritors of the Brunei cultural heritage, why our traditions must not be lost.

The birth of Brunei Darussalam became the commencement of the MIB concept and up to this day, it still is the basis of the nation’s ideology. It is believed that MIB is a gift from Allah the Almighty. It groomed Brunei as a country and furthermore became a source of solidary and harmony for its people. MIB became the foundation for the country’s administrative policy.

His Majesty stated in a titah, “The policy in this country is MIB, thus all programmes and actions must be formed on the basis of MIB. Strong and perfect policy can hasten development, as well as creating harmony in society.”

MIB is more than a historical legacy. It has become part of Brunei life. It has given Brunei its identity as a Malay Islamic country governed by a Monarchy.

A country that is well respected and envied by its neighbouring countries and known globally as a country that preserves its heritage and culture by living it instead of archiving it in museums and in historical books.

Local historians confirmed that the MIB concept was established together with the beginnings of the Brunei Kingdom. As Brunei was geographically positioned at the centre of Malay archipelago’s trading route, Kota Batu became a trading centre for Arab and Western traders, according to Arab and Western historical manuscripts. Brunei was known as the Venice of the East by the Westerners.

MIB is not just about being a Malay, Muslim and living in a monarchial country. In its core, MIB carries the story of the beginnings of Brunei Darussalam, a concept that has kept the country in peace and harmony, protected from outside influence. It’s a concept that the people and their future generation need to preserve, a way of life that needs to be believed and upheld strongly in order to retain the sovereignty as a blessed Kingdom of Malay Islamic Monarchy.

It is our duty and our future generation’s responsibility as well as the government ministries’ and the private sector’s to carry on the Brunei legacy, whether they are at home or work, and believe and accept MIB as part of their lives. This was mentioned in His Majesty’s titah of proclamation when Brunei gained her full independence on January 1, 1984:

“…Brunei with the will and mercy of Allah, glorified and exalted be He, will forever remain a Malay Islamic Monarchy which is independent, sovereign and democratic founded on justice, trust and freedom, and with the guidance and pleasure of Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, will always strive to preserve peace and security, prosperity and happiness for my people. We will likewise maintain friendly relationship within the international community on the principle of mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of all nations free from outside interference.”

Finally, Brunei is so fortunate to have His Majesty as a ruler for 49 years (since 1967), and the citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam have continued to enjoy peace, prosperity and happiness.

This is definitely a blessing from Allah the Almighty, glorified and exalted be He, and God willing this will continue as long as our leader and the people in this country continue to discharge their duty and obligation to worship Allah the Almighty and follow the true teachings of Islam. As citizens and residents of Brunei, we should be grateful for this blessing because due to the able leadership of His Majesty and his predecessors who have always strived to protect Islam as a complete way of life in helping to maintain Brunei Darussalam’s status as a Malay Islamic Monarchy.

We pray to Allah the Almighty that the struggle for survival be continued by the future generations of Brunei so that in the time to come their efforts would remain in the annals in fighting for the sake of seeing that the laws of Allah the Almighty are upheld and continue to be practised in the Sultanate according to the MIB way of life, a heritage and identity of Bruneians in the pursuit of true happiness in this world and the next.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Age of Decline: Brunei in the late 19th Century (MIB Series)

Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin with top ranking Japanese military officials during the Japanese occupation of Brunei in World War II.

The situation of Bruneian people when the allied forces landed in Muara. – PHOTOS: MIB SUPREME COUNCIL

The age of decline
November 21, 2016
| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong,
Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

BEFORE the 17th century, Brunei was a vast empire, and arguably the most influential in the centre of the South China Sea, with regions stretching as far as the present-day Philippines and parts of Indonesia. Prior to the rise of the Srivijaya and Majapahit empires, and after the fall of Malacca to the Dutch in the early 16th century, Brunei was the premier destination for traders between China and the West.

However, as colonialism gained full force in the 18th and 19th centuries, Brunei fell under Western colonialism and had its territories slowly but surely wrested away from its control until our sovereign state was left with only a miniscule area of 2,226 square miles.

Our country managed to retain its Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) identity, thanks to the tireless efforts of our forefathers. To better understand the signifi-cance of MIB in this day and age, we must first learn about the events which transpired throughout our history, for we cannot move into the future when our past is still steeped in mystery.

In the 16th to 17th centuries, Brunei was primarily a naval power, with vast fleets to protect and govern its coastal vassal states. Being an empire comprised of smaller states, it was inevitable that internal turmoil should exist among the governors of certain regions, and this was where the British adventurer, James Brooke, saw his opportunity.

In the 1840s, James Brooke, with the aid of superior weaponry and warships, crushed a local uprising that occurred in opposition to Pengiran Muda Makota, the governor of Sarawak at the time. As a result, James Brooke was installed as the Rajah of Sarawak, under the pretence of reorganising Sarawak and uniting the many Dayak and Malay tribes.

This was the beginning of the Brooke Dynasty, where Brooke and his successor, Charles Brooke, began seizing control of lands under Brunei rule in the name of British colonialism, slowly expanding their sphere of influence on the island of Borneo and to a certain extent, their influence on the Southeast Asian trade routes.

When Pengiran Muda Hashim and his family were murdered, James Brooke and Thomas Cochrane, the Rear Admiral of the British fleet in Singapore, attacked Brunei Town and forced the Sultan of Brunei to flee to Ulu Sungai Damuan, where he eventually was forced to surrender full control of Sarawak to Brooke’s regime in order to end the British occupation of Brunei Town.

This savagery could have spelt the end of Brunei as a sovereign state, but the Sultan made the decision to cede control of several large states, in order to preserve our national heritage and culture – a difficult decision for any country at any point in history.

The dispute over sovereign rights did not cease with the annexation of Sarawak. In 1888, in order to avoid a complete takeover, Brunei agreed to become a protectorate of Britain, in which the British would give counsel to the Sultan on all state and foreign affairs. This agreement did not stop the loss of territories however, with Charles Brooke’s seizure of Limbang in 1890 standing out as a primary example.

Worried about the obliteration of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) and the loss of our national heritage, Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin (1885-1906) had to relinquish his rule over Brunei in favour of a Residential System, where the British government would employ a Resident to have executive powers to counsel the Sultan on all matters except those that dealt with Islam.

We owe a debt to Malcom McArthur, who made a proposal to the British Government for the introduction of Residential System, in order to preserve the survival of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) in Brunei. The Residential System brought many changes and develop-ments to Brunei, including the introduction of formal education which eventually led to the growth of nationalism among the citizens of Brunei, but the real push for independence only came after one of the darkest periods in our history.

The World War II in the 1930s brought the Japanese to our shores in search of oil.

Their ‘Nipponisation’ process brought a lot of suffering to the people of Brunei, in addition to being yet another colonial power attempting to stamp their governance and culture upon the people. As members of the older generations will readily attest, the Japanese Occupation was nothing but destruction and suffering for many, if not all, Bruneians who were lucky enough to survive it.

Had it not been for the valiant efforts of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin, together with his brother, Pengiran Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Safuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul ‘Alam) and Ibrahim bin Mohd Jaafar, who fought to keep up the morale of the Bruneian people, many more would have succumbed to the cruelty of the Japanese Kempetai Army, who treated anyone who was not Japanese with utter contempt.

The hardships of the Japanese Occupation ignited the fires of nationalism among Bruneian scholars, reinvigorating efforts to restore the ideals of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) to its rightful place at the heart of our sovereign state. Years of living under the rule of foreign powers had worn thin for the educated and the ordinary people, leading to the establishment of several movements to restore control to the monarchy, most notably Barisan Pemuda Melayu (BARIP) which was at the forefront in the fight for independence at the time.

Students who received formal education in Malaya – particularly at the Sultan Idris Training College in Perak – and in other countries were inspired by the nationalist movements taking place there.

Brunei had been under the control of foreign powers for decades, but in the period of peace which came after the near-decade of terror and turmoil which was World War II, the people suddenly had a window of opportunity to return their country to its Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) roots.

With Britain still reeling from the effects of war, its colonies began to demand independence in an attempt to shake off their colonial past, even while those countries were struggling in the economic and political sense.

Brunei intellectuals took note, and it was a long and arduous task, but by adhering to the ideology that was inherited our forefathers, Bruneians were slowly able to leverage themselves towards independence, beginning with the writing and signing of the Brunei Constitution in 1959, and culminating in the British-Brunei agreement signing of 1979, which allowed Brunei to regain control over its international affairs.

The efforts of our beloved ruler, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, for the re-emergence of Brunei as a Malay Islamic Sultanate reached an agreement with the British Government, in 1957. Finally, on January 1, 1984, after a century of foreign interference, Bruneians rejoiced as their home country proudly claimed itself as an independent sovereign state.

This brings us to present-day Brunei Darussalam: a land that we call home, and of the people who dedicated their lives to protecting it. We need to appreciate the struggles of past generations, who never faltered in the face of challenges and adversity. We must always be grateful to Allah the Almighty, Who gave us a ray of hope when the future seemed bleak. And of course, we must pay our respects to the rulers of the present and past, who worked ceaselessly to protect the people of Brunei Darussalam, as much as they would their own families.

Malay Islam Monarchy (MIB) is a way of life in Brunei and a source of well-being, prosperity and security in this blessed world; and this ideal was expressed perfectly in the titah of our beloved His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam:

“Kita semua wajiblah bersyukur kerana dapat menikmati keadaan aman dan makmur yang berterusan di negara ini, lebih-lebih lagi dalam suasana dunia yang sentiasa mengalami pelbagai cabaran dan pergolakan ini.”

(“We must all be forever grateful that we are able to enjoy continuing peace and prosperity in this country, especially given the turbulent and unstable nature of the world that we live in.”)

Inspirational Quotes